Will the New Perl Development Kit Bring Developers to the New Perl?

Friday Jul 16th 2010 by Sean Michael Kerner
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Perl 5.12 has been out since April, and now new tools are coming to market to help developers make use of the open source language. Will it matter? Is anyone actually using Perl 5.12 yet?

The open source Perl development language is finally getting a needed boost in the form of the Perl Development Kit (PDK). While language itself was updated to version 5.12 in April, developers often need additional tools to enable deployment, something the PDK provides.

Software developer ActiveState this week released PDK 9, an update to its toolkit for building and deploying Perl applications. ActiveState's toolkit bundles the Perl language for deployment on multiple platforms, including Windows and Linux.

Among the key improvements in PDK 9 is support for Perl 5.12. While Perl 5.12 has been available for over two months, it's still very early in the adoption phase with most developers still using earlier versions of Perl, according to ActiveState.

There are a few reasons as to why most Perl developers have not updated to Perl 5.12. Jeff Hobbs, ActiveState's director of engineering, told InternetNews.com that a lot of it has to do with maturity. ActiveState itself lists the previous Perl 5.10 release as the default download for new users on its Web site. Developers may choose to download Perl 5.12, but that's not a choice that many are making, yet.

Hobbs explained that many developers wait until the subsequent point release, in this case 5.12.1 to make sure that bugs have been worked out.

"It's your typical chicken and egg dilemma. Most people won't even test anything until the 5.12.1 is released," Hobbs said. "5.12.1 has now been released and we will make that the default download soon."

Even with Perl 5.12 not yet widely adopted, Hobbs sees value for developers in PDK 9.0. Among the tools in the PDK are ones that enable Perl developers to package Perl code into a Windows executable file. There are also new features that will help users of Perl 5.10 and older versions of Perl as well.

Among the new features that will help Perl 5.10 users as well is the ability to build applications for the HP-UX Unix operating system. PDK 9.0 also includes new support enabling Perl application deployment on 64-bit versions of Microsoft's .NET framework.

"With PDK 9.0 we're preparing for the next wave of updates that Perl developers are making," Hobbs said. "While lots of people aren't yet moving to Perl 5.12, they will in the future and the tools are now available and ready for them to do that."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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