[% setvar title Pseudo-hashes must die! %]

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TITLE

Pseudo-hashes must die!

VERSION

  Maintainer: Michael Schwern <schwern@pobox.com> 
  Date: 16 Sep 2000
  Mailing List: perl6-language @perl.org
  Number: 241
  Version: 1
  Status: Developing (Last Call)

ABSTRACT

Pseudo-hashes and the associated fields pragma shoule be removed from Perl 6.

DESCRIPTION

There are numerous insuperable problems with pseudo-hashes, as detailed in "Object Oriented Perl" and "Programming Perl, Ed. 3". They are a noble experiment that many feel has failed. They should be removed.

Pseudo-hashes have existed since at least May 28th, 1997 when they were added as patch #2 to what would eventually become 5.004_50. Two years, three months and 20 days later they're still considered experimental, incomplete and loaded with caveats.

        Doesn't play well with multiple inheritance
        Muddles the behavior of typed variables
        Requires significant extra documentation and complication of
                hash operations.
        Inconsistencies between typed and untyped access.
        Pseudo-hashes, unless used very carefully, often turn out slower
                than hashes.

Pseudo-hashes were added to solve three problems: restrict keyspace, reduce memory usage and increase speed of hashes. There are many RFCs which address these issues with less caveats.

There has been some discussion on p5p regarding the removal of pseudo-hashes (and other experimental features) should their adolescence take too long. Two major revisions of experimentation was given as a rough limit to declaring an experiment as a failure.

The extensive development time, continued experimental nature, caveats and availability of better proposals lead to one conclusion:

        B<PSEUDO-HASHES MUST DIE>

MIGRATION

Considerable. Most would be solved by a clever rejigging of the fields pragma to revert to simple hashes or other Perl 6 features. A 100% perfect conversion will not be achieved without an inorderinate amount of work. Since pseudohashes were an experimental feature, a less-than-perfect migration is acceptable. You pays your money and you takes your chances. (As a fairly extensive user of pseudohashes, I'm willing to take the hit.)

IMPLEMENTATION

Very simple, don't implement it. :) In Perl 5 terms, avhv functions removed from av.c, pseudo-hash code removed from pp.c, pp_hot.c, doop.c, mg.c, embed.pl etc.... and pseudo-hash documentation caveats removed from perlref and perlfunc.

REFERENCES

Discussion of experation of experimental features. www.xray.mpe.mpg.de www.xray.mpe.mpg.de

RFCs which supplant pseudohash functionality.

RFC 188 - Objects : Private keys and methods

RFC 200 - Objects: Revamp tie to support extensibility (Massive tie changes)

RFC 163 - Automatic accessors for hash-based objects

RFC 124 - Sort order for any hash

RFC 122 - types and structures

etc...

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