Perl 6, a long-awaited upgrade to the well-known scripting language, has gone into beta, with the general release planned for Christmastime.

The upgrade went to beta late last month, Perl designer Larry Wall told InfoWorld on Wednesday, and the October monthly release will feature the first of two beta releases of the Rakudo Perl 6 compiler. There been having monthly compiler releases for years, but the language definition has now stabilized. Wall added, “At this point we’re optimizing, fixing bugs, and documenting, and I feel comfortable saying we can take a snapshot of whatever we have in December and call it the first production release.”

Highlights of Perl 6 include object-oriented programming with generics, roles, parallelism, concurrency, multicore support, and optional and gradual typing. Also slated for the release are definable grammars for pattern-matching and generalized string processing. “Many new features greatly advance our tradition of expressive and feature-rich programming,” the Perl 6 website states. Wall has cited other improvements, including “world-class” Unicode support and generational garbage collection.

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