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1=head1 NAME
2
3perltodo - Perl TO-DO List
4
5=head1 DESCRIPTION
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7This is a list of wishes for Perl. The tasks we think are smaller or easier
8are listed first. Anyone is welcome to work on any of these, but it's a good
9idea to first contact I<perl5-porters@perl.org> to avoid duplication of
10effort. By all means contact a pumpking privately first if you prefer.
e50bb9a1 11
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12Whilst patches to make the list shorter are most welcome, ideas to add to
13the list are also encouraged. Check the perl5-porters archives for past
14ideas, and any discussion about them. One set of archives may be found at:
e50bb9a1 15
0bdfc961 16 http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/
938c8732 17
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18What can we offer you in return? Fame, fortune, and everlasting glory? Maybe
19not, but if your patch is incorporated, then we'll add your name to the
20F<AUTHORS> file, which ships in the official distribution. How many other
21programming languages offer you 1 line of immortality?
938c8732 22
938c8732 23
e50bb9a1 24
0bdfc961 25=head1 Tasks that only need Perl knowledge
e50bb9a1 26
0bdfc961 27=head2 common test code for timed bail out
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29Write portable self destruct code for tests to stop them burning CPU in
30infinite loops. This needs to avoid using alarm, as some of the tests are
31testing alarm/sleep or timers.
e50bb9a1 32
0bdfc961 33=head2 POD -> HTML conversion in the core still sucks
e50bb9a1 34
938c8732 35Which is crazy given just how simple POD purports to be, and how simple HTML
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36can be. It's not actually I<as> simple as it sounds, particularly with the
37flexibility POD allows for C<=item>, but it would be good to improve the
38visual appeal of the HTML generated, and to avoid it having any validation
39errors. See also L</make HTML install work>, as the layout of installation tree
40is needed to improve the cross-linking.
938c8732 41
0bdfc961 42=head2 Make Schwern poorer
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44We should have for everything. When all the core's modules are tested,
45Schwern has promised to donate to $500 to TPF. We may need volunteers to
46hold him upside down and shake vigorously in order to actually extract the
47cash.
3958b146 48
0bdfc961 49See F<t/lib/1_compile.t> for the 3 remaining modules that need tests.
e50bb9a1 50
0bdfc961 51=head2 Improve the coverage of the core tests
e50bb9a1 52
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53Use Devel::Cover to ascertain the core's test coverage, then add tests that
54are currently missing.
30222c0f 55
0bdfc961 56=head2 test B
e50bb9a1 57
0bdfc961 58A full test suite for the B module would be nice.
e50bb9a1 59
0bdfc961 60=head2 A decent benchmark
e50bb9a1 61
617eabfa 62C<perlbench> seems impervious to any recent changes made to the perl core. It
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63would be useful to have a reasonable general benchmarking suite that roughly
64represented what current perl programs do, and measurably reported whether
65tweaks to the core improve, degrade or don't really affect performance, to
66guide people attempting to optimise the guts of perl. Gisle would welcome
67new tests for perlbench.
6168cf99 68
0bdfc961 69=head2 fix tainting bugs
6168cf99 70
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71Fix the bugs revealed by running the test suite with the C<-t> switch (via
72C<make test.taintwarn>).
e50bb9a1 73
0bdfc961 74=head2 Dual life everything
e50bb9a1 75
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76As part of the "dists" plan, anything that doesn't belong in the smallest perl
77distribution needs to be dual lifed. Anything else can be too. Figure out what
78changes would be needed to package that module and its tests up for CPAN, and
79do so. Test it with older perl releases, and fix the problems you find.
e50bb9a1 80
0bdfc961 81=head2 Improving C<threads::shared>
722d2a37 82
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83Investigate whether C<threads::shared> could share aggregates properly with
84only Perl level changes to shared.pm
722d2a37 85
0bdfc961 86=head2 POSIX memory footprint
e50bb9a1 87
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88Ilya observed that use POSIX; eats memory like there's no tomorrow, and at
89various times worked to cut it down. There is probably still fat to cut out -
90for example POSIX passes Exporter some very memory hungry data structures.
e50bb9a1 91
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92=head2 Refactor C<xsubpp> to be a thin wrapper around C<ExtUtils::ParseXS>
93
94C<ExtUtils::ParseXS> encapsulates a version of the C<xsubpp> into a module.
95In effect this is a code fork, and it's likely that C<xsubpp> has had some
96bug fixes since the code from C<ExtUtils::ParseXS> was derived. It would be
97good to merge the differences in, reduce down to 1 canonical implementation,
98and convert C<xsubpp> to a very thin command line wrapper to
99C<ExtUtils::ParseXS>.
100
101In theory this needs no real C knowledge, as one way of approaching this task
102is to ensure that C<ExtUtils::ParseXS> generates identical output to C<xsubpp>
103for input XS files, which does not require understanding the contents of the
104output C file. However, some C knowledge is likely to help with testing, and
105locating/producing comprehensive test cases.
e50bb9a1 106
e50bb9a1 107
e50bb9a1 108
e50bb9a1 109
adebf063 110
adebf063 111
0bdfc961 112=head1 Tasks that need a little sysadmin-type knowledge
e50bb9a1 113
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114Or if you prefer, tasks that you would learn from, and broaden your skills
115base...
e50bb9a1 116
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117=head2 Relocatable perl
118
119The C level patches needed to create a relocatable perl binary are done, as
120is the work on F<Config.pm>. All that's left to do is the C<Configure> tweaking
121to let people specify how they want to do the install.
122
cd793d32 123=head2 make HTML install work
e50bb9a1 124
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125There is an C<installhtml> target in the Makefile. It's marked as
126"experimental". It would be good to get this tested, make it work reliably, and
127remove the "experimental" tag. This would include
128
129=over 4
130
131=item 1
132
133Checking that cross linking between various parts of the documentation works.
134In particular that links work between the modules (files with POD in F<lib/>)
135and the core documentation (files in F<pod/>)
136
137=item 2
138
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139Work out how to split C<perlfunc> into chunks, preferably one per function
140group, preferably with general case code that could be used elsewhere.
141Challenges here are correctly identifying the groups of functions that go
142together, and making the right named external cross-links point to the right
143page. Things to be aware of are C<-X>, groups such as C<getpwnam> to
144C<endservent>, two or more C<=items> giving the different parameter lists, such
145as
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146
147 =item substr EXPR,OFFSET,LENGTH,REPLACEMENT
148
149 =item substr EXPR,OFFSET,LENGTH
150
151 =item substr EXPR,OFFSET
152
153and different parameter lists having different meanings. (eg C<select>)
154
155=back
3a89a73c 156
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157=head2 compressed man pages
158
159Be able to install them. This would probably need a configure test to see how
160the system does compressed man pages (same directory/different directory?
161same filename/different filename), as well as tweaking the F<installman> script
162to compress as necessary.
163
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164=head2 Add a code coverage target to the Makefile
165
166Make it easy for anyone to run Devel::Cover on the core's tests. The steps
167to do this manually are roughly
168
169=over 4
170
171=item *
172
173do a normal C<Configure>, but include Devel::Cover as a module to install
174(see F<INSTALL> for how to do this)
175
176=item *
177
178 make perl
179
180=item *
181
182 cd t; HARNESS_PERL_SWITCHES=-MDevel::Cover ./perl -I../lib harness
183
184=item *
185
186Process the resulting Devel::Cover database
187
188=back
189
190This just give you the coverage of the F<.pm>s. To also get the C level
191coverage you need to
192
193=over 4
194
195=item *
196
197Additionally tell C<Configure> to use the appropriate C compiler flags for
198C<gcov>
199
200=item *
201
202 make perl.gcov
203
204(instead of C<make perl>)
205
206=item *
207
208After running the tests run C<gcov> to generate all the F<.gcov> files.
209(Including down in the subdirectories of F<ext/>
210
211=item *
212
213(From the top level perl directory) run C<gcov2perl> on all the C<.gcov> files
214to get their stats into the cover_db directory.
215
216=item *
217
218Then process the Devel::Cover database
219
220=back
221
222It would be good to add a single switch to C<Configure> to specify that you
223wanted to perform perl level coverage, and another to specify C level
224coverage, and have C<Configure> and the F<Makefile> do all the right things
225automatically.
226
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227=head2 Make Config.pm cope with differences between build and installed perl
228
229Quite often vendors ship a perl binary compiled with their (pay-for)
230compilers. People install a free compiler, such as gcc. To work out how to
231build extensions, Perl interrogates C<%Config>, so in this situation
232C<%Config> describes compilers that aren't there, and extension building
233fails. This forces people into choosing between re-compiling perl themselves
234using the compiler they have, or only using modules that the vendor ships.
235
236It would be good to find a way teach C<Config.pm> about the installation setup,
237possibly involving probing at install time or later, so that the C<%Config> in
238a binary distribution better describes the installed machine, when the
239installed machine differs from the build machine in some significant way.
240
46925299 241=head2 make parallel builds work
0bdfc961 242
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243Currently parallel builds (such as C<make -j3>) don't work reliably. We believe
244that this is due to incomplete dependency specification in the F<Makefile>.
245It would be good if someone were able to track down the causes of these
246problems, so that parallel builds worked properly.
0bdfc961 247
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248=head2 linker specification files
249
250Some platforms mandate that you provide a list of a shared library's external
251symbols to the linker, so the core already has the infrastructure in place to
252do this for generating shared perl libraries. My understanding is that the
253GNU toolchain can accept an optional linker specification file, and restrict
254visibility just to symbols declared in that file. It would be good to extend
255F<makedef.pl> to support this format, and to provide a means within
256C<Configure> to enable it. This would allow Unix users to test that the
257export list is correct, and to build a perl that does not pollute the global
258namespace with private symbols.
259
8523e164 260
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261
262
263=head1 Tasks that need a little C knowledge
264
265These tasks would need a little C knowledge, but don't need any specific
266background or experience with XS, or how the Perl interpreter works
267
268=head2 Make it clear from -v if this is the exact official release
89007cb3 269
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270Currently perl from C<p4>/C<rsync> ships with a F<patchlevel.h> file that
271usually defines one local patch, of the form "MAINT12345" or "RC1". The output
272of perl -v doesn't report that a perl isn't an official release, and this
89007cb3 273information can get lost in bugs reports. Because of this, the minor version
fa11829f 274isn't bumped up until RC time, to minimise the possibility of versions of perl
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275escaping that believe themselves to be newer than they actually are.
276
277It would be useful to find an elegant way to have the "this is an interim
278maintenance release" or "this is a release candidate" in the terse -v output,
279and have it so that it's easy for the pumpking to remove this just as the
280release tarball is rolled up. This way the version pulled out of rsync would
281always say "I'm a development release" and it would be safe to bump the
282reported minor version as soon as a release ships, which would aid perl
283developers.
284
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285This task is really about thinking of an elegant way to arrange the C source
286such that it's trivial for the Pumpking to flag "this is an official release"
287when making a tarball, yet leave the default source saying "I'm not the
288official release".
289
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290=head2 Tidy up global variables
291
292There's a note in F<intrpvar.h>
293
294 /* These two variables are needed to preserve 5.8.x bincompat because
295 we can't change function prototypes of two exported functions.
296 Probably should be taken out of blead soon, and relevant prototypes
297 changed. */
298
299So doing this, and removing any of the unused variables still present would
300be good.
301
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302=head2 Ordering of "global" variables.
303
304F<thrdvar.h> and F<intrpvarh> define the "global" variables that need to be
305per-thread under ithreads, where the variables are actually elements in a
306structure. As C dictates, the variables must be laid out in order of
307declaration. There is a comment
308C</* Important ones in the first cache line (if alignment is done right) */>
309which implies that at some point in the past the ordering was carefully chosen
310(at least in part). However, it's clear that the ordering is less than perfect,
311as currently there are things such as 7 C<bool>s in a row, then something
312typically requiring 4 byte alignment, and then an odd C<bool> later on.
313(C<bool>s are typically defined as C<char>s). So it would be good for someone
314to review the ordering of the variables, to see how much alignment padding can
315be removed.
316
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317=head2 bincompat functions
318
319There are lots of functions which are retained for binary compatibility.
320Clean these up. Move them to mathom.c, and don't compile for blead?
321
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322=head2 am I hot or not?
323
324The idea of F<pp_hot.c> is that it contains the I<hot> ops, the ops that are
325most commonly used. The idea is that by grouping them, their object code will
326be adjacent in the executable, so they have a greater chance of already being
327in the CPU cache (or swapped in) due to being near another op already in use.
328
329Except that it's not clear if these really are the most commonly used ops. So
330anyone feeling like exercising their skill with coverage and profiling tools
331might want to determine what ops I<really> are the most commonly used. And in
332turn suggest evictions and promotions to achieve a better F<pp_hot.c>.
333
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334=head2 emulate the per-thread memory pool on Unix
335
336For Windows, ithreads allocates memory for each thread from a separate pool,
337which it discards at thread exit. It also checks that memory is free()d to
338the correct pool. Neither check is done on Unix, so code developed there won't
339be subject to such strictures, so can harbour bugs that only show up when the
340code reaches Windows.
341
342It would be good to be able to optionally emulate the Window pool system on
343Unix, to let developers who only have access to Unix, or want to use
344Unix-specific debugging tools, check for these problems. To do this would
345involve figuring out how the C<PerlMem_*> macros wrap C<malloc()> access, and
346providing a layer that records/checks the identity of the thread making the
347call, and recording all the memory allocated by each thread via this API so
348that it can be summarily free()d at thread exit. One implementation idea
349would be to increase the size of allocation, and store the C<my_perl> pointer
350(to identify the thread) at the start, along with pointers to make a linked
351list of blocks for this thread. To avoid alignment problems it would be
352necessary to do something like
353
354 union memory_header_padded {
355 struct memory_header {
356 void *thread_id; /* For my_perl */
357 void *next; /* Pointer to next block for this thread */
358 } data;
359 long double padding; /* whatever type has maximal alignment constraint */
360 };
361
362
363although C<long double> might not be the only type to add to the padding
364union.
62403a3c 365
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366=head2 reduce duplication in sv_setsv_flags
367
368C<Perl_sv_setsv_flags> has a comment
369C</* There's a lot of redundancy below but we're going for speed here */>
370
371Whilst this was true 10 years ago, the growing disparity between RAM and CPU
372speeds mean that the trade offs have changed. In addition, the duplicate code
373adds to the maintenance burden. It would be good to see how much of the
374redundancy can be pruned, particular in the less common paths. (Profiling
375tools at the ready...). For example, why does the test for
376"Can't redefine active sort subroutine" need to occur in two places?
377
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378
379
380
0bdfc961 381=head1 Tasks that need a knowledge of XS
e50bb9a1 382
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383These tasks would need C knowledge, and roughly the level of knowledge of
384the perl API that comes from writing modules that use XS to interface to
385C.
386
387=head2 IPv6
388
389Clean this up. Check everything in core works
390
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391=head2 shrink C<GV>s, C<CV>s
392
393By removing unused elements and careful re-ordering, the structures for C<AV>s
394and C<HV>s have recently been shrunk considerably. It's probable that the same
395approach would find savings in C<GV>s and C<CV>s, if not all the other
396larger-than-C<PVMG> types.
397
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398=head2 merge Perl_sv_2[inpu]v
399
400There's a lot of code shared between C<Perl_sv_2iv_flags>,
401C<Perl_sv_2uv_flags>, C<Perl_sv_2nv>, and C<Perl_sv_2pv_flags>. It would be
402interesting to see if some of it can be merged into common shared static
403functions. In particular, C<Perl_sv_2uv_flags> started out as a cut&paste
404from C<Perl_sv_2iv_flags> around 5.005_50 time, and it may be possible to
405replace both with a single function that returns a value or union which is
406split out by the macros in F<sv.h>
407
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408=head2 UTF8 caching code
409
410The string position/offset cache is not optional. It should be.
411
412=head2 Implicit Latin 1 => Unicode translation
413
414Conversions from byte strings to UTF-8 currently map high bit characters
415to Unicode without translation (or, depending on how you look at it, by
416implicitly assuming that the byte strings are in Latin-1). As perl assumes
417the C locale by default, upgrading a string to UTF-8 may change the
418meaning of its contents regarding character classes, case mapping, etc.
419This should probably emit a warning (at least).
420
421This task is incremental - even a little bit of work on it will help.
e50bb9a1 422
cd793d32 423=head2 autovivification
e50bb9a1 424
cd793d32 425Make all autovivification consistent w.r.t LVALUE/RVALUE and strict/no strict;
e50bb9a1 426
0bdfc961 427This task is incremental - even a little bit of work on it will help.
e50bb9a1 428
0bdfc961 429=head2 Unicode in Filenames
e50bb9a1 430
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431chdir, chmod, chown, chroot, exec, glob, link, lstat, mkdir, open,
432opendir, qx, readdir, readlink, rename, rmdir, stat, symlink, sysopen,
433system, truncate, unlink, utime, -X. All these could potentially accept
434Unicode filenames either as input or output (and in the case of system
435and qx Unicode in general, as input or output to/from the shell).
436Whether a filesystem - an operating system pair understands Unicode in
437filenames varies.
e50bb9a1 438
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439Known combinations that have some level of understanding include
440Microsoft NTFS, Apple HFS+ (In Mac OS 9 and X) and Apple UFS (in Mac
441OS X), NFS v4 is rumored to be Unicode, and of course Plan 9. How to
442create Unicode filenames, what forms of Unicode are accepted and used
443(UCS-2, UTF-16, UTF-8), what (if any) is the normalization form used,
444and so on, varies. Finding the right level of interfacing to Perl
445requires some thought. Remember that an OS does not implicate a
446filesystem.
e50bb9a1 447
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448(The Windows -C command flag "wide API support" has been at least
449temporarily retired in 5.8.1, and the -C has been repurposed, see
450L<perlrun>.)
969e704b 451
0bdfc961 452=head2 Unicode in %ENV
969e704b 453
0bdfc961 454Currently the %ENV entries are always byte strings.
e50bb9a1 455
0bdfc961 456=head2 use less 'memory'
e50bb9a1 457
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458Investigate trade offs to switch out perl's choices on memory usage.
459Particularly perl should be able to give memory back.
e50bb9a1 460
0bdfc961 461This task is incremental - even a little bit of work on it will help.
0abe3f7c 462
0bdfc961 463=head2 Re-implement C<:unique> in a way that is actually thread-safe
0abe3f7c 464
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465The old implementation made bad assumptions on several levels. A good 90%
466solution might be just to make C<:unique> work to share the string buffer
467of SvPVs. That way large constant strings can be shared between ithreads,
468such as the configuration information in F<Config>.
0abe3f7c 469
0bdfc961 470=head2 Make tainting consistent
0abe3f7c 471
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472Tainting would be easier to use if it didn't take documented shortcuts and
473allow taint to "leak" everywhere within an expression.
0abe3f7c 474
0bdfc961 475=head2 readpipe(LIST)
0abe3f7c 476
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477system() accepts a LIST syntax (and a PROGRAM LIST syntax) to avoid
478running a shell. readpipe() (the function behind qx//) could be similarly
479extended.
0abe3f7c 480
e50bb9a1 481
e50bb9a1 482
e50bb9a1 483
f86a8bc5 484
0bdfc961 485=head1 Tasks that need a knowledge of the interpreter
3298bd4d 486
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487These tasks would need C knowledge, and knowledge of how the interpreter works,
488or a willingness to learn.
3298bd4d 489
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490=head2 lexical pragmas
491
492Reimplement the mechanism of lexical pragmas to be more extensible. Fix
493current pragmas that don't work well (or at all) with lexical scopes or in
494run-time eval(STRING) (C<sort>, C<re>, C<encoding> for example). MJD has a
495preliminary patch that implements this.
0562c0e3 496
d10fc472 497=head2 Attach/detach debugger from running program
1626a787 498
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499The old perltodo notes "With C<gdb>, you can attach the debugger to a running
500program if you pass the process ID. It would be good to do this with the Perl
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501debugger on a running Perl program, although I'm not sure how it would be
502done." ssh and screen do this with named pipes in /tmp. Maybe we can too.
1626a787 503
0bdfc961 504=head2 inlining autoloaded constants
d10fc472 505
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506Currently the optimiser can inline constants when expressed as subroutines
507with prototype ($) that return a constant. Likewise, many packages wrapping
508C libraries export lots of constants as subroutines which are AUTOLOADed on
509demand. However, these have no prototypes, so can't be seen as constants by
510the optimiser. Some way of cheaply (low syntax, low memory overhead) to the
511perl compiler that a name is a constant would be great, so that it knows to
512call the AUTOLOAD routine at compile time, and then inline the constant.
80b46460 513
0bdfc961 514=head2 Constant folding
80b46460 515
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516The peephole optimiser should trap errors during constant folding, and give
517up on the folding, rather than bailing out at compile time. It is quite
518possible that the unfoldable constant is in unreachable code, eg something
519akin to C<$a = 0/0 if 0;>
520
521=head2 LVALUE functions for lists
522
523The old perltodo notes that lvalue functions don't work for list or hash
524slices. This would be good to fix.
525
526=head2 LVALUE functions in the debugger
527
528The old perltodo notes that lvalue functions don't work in the debugger. This
529would be good to fix.
530
531=head2 _ prototype character
532
533Study the possibility of adding a new prototype character, C<_>, meaning
534"this argument defaults to $_".
535
536=head2 @INC source filter to Filter::Simple
537
538The second return value from a sub in @INC can be a source filter. This isn't
539documented. It should be changed to use Filter::Simple, tested and documented.
540
541=head2 regexp optimiser optional
542
543The regexp optimiser is not optional. It should configurable to be, to allow
544its performance to be measured, and its bugs to be easily demonstrated.
545
546=head2 UNITCHECK
547
548Introduce a new special block, UNITCHECK, which is run at the end of a
549compilation unit (module, file, eval(STRING) block). This will correspond to
550the Perl 6 CHECK. Perl 5's CHECK cannot be changed or removed because the
551O.pm/B.pm backend framework depends on it.
552
553=head2 optional optimizer
554
555Make the peephole optimizer optional. Currently it performs two tasks as
556it walks the optree - genuine peephole optimisations, and necessary fixups of
557ops. It would be good to find an efficient way to switch out the
558optimisations whilst keeping the fixups.
559
560=head2 You WANT *how* many
561
562Currently contexts are void, scalar and list. split has a special mechanism in
563place to pass in the number of return values wanted. It would be useful to
564have a general mechanism for this, backwards compatible and little speed hit.
565This would allow proposals such as short circuiting sort to be implemented
566as a module on CPAN.
567
568=head2 lexical aliases
569
570Allow lexical aliases (maybe via the syntax C<my \$alias = \$foo>.
571
572=head2 entersub XS vs Perl
573
574At the moment pp_entersub is huge, and has code to deal with entering both
575perl and XS subroutines. Subroutine implementations rarely change between
576perl and XS at run time, so investigate using 2 ops to enter subs (one for
577XS, one for perl) and swap between if a sub is redefined.
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578
579=head2 Self ties
580
581self ties are currently illegal because they caused too many segfaults. Maybe
582the causes of these could be tracked down and self-ties on all types re-
583instated.
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584
585=head2 Optimize away @_
586
587The old perltodo notes "Look at the "reification" code in C<av.c>".
588
589=head2 switch ops
590
591The old perltodo notes "Although we have C<Switch.pm> in core, Larry points to
592the dormant C<nswitch> and C<cswitch> ops in F<pp.c>; using these opcodes would
593be much faster."
594
595=head2 What hooks would assertions need?
596
597Assertions are in the core, and work. However, assertions needed to be added
598as a core patch, rather than an XS module in ext, or a CPAN module, because
599the core has no hooks in the necessary places. It would be useful to
600investigate what hooks would need to be added to make it possible to provide
601the full assertion support from a CPAN module, so that we aren't constraining
602the imagination of future CPAN authors.
603
604
605
606
607
608
609
610=head1 Big projects
611
612Tasks that will get your name mentioned in the description of the "Highlights
613of 5.10"
614
615=head2 make ithreads more robust
616
617Generally make ithreads more robust. See also L<iCOW>
618
619This task is incremental - even a little bit of work on it will help, and
620will be greatly appreciated.
621
622=head2 iCOW
623
624Sarathy and Arthur have a proposal for an improved Copy On Write which
625specifically will be able to COW new ithreads. If this can be implemented
626it would be a good thing.
627
628=head2 (?{...}) closures in regexps
629
630Fix (or rewrite) the implementation of the C</(?{...})/> closures.
631
632=head2 A re-entrant regexp engine
633
634This will allow the use of a regex from inside (?{ }), (??{ }) and
635(?(?{ })|) constructs.