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Sat, 21 Apr 2012

Perl 6 Hackathon in Oslo: Report From The First Day

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Yesterday I arrived in the beautiful city of Oslo to attend the Perl 6 Patterns Hackathon. Yesterday we visited a pub, had great discussions, food and beverages, and generally a very good time.

Today we met at 10 am, and got straight to hacking. We are located in an office in the 6th floor of a big building, with a nice view over the center of town, harbor, and even the Holmenkollen.

I worked on the backtrace printer, which in alarmingly many cases reported Error while creating error string: Method 'message' not found for invocant of class 'Any', which wasn't too helpful.

It turns out there were actually two causes. One was a subtle error in the backtrace printer that was triggered by stricter implementation of the specification, which was easy to find. The second bug was harder to find, considering that you don't get easily get backtraces from errors within the backtrace printer. In the end it was the usage of a code object in boolean context, which turned out to be harmful. Because regexes are also code objects, and in boolean context they search for the outer $_ variable and try to match the regex against it. Which failed. Hard to find, but easy to fix.

My second big project today was database connectivity. Part of it was pestering Jonathan to fix the issues that arose from module precompilation mixed with calling C modules, and testing all the iterations he produced. I'm happy to report that it now works fine, which speeds up development quite a bit.

I also fixed the postgres driver. The root cause for the failing tests turned out to be rather simple too (a missing initialization), so simple that it's embarrassing how long it took me to find out. On the plus side I improved the code quite a bit in passing.

So now all tests in MiniDBI pass, which is a nice milestone, and an indication that we need more tests.

Tomorrow I plan to change the postgres driver to use proper prepared statments.

But the real value of such hackathon comes from interacting with the other hackers. I'm very happy about lots of discussions with other core hackers, as well as feedback and patches from new users and hackers.

At this occasion I'd also like to thank the organizers, Salve J. Nilsen, Karl Rune Nilsen and Jan Ingvoldstad. It has been a great event so far, both fun and productive. You are doing a great service to the Perl 6 community, and to the hackers you have invited.

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