The Pugs Apocrypha are a series of documents, written in question/answer format, to explain the design and implementation of Pugs. This document (PA01) is a higher-level overview of the project.
Started in February 2005, Pugs is an implementation of the Perl 6 language. Autrijus Tang is responsible for the design and development of Pugs with help from a group of committers and contributors.
Perl 6 is the next major revision of Perl, a context-sensitive, multi-paradigmatic, practical programming language, designed by a team led by Larry Wall. The Pugs project has been enthusiastically welcomed by the Perl 6 team.
Official Perl 6 is now defined as any implementation which passes the Perl 6 testsuite. So Pugs is expected to be an official Perl 6, but not necessarily the only one.
By December 2004, most of Perl 6 had been specified as a series of Synopses. Although not considered final, it is now stable enough to be implemented. Many of the Synopses are based on Larry's Apocalypses. Sometimes the design team releases Exegeses, which explain the meaning of Apocalypses. Pugs adheres to the Synopses, referring to Apocalypses or Exegeses when a Synopsis is unclear or imprecise.
The word Apocrypha, from the Greek απόκρυφος, “hidden”, refers to religious works that are not considered canonical, or part of officially accepted scripture. The proper singular form in Greek is Apocryphon.
Apocalypses and Synopses cover the Perl 6 language in general; Apocrypha are specific to the Pugs implementation. Like Parrot Design Documents, Apocrypha will be constantly updated according to the status of Pugs.
Yes. Pugs always targets the latest revision of Perl 6 Synopses. As soon as a new revision or a new Synopsis is published, incompatibilities between Pugs and the new version will be considered bugs in Pugs.
Yes. It is available under both GPL version 2 and Artistic License version 2.0b5. Once the final version of Artistic 2.0 is released, Pugs will adopt it.
No. After receiving three Perl Foundation grants on various projects, Autrijus decides it would be more helpful to donate time to the Perl 6 project by hacking Pugs, rather than asking TPF for money to do the same thing.
For the very latest version of Pugs, check out the source from Subversion or darcs repositories. Periodic releases are available on CPAN under the Perl6-Pugs namespace. (By the way, if you'd like offline working with the Subversion repository, the svk client may be of interest. But using vanilla svn is fine.)
Pugs uses the standard Makefile.PL build
system, as detailed in the
file. Since Pugs is written in Haskell, you will need Glasgow Haskell
Compiler (GHC) 6.4 or above.
Please download a binary build
platform; compiling GHC from source code can take a very long time.
Haskell is a standardized, purely functional programming language with built-in lazy evaluation capabilities. While there are several different implementations available, currently Pugs needs to be built with GHC, because it uses several GHC-specific features.
GHC is a state-of-the-art compiler and interactive environment, available under a BSD-style license. Itself written in Haskell, GHC can compile Haskell to bytecode, C code, and machine code on some platforms. GHC has an extensive library, numerous language extensions, and a very capable optimizer (with some help from a Perl 5 program). As such, it provides an excellent platform to solve Perl 6’s bootstrapping problem.
The goal of the Perl 6 project is to be self-hosting: The Perl 6 compiler needs to be written in Perl 6 itself, and must parse Perl 6 source code with Perl 6 Rules, which is a subset of the Perl 6 language. The generated code must also contain an evaluator that can execute Perl 6 code on the fly. The only way to break this cycle of dependency is by first implementing some parts in other languages, then rewrite those parts in Perl 6.
According to the Parrot
FAQ, the initial plan was to
bootstrap via Perl 5: First we extend Perl 5
to run on the Parrot virtual machine (via
and then implement the Perl 6
compiler in Perl 5, which will be translated to Perl 6 via a p5-to-p6
translator. However, although part of the Rule system was prototyped in
it was not mature enough to build a compiler on. As such, the plan was revised
to bootstrap via C instead.
According to an early 2005 proposal, the plan is to first implement the Rule engine in C (i.e. PGE), use it to parse Perl 6 into Parrot as an abstract syntax tree (AST), and then implement an AST evaluator as part of Parrot. Ponie and p5-to-p6 are still in progress, but they are no longer critical dependencies in the bootstrapping process.
In a bootstrapping process, there are often many bottlenecks, which prevent people from working on things that depend on them. For example, one cannot easily write unit tests and standard libraries for Perl 6 without a working Perl 6 implementation, or work on an AST evaluator without an AST interface. Pugs solves such deadlocks by providing ready substitutes at various levels of the process.
Without a working implementation, it is very hard to spot inconsistencies and corner cases in the specification. However, if a design problem is found late into the implementation, it may require costly re-architecture for everything else. By providing a working Perl 6 implementation, Pugs can serve as a proving ground to resolve problems as early as possible, as well as encourage more people to exercise Perl 6’s features.
Many Perl 6 features have similar
counterparts in Haskell: Perl 6 Rules corresponds closely to Parsec;
list evaluation is common in both languages; continuation support can
modeled with the ContT
monad transformer, and so on. This greatly simplified the prototyping
the first working interpreter was released within the first
week, and by the third
week we had a full-fledged
module for unit testing.
Similar to Perl 5, Pugs first compiles Perl 6 program to an AST, then executes it using the built-in evaluator. However, in the future Pugs may also provide a compiler interface that supports different compiler backends.
If implemented, the first compiler
will likely generate Perl 6 code, similar to the
module. The next one may generate
Haskell code, which can then be
compiled to C by GHC. At that point, it may make sense to target the Parrot
interface. We can also add other backends (such as Perl 5 bytecode) if
are willing to work on them.
The major/minor version numbers of Pugs converges to 2*π; each significant digit in the minor version represents a milestone. The third digit is incremented for each release. The current milestones are:
Pugs runs on Win32, Linux and many flavors of Unix systems. See GHC’s porters list and download page for details. Starting from 6.2.0, the Pugs team will also provide binary builds on selected platforms.
The parser part of Pugs is very fast, due to its robust underpinning in Parsec. However, the Pugs evaluator is currently not optimized at all: dispatching is around 1000 operators per second on a typical PC, which is nearly 100 times slower than Perl 5. Still, it is fast enough for prototyping language features; if you need fast operations in Pugs, please consider helping out the Compiler backend.
No. The current preferred method for submitting Perl 6/Pugs modules is to ask for a committer bit at http://commitbit.pugscode.org/ and to add your module to the Pugs source tree under the modules/ directory. It is also helpful to include test suites with your modules as well, so we can know when they work.
However, all is not lost. If you are patient you can wait for
Module::Install::Pugs to come out
on CPAN. Once they are available individually on CPAN, you can begin submitting
things to CPAN, because that means we've figured out the distribution problem.
Of course, suggestions are always welcome.
Yes, Pugs can work with Perl 5 libraries. This requires that Pugs be compiled with Perl 5 embedding. Pugs understands Perl 5 objects, classes and functions. Pugs objects, classes and functions are also understood by Perl 5. As such, these types can be used in round-trip callbacks.
Examples of working with Perl 5 may be found in the source tree.
Pugs can be compiled with
support, which allows it to use Haskell libraries. It is also capable of
dynamically loading Haskell modules. Aside from this, inline Haskell can
be evaluated using
In addition, at the basic level, you can statically link Haskell libraries
into Pugs primitives, by modifying a few lines in
Not yet. However, HaskellDirect seems to provide an easy way to interface with C, CORBA and COM libraries, especially when combined with hs-plugins described above.
Sure! The standard libraries and unit tests that come with Pugs are coded in Perl 6, and there is always a need for more tests and libraries. All you need is basic familiarity of Perl 5, and a few minutes to get acquainted with some small syntax changes. You will likely pick up some Haskell knowledge along the way, too.
Sure! Perl 6 and Haskell have many things in common, such as type-based function dispatch, first class functions and currying, so picking up the syntax is relatively easy. Since there are always some TODO tests for features in need of implementation, it is never hard to find something to do.
Look at the examples/ directory to see some sample programs. Some people are already writing web applications and report systems with Pugs. If you run into a missing feature in Pugs, please let us know so we can implement it.
homepage and the Wiki
entry points. Of the many online tutorials, Yet Another
Haskell Tutorial is
perhaps the most accessible. Due to the ubiquitous use of Monad
Pugs, All About
also recommended. For books, Algorithms:
A Functional Programming Approach,
The Craft of
Functional Programming and The
Haskell School of
fine introductory materials. Finally, the
#haskell channel on
irc.freenode.net is full of helpful and
The Perl 6 homepage provides many online documents. Every week or two, a new Perl 6 list summary will appear on Perl.com; it is a must-read for people who wish to follow Perl 6’s progress. For books, Perl 6 and Parrot Essentials and Perl 6 Now are both helpful.
Types and Programming Languages is an essential read; Pugs started out as a self-initiated study of the text, and it continues to be an important guide during the implementation. Its sequel, Advanced Topics in Types and Programming Languages, is also invaluable. It may also help to get acquainted with other multi-paradigmatic languages, such as Mozart/Oz, Curry and O’Caml. Finally, the detailed GHC commentary describes how GHC itself was implemented.
First, subscribe to the perl6-compiler
mailing list by sending an empty mail to email@example.com.
Next, join the
IRC channel on irc.freenode.net to find out what needs to be done. Commit
access is handed out liberally; contact the Pugs team on
for details. See you on IRC!