Specify octal numbers with the 0o prefix

Perl v5.34 allows you to specify octal literals with the 0o prefix, as in 0o123_456. This is consistent with the existing constructs to specify hexadecimal literal 0xddddd and binary literal 0bddddd. The builtin oct() function accepts any of these forms.

Previously, you specified octal with just a leading zero:

chmod 0644, $file;
mkdir 0755, $file;

Now you can do that an extra character that specifies the base:

chmod 0o644, $file;
mkdir 0o755, $file;

This makes it consistent with 0b for binary and 0x for hexadecimal. See “Scalar value constructors” in perldata.

And, remember that v5.14 added the \o{NNN} notation to specify characters by their octal number. We’re still waiting for octal floating point values (we got the hex version in v5.22), but don’t hold your breath.

Perhaps we’ll get 0d sometime so that all the bases.

Undef a scalar to release its memory

When you store a large string in a scalar, perl allocates the memory to store that string and associate it with the scalar. It uses the same memory even if you assign a much shorter value to the same scalar. Use the functional form of undef to let perl reuse that memory for something else. This is important when you want to reuse the variable or the lifetime of the variable is very long.

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Perl v5.26 now recognizes version control conflict markers

Perl v5.26 can now detect and warn you about a version control conflict markers in your code. In prior versions, the compiler would try to interpret those as code and would complain about a syntax error. You program still fails to compile but you get a better error message. Maybe some future Perl will bifurcate the program, run both versions, and compare the results (don’t hold your breath):

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In-place editing gets safer in v5.28

In-place editing is getting much safer in v5.28. Before that, in rare circumstances it could lose data. You may have never noticed the problem and even with all the times I’ve explained it in a Perl class I haven’t really thought about it. This was first reported as early as December 2002 and after we get v5.28 it won’t be a problem anymore. Continue reading “In-place editing gets safer in v5.28”

Beware of the removal of when in Perl v5.28

[Although I haven’t seen an official notice besides a git commit that reverts the changes, by popular outcry these changes won’t be in v5.28. It’s not that they won’t happen but they won’t be in v5.28. People who depend on Perl should stay vigilant. My advice in the first paragraph stands—change is coming and we don’t know what it is yet.]

Perl v5.28 might do away with when—v5.27.7 already has. Don’t upgrade to v5.28 until you know you won’t be affected by this! This change doesn’t follow the normal Perl deprecation or experimental feature policy. If you are using given-when, stop doing that. If you aren’t using it, don’t start. And everyone should consider if a major change like this on such short notice is comfortable for them. It’s not a democracy but you can still let the core developers know which way you want your favorite language to go.

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keys in scalar context now returns the number of keys

Starting in v5.26, a hash in scalar context evaluates to the number of keys in the hash. You might have thought that it always did that just like an array (not a list!) in scalar context evaluates to the number of items. But nope—it evaluated to a seemingly useless number called the “hash statistics”. Now it’s fixed to do what most people thought it already did. For what it’s worth, keys (or values) in scalar context already provided the count.

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Make bitwise operators always use numeric context

[This feature is no longer experimental, starting in v5.28. Declaring use 5.28 automatically enables them.]

Most Perl operators force their context on the values. For example, the numeric addition operator, +, forces its values to be numbers. To “add” strings, you use a separate operator, the string concatenation operator, . (which looks odd at the end of a sentence).

The bitwise operators, however, look at the value to determine their context. With a lefthand value that has a numeric component, the bitwise operators do numeric things. With a lefthand value that’s a string, the bit operators become string operators. That’s certainly one of Perl’s warts, which I’ll fix at the end of this article with a new feature from v5.22. Continue reading “Make bitwise operators always use numeric context”