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+title: The Perl Conference in Glasgow
+date: 2018-08-23
+- Conference
+- Perl
+# The Perl Conference in Glasgow
+This year the European Perl Conference was hosted in Glasgow, and of course
+I've attended a number of presentations there. On some of these, I have some
+feedback or comments. These talks, and the feedback I have for them, are
+detailed in this blog post.
+{< admonition title="note" >}
+The first talk I cover is not so much about Perl, but more about politics, as
+the talk was mostly about the speaker's ideology. If this does not interest you,
+I'd suggest you skip the [#discourse-without-drama](Discourse Without Drama)
+section, and head straight to the
+[#european-perl-mongers-organiser-s-forum-2018](European Perl Mongers
+Organiser's Forum 2018).
+{< / admonition >}
+## Discourse Without Drama
+This was the first talk, and the only talk available at this timeslot. I am
+personally very much against the diversity ideology, and must admit I am
+skeptical of such presentations from the get-go. Nonetheless, I did stay until
+the end and tried to give it a fair shot. However, I cannot sit idle while she
+tries to force her ideology on this community I care very deeply about.
+{< admonition title="note" >}
+I am not against the concept of diversity, I wholly support the idea of equal
+opportunities. What I do not accept is the idea of equal outcome, or forced
+diversity based on physical traits. This is what I refer to with "the diversity
+ideology". I also don't think anyone has a right not to be offended, as this is
+impossible to achieve in the real world.
+{< / admonition >}
+One of the things that stood out to me is that the speaker tells us not to use
+logical fallacies to condemn her ideology. This on itself I can easily agree
+with. However, this should go both ways: we should also not use logical
+fallacies to promote her ideology. Most notably, she pointed out the
+[](_argumentum ad populum_).
+This basically means that just because a lot of people do or say something,
+doesn't make it right. And this applies to the idea that we need to push the
+diversity ideology in the Perl community as well. Try to bring facts and
+statistics to show that this ideology will actually improve the community in
+the long term. I've personally not seen any community improve with increasingly
+harsh punishments for increasingly minor offenses.
+Another thing which slightly bothered me is the useless spin into radical
+feminist ideology, which to me seems very off-topic for a Perl conference.
+We're not at a political rally, and these kinds of remarks have been very
+divisive in all sorts of other environments already. I'd rather not bring this
+kind of behaviour to a community which I have loved for being so incredibly
+friendly without needing special rules and regulations for it.
+Next, a point is raised that people should *not* grow a thicker skin. Instead,
+people should get softer hearts. While I can get behind the latter part, I
+have to disagree with the former. Reality shows that communications don't
+always go perfectly. This is even more true in a community that exists mostly
+in the digital space. Context is often lost here, and that can lead to
+situations where someone may feel attacked even if this was not the intention
+at all. I can safely say I've been in many situations where my comments were
+perceived as an attack when they were not ment to be.
+People need to be able to handle some criticism, and sometimes you'll just have
+to assume good faith from the other party. Telling people they should never
+have to consider context and have a right not to be offended fosters an
+environment in which people will be afraid to give genuine, valid feedback.
+She seemed very much in favour of an overly broad code of conduct as well, of
+which I am also a strong opponent. There are various articles online, such as
+[](this one), which show that just
+slapping a generic, vague code of conduct to a community isn't going to solve
+the issue of trolls or harmful behaviour. There's
+[](another great
+article) that I was pointed towards that highlight how this attempt to censor
+people for the sake of not offending anyone can effectively halt creativity and
+the exchange of ideas. There was also an interesting quote written on one of
+the walls of the venue:
+{< quote attribution="Oscar Romero" >}
+Aspire not to have more, but to be more...
+{< / quote >}
+Don't try to add meaningless documents such as a code of conduct, which more
+often than not hurts a community instead of improving it. Try to be a better
+person that tries to solve actual issues without harming the community at large.
+Be the adult in the conversation that can take an insult, and still be kind.
+to hug the trolls), and eventually they will hug you back.
+## European Perl Mongers Organiser's Forum 2018
+The Perl community isn't big nowadays, however, the Perl 6 language also offers
+a lot of concepts which are very well suited for modern programming. Sadly, if
+no new users try out the language, it will be all for nothing. As such, we need
+to bring new blood in to the community.
+One of the ways of doing this is by extending our promoting efforts outside of
+the Perl community. Most people who like Perl are in a social bubble with other
+people that are also familiar with the Perl programming language, be it 5 or 6.
+But we need to reach new people as well, who will most likely be outside of
+this social bubble. These people don't have to be techies either, they might
+just as well be marketeers or designers.
+I myself am part of the "techies", so I'll stick to this particular group for
+now. And I know people like me can be found at meetups, so it would be
+worthwhile to promote Perl at meetups which are not dedicated to Perl. Think of
+more generic programming meetups, or GNU+Linux User Groups. We have to be
+mindful not to be too pushy, though. Listen to other people, and try to
+understand the problem they're facing. Most of them will not be open to using a
+different language immediately, especially not Perl (which sadly has a
+particularly bad standing amongst people unfamiliar with it). Try to assist
+them with their issues, and slowly introduce them to Perl (6) if it helps to
+showcase what you mean. It might also be interesting to show people examples on
+how to solve certain issues before telling them the language's name, so they
+don't have a negative preconception solely from the name.
+Another thing to note is that Perl is more than just a programming language.
+It's a community, and a large library of modules, known as CPAN. And CPAN
+offers some nifty tools, such as the CPAN testers, which help ensure module
+developers that their code runs on a massive set of platforms and Perl
+This has led me to consider the creation of a new Perl 6 module:
+`CPAN::Tester`, to make it easy for people to contribute to a large-scale
+testing environment for Perl 6. The idea is that one can run `CPAN::Tester` on
+their machine, which will keep track of new Perl 6 modules being uploaded to
+CPAN. The results are to be sent to another server (or multiple servers), which
+can aggregate the data and show a matrix of test results. This aggregating
+server could also be built as a Perl 6 module, possibly named
+`CPAN::Tester::ResultsServer`. This would make setting up an environment
+similar to CPAN testers for Perl 5 quite easy for Perl 6.
+## Perl 6 in Real Life $Work
+The speaker shows the perfect use case for
+[](Perl 6 grammars), advanced yet
+readable parsing of text and performing actions with the results. It's an
+interesting talk, showcasing some nifty grammar constructs. The best part of
+this is that it actually runs in production, where it parses over 700 files,
+consisting over 100,000 lines of code, in about 22 seconds (on his laptop).
+This goes to show that Perl 6 is no longer "too slow to use in production".
+It might be interesting to run this application of grammars on every Perl 6
+release to gather more information on the speed improvements of Perl 6, much
+like Tux's `Text::CSV` runs.
+## Releasing a Perl 6 Module
+The speaker starts off with detailing the platform which most Perl 6 modules
+use to host their code repository, GitHub. He also touched upon automated
+testing using Travis and AppVeyor. It was good to show how to make use of
+these, as automated testing oftentimes stops unintended bugs from reaching end
+users. But, I personally prefer GitLab over GitHub, as they have much better
+testing functionality, and they actually release their own platform as an open
+source package. I'd like more GitLab love from the community and speakers as
+well if possible. This would also make the speaker's CI configuration simpler,
+for which he currently uses a `.travis.yml` file. This requires him to build
+Perl 6 from source every test run, wasting quite a lot of time.
+It was also noted that there's a module to help you set up this module
+skeleton, `mi6`. The speaker also noted that it doesn't seem to add much once
+you know how a Perl 6 module is organized, and I tend to agree with this.
+Actually, I made a module precisely because I agree with him here,
+`App::Assixt`. This module intends to smoothen the entire course of module
+development, not just the creation of a skeleton file. It will take care of
+keeping your `META6.json` up to date, and ease uploading your module to CPAN as
+Lastly, the speaker says the `META6.json` documentation can be found in S22.
+While this is technically correct, S22 is *not* the implementation's
+documentation, this lives in the official Perl 6 documentation instead. S22
+offers many additional information to be stored in the `META6.json`, but using
+these fields will actually break installation of your module through `zef`,
+rendering it unusable by others. I would strongly recommend people not to use
+S22 when trying to figure out what they can or cannot do with their
+## How to become CPAN contributor?
+Submitting a pull request (or more correctly named, merge request) to a
+repository is possibly the most straightforward way to help out other projects.
+However, sometimes it will take a long time to get a response. The speaker
+notes this can actually be on the scale of years. I have authored a number of
+modules myself, and have been in the situation where I had not realized I got a
+merge request from another person (same goes for issue reports). I would
+recommend people who are not getting timely responses to their contributions to
+contact the maintainer via other channels which are more suited for
+communications. Think of email or IRC, for instance. You'll generally have a
+much better chance of getting a timely response from the author, and then you
+can work out your contribution and see if you can get it merged into the main
+The speaker also lists a couple of ways to get started with contributing to
+modules. One thing I missed in particular was the Squashathons
+footnote:[A Squashathon is like a hackathon, except everyone in the world is
+invited, and you can help out over the Internet, staying in your own home. Of
+course, you can still meet up with other developers and make it a social
+gathering in the real world as well!] for Perl 6.
+These generally offer a good entry point to help out with the language's
+development and the ecosystem's maintainance.
+Near the end, it was pointed out that it is a good idea to have a thick skin.
+Even when it's not intended, people can come accross as rude. This is in
+opposition to the talking point of the speaker yesterday (_Discourse Without
+Drama_), but he does raise a good point here. People oftentimes don't mean to
+insult you, but context is easily lost in written communications. Try to stay
+mature and professional, you can simply ask for clarification. If you feel the
+person remains hostile towards you, walk away. There's plenty of other projects
+that would love your contributions!
+## Conference Organizers & European Perl Mongers Organiser's Forum 2018 BoF
+Well, that's certainly a mouthful for a heading, and it even contains an
+abbreviation! This event was not a presentation, but a platform to exchange
+ideas together.
+One of the items that were up for discussion was _A Conference Toolkit_, or ACT
+for short. This is the platform used to organize Perl events, such as this
+conference and Perl workshops throughout the world. However, ACT is dated.
+They enabled HTTPS a short while ago, but it's still not the default because
+people don't want to risk breaking the platform. I think this is enough of
+an indication that it might be time to make something new to replace it.
+And I'm not alone in that sentiment, it seems. However, ACT is big and contains
+a lot of data we don't want to lose. It's a massive undertaking to make a new
+tool that works at least as well, and allows us to make use of the old data as
+well. There is a Trello board available that lists all the features that would
+be required to implement, so that's a good start already. I think now it needs
+a dedicated product owner with people contributing code, so a start can be
+made. This does seem like a touchy subject, since I'm far from the first person
+to want this. Many before me have tried and failed already.
+As such, I'd propose not making it a Perl centric tool. Make it a modular,
+generic event organizing tool. Get a good database design that we can import
+our old data into, so nothing is lost, but things can be converted to be more
+useful for our current needs. This way, we can work in small steps, and maybe
+even reach contributors from outside the regular Perl circles. This might even
+bring in new partnerships (or sponsors) towards the Perl community.
+Personally, I'd like to see something like this to be written in Perl 6. This
+way, it could also be used as a showcase project for the Perl 6 programming
+## Writing a Perl 6 Module
+Perl 6 has this very neat feature called
+These can be used to make your own types with very little effort, which can
+help tremendously to keep your code clean and concise. There are two arguments
+I have in favour of subsets that the speaker did not touch upon.
+First off, using a subset instead of a `where` clause in a sub or method
+signature will bring much better error messages. If you use a `where` in your
+signature, and the check fails, you'll get an error that there was no signature
+that matched `where { ... }`.
+Secondly, if you want to use abstract methods, you can't really use a `where`.
+asked a question about this on Stack Overflow), which has the details as to why
+this doesn't work the way you might expect.
+Next, there's some cool things about operators in Perl 6. There are many of
+these available by default, and it's _very_ easy to add new ones yourself as
+well. In fact, the `Math::Matrix` module used throughout the presentation makes
+some available as well. Thanks to the ease of adding operators in Perl 6, if
+you have a `Math::Matrix $m` in Perl 6, you can get the norm by writing `|| $m
+||`. This is the mathematically correct way to write this, making it easy to
+understand for everyone using matrixes in their daily lives. If you're a
+mathematician, small things like these are great to have.
+I have some comments on the `Math::Matrix` module itself as well, based on
+slides shown in the presentiation. The first thing I noticed is that there's a
+`norm` method using a `where` clause when it's not needed:
+method norm (Str $which where * eq 'row-sum')
+This can be written instead as:
+method norm ('row-sum')
+This is shorter and clearer, and you'll get better feedback from the compiler
+as well. I [](submitted
+a pull request on the GitHub repository) in an attempt to improve this, which
+got merged! The speaker was not aware it could be done in this manner, so I'm
+proud I got to teach him something right after he did his presentation.
+## Winding down
+I've had a great time at the Perl conference, spoke to many people with whom
+I've had some great discussions. I got to meet and personally thank a number of
+people who've helped me out over the past year as well.
+A big thank you to all the people who made this conference possible, and I hope
+to see you all again in Riga!