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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
8easier are listed first. Anyone is welcome to work on any of these,
9but it's a good idea to first contact I<perl5-porters@perl.org> to
10avoid duplication of effort, and to learn from any previous attempts.
11By all means contact a pumpking privately first if you prefer.
e50bb9a1 12
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13Whilst patches to make the list shorter are most welcome, ideas to add to
14the list are also encouraged. Check the perl5-porters archives for past
15ideas, and any discussion about them. One set of archives may be found at:
e50bb9a1 16
0bdfc961 17 http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/
938c8732 18
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19What can we offer you in return? Fame, fortune, and everlasting glory? Maybe
20not, but if your patch is incorporated, then we'll add your name to the
21F<AUTHORS> file, which ships in the official distribution. How many other
22programming languages offer you 1 line of immortality?
938c8732 23
0bdfc961 24=head1 Tasks that only need Perl knowledge
e50bb9a1 25
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26=head2 Remove duplication of test setup.
27
28Schwern notes, that there's duplication of code - lots and lots of tests have
29some variation on the big block of C<$Is_Foo> checks. We can safely put this
30into a file, change it to build an C<%Is> hash and require it. Maybe just put
31it into F<test.pl>. Throw in the handy tainting subroutines.
32
0bdfc961 33=head2 common test code for timed bail out
e50bb9a1 34
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35Write portable self destruct code for tests to stop them burning CPU in
36infinite loops. This needs to avoid using alarm, as some of the tests are
37testing alarm/sleep or timers.
e50bb9a1 38
87a942b1 39=head2 POD -E<gt> HTML conversion in the core still sucks
e50bb9a1 40
938c8732 41Which is crazy given just how simple POD purports to be, and how simple HTML
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42can be. It's not actually I<as> simple as it sounds, particularly with the
43flexibility POD allows for C<=item>, but it would be good to improve the
44visual appeal of the HTML generated, and to avoid it having any validation
45errors. See also L</make HTML install work>, as the layout of installation tree
46is needed to improve the cross-linking.
938c8732 47
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48The addition of C<Pod::Simple> and its related modules may make this task
49easier to complete.
50
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51=head2 merge checkpods and podchecker
52
53F<pod/checkpods.PL> (and C<make check> in the F<pod/> subdirectory)
54implements a very basic check for pod files, but the errors it discovers
55aren't found by podchecker. Add this check to podchecker, get rid of
56checkpods and have C<make check> use podchecker.
57
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58=head2 Parallel testing
59
b2e2905c 60(This probably impacts much more than the core: also the Test::Harness
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61and TAP::* modules on CPAN.)
62
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63The core regression test suite is getting ever more comprehensive, which has
64the side effect that it takes longer to run. This isn't so good. Investigate
65whether it would be feasible to give the harness script the B<option> of
66running sets of tests in parallel. This would be useful for tests in
67F<t/op/*.t> and F<t/uni/*.t> and maybe some sets of tests in F<lib/>.
68
69Questions to answer
70
71=over 4
72
73=item 1
74
75How does screen layout work when you're running more than one test?
76
77=item 2
78
79How does the caller of test specify how many tests to run in parallel?
80
81=item 3
82
83How do setup/teardown tests identify themselves?
84
85=back
86
87Pugs already does parallel testing - can their approach be re-used?
88
0bdfc961 89=head2 Make Schwern poorer
e50bb9a1 90
613bd4f7 91We should have tests for everything. When all the core's modules are tested,
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92Schwern has promised to donate to $500 to TPF. We may need volunteers to
93hold him upside down and shake vigorously in order to actually extract the
94cash.
3958b146 95
0bdfc961 96=head2 Improve the coverage of the core tests
e50bb9a1 97
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98Use Devel::Cover to ascertain the core modules's test coverage, then add
99tests that are currently missing.
30222c0f 100
0bdfc961 101=head2 test B
e50bb9a1 102
0bdfc961 103A full test suite for the B module would be nice.
e50bb9a1 104
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105=head2 Deparse inlined constants
106
107Code such as this
108
109 use constant PI => 4;
110 warn PI
111
112will currently deparse as
113
114 use constant ('PI', 4);
115 warn 4;
116
117because the tokenizer inlines the value of the constant subroutine C<PI>.
118This allows various compile time optimisations, such as constant folding
119and dead code elimination. Where these haven't happened (such as the example
120above) it ought be possible to make B::Deparse work out the name of the
121original constant, because just enough information survives in the symbol
122table to do this. Specifically, the same scalar is used for the constant in
123the optree as is used for the constant subroutine, so by iterating over all
124symbol tables and generating a mapping of SV address to constant name, it
125would be possible to provide B::Deparse with this functionality.
126
0bdfc961 127=head2 A decent benchmark
e50bb9a1 128
617eabfa 129C<perlbench> seems impervious to any recent changes made to the perl core. It
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130would be useful to have a reasonable general benchmarking suite that roughly
131represented what current perl programs do, and measurably reported whether
132tweaks to the core improve, degrade or don't really affect performance, to
133guide people attempting to optimise the guts of perl. Gisle would welcome
134new tests for perlbench.
6168cf99 135
0bdfc961 136=head2 fix tainting bugs
6168cf99 137
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138Fix the bugs revealed by running the test suite with the C<-t> switch (via
139C<make test.taintwarn>).
e50bb9a1 140
0bdfc961 141=head2 Dual life everything
e50bb9a1 142
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143As part of the "dists" plan, anything that doesn't belong in the smallest perl
144distribution needs to be dual lifed. Anything else can be too. Figure out what
145changes would be needed to package that module and its tests up for CPAN, and
146do so. Test it with older perl releases, and fix the problems you find.
e50bb9a1 147
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148To make a minimal perl distribution, it's useful to look at
149F<t/lib/commonsense.t>.
150
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151=head2 Bundle dual life modules in ext/
152
153For maintenance (and branch merging) reasons, it would be useful to move
154some architecture-independent dual-life modules from lib/ to ext/, if this
155has no negative impact on the build of perl itself.
156
157However, we need to make sure that they are still installed in
158architecture-independent directories by C<make install>.
159
0bdfc961 160=head2 Improving C<threads::shared>
722d2a37 161
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162Investigate whether C<threads::shared> could share aggregates properly with
163only Perl level changes to shared.pm
722d2a37 164
0bdfc961 165=head2 POSIX memory footprint
e50bb9a1 166
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167Ilya observed that use POSIX; eats memory like there's no tomorrow, and at
168various times worked to cut it down. There is probably still fat to cut out -
169for example POSIX passes Exporter some very memory hungry data structures.
e50bb9a1 170
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171=head2 embed.pl/makedef.pl
172
173There is a script F<embed.pl> that generates several header files to prefix
174all of Perl's symbols in a consistent way, to provide some semblance of
175namespace support in C<C>. Functions are declared in F<embed.fnc>, variables
907b3e23 176in F<interpvar.h>. Quite a few of the functions and variables
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177are conditionally declared there, using C<#ifdef>. However, F<embed.pl>
178doesn't understand the C macros, so the rules about which symbols are present
179when is duplicated in F<makedef.pl>. Writing things twice is bad, m'kay.
180It would be good to teach C<embed.pl> to understand the conditional
181compilation, and hence remove the duplication, and the mistakes it has caused.
e50bb9a1 182
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183=head2 use strict; and AutoLoad
184
185Currently if you write
186
187 package Whack;
188 use AutoLoader 'AUTOLOAD';
189 use strict;
190 1;
191 __END__
192 sub bloop {
193 print join (' ', No, strict, here), "!\n";
194 }
195
196then C<use strict;> isn't in force within the autoloaded subroutines. It would
197be more consistent (and less surprising) to arrange for all lexical pragmas
198in force at the __END__ block to be in force within each autoloaded subroutine.
199
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200There's a similar problem with SelfLoader.
201
0bdfc961 202=head1 Tasks that need a little sysadmin-type knowledge
e50bb9a1 203
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204Or if you prefer, tasks that you would learn from, and broaden your skills
205base...
e50bb9a1 206
cd793d32 207=head2 make HTML install work
e50bb9a1 208
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209There is an C<installhtml> target in the Makefile. It's marked as
210"experimental". It would be good to get this tested, make it work reliably, and
211remove the "experimental" tag. This would include
212
213=over 4
214
215=item 1
216
217Checking that cross linking between various parts of the documentation works.
218In particular that links work between the modules (files with POD in F<lib/>)
219and the core documentation (files in F<pod/>)
220
221=item 2
222
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223Work out how to split C<perlfunc> into chunks, preferably one per function
224group, preferably with general case code that could be used elsewhere.
225Challenges here are correctly identifying the groups of functions that go
226together, and making the right named external cross-links point to the right
227page. Things to be aware of are C<-X>, groups such as C<getpwnam> to
228C<endservent>, two or more C<=items> giving the different parameter lists, such
229as
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230
231 =item substr EXPR,OFFSET,LENGTH,REPLACEMENT
adebf063 232 =item substr EXPR,OFFSET,LENGTH
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233 =item substr EXPR,OFFSET
234
235and different parameter lists having different meanings. (eg C<select>)
236
237=back
3a89a73c 238
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239=head2 compressed man pages
240
241Be able to install them. This would probably need a configure test to see how
242the system does compressed man pages (same directory/different directory?
243same filename/different filename), as well as tweaking the F<installman> script
244to compress as necessary.
245
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246=head2 Add a code coverage target to the Makefile
247
248Make it easy for anyone to run Devel::Cover on the core's tests. The steps
249to do this manually are roughly
250
251=over 4
252
253=item *
254
255do a normal C<Configure>, but include Devel::Cover as a module to install
256(see F<INSTALL> for how to do this)
257
258=item *
259
260 make perl
261
262=item *
263
264 cd t; HARNESS_PERL_SWITCHES=-MDevel::Cover ./perl -I../lib harness
265
266=item *
267
268Process the resulting Devel::Cover database
269
270=back
271
272This just give you the coverage of the F<.pm>s. To also get the C level
273coverage you need to
274
275=over 4
276
277=item *
278
279Additionally tell C<Configure> to use the appropriate C compiler flags for
280C<gcov>
281
282=item *
283
284 make perl.gcov
285
286(instead of C<make perl>)
287
288=item *
289
290After running the tests run C<gcov> to generate all the F<.gcov> files.
291(Including down in the subdirectories of F<ext/>
292
293=item *
294
295(From the top level perl directory) run C<gcov2perl> on all the C<.gcov> files
296to get their stats into the cover_db directory.
297
298=item *
299
300Then process the Devel::Cover database
301
302=back
303
304It would be good to add a single switch to C<Configure> to specify that you
305wanted to perform perl level coverage, and another to specify C level
306coverage, and have C<Configure> and the F<Makefile> do all the right things
307automatically.
308
02f21748 309=head2 Make Config.pm cope with differences between built and installed perl
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310
311Quite often vendors ship a perl binary compiled with their (pay-for)
312compilers. People install a free compiler, such as gcc. To work out how to
313build extensions, Perl interrogates C<%Config>, so in this situation
314C<%Config> describes compilers that aren't there, and extension building
315fails. This forces people into choosing between re-compiling perl themselves
316using the compiler they have, or only using modules that the vendor ships.
317
318It would be good to find a way teach C<Config.pm> about the installation setup,
319possibly involving probing at install time or later, so that the C<%Config> in
320a binary distribution better describes the installed machine, when the
321installed machine differs from the build machine in some significant way.
322
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323=head2 linker specification files
324
325Some platforms mandate that you provide a list of a shared library's external
326symbols to the linker, so the core already has the infrastructure in place to
327do this for generating shared perl libraries. My understanding is that the
328GNU toolchain can accept an optional linker specification file, and restrict
329visibility just to symbols declared in that file. It would be good to extend
330F<makedef.pl> to support this format, and to provide a means within
331C<Configure> to enable it. This would allow Unix users to test that the
332export list is correct, and to build a perl that does not pollute the global
333namespace with private symbols.
334
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335=head2 Cross-compile support
336
337Currently C<Configure> understands C<-Dusecrosscompile> option. This option
338arranges for building C<miniperl> for TARGET machine, so this C<miniperl> is
339assumed then to be copied to TARGET machine and used as a replacement of full
340C<perl> executable.
341
d1307786 342This could be done little differently. Namely C<miniperl> should be built for
a229ae3b 343HOST and then full C<perl> with extensions should be compiled for TARGET.
d1307786 344This, however, might require extra trickery for %Config: we have one config
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345first for HOST and then another for TARGET. Tools like MakeMaker will be
346mightily confused. Having around two different types of executables and
347libraries (HOST and TARGET) makes life interesting for Makefiles and
348shell (and Perl) scripts. There is $Config{run}, normally empty, which
349can be used as an execution wrapper. Also note that in some
350cross-compilation/execution environments the HOST and the TARGET do
351not see the same filesystem(s), the $Config{run} may need to do some
352file/directory copying back and forth.
0bdfc961 353
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354=head2 roffitall
355
356Make F<pod/roffitall> be updated by F<pod/buildtoc>.
357
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358=head1 Tasks that need a little C knowledge
359
360These tasks would need a little C knowledge, but don't need any specific
361background or experience with XS, or how the Perl interpreter works
362
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363=head2 Weed out needless PERL_UNUSED_ARG
364
365The C code uses the macro C<PERL_UNUSED_ARG> to stop compilers warning about
366unused arguments. Often the arguments can't be removed, as there is an
367external constraint that determines the prototype of the function, so this
368approach is valid. However, there are some cases where C<PERL_UNUSED_ARG>
369could be removed. Specifically
370
371=over 4
372
373=item *
374
375The prototypes of (nearly all) static functions can be changed
376
377=item *
378
379Unused arguments generated by short cut macros are wasteful - the short cut
380macro used can be changed.
381
382=back
383
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384=head2 Modernize the order of directories in @INC
385
386The way @INC is laid out by default, one cannot upgrade core (dual-life)
387modules without overwriting files. This causes problems for binary
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388package builders. One possible proposal is laid out in this
389message:
390L<http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/2002-04/msg02380.html>.
fbf638cb 391
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392=head2 -Duse32bit*
393
394Natively 64-bit systems need neither -Duse64bitint nor -Duse64bitall.
395On these systems, it might be the default compilation mode, and there
396is currently no guarantee that passing no use64bitall option to the
397Configure process will build a 32bit perl. Implementing -Duse32bit*
398options would be nice for perl 5.12.
399
0bdfc961 400=head2 Make it clear from -v if this is the exact official release
89007cb3 401
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402Currently perl from C<p4>/C<rsync> ships with a F<patchlevel.h> file that
403usually defines one local patch, of the form "MAINT12345" or "RC1". The output
404of perl -v doesn't report that a perl isn't an official release, and this
89007cb3 405information can get lost in bugs reports. Because of this, the minor version
fa11829f 406isn't bumped up until RC time, to minimise the possibility of versions of perl
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407escaping that believe themselves to be newer than they actually are.
408
409It would be useful to find an elegant way to have the "this is an interim
410maintenance release" or "this is a release candidate" in the terse -v output,
411and have it so that it's easy for the pumpking to remove this just as the
412release tarball is rolled up. This way the version pulled out of rsync would
413always say "I'm a development release" and it would be safe to bump the
414reported minor version as soon as a release ships, which would aid perl
415developers.
416
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417This task is really about thinking of an elegant way to arrange the C source
418such that it's trivial for the Pumpking to flag "this is an official release"
419when making a tarball, yet leave the default source saying "I'm not the
420official release".
421
fee0a0f7 422=head2 Profile Perl - am I hot or not?
62403a3c 423
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424The Perl source code is stable enough that it makes sense to profile it,
425identify and optimise the hotspots. It would be good to measure the
426performance of the Perl interpreter using free tools such as cachegrind,
427gprof, and dtrace, and work to reduce the bottlenecks they reveal.
428
429As part of this, the idea of F<pp_hot.c> is that it contains the I<hot> ops,
430the ops that are most commonly used. The idea is that by grouping them, their
431object code will be adjacent in the executable, so they have a greater chance
432of already being in the CPU cache (or swapped in) due to being near another op
433already in use.
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434
435Except that it's not clear if these really are the most commonly used ops. So
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436as part of exercising your skills with coverage and profiling tools you might
437want to determine what ops I<really> are the most commonly used. And in turn
438suggest evictions and promotions to achieve a better F<pp_hot.c>.
62403a3c 439
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440=head2 Allocate OPs from arenas
441
442Currently all new OP structures are individually malloc()ed and free()d.
443All C<malloc> implementations have space overheads, and are now as fast as
444custom allocates so it would both use less memory and less CPU to allocate
445the various OP structures from arenas. The SV arena code can probably be
446re-used for this.
447
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448Note that Configuring perl with C<-Accflags=-DPL_OP_SLAB_ALLOC> will use
449Perl_Slab_alloc() to pack optrees into a contiguous block, which is
450probably superior to the use of OP arenas, esp. from a cache locality
451standpoint. See L<Profile Perl - am I hot or not?>.
452
a229ae3b 453=head2 Improve win32/wince.c
0bdfc961 454
a229ae3b 455Currently, numerous functions look virtually, if not completely,
02f21748 456identical in both C<win32/wince.c> and C<win32/win32.c> files, which can't
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457be good.
458
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459=head2 Use secure CRT functions when building with VC8 on Win32
460
461Visual C++ 2005 (VC++ 8.x) deprecated a number of CRT functions on the basis
462that they were "unsafe" and introduced differently named secure versions of
463them as replacements, e.g. instead of writing
464
465 FILE* f = fopen(__FILE__, "r");
466
467one should now write
468
469 FILE* f;
470 errno_t err = fopen_s(&f, __FILE__, "r");
471
472Currently, the warnings about these deprecations have been disabled by adding
473-D_CRT_SECURE_NO_DEPRECATE to the CFLAGS. It would be nice to remove that
474warning suppressant and actually make use of the new secure CRT functions.
475
476There is also a similar issue with POSIX CRT function names like fileno having
477been deprecated in favour of ISO C++ conformant names like _fileno. These
26a6faa8 478warnings are also currently suppressed by adding -D_CRT_NONSTDC_NO_DEPRECATE. It
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479might be nice to do as Microsoft suggest here too, although, unlike the secure
480functions issue, there is presumably little or no benefit in this case.
481
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482=head2 Fix POSIX::access() and chdir() on Win32
483
484These functions currently take no account of DACLs and therefore do not behave
485correctly in situations where access is restricted by DACLs (as opposed to the
486read-only attribute).
487
488Furthermore, POSIX::access() behaves differently for directories having the
489read-only attribute set depending on what CRT library is being used. For
490example, the _access() function in the VC6 and VC7 CRTs (wrongly) claim that
491such directories are not writable, whereas in fact all directories are writable
492unless access is denied by DACLs. (In the case of directories, the read-only
493attribute actually only means that the directory cannot be deleted.) This CRT
494bug is fixed in the VC8 and VC9 CRTs (but, of course, the directory may still
495not actually be writable if access is indeed denied by DACLs).
496
497For the chdir() issue, see ActiveState bug #74552:
498http://bugs.activestate.com/show_bug.cgi?id=74552
499
500Therefore, DACLs should be checked both for consistency across CRTs and for
501the correct answer.
502
503(Note that perl's -w operator should not be modified to check DACLs. It has
504been written so that it reflects the state of the read-only attribute, even
505for directories (whatever CRT is being used), for symmetry with chmod().)
506
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507=head2 strcat(), strcpy(), strncat(), strncpy(), sprintf(), vsprintf()
508
509Maybe create a utility that checks after each libperl.a creation that
510none of the above (nor sprintf(), vsprintf(), or *SHUDDER* gets())
511ever creep back to libperl.a.
512
513 nm libperl.a | ./miniperl -alne '$o = $F[0] if /:$/; print "$o $F[1]" if $F[0] eq "U" && $F[1] =~ /^(?:strn?c(?:at|py)|v?sprintf|gets)$/'
514
515Note, of course, that this will only tell whether B<your> platform
516is using those naughty interfaces.
517
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518=head2 -D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2, -fstack-protector
519
520Recent glibcs support C<-D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2> and recent gcc
521(4.1 onwards?) supports C<-fstack-protector>, both of which give
522protection against various kinds of buffer overflow problems.
523These should probably be used for compiling Perl whenever available,
524Configure and/or hints files should be adjusted to probe for the
525availability of these features and enable them as appropriate.
16815324 526
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527=head2 Arenas for GPs? For MAGIC?
528
529C<struct gp> and C<struct magic> are both currently allocated by C<malloc>.
530It might be a speed or memory saving to change to using arenas. Or it might
531not. It would need some suitable benchmarking first. In particular, C<GP>s
532can probably be changed with minimal compatibility impact (probably nothing
533outside of the core, or even outside of F<gv.c> allocates them), but they
534probably aren't allocated/deallocated often enough for a speed saving. Whereas
535C<MAGIC> is allocated/deallocated more often, but in turn, is also something
536more externally visible, so changing the rules here may bite external code.
537
538
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539=head1 Tasks that need a knowledge of XS
540
541These tasks would need C knowledge, and roughly the level of knowledge of
542the perl API that comes from writing modules that use XS to interface to
543C.
544
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545=head2 investigate removing int_macro_int from POSIX.xs
546
547As a hang over from the original C<constant> implementation, F<POSIX.xs>
548contains a function C<int_macro_int> which in conjunction with C<AUTOLOAD> is
549used to wrap the C functions C<WEXITSTATUS>, C<WIFEXITED>, C<WIFSIGNALED>,
550C<WIFSTOPPED>, C<WSTOPSIG> and C<WTERMSIG>. It's probably worth replacing
551this complexity with 5 simple direct wrappings of those 5 functions.
552
553However, it would be interesting if someone could measure the memory usage
554before and after, both for the case of C<use POSIX();> and the case of
555actually calling the Perl space functions.
556
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557=head2 safely supporting POSIX SA_SIGINFO
558
559Some years ago Jarkko supplied patches to provide support for the POSIX
560SA_SIGINFO feature in Perl, passing the extra data to the Perl signal handler.
561
562Unfortunately, it only works with "unsafe" signals, because under safe
563signals, by the time Perl gets to run the signal handler, the extra
564information has been lost. Moreover, it's not easy to store it somewhere,
565as you can't call mutexs, or do anything else fancy, from inside a signal
566handler.
567
568So it strikes me that we could provide safe SA_SIGINFO support
569
570=over 4
571
572=item 1
573
574Provide global variables for two file descriptors
575
576=item 2
577
578When the first request is made via C<sigaction> for C<SA_SIGINFO>, create a
579pipe, store the reader in one, the writer in the other
580
581=item 3
582
583In the "safe" signal handler (C<Perl_csighandler()>/C<S_raise_signal()>), if
584the C<siginfo_t> pointer non-C<NULL>, and the writer file handle is open,
585
586=over 8
587
588=item 1
589
590serialise signal number, C<struct siginfo_t> (or at least the parts we care
591about) into a small auto char buff
592
593=item 2
594
595C<write()> that (non-blocking) to the writer fd
596
597=over 12
598
599=item 1
600
601if it writes 100%, flag the signal in a counter of "signals on the pipe" akin
602to the current per-signal-number counts
603
604=item 2
605
606if it writes 0%, assume the pipe is full. Flag the data as lost?
607
608=item 3
609
610if it writes partially, croak a panic, as your OS is broken.
611
612=back
613
614=back
615
616=item 4
617
618in the regular C<PERL_ASYNC_CHECK()> processing, if there are "signals on
619the pipe", read the data out, deserialise, build the Perl structures on
620the stack (code in C<Perl_sighandler()>, the "unsafe" handler), and call as
621usual.
622
623=back
624
625I think that this gets us decent C<SA_SIGINFO> support, without the current risk
626of running Perl code inside the signal handler context. (With all the dangers
627of things like C<malloc> corruption that that currently offers us)
628
629For more information see the thread starting with this message:
630http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/2008-03/msg00305.html
631
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632=head2 autovivification
633
634Make all autovivification consistent w.r.t LVALUE/RVALUE and strict/no strict;
635
636This task is incremental - even a little bit of work on it will help.
637
638=head2 Unicode in Filenames
639
640chdir, chmod, chown, chroot, exec, glob, link, lstat, mkdir, open,
641opendir, qx, readdir, readlink, rename, rmdir, stat, symlink, sysopen,
642system, truncate, unlink, utime, -X. All these could potentially accept
643Unicode filenames either as input or output (and in the case of system
644and qx Unicode in general, as input or output to/from the shell).
645Whether a filesystem - an operating system pair understands Unicode in
646filenames varies.
647
648Known combinations that have some level of understanding include
649Microsoft NTFS, Apple HFS+ (In Mac OS 9 and X) and Apple UFS (in Mac
650OS X), NFS v4 is rumored to be Unicode, and of course Plan 9. How to
651create Unicode filenames, what forms of Unicode are accepted and used
652(UCS-2, UTF-16, UTF-8), what (if any) is the normalization form used,
653and so on, varies. Finding the right level of interfacing to Perl
654requires some thought. Remember that an OS does not implicate a
655filesystem.
656
657(The Windows -C command flag "wide API support" has been at least
658temporarily retired in 5.8.1, and the -C has been repurposed, see
659L<perlrun>.)
660
87a942b1
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661Most probably the right way to do this would be this:
662L</"Virtualize operating system access">.
663
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664=head2 Unicode in %ENV
665
666Currently the %ENV entries are always byte strings.
87a942b1 667See L</"Virtualize operating system access">.
6d71adcd 668
1f2e7916
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669=head2 Unicode and glob()
670
671Currently glob patterns and filenames returned from File::Glob::glob()
87a942b1 672are always byte strings. See L</"Virtualize operating system access">.
1f2e7916 673
dbb0c492
RGS
674=head2 Unicode and lc/uc operators
675
676Some built-in operators (C<lc>, C<uc>, etc.) behave differently, based on
677what the internal encoding of their argument is. That should not be the
678case. Maybe add a pragma to switch behaviour.
679
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680=head2 use less 'memory'
681
682Investigate trade offs to switch out perl's choices on memory usage.
683Particularly perl should be able to give memory back.
684
685This task is incremental - even a little bit of work on it will help.
686
687=head2 Re-implement C<:unique> in a way that is actually thread-safe
688
689The old implementation made bad assumptions on several levels. A good 90%
690solution might be just to make C<:unique> work to share the string buffer
691of SvPVs. That way large constant strings can be shared between ithreads,
692such as the configuration information in F<Config>.
693
694=head2 Make tainting consistent
695
696Tainting would be easier to use if it didn't take documented shortcuts and
697allow taint to "leak" everywhere within an expression.
698
699=head2 readpipe(LIST)
700
701system() accepts a LIST syntax (and a PROGRAM LIST syntax) to avoid
702running a shell. readpipe() (the function behind qx//) could be similarly
703extended.
704
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705=head2 Audit the code for destruction ordering assumptions
706
707Change 25773 notes
708
709 /* Need to check SvMAGICAL, as during global destruction it may be that
710 AvARYLEN(av) has been freed before av, and hence the SvANY() pointer
711 is now part of the linked list of SV heads, rather than pointing to
712 the original body. */
713 /* FIXME - audit the code for other bugs like this one. */
714
715adding the C<SvMAGICAL> check to
716
717 if (AvARYLEN(av) && SvMAGICAL(AvARYLEN(av))) {
718 MAGIC *mg = mg_find (AvARYLEN(av), PERL_MAGIC_arylen);
719
720Go through the core and look for similar assumptions that SVs have particular
721types, as all bets are off during global destruction.
722
749904bf
JH
723=head2 Extend PerlIO and PerlIO::Scalar
724
725PerlIO::Scalar doesn't know how to truncate(). Implementing this
726would require extending the PerlIO vtable.
727
728Similarly the PerlIO vtable doesn't know about formats (write()), or
729about stat(), or chmod()/chown(), utime(), or flock().
730
731(For PerlIO::Scalar it's hard to see what e.g. mode bits or ownership
732would mean.)
733
734PerlIO doesn't do directories or symlinks, either: mkdir(), rmdir(),
735opendir(), closedir(), seekdir(), rewinddir(), glob(); symlink(),
736readlink().
737
94da6c29
JH
738See also L</"Virtualize operating system access">.
739
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740=head2 -C on the #! line
741
742It should be possible to make -C work correctly if found on the #! line,
743given that all perl command line options are strict ASCII, and -C changes
744only the interpretation of non-ASCII characters, and not for the script file
745handle. To make it work needs some investigation of the ordering of function
746calls during startup, and (by implication) a bit of tweaking of that order.
747
d6c1e11f
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748=head2 Organize error messages
749
750Perl's diagnostics (error messages, see L<perldiag>) could use
a8d0aeb9 751reorganizing and formalizing so that each error message has its
d6c1e11f
JH
752stable-for-all-eternity unique id, categorized by severity, type, and
753subsystem. (The error messages would be listed in a datafile outside
c4bd451b
CB
754of the Perl source code, and the source code would only refer to the
755messages by the id.) This clean-up and regularizing should apply
d6c1e11f
JH
756for all croak() messages.
757
758This would enable all sorts of things: easier translation/localization
759of the messages (though please do keep in mind the caveats of
760L<Locale::Maketext> about too straightforward approaches to
761translation), filtering by severity, and instead of grepping for a
762particular error message one could look for a stable error id. (Of
763course, changing the error messages by default would break all the
764existing software depending on some particular error message...)
765
766This kind of functionality is known as I<message catalogs>. Look for
767inspiration for example in the catgets() system, possibly even use it
768if available-- but B<only> if available, all platforms will B<not>
de96509d 769have catgets().
d6c1e11f
JH
770
771For the really pure at heart, consider extending this item to cover
772also the warning messages (see L<perllexwarn>, C<warnings.pl>).
3236f110 773
0bdfc961 774=head1 Tasks that need a knowledge of the interpreter
3298bd4d 775
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776These tasks would need C knowledge, and knowledge of how the interpreter works,
777or a willingness to learn.
3298bd4d 778
718140ec
NC
779=head2 lexicals used only once
780
781This warns:
782
783 $ perl -we '$pie = 42'
784 Name "main::pie" used only once: possible typo at -e line 1.
785
786This does not:
787
788 $ perl -we 'my $pie = 42'
789
790Logically all lexicals used only once should warn, if the user asks for
d6f4ea2e
SP
791warnings. An unworked RT ticket (#5087) has been open for almost seven
792years for this discrepancy.
718140ec 793
a3d15f9a
RGS
794=head2 UTF-8 revamp
795
796The handling of Unicode is unclean in many places. For example, the regexp
797engine matches in Unicode semantics whenever the string or the pattern is
798flagged as UTF-8, but that should not be dependent on an internal storage
799detail of the string. Likewise, case folding behaviour is dependent on the
800UTF8 internal flag being on or off.
801
802=head2 Properly Unicode safe tokeniser and pads.
803
804The tokeniser isn't actually very UTF-8 clean. C<use utf8;> is a hack -
805variable names are stored in stashes as raw bytes, without the utf-8 flag
806set. The pad API only takes a C<char *> pointer, so that's all bytes too. The
807tokeniser ignores the UTF-8-ness of C<PL_rsfp>, or any SVs returned from
808source filters. All this could be fixed.
809
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810=head2 state variable initialization in list context
811
812Currently this is illegal:
813
814 state ($a, $b) = foo();
815
a2874905 816In Perl 6, C<state ($a) = foo();> and C<(state $a) = foo();> have different
a8d0aeb9 817semantics, which is tricky to implement in Perl 5 as currently they produce
a2874905 818the same opcode trees. The Perl 6 design is firm, so it would be good to
a8d0aeb9 819implement the necessary code in Perl 5. There are comments in
a2874905
NC
820C<Perl_newASSIGNOP()> that show the code paths taken by various assignment
821constructions involving state variables.
636e63cb 822
4fedb12c
RGS
823=head2 Implement $value ~~ 0 .. $range
824
825It would be nice to extend the syntax of the C<~~> operator to also
826understand numeric (and maybe alphanumeric) ranges.
a393eb28
RGS
827
828=head2 A does() built-in
829
830Like ref(), only useful. It would call the C<DOES> method on objects; it
831would also tell whether something can be dereferenced as an
832array/hash/etc., or used as a regexp, etc.
833L<http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/2007-03/msg00481.html>
834
835=head2 Tied filehandles and write() don't mix
836
837There is no method on tied filehandles to allow them to be called back by
838formats.
4fedb12c 839
d10fc472 840=head2 Attach/detach debugger from running program
1626a787 841
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NC
842The old perltodo notes "With C<gdb>, you can attach the debugger to a running
843program if you pass the process ID. It would be good to do this with the Perl
0bdfc961
NC
844debugger on a running Perl program, although I'm not sure how it would be
845done." ssh and screen do this with named pipes in /tmp. Maybe we can too.
1626a787 846
a8cb5b9e
RGS
847=head2 Optimize away empty destructors
848
849Defining an empty DESTROY method might be useful (notably in
850AUTOLOAD-enabled classes), but it's still a bit expensive to call. That
851could probably be optimized.
852
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853=head2 LVALUE functions for lists
854
855The old perltodo notes that lvalue functions don't work for list or hash
856slices. This would be good to fix.
857
858=head2 LVALUE functions in the debugger
859
860The old perltodo notes that lvalue functions don't work in the debugger. This
861would be good to fix.
862
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863=head2 regexp optimiser optional
864
865The regexp optimiser is not optional. It should configurable to be, to allow
866its performance to be measured, and its bugs to be easily demonstrated.
867
02f21748
RGS
868=head2 delete &function
869
870Allow to delete functions. One can already undef them, but they're still
871in the stash.
872
ef36c6a7
RGS
873=head2 C</w> regex modifier
874
875That flag would enable to match whole words, and also to interpolate
876arrays as alternations. With it, C</P/w> would be roughly equivalent to:
877
878 do { local $"='|'; /\b(?:P)\b/ }
879
880See L<http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/2007-01/msg00400.html>
881for the discussion.
882
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883=head2 optional optimizer
884
885Make the peephole optimizer optional. Currently it performs two tasks as
886it walks the optree - genuine peephole optimisations, and necessary fixups of
887ops. It would be good to find an efficient way to switch out the
888optimisations whilst keeping the fixups.
889
890=head2 You WANT *how* many
891
892Currently contexts are void, scalar and list. split has a special mechanism in
893place to pass in the number of return values wanted. It would be useful to
894have a general mechanism for this, backwards compatible and little speed hit.
895This would allow proposals such as short circuiting sort to be implemented
896as a module on CPAN.
897
898=head2 lexical aliases
899
900Allow lexical aliases (maybe via the syntax C<my \$alias = \$foo>.
901
902=head2 entersub XS vs Perl
903
904At the moment pp_entersub is huge, and has code to deal with entering both
905perl and XS subroutines. Subroutine implementations rarely change between
906perl and XS at run time, so investigate using 2 ops to enter subs (one for
907XS, one for perl) and swap between if a sub is redefined.
2810d901 908
de535794 909=head2 Self-ties
2810d901 910
de535794 911Self-ties are currently illegal because they caused too many segfaults. Maybe
a8d0aeb9 912the causes of these could be tracked down and self-ties on all types
de535794 913reinstated.
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914
915=head2 Optimize away @_
916
917The old perltodo notes "Look at the "reification" code in C<av.c>".
918
87a942b1
JH
919=head2 Virtualize operating system access
920
921Implement a set of "vtables" that virtualizes operating system access
922(open(), mkdir(), unlink(), readdir(), getenv(), etc.) At the very
923least these interfaces should take SVs as "name" arguments instead of
924bare char pointers; probably the most flexible and extensible way
e1a3d5d1
JH
925would be for the Perl-facing interfaces to accept HVs. The system
926needs to be per-operating-system and per-file-system
927hookable/filterable, preferably both from XS and Perl level
87a942b1
JH
928(L<perlport/"Files and Filesystems"> is good reading at this point,
929in fact, all of L<perlport> is.)
930
e1a3d5d1
JH
931This has actually already been implemented (but only for Win32),
932take a look at F<iperlsys.h> and F<win32/perlhost.h>. While all Win32
933variants go through a set of "vtables" for operating system access,
934non-Win32 systems currently go straight for the POSIX/UNIX-style
935system/library call. Similar system as for Win32 should be
936implemented for all platforms. The existing Win32 implementation
937probably does not need to survive alongside this proposed new
938implementation, the approaches could be merged.
87a942b1
JH
939
940What would this give us? One often-asked-for feature this would
94da6c29
JH
941enable is using Unicode for filenames, and other "names" like %ENV,
942usernames, hostnames, and so forth.
943(See L<perlunicode/"When Unicode Does Not Happen">.)
944
945But this kind of virtualization would also allow for things like
946virtual filesystems, virtual networks, and "sandboxes" (though as long
947as dynamic loading of random object code is allowed, not very safe
948sandboxes since external code of course know not of Perl's vtables).
949An example of a smaller "sandbox" is that this feature can be used to
950implement per-thread working directories: Win32 already does this.
951
952See also L</"Extend PerlIO and PerlIO::Scalar">.
87a942b1 953
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954=head2 Investigate PADTMP hash pessimisation
955
956The peephole optimier converts constants used for hash key lookups to shared
057163d7 957hash key scalars. Under ithreads, something is undoing this work.
ac6197af
NC
958See http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/2007-09/msg00793.html
959
057163d7
NC
960=head2 Store the current pad in the OP slab allocator
961
962=for clarification
963I hope that I got that "current pad" part correct
964
965Currently we leak ops in various cases of parse failure. I suggested that we
966could solve this by always using the op slab allocator, and walking it to
967free ops. Dave comments that as some ops are already freed during optree
968creation one would have to mark which ops are freed, and not double free them
969when walking the slab. He notes that one problem with this is that for some ops
970you have to know which pad was current at the time of allocation, which does
971change. I suggested storing a pointer to the current pad in the memory allocated
972for the slab, and swapping to a new slab each time the pad changes. Dave thinks
973that this would work.
974
52960e22
JC
975=head2 repack the optree
976
977Repacking the optree after execution order is determined could allow
057163d7
NC
978removal of NULL ops, and optimal ordering of OPs with respect to cache-line
979filling. The slab allocator could be reused for this purpose. I think that
980the best way to do this is to make it an optional step just before the
981completed optree is attached to anything else, and to use the slab allocator
982unchanged, so that freeing ops is identical whether or not this step runs.
983Note that the slab allocator allocates ops downwards in memory, so one would
984have to actually "allocate" the ops in reverse-execution order to get them
985contiguous in memory in execution order.
986
987See http://www.nntp.perl.org/group/perl.perl5.porters/2007/12/msg131975.html
988
989Note that running this copy, and then freeing all the old location ops would
990cause their slabs to be freed, which would eliminate possible memory wastage if
991the previous suggestion is implemented, and we swap slabs more frequently.
52960e22 992
12e06b6f
NC
993=head2 eliminate incorrect line numbers in warnings
994
995This code
996
997 use warnings;
998 my $undef;
999
1000 if ($undef == 3) {
1001 } elsif ($undef == 0) {
1002 }
1003
18a16cc5 1004used to produce this output:
12e06b6f
NC
1005
1006 Use of uninitialized value in numeric eq (==) at wrong.pl line 4.
1007 Use of uninitialized value in numeric eq (==) at wrong.pl line 4.
1008
18a16cc5
NC
1009where the line of the second warning was misreported - it should be line 5.
1010Rafael fixed this - the problem arose because there was no nextstate OP
1011between the execution of the C<if> and the C<elsif>, hence C<PL_curcop> still
1012reports that the currently executing line is line 4. The solution was to inject
1013a nextstate OPs for each C<elsif>, although it turned out that the nextstate
1014OP needed to be a nulled OP, rather than a live nextstate OP, else other line
1015numbers became misreported. (Jenga!)
12e06b6f
NC
1016
1017The problem is more general than C<elsif> (although the C<elsif> case is the
1018most common and the most confusing). Ideally this code
1019
1020 use warnings;
1021 my $undef;
1022
1023 my $a = $undef + 1;
1024 my $b
1025 = $undef
1026 + 1;
1027
1028would produce this output
1029
1030 Use of uninitialized value $undef in addition (+) at wrong.pl line 4.
1031 Use of uninitialized value $undef in addition (+) at wrong.pl line 7.
1032
1033(rather than lines 4 and 5), but this would seem to require every OP to carry
1034(at least) line number information.
1035
1036What might work is to have an optional line number in memory just before the
1037BASEOP structure, with a flag bit in the op to say whether it's present.
1038Initially during compile every OP would carry its line number. Then add a late
1039pass to the optimiser (potentially combined with L</repack the optree>) which
1040looks at the two ops on every edge of the graph of the execution path. If
1041the line number changes, flags the destination OP with this information.
1042Once all paths are traced, replace every op with the flag with a
1043nextstate-light op (that just updates C<PL_curcop>), which in turn then passes
1044control on to the true op. All ops would then be replaced by variants that
1045do not store the line number. (Which, logically, why it would work best in
1046conjunction with L</repack the optree>, as that is already copying/reallocating
1047all the OPs)
1048
18a16cc5
NC
1049(Although I should note that we're not certain that doing this for the general
1050case is worth it)
1051
52960e22
JC
1052=head2 optimize tail-calls
1053
1054Tail-calls present an opportunity for broadly applicable optimization;
1055anywhere that C<< return foo(...) >> is called, the outer return can
1056be replaced by a goto, and foo will return directly to the outer
1057caller, saving (conservatively) 25% of perl's call&return cost, which
1058is relatively higher than in C. The scheme language is known to do
1059this heavily. B::Concise provides good insight into where this
1060optimization is possible, ie anywhere entersub,leavesub op-sequence
1061occurs.
1062
1063 perl -MO=Concise,-exec,a,b,-main -e 'sub a{ 1 }; sub b {a()}; b(2)'
1064
1065Bottom line on this is probably a new pp_tailcall function which
1066combines the code in pp_entersub, pp_leavesub. This should probably
1067be done 1st in XS, and using B::Generate to patch the new OP into the
1068optrees.
1069
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1070=head1 Big projects
1071
1072Tasks that will get your name mentioned in the description of the "Highlights
87a942b1 1073of 5.12"
0bdfc961
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1074
1075=head2 make ithreads more robust
1076
4e577f8b 1077Generally make ithreads more robust. See also L</iCOW>
0bdfc961
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1078
1079This task is incremental - even a little bit of work on it will help, and
1080will be greatly appreciated.
1081
6c047da7
YST
1082One bit would be to write the missing code in sv.c:Perl_dirp_dup.
1083
59c7f7d5
RGS
1084Fix Perl_sv_dup, et al so that threads can return objects.
1085
0bdfc961
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1086=head2 iCOW
1087
1088Sarathy and Arthur have a proposal for an improved Copy On Write which
1089specifically will be able to COW new ithreads. If this can be implemented
1090it would be a good thing.
1091
1092=head2 (?{...}) closures in regexps
1093
1094Fix (or rewrite) the implementation of the C</(?{...})/> closures.
1095
1096=head2 A re-entrant regexp engine
1097
1098This will allow the use of a regex from inside (?{ }), (??{ }) and
1099(?(?{ })|) constructs.
6bda09f9 1100
6bda09f9
YO
1101=head2 Add class set operations to regexp engine
1102
1103Apparently these are quite useful. Anyway, Jeffery Friedl wants them.
1104
1105demerphq has this on his todo list, but right at the bottom.