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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Parrot 1.4: Feature Freeze

Christoph, release manager for 1.4, put out a note to the mailing list today about the release. Starting today there is a freeze on new features and he's asking for people to run lots of tests on multiple platforms.

The file in our repository, PLATFORMS, contains a list of the various OS/Compiler combinations where Parrot is known to build and perform. There are a small number of target platforms where we want Parrot to build primarily, and a larger number of other platforms where Parrot also builds. I'm sure this second list is incomplete (and can definitely be made larger with a few fortuitous patches). Getting Parrot to build and run on new platforms is a really big deal.

The 1.4 release is one of the special "deprecation point" releases. Developers of extensions or compilers on top of Parrot can be assured that major changes to the API will not happen before the next deprecation point. When we decide that something needs to be changed, we put a notice into DEPRECATED.pod and wait until after the next deprecation point so we can make the change. In other words, people working with Parrot can be assured that all releases between deprecation points will have a stable and well-defined API, and will have adequare forewarning about things that are going to change and when.

There are a lot of things in Parrot right now that have been deprecated and are slated to be removed or changed radically after 1.4. The remaining vestiges of the old stacks system are scheduled to be removed along with unused (and unmaintained) GC cores, get_addr and set_addr opcodes (which are a huge source of segfaults) and the old polymorphic inline cache system. This is just a small number of changes that are scheduled to be happening that I am particularly interested in.

Anyway, because 1.4 is a special release any any features we ship with it will be stuck there until the next deprecation point (2.0), it's super important that we get plenty of testing done now. We want 1.4 to be stable and usable, because users are going to be relying on it's functionality for the next few months. I cannot stress how important it is to do some testing this weekend, on as many systems as possible.

So fire up your console and make fulltest on a platform or two. Submit any bugs you find, and upload some reports to smolder too. Every little bit helps!

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