Perl 5.14, this year's stable release of the Perl 5 language, is the first in the planned series of annual time-based releases announced last year. From the Perl developer's point of view it has several important features:
Perl 5.14 has Unicode 6.0 support and other unicode-related improvements, the most the important being the 'unicode_strings' feature which instructs the compiler to use Unicode semantics rather than the traditional Perl's native Unicode model therefore alleviating issues associated with it (see "The UTF8 flag" in Unicode issues in Perl.)
New regular expression modifiers let you explicitly use ASCII, Unicode, or locale semantics for character classes regardless of the strings internal encoding. This means that for example use locale 'greek' on a Unicode string, the regular expression will operate only on Greek characters
Also a handy a non-destructive version of the substitution operator is introduced with the /r flag. This means that the target string is not modified but instead the processed string is returned hence you can replace code like the following :
$temp = $name =~ s/\d/x/g;
#prints: 3 which is
#the number of substituted characters
or this which keeps the target string ($name) intact while storing the resulted string in $temp:
( $temp = $name ) =~ s/\d/x/g;
with code using the new /r modifier:
$temp=$name =~ s/\d/x/gr;
Array and hash container functions accept references; for example, the array operators (push, pop, shift, unshift) were operating on named arrays but now also operate on array references as well
(For a deeper explanation see "Perl strongly typed?" in Strong typing)
The following example won't compile on pre 5.14 installations :
#Type of arg 1 to push must be array (not
#scalar dereference) at c:\1.pl line 5,
#Execution of c:\1.pl aborted due to
while in 5.14 it will produce the following :
Better exception handling, not in the sense of SEH with try catch clauses but fixed some issues making it more reliable.
Other enhancements include specifying any character with its ordinal value in octal and that srand() now returns the seed.
Some features were deprecated as part of the language clean up. For all the details check the Perl 5.14 delta.
The massive task of updating all Activestate module packages (PPM) 5.14 has already begun and you can check the PPM index pages for the latest updates.
If you would like to be informed about new articles on I Programmer you can either follow us on Twitter or Facebook or you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter.