title: Why Perl 6?
# Why Perl 6?
For about a year now, I've been working in Perl 6. Telling this to other people
often brings about some confused faces. I've grown quite fond of Perl 6 the
more I learn about it, yet the general developer community still seems to think
Perl is a dirty word. In this article, I will detail some of the features that
make me like Perl 6, and why I try to use it wherever possible.
== Hassle-free command line arguments
Whet creating an application, you usually want to be able to specify some
arguments at runtime. Most times this happens using command line arguments or
options. Perl 6 allows you to specify these in the
For instance, if I want the application to accept two string arguments, I can
do it as easy as this:
sub MAIN (
Now, if you wanted to add an option like `--output=/path/to/file`, you can do
it just like this:
sub MAIN (
By default, if there's a `MAIN` available in your Perl 6 program, but the
arguments or options supplied by the user are incorrect, it will display the
right way to invoke the command, called the
Ofcourse, this message can be changed if you wish, but the default is quite good
for most use-cases.
However, sometimes you want to add a little explanation to what the argument or
option is intended for. Just for a liitle bit of additional user friendliness.
Fear not, for this is also already covered by the defaults. In Perl, there was
POD to document your code. In Perl 6, we have
[https://docs.perl6.org/language/glossary#index-entry-POD](POD) as well. And
these comments can be inspected at runtime to provide the user some
information. And that's exactly what the default `USAGE` also does. So if you
want to add some helpful comments to the arguments or the program itself,
simply add the comments where you want them:
#| This is a sample program, just to showcase the awesome stuff available in
#| Perl 6.
sub MAIN (
Str $arg-one, #= Just a random argument
Str $arg-two, #= Yet another argument used for showcasing
Str :$output, #= Last but not least, an option which allows for a value
What if you could support all languages with a single implementation? That's
where unicode comes in. And Perl 6 currently has the best support for Unicode
out of all programming languages available. Its only real competitor seems to
be Swift (at the time of writing this).
But not just for handling strings, Perl 6 uses unicode as a core language
feature. This means you can use them in your source code as well. And that
opens up some nice possibilities. Using the right unicode characters allows you
to write cleaner and more concise code, reducing the cognitive load while
trying to understand the program.
For instance, if you're trying to do any kind of math, you can just use the
π character as a regular character. Or use the ² to get the square of a certain
number. This little piece is completely valid in Perl 6:
my $a = $r² ÷ π;
Now, if you're thinking "that looks neat, but how am I ever going to write
these?", do not worry. Most operating systems and many editors have tools to let
you input these. For instance, using `vim` with
[https://github.com/vim-perl/vim-perl6](`vim-perl6`), you can just write "pi"
and hit space (or type any non-alphabetical character).
But not everyone is using an OS or an editor that makes it easy. And for those
people, Perl 6 simply supports using
[https://docs.perl6.org/language/unicode_ascii](ascii based operators). The
previous block could also be written as follows:
my $a = $r ^ 2 / pi;
As unicode becomes more accepted, input methods will hopefully improve to make
input easier for everyone in the long run. Those who can already input it
easily don't have to wait for this future, Perl 6 already supports it.
Multi-core processors are virtually everywhere these days. Yet many programming
languages still don't support multithreaded application development natively,
if at all. In Perl 6, running something in a different thread is as easy as
wrapping it in a [https://docs.perl6.org/routine/start](`start`) block:
`start` returns a [https://docs.perl6.org/type/Promise](`Promise`), which you can
store in a scalar variable just like any other object. You can check on whether
the `Promise` has completed already and check whether it died, for instance.
Other aspects which can often be spread over multiple threads are loops or
maps. For instance, consider the following
This will pat each cat in turn, in the order they appear in the list. But you
can speed up the patting process by patting multiple cats at the same time. And
to get there, all you need to do is add a
This will attempt to pat the cats over multiple threads, speeding up the
process to pat all the cats. If the result of the pattings needs to be in the
same order as the patting order, you use
[https://docs.perl6.org/routine/hyper](`hyper`) instead of `race`:
## Object orientation
Object oriented programming seems to be getting out of fashion with the new
generation of developers. But it's still in wide use, being taught at most
universities, and is often easy to explain to new developers as well.
And Perl 6 has [https://docs.perl6.org/language/classtut#index-entry-OOP](OO)
support built into its core:
has Str $some-field;
method bar (
You can also have
methods on your classes, which are methods with the same names, but accepting
different arguments or argument types. For instance:
multi method bar (
multi method bar (
Which method is being used will be decided by the type of argument is being
passed in, in this case either a [https://docs.perl6.org/type/Str](`Str`) or an
## Functional programming
Whilst OO is considered being old more and more, functional programming is
gaining ground. And this paradigm is fully supported in the core of Perl 6 as
well. You've seen the `map` example already while patting cats earlier, for
But there's much more on the functional playing field, such as the
[https://docs.perl6.org/routine/==%3E](`==>`) operator, known as the
[https://docs.perl6.org/language/operators#infix_==%3E](feed operator). It
simply passed the output of a statement as the last argument to the next
==> my @happy-cats;
This will take the `@grumpy-cats`, feed them, pat them, snuggle them and put
the result into `@happy-cats`. You could've chained the calls using a `.`
instead, and Perl 6 allows you to do this too. But the `==>` looks much more
readable to me, which is why I prefer using this instead.
I'm still exploring the functional programming field myself, but these few
things have made me happy exploring it.
(Almost) last, but certainly not least, the Perl 6 community is amazing. It's
been the friendliest bunch I've been with, both on IRC, their mailing lists and
in real life. Everyone is welcoming, and they try to help you whenever they
Community is important to help you out whenever you get stuck for whatever
reason. A friendly community is the best you can get here to keep you a happy
developer yourself as well.
## Other little aspects
There's a few neat things I can do in Perl 6 that I can't do in (most) other
languages, but aren't important enough to warrant a large section to show them
### Dashes in names
You can use dashes in names: Things like `my $foo-bar` is valid, just like
`method foo-bar`. It's nothing big on itself, but I've found it makes reading
code much more enjoyable than pascalCase, CamelCase or snake_case.
### Gradual typing
You don't *need* to use types in Perl 6. But when you want to use them (for
making use of multi-dispatch, for example), you can just start using them. If
types are added, the compiler will make sure the types are correct. If not, you
can always do them yourself (but why would you, when the compiler can do a
better job for free).