This document is intended to give you a quick overview of the Perl 6 programming language. For those who are new to Perl 6 it should get you up and running.

Some sections of this document refer to other (more complete and accurate) parts of the Perl 6 documentation. You should read them if you need more information on a specific subject.

Throughout this document, you will find examples for most discussed topics. To better understand them, take the time to reproduce all examples.

License

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit

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1. Introduction

1.1. What is Perl 6

Perl 6 is a high-level, general-purpose, gradually typed language. Perl 6 is multi-paradigmatic. It supports Procedural, Object Oriented, and Functional programming.

Perl 6 motto:
  • TMTOWTDI (Pronounced Tim Toady): There is more than one way to do it.

  • Easy things should stay easy, hard things should get easier, and impossible things should get hard.

1.2. Jargon

  • Perl 6: Is a language specification with a test suite. Implementations that pass the specification test suite are considered Perl 6.

  • Rakudo: Is a compiler for Perl 6.

  • Rakudobrew: Is an installation manager for Rakudo.

  • Panda: Is a Perl 6 module installer.

  • Rakudo Star: Is a bundle that includes Rakudo, Panda, a collection of Perl 6 modules, and documentation.

1.3. Installing Perl 6

Linux
  1. Install Rakudobrew: https://github.com/tadzik/rakudobrew

  2. Install Rakudo: Type the following command in the terminal rakudobrew build moar

  3. Install Panda: Type the following command in the terminal rakudobrew build panda

  4. Install Task::Star a meta-package for modules included in Rakudo Star: Type the following command in the terminal panda install Task::Star

OSX

Four options are available:

  • Follow the same steps listed for installing on Linux

  • Install with homebrew: brew install rakudo-star

  • Install with MacPorts: sudo port install rakudo

  • Download the latest installer (file with .dmg extension) from http://rakudo.org/downloads/star/

Windows
  1. Download the latest installer (file with .msi extension) from http://rakudo.org/downloads/star/
    If your system architecture is 32-bit, download the x86 file; if it’s 64-bit, download the x86_64 file.

  2. After installation make sure C:\rakudo\bin is in the PATH

Docker
  1. Get the official Docker image docker pull rakudo-star

  2. Then run a container with the image docker run -it rakudo-star

1.4. Running Perl 6 code

Running Perl 6 code can be done using the REPL (Read-Eval-Print Loop). To do this, open a terminal, type perl6 into the terminal window, and hit [Enter]. This will cause a prompt of > to appear. Next, type a line of code and hit [Enter]. The REPL will print out the value of the line. You may then type another line, or type exit and hit [Enter] to leave the REPL.

Alternatively, write your code in a file, save it and run it. It is recommended that Perl 6 scripts have a .pl6 file name extension. Run the file by typing perl6 filename.pl6 into the terminal window and hitting [Enter]. Unlike the REPL, this will not automatically print the result of each line: the code must contain a statement like say to print output.

The REPL is mostly used for trying a specific piece of code, typically a single line. For programs with more than a single line it is recommended to store them in a file and then run them.

Single lines may also be tried non-interactively on the command-line by typing perl6 -e 'your code here' and hitting [Enter].

Rakudo Star bundles a line editor that helps you get the most out of the REPL.

If you installed plain Rakudo instead of Rakudo Star then you probably don’t have line editing features enabled (using the up and down arrows for history, left and right to edit input, TAB completion). Consider running the following command and you shall be all set:

  • panda install Linenoise would work on Windows, Linux and OSX

  • panda install Readline if you are on Linux and prefer the Readline library

1.5. Editors

Since most of the time we will be writing and storing our Perl 6 programs in files, we should have a decent text editor that recognizes Perl 6 syntax.

I personally use and recommend Atom. It is a modern text editor and comes with Perl 6 syntax highlighting out of the box. Perl6-fe is an alternative Perl 6 syntax highlighter for Atom, derived from the original package but with many bug fixes and additions.

Other people in the community also use Vim, Emacs or Padre.

Recent versions of Vim ship with syntax highlighting out of the box. Emacs and Padre will require installation of additional packages.

1.6. Hello World!

We shall begin with The hello world ritual.

say 'hello world';

that can also be written as:

'hello world'.say;

1.7. Syntax overview

Perl 6 is free form: You are free (most of the time) to use any amount of whitespace.

Statements are typically a logical line of code, they need to end with a semicolon: say "Hello" if True;

Expressions are a special type of statement that returns a value: 1+2 will return 3

Expressions are made of Terms and Operators.

Terms are:

  • Variables: A value that can be manipulated and changed.

  • Literals: A constant value like a number or a string.

Operators are classified into types:

Type

Explanation

Example

Prefix

Before the term.

++1

Infix

Between terms

1+2

Postfix

After the term

1++

Circumfix

Around the term

(1)

Postcircumfix

After one term, around another

Array[1]

1.7.1. Identifiers

Identifiers are the names given to terms when you define them.

Rules:
  • They must start with an alphabetic character or an underscore.

  • They can contain digits (except the first character).

  • They can contain dashes or apostrophes (except the first and last character), provided there’s an alphabetic character to the right side of each dash or apostrophe.

Valid

Invalid

var1

1var

var-one

var-1

var’one

var'1

var1_

var1'

_var

-var

Naming conventions:
  • Camel case: variableNo1

  • Kebab case: variable-no1

  • Snake case: variable_no1

You are free to name your identifiers as you like, but it is good practice to adopt one naming convention consistently.

Using meaningful names will ease your (and others) programming life.

  • var1 = var2 * var3 is syntactically correct but its purpose is not evident.

  • monthly-salary = daily-rate * working-days would be a better way to name your variables.

1.7.2. Comments

A comment is a piece of text ignored by the compiler and used as a note.

Comments are divided into 3 types:

  • Single line:

    # This is a single line comment
  • Embedded:

    say #`(This is an embedded comment) "Hello World."
  • Multi line:

    =begin comment
    This is a multi line comment.
    Comment 1
    Comment 2
    =end comment

1.7.3. Quotes

Strings need to be delimited by either double quotes or single quotes.

Always use double quotes:

  • if your string contains an apostrophe.

  • if your string contains a variable that needs to be interpolated.

say 'Hello World';   # Hello World
say "Hello World";   # Hello World
say "Don't";         # Don't
my $name = 'John Doe';
say 'Hello $name';   # Hello $name
say "Hello $name";   # Hello John Doe

2. Operators

2.1. Common Operators

The below table lists the most commonly used operators.

Operator Type Description Example Result

+

Infix

Addition

1 + 2

3

-

Infix

Subtraction

3 - 1

2

*

Infix

Multiplication

3 * 2

6

**

Infix

Power

3 ** 2

9

/

Infix

Division

3 / 2

1.5

div

Infix

Integer Division (rounds down)

3 div 2

1

%

Infix

Modulo

7 % 4

3

%%

Infix

Divisibility

6 %% 4

False

6 %% 3

True

gcd

Infix

Greatest common divisor

6 gcd 9

3

lcm

Infix

Least common multiple

6 lcm 9

18

==

Infix

Numeric equal

9 == 7

False

!=

Infix

Numeric not equal

9 != 7

True

<

Infix

Less than

9 < 7

False

>

Infix

Greater than

9 > 7

True

<=

Infix

Less than or equal

7 <= 7

True

>=

Infix

Greater than or equal

9 >= 7

True

eq

Infix

String equal

"John" eq "John"

True

ne

Infix

String not equal

"John" ne "Jane"

True

=

Infix

Assignment

my $var = 7

Assigns the value of 7 to the variable $var

~

Infix

String concatenation

9 ~ 7

97

"Hi " ~ "there"

Hi there

x

Infix

String replication

13 x 3

131313

"Hello " x 3

Hello Hello Hello

~~

Infix

Smart match

2 ~~ 2

True

2 ~~ Int

True

"Perl 6" ~~ "Perl 6"

True

"Perl 6" ~~ Str

True

"enlightenment" ~~ /light/

「light」

++

Prefix

Increment

my $var = 2; ++$var;

Increment the variable by 1 and return the result 3

Postfix

Increment

my $var = 2; $var++;

Return the variable 2 and then increment it

--

Prefix

Decrement

my $var = 2; --$var;

Decrement the variable by 1 and return the result 1

Postfix

Decrement

my $var = 2; $var--;

Return the variable 2 and then decrement it

+

Prefix

Coerce the operand to a numeric value

+"3"

3

+True

1

+False

0

-

Prefix

Coerce the operand to a numeric value and return the negation

-"3"

-3

-True

-1

-False

0

?

Prefix

Coerce the operand to a boolean value

?0

False

?9.8

True

?"Hello"

True

?""

False

my $var; ?$var;

False

my $var = 7; ?$var;

True

!

Prefix

Coerce the operand to a boolean value and return the negation

!4

False

..

Infix

Range Constructor

0..5

Creates a range from 0 to 5

..^

Infix

Range Constructor

0..^5

Creates a range from 0 to 4

^..

Infix

Range Constructor

0^..5

Creates a range from 1 to 5

^..^

Infix

Range Constructor

0^..^5

Creates a range from 1 to 4

^

Prefix

Range Constructor

^5

Same as 0..^5 Creates a range from 0 to 4

…​

Infix

Lazy List Constructor

0…​9999

return the elements only if requested

|

Prefix

Flattening

|(0..5)

(0 1 2 3 4 5)

|(0^..^5)

(1 2 3 4)

2.2. Reversed Operators

Adding R before any operator will have the effect of reversing its operands.

Normal Operation Result Reversed Operator Result

2 / 3

0.666667

2 R/ 3

1.5

2 - 1

1

2 R- 1

-1

2.3. Reduction Operators

Reduction operators work on lists of values. They are formed by surrounding the operator with brackets []

Normal Operation Result Reduction Operator Result

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5

15

[+] 1,2,3,4,5

15

1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5

120

[*] 1,2,3,4,5

120

For the complete list of operators, including their precedence, go to https://docs.perl6.org/language/operators

3. Variables

Perl 6 variables are classified into 3 categories: Scalars, Arrays and Hashes.

A sigil (Sign in Latin) is a character that is used as a prefix to categorize variables.

  • $ is used for scalars

  • @ is used for arrays

  • % is used for hashes

3.1. Scalars

A scalar holds one value or reference.

#String
my $name = 'John Doe';
say $name;

#Integer
my $age = 99;
say $age;

A specific set of operations can be done on a scalar, depending on the value it holds.

String
my $name = 'John Doe';
say $name.uc;
say $name.chars;
say $name.flip;
JOHN DOE
8
eoD nhoJ
For the complete list of methods applicable to Strings, see https://docs.perl6.org/type/Str
Integer
my $age = 17;
say $age.is-prime;
True
For the complete list of methods applicable to Integers, see https://docs.perl6.org/type/Int
Rational Number
my $age = 2.3;
say $age.numerator;
say $age.denominator;
say $age.nude;
23
10
(23 10)
For the complete list of methods applicable to Rational Numbers, see https://docs.perl6.org/type/Rat

3.2. Arrays

Arrays are lists containing multiple values.

my @animals = 'camel','llama','owl';
say @animals;

Many operations can be done on arrays as shown in the below example:

The tilde ~ is used for string concatenation.
Script
my @animals = 'camel','vicuña','llama';
say "The zoo contains " ~ @animals.elems ~ " animals";
say "The animals are: " ~ @animals;
say "I will adopt an owl for the zoo";
@animals.push("owl");
say "Now my zoo has: " ~ @animals;
say "The first animal we adopted was the " ~ @animals[0];
@animals.pop;
say "Unfortunately the owl got away and we're left with: " ~ @animals;
say "We're closing the zoo and keeping one animal only";
say "We're going to let go: " ~ @animals.splice(1,2) ~ " and keep the " ~ @animals;
Output
The zoo contains 3 animals
The animals are: camel vicuña llama
I will adopt an owl for the zoo
Now my zoo has: camel vicuña llama owl
The first animal we adopted was the camel
Unfortunately the owl got away and we're left with: camel vicuña llama
We're closing the zoo and keeping one animal only
We're going to let go: vicuña llama and keep the camel
Explanation

.elems returns the number of elements in an array.
.push() adds one or more elements to the array.
We can access a specific element in the array by specifying its position @animals[0].
.pop removes the last element from the array and returns it.
.splice(a,b) will remove b elements starting at position a.

3.2.1. Fixed-size arrays

A basic array is declared as following:

my @array;

The basic array can have indefinite length and thus is called auto-extending.
The array will accept any number of values with no restriction.

In contrast, we can also create fixed-size arrays.
These arrays can not be accessed beyond their defined size.

To declare an array of fixed size, specify its maximum number of elements in square brackets immediately after its name:

my @array[3];

This array will be able to hold a maximum of 3 values, indexed from 0 to 2.

my @array[3];
@array[0] = "first value";
@array[1] = "second value";
@array[2] = "third value";

You will not be able to add a fourth value to this array:

my @array[3];
@array[0] = "first value";
@array[1] = "second value";
@array[2] = "third value";
@array[3] = "fourth value";
Index 3 for dimension 1 out of range (must be 0..2)

3.2.2. Multidimensional arrays

The arrays we saw until now are one-dimensional.
Fortunately, we can define multi-dimensional arrays in Perl 6.

my @tbl[3;2];

This array is two-dimensional. The first dimension can have a maximum of 3 values and the second dimension a maximum of 2 values.

Think of it as a 3x2 grid.

my @tbl[3;2];
@tbl[0;0] = 1;
@tbl[0;1] = "x";
@tbl[1;0] = 2;
@tbl[1;1] = "y";
@tbl[2;0] = 3;
@tbl[2;1] = "z";
say @tbl
[[1 x] [2 y] [3 z]]
Visual representation of the array:
[1 x]
[2 y]
[3 z]
For the complete Array reference, see https://docs.perl6.org/type/Array

3.3. Hashes

A Hash is a set of Key/Value pairs.
my %capitals = ('UK','London','Germany','Berlin');
say %capitals;
Another succinct way of filling the hash:
my %capitals = (UK => 'London', Germany => 'Berlin');
say %capitals;

Some of the methods that can be called on hashes are:

Script
my %capitals = (UK => 'London', Germany => 'Berlin');
%capitals.push: (France => 'Paris');
say %capitals.kv;
say %capitals.keys;
say %capitals.values;
say "The capital of France is: " ~ %capitals<France>;
Output
(France Paris Germany Berlin UK London)
(France Germany UK)
(Paris Berlin London)
The capital of France is: Paris
Explanation

.push: (key ⇒ 'Value') adds a new key/value pair.
.kv returns a list containing all keys and values.
.keys returns a list that contains all keys.
.values returns a list that contains all values.
We can access a specific value in the hash by specifying its key %hash<key>

For the complete Hash reference, see https://docs.perl6.org/type/Hash

3.4. Types

In the previous examples, we did not specify what type of values the variables should hold.

.WHAT will return the type of value held in a variable.
my $var = 'Text';
say $var;
say $var.WHAT;

$var = 123;
say $var;
say $var.WHAT;

As you can see in the above example, the type of value in $var was once (Str) and then (Int).

This style of programming is called dynamic typing. Dynamic in the sense that variables may contain values of Any type.

Now try running the below example:
Notice Int before the variable name.

my Int $var = 'Text';
say $var;
say $var.WHAT;

It will fail and return this error message: Type check failed in assignment to $var; expected Int but got Str

What happened is that we specified beforehand that the variable should be of type (Int). When we tried to assign an (Str) to it, it failed.

This style of programming is called static typing. Static in the sense that variable types are defined before assignment and cannot change.

Perl 6 is classified as gradually typed; it allows both static and dynamic typing.

Arrays and hashes can also be statically typed:
my Int @array = 1,2,3;
say @array;
say @array.WHAT;

my Str @multilingual = "Hello","Salut","Hallo","您好","안녕하세요","こんにちは";
say @multilingual;
say @multilingual.WHAT;

my Str %capitals = (UK => 'London', Germany => 'Berlin');
say %capitals;
say %capitals.WHAT;

my Int %country-codes = (UK => 44, Germany => 49);
say %country-codes;
say %country-codes.WHAT;
Below is a list of the most commonly used types:

You will most probably never use the first two but they are listed for informational purpose.

Type

Description

Example

Result

Mu

The root of the Perl 6 type hierarchy

Any

Default base class for new classes and for most built-in classes

Cool

Value that can be treated as a string or number interchangeably

my Cool $var = 31; say $var.flip; say $var * 2;

13 62

Str

String of characters

my Str $var = "NEON"; say $var.flip;

NOEN

Int

Integer (arbitrary-precision)

7 + 7

14

Rat

Rational number (limited-precision)

0.1 + 0.2

0.3

Bool

Boolean

!True

False

3.5. Introspection

Introspection is the process of getting information about an object properties like its type.
In one of the previous example we used .WHAT to return the type of the variable.

my Int $var;
say $var.WHAT;    # (Int)
my $var2;
say $var2.WHAT;   # (Any)
$var2 = 1;
say $var2.WHAT;   # (Int)
$var2 = "Hello";
say $var2.WHAT;   # (Str)
$var2 = True;
say $var2.WHAT;   # (Bool)
$var2 = Nil;
say $var2.WHAT;   # (Any)

The type of a variable holding a value is correlated to its value.
The type of a strongly declared empty variable is the type with which it was declared.
The type of an empty variable that wasn’t strongly declared is (Any)
To clear the value of a variable, assign Nil to it.

3.6. Scoping

Before using a variable for the first time, it needs to be declared.

Several declarators are used in Perl 6, my is what we have been using so far in the examples above.

my $var=1;

The my declarator give the variable lexical scope. In other words, the variable will only be accessible in the same block it was declared.

A block in Perl 6 is delimited by { }. If no block is found, the variable will be available in the whole Perl 6 script.

{
  my Str $var = 'Text';
  say $var; #is accessible
}
say $var; #is not accessible, returns an error

Since a variable is only accessible in the block where it is defined, the same variable name can be used in another block.

{
  my Str $var = 'Text';
  say $var;
}
my Int $var = 123;
say $var;

3.7. Assignment vs. Binding

We’ve seen in the previous examples, how to assign values to variables.
Assignment is done using the = operator.

my Int $var = 123;
say $var;

We can change the value assigned to a variable:

Assignment
my Int $var = 123;
say $var;
$var = 999;
say $var;
Output
123
999

On the other hand, we cannot change the value bound to a variable.
Binding is done using the := operator.

Binding
my Int $var := 123;
say $var;
$var = 999;
say $var;
Output
123
Cannot assign to an immutable value
Variables can also be bound to other variables:
my $a;
my $b;
$b := $a;
$a = 7;
say $b;
$b = 8;
say $a;
Output
7
8

Binding variables, as you already remarked, is bi-directional.
$a := $b and $b := $a have the same effect.

For more info on variables, see https://docs.perl6.org/language/variables

4. Functions and mutators

It is important to differentiate between functions and mutators.
Functions do not change the initial state of the object they were called on.
Mutators modify the state of the object.

Script
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
my @numbers = [7,2,4,9,11,3]; @numbers.push(99); say @numbers; #1 say @numbers.sort; #2 say @numbers; #3 @numbers.=sort; say @numbers; #4
Output
[7 2 4 9 11 3 99] #1
(2 3 4 7 9 11 99) #2
[7 2 4 9 11 3 99] #3
[2 3 4 7 9 11 99] #4
Explanation

.push is a mutator, it changes the state of the array (#1)

.sort is a function, it returns a sorted array but doesn’t modify the state of the initial array:

  • (#2) shows that it returned a sorted array.

  • (#3) shows that the initial array is still unmodified.

In order to enforce a function to act as a mutator, we use .= instead of . (#4) (Line 9 of the script)

5. Loops and conditions

Perl 6 has a multitude of conditionals and looping constructs.

5.1. if

The code runs only if the condition has been met, or in other words the expression evaluates to True.

my $age = 19;

if $age > 18 {
  say 'Welcome'
}

In Perl 6 we can invert the code and the condition.
Even if the code and the condition have been inverted, the condition is always evaluated first.

my $age = 19;

say 'Welcome' if $age > 18;

If the condition is not met, we can still specify alternative blocks for execution using:

  • else

  • elsif

#run the same code for different values of the variable
my $number-of-seats = 9;

if $number-of-seats <= 5 {
  say 'I am a sedan'
} elsif $number-of-seats <= 7 {
  say 'I am 7 seater'
} else {
  say 'I am a van'
}

5.2. unless

The negated version of an if statement can be written using unless.

The following code:

my $clean-shoes = False;

if not $clean-shoes {
  say 'Clean your shoes'
}

can be written as:

my $clean-shoes = False;

unless $clean-shoes {
  say 'Clean your shoes'
}

Negation in Perl 6 is done using either ! or not.

unless (condition) is used instead of if not (condition).

unless cannot have an else clause.

5.3. with

with behaves like the if statement, but checks if the variable is defined.

my Int $var=1;

with $var {
  say 'Hello'
}

If you run the code without assigning a value to the variable nothing should happen.

my Int $var;

with $var {
  say 'Hello'
}

without is the negated version of with. You should be able to relate it to unless.

If the first with condition is not met, an alternate path can be specified using orwith.
with and orwith can be compared to if and elsif.

5.4. for

The for loop iterates over multiple values.

my @array = [1,2,3];

for @array -> $array-item {
  say $array-item * 100
}

Notice that we created an iteration variable $array-item in order to perform the operation *100 on each array item.

5.5. given

given is the Perl 6 equivalent of the switch statement in other languages, but much more powerful.

my $var = 42;

given $var {
    when 0..50 { say 'Less than or equal to 50'}
    when Int { say "is an Int" }
    when 42  { say 42 }
    default  { say "huh?" }
}

After a successful match, the matching process will stop.

Alternatively proceed will instruct Perl 6 to continue matching even after a successful match.

my $var = 42;

given $var {
    when 0..50 { say 'Less than or equal to 50';proceed}
    when Int { say "is an Int";proceed}
    when 42  { say 42 }
    default  { say "huh?" }
}

5.6. loop

loop is another way of writing a for loop.

Actually loop is how for loops are written in C-family programming languages.

Perl 6 belongs to the C-family languages.

loop (my $i = 0; $i < 5; $i++) {
  say "The current number is $i"
}
For more info on loops and conditions, see https://docs.perl6.org/language/control

6. I/O

In Perl 6, two of the most common Input/Output interfaces are the Terminal and Files.

6.1. Basic I/O using the Terminal

6.1.1. say

say writes to the standard output. It appends a newline at the end. In other words, the following code:

say 'Hello Mam.';
say 'Hello Sir.';

will be written on 2 separate lines.

6.1.2. print

print on the other hand behaves like say but doesn’t add a new line.

Try replacing say with print and compare both results.

6.1.3. get

get is used to capture input from the terminal.

my $name;

say "Hi, what's your name?";
$name = get;

say "Dear $name welcome to Perl 6";

When the above code runs, the terminal will be waiting for you to input your name and hit [Enter]. Subsequently, it will greet you.

6.1.4. prompt

prompt is a combination of print and get.

The above example can be written like this:

my $name = prompt "Hi, what's your name? ";

say "Dear $name welcome to Perl 6";

6.2. Running Shell Commands

Two subroutines can be used to run shell commands:

  • run Runs an external command without involving a shell

  • shell Runs a command through the system shell. It is platform and shell dependent. All shell meta characters are interpreted by the shell, including pipes, redirects, environment variable substitutions and so on.

Run this if you’re on Linux/OSX
my $name = 'Neo';
run 'echo', "hello $name";
shell "ls";
Run this if you’re on Windows
shell "dir";

echo and ls are common shell keywords on Linux:
echo prints text to the terminal (the equivalent of print in Perl 6)
ls lists all files and folders in the current directory

dir is the equivalent of ls on Windows.

6.3. File I/O

6.3.1. slurp

slurp is used to read data from a file.

Create a text file with the following content:

datafile.txt
John 9
Johnnie 7
Jane 8
Joanna 7
my $data = slurp "datafile.txt";
say $data;

6.3.2. spurt

spurt is used to write data to a file.

my $newdata = "New scores:
Paul 10
Paulie 9
Paulo 11";

spurt "newdatafile.txt", $newdata;

After running the above code, a new file named newdatafile.txt will be created. It will contain the new scores.

6.4. Working with files and directories

Perl 6 can list the contents of a directory without running shell commands (using ls) as seen in a previous example.

say dir;              #List files and folders in the current directory
say dir "/Documents"; #List files and folders in the specified directory

In addition to that you can create new directories and delete them.

mkdir "newfolder";
rmdir "newfolder";

mkdir creates a new directory.
rmdir delete an empty directory. Returns an error if not empty.

You can also check if the specified path exists, if it is a file or a directory:

In the directory where you will be running the below script, create an empty folder folder123 and an empty pl6 file script123.pl6

say "script123.pl6".IO.e;
say "folder123".IO.e;

say "script123.pl6".IO.d;
say "folder123".IO.d;

say "script123.pl6".IO.f;
say "folder123".IO.f;

IO.e checks if the directory/file exists.
IO.f checks if the path is a file.
IO.d checks if the path is a directory.

Windows users can use / or \\ to define directories
C:\\rakudo\\bin
C:/rakudo/bin
For more info on I/O, see https://docs.perl6.org/type/IO

7. Subroutines

7.1. Definition

Subroutines (also called subs or functions) are a means of packaging a set of functionality.

A subroutine definition begins with the keyword sub. After their definition, they can be called by their handle.
Check out the below example:

sub alien-greeting {
  say "Hello earthlings";
}

alien-greeting;

The previous example showcased a subroutine that doesn’t require any input.

7.2. Signature

Many subroutines would require some input in order to work. That input is provided by arguments. A subroutine may define zero or more parameters. The number and type of parameters that a subroutine defines is called its signature.

The below subroutine accepts a string argument.

sub say-hello (Str $name) {
    say "Hello " ~ $name ~ "!!!!"
}
say-hello "Paul";
say-hello "Paula";

7.3. Multiple dispatch

It is possible to define multiple subroutines having the same name but different signatures. When the subroutine is called, the runtime environment will decide which version to use depending on the number and type of the supplied arguments. This type of subroutines is defined the same way as normal subs with the exception of swapping the sub keyword with multi.

multi greet($name) {
    say "Good morning $name";
}
multi greet($name, $title) {
    say "Good morning $title $name";
}

greet "Johnnie";
greet "Laura","Mrs.";

7.4. Default and Optional Parameters

If a subroutine is defined to accept an argument, and we call it without providing it with the required argument, it will fail.

Alternatively Perl 6 provides us the ability to define subroutines with:

  • Optional Parameters

  • Default Parameters

Optional parameters are defined by appending ? to the parameter name.

sub say-hello($name?) {
  with $name { say "Hello " ~ $name }
  else { say "Hello Human" }
}
say-hello;
say-hello("Laura");

If the user doesn’t supply an argument, it can default to a specific value.
This is done by assigning a value to the parameter within the subroutine definition.

sub say-hello($name="Matt") {
  say "Hello " ~ $name;
}
say-hello;
say-hello("Laura");

7.5. Returning values

All the subroutines we saw so far do something, they display some text on the terminal.

While this is perfectly normal, sometimes we do want a subroutine to return some kind of value that we can reuse later in the flow of our program.

Under normal circumstances, the last line of code of a subroutine is considered to be the return value.

Implicit return
sub squared ($x) {
  $x ** 2;
}
say "7 squared is equal to " ~ squared(7);

Once our code gets bigger, it might be a good idea to explicitly specify what we do want to return. This can be done using the return keyword.

Explicit return
sub squared ($x) {
  return $x ** 2;
}
say "7 squared is equal to " ~ squared(7);

7.5.1. Restricting return values

In one of the previous examples, we saw how we can restrict the accepted argument to be of a certain type. The same can be done with return values.

To restrict the return value to a certain type, we either use the returns trait or the arrow notation --> in the signature.

Using the returns trait
sub squared ($x) returns Int {
  return $x ** 2;
}
say "1.2 squared is equal to " ~ squared(1.2);
Using the arrow
sub squared ($x --> Int) {
  return $x ** 2;
}
say "1.2 squared is equal to " ~ squared(1.2);

If we fail to provide a return value that matches the type constraint, an error will be thrown.

Type check failed for return value; expected Int but got Rat (1.44)

Not only can type constraints control the type of the return value; they can also control its definedness.

In the previous examples, we specified that the return value should be an Int, irrespective of its definedness. Alternatively we could have specified that the returned Int should be strictly defined or undefined using the following signatures:
-→ Int:D and -→ Int:U

That being said, it is good practice to use those type constraints.
Below is the modified version of the previous example that uses :D to force the returned Int to be defined.

sub squared ($x --> Int:D) {
  return $x ** 2;
}
say "1.2 squared is equal to " ~ squared(1.2);
For more info on subroutines and functions, see https://docs.perl6.org/language/functions

8. Functional Programming

In this chapter we will take a look at some of the functionality that facilitates Functional Programming.

8.1. Functions are first-class citizens

Functions/subroutines are first-class citizens:

  • They can be passed as an argument

  • They can be returned from another function

  • They can be assigned to a variable

A great example to demonstrate this concept is the map function.
map is a higher order function, it accepts another function as an argument.

Script
my @array = <1 2 3 4 5>;
sub squared($x) {
  $x ** 2
}
say map(&squared,@array);
Output
(1 4 9 16 25)
Explanation

We defined a subroutine called squared, it will take to the power of two any number provided as argument.
Next, we used map, a higher order function and gave it two arguments, a subroutine and an array.
The result is a list of all squared elements of the array.

Notice that when passing a subroutine as an argument, we need to prepend & to its name.

8.2. Anonymous functions

An anonymous function is also called a lambda.
An anonymous function is not bound to an identifier (it has no name).

Let’s rewrite the map example using an anonymous function

my @array = <1 2 3 4 5>;
say map(-> $x {$x ** 2},@array);

Notice that instead of declaring the subroutine and passing it as an argument to map, we defined it directly within.
The anonymous subroutine -> $x {$x ** 2} has no handle and cannot be called.

In Perl 6 parlance we call this notation a pointy block

A pointy block may also be used to assign functions to variables:
my $squared = -> $x {
  $x ** 2
}
say $squared(9);

8.3. Chaining

In Perl 6, methods can be chained, you no longer have to pass the result of a method to another one as an argument.

Let’s consider that you are provided with an array of values. You are asked to return the unique values of this array, sorted from biggest to smallest.

You might try to solve the problem by writing something close to this:

my @array = <7 8 9 0 1 2 4 3 5 6 7 8 9>;
my @final-array = reverse(sort(unique(@array)));
say @final-array;

First we call the unique function on @array then we pass the result as an argument to sort and then we pass the result of sorting to reverse.

In contrast with the above example, chaining methods is allowed in Perl 6.
The above example can be written as following, taking advantage of method chaining:

my @array = <7 8 9 0 1 2 4 3 5 6 7 8 9>;
my @final-array = @array.unique.sort.reverse;
say @final-array;

You can already see that chaining methods is easier on the eye.

8.4. Feed Operator

The feed operator, called pipe in some functional programming languages, yields yet a better visualization of method chaining.

Forward Feed
my @array = <7 8 9 0 1 2 4 3 5 6 7 8 9>;
@array ==> unique()
       ==> sort()
       ==> reverse()
       ==> my @final-array;
say @final-array;
Explanation
Start with `@array` then return a list of unique elements
                    then sort it
                    then reverse it
                    then store the result in @final-array

As you can see the flow of the method calls is top-down.

Backward Feed
my @array = <7 8 9 0 1 2 4 3 5 6 7 8 9>;
my @final-array-v2 <== reverse()
                   <== sort()
                   <== unique()
                   <== @array;
say @final-array-v2;
Explanation

The backward feed is like the forward feed, but written in reverse.
The flow of the method calls is bottom-up.

8.5. Hyper operator

The hyper operator >>. will call a method on all elements of a list and return a list of all results.

my @array = <0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10>;
sub is-even($var) { $var %% 2 };

say @array>>.is-prime;
say @array>>.&is-even;

Using the hyper operator we can call methods already defined in Perl 6, e.g. is-prime that tells us if a number is prime or not.
In addition we can define new subroutines and call them using the hyper operator. In this case we have to prepend & to the name of the method. E.g. &is-even

This is very practical as it relieves us from writing a for loop to iterate over each value.

Perl 6 will guarantee that the order of the results is the same as the order of the original values.
But there is no guarantee that Perl 6 will actually call the methods in the same order or in the same thread.
So be careful with methods that have side-effects, such as say (where the side-effect is displaying the values).

8.6. Junctions

A junction is a logical superposition of values.

In the below example 1|2|3 is a junction.

my $var = 2;
if $var == 1|2|3 {
  say "The variable is 1 or 2 or 3"
}

The use of junctions usually triggers autothreading; the operation is carried out for each junction element, and all the results are combined into a new junction and returned.

8.7. Lazy Lists

A lazy list is a list that is lazily evaluated.
Lazy evaluation delays the evaluation of an expression until required, and avoids repeating evaluations by storing results in a lookup table.

The benefits include:

  • Performance increase by avoiding needless calculations

  • The ability to construct potentially infinite data structures

  • The ability to define control flow

To build a lazy list we use the infix operator …​
A lazy list has initial element(s), a generator and an endpoint.

Simple lazy list
my $lazylist = (1 ... 10);
say $lazylist;

The initial element is 1 and the endpoint is 10. No generator was defined so the default generator is the successor (+1)
In other words this lazy list may return (if requested) the following elements (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Infinite lazy list
my $lazylist = (1 ... Inf);
say $lazylist;

This list may return (if requested) any integer between 1 and infinity, in other words any integer number.

Lazy list built using a deduced generator
my $lazylist = (0,2 ... 10);
say $lazylist;

The initial elements are 0 and 2 and the endpoint is 10. No generator was defined, but using the initial elements, Perl 6 will deduce that the generator is (+2)
This lazy list may return (if requested) the following elements (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10)

Lazy list built using a defined generator
my $lazylist = (0, { $_ + 3 } ... 12);
say $lazylist;

In this example, we defined explicitly a generator enclosed in { }
This lazy list may return (if requested) the following elements (0, 3, 6, 9, 12)

When using an explicit generator, the endpoint must be one of the values that the generator can return.
If we reproduce the above example with the endpoint being 10 instead of 12, it will not stop. The generator jumps over the endpoint.

Alternatively you can replace 0 …​ 10 with 0 …​^ * > 10
You can read it as: From 0 until the first value greater than 10 (excluding it)

This will not stop the generator
my $lazylist = (0, { $_ + 3 } ... 10);
say $lazylist;
This will stop the generator
my $lazylist = (0, { $_ + 3 } ...^ * > 10);
say $lazylist;

8.8. Closures

All code objects in Perl 6 are closures, which means they can reference lexical variables from an outer scope.

sub generate-greeting {
    my $name = "John Doe";
    sub greeting {
      say "Good Morning $name";
    };
    return &greeting;
}
my $generated = generate-greeting;
$generated();

If you run the above code, it will display Good Morning John Doe on the terminal.
While the result is fairly simple, what is interesting about this example, is that the greeting inner subroutine was returned from the outer subroutine before being executed.

$generated has become a closure.

A closure is a special kind of object that combines two things:

  • A Subroutine

  • The Environment in which that subroutine was created.

The environment consists of any local variable that was in-scope at the time that the closure was created. In this case, $generated is a closure that incorporates both the greeting subroutine and the John Doe string that existed when the closure was created.

Let’s take a look at a more interesting example.

sub greeting-generator($period) {
  return sub ($name) {
    return "Good $period $name"
  }
}
my $morning = greeting-generator("Morning");
my $evening = greeting-generator("Evening");

say $morning("John");
say $evening("Jane");

In this example, we have defined a subroutine greeting-generator($period) that accepts a single argument $period and returns a new subroutine. The subroutine it returns accepts a single argument $name and returns the constructed greeting.

Basically, greeting-generator is a subroutine factory. In this example, we used greeting-generator to create two new subroutines, one that says Good Morning and one that says Good Evening.

$morning and $evening are both closures. They share the same subroutine body definition, but store different environments.
In $morning 's environment $period is Morning. In $evening 's environment $period is Evening.

9. Classes & Objects

In the previous chapter, we learned how Perl 6 facilitates Functional Programming.
In this chapter we will take a look at Object Oriented programming in Perl 6.

9.1. Introduction

Object Oriented programming is one of the widely used paradigms nowadays.
An object is a set of variables and subroutines bundled together.
The variables are called attributes and the subroutines are called methods.
Attributes define the state and methods define the behavior of an object.

A class defines the structure of a set of objects.

In order to understand the relationship consider the below example:

There are 4 people present in a room

objects ⇒ 4 people

These 4 people are humans

class ⇒ Human

They have different names, age, sex and nationality

attributes ⇒ name, age, sex, nationality

In object oriented parlance, we say that objects are instances of a class.

Consider the below script:

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
  has $.sex;
  has $.nationality;
}

my $john = Human.new(name => 'John', age => 23, sex => 'M', nationality => 'American');
say $john;

The class keyword is used to define a class.
The has keyword is used to define attributes of a class.
The .new() method is called a constructor. It creates the object as an instance of the class it has been called on.

In the above script, a new variable $john holds a reference to a new instance of "Human" defined by Human.new().
The arguments passed to the .new() method are used to set the attributes of the underlying object.

A class can be given lexical scope using my:

my class Human {

}

9.2. Encapsulation

Encapsulation is an object oriented concept that bundles a set of data and methods together.
The data (attributes) within an object should be private, in other words, accessible only from within the object.
In order to access the attributes from outside the object we use methods that we call accessors.

The below two scripts have the same result.

Direct access to the variable:
my $var = 7;
say $var;
Encapsulation:
my $var = 7;
sub sayvar {
  $var;
}
say sayvar;

The method sayvar is an accessor. It let us access the value of the variable without getting direct access to it.

Encapsulation is facilitated in Perl 6 with the use of twigils.
Twigils are secondary sigils. They come between the sigil and the attribute name.
Two twigils are used in classes:

  • ! is used to explicitly declare that the attribute is private.

  • . is used to automatically generate an accessor for the attribute.

By default, all attributes are private but it is a good habit to always use the ! twigil.

In line with what we said we should rewrite the above class as following:

class Human {
  has $!name;
  has $!age;
  has $!sex;
  has $!nationality;
}

my $john = Human.new(name => 'John', age => 23, sex => 'M', nationality => 'American');
say $john;

Append to the script the following statement: say $john.age;
It will return the following error: Method 'age' not found for invocant of class 'Human'
The reason being that $!age is private and can only be used within the object. Trying to access it outside the object will return an error.

Now replace has $!age with has $.age and see what will be the result of say $john.age;

9.3. Named vs. Positional Parameters

In Perl 6, all classes inherit a default .new() constructor.
It can be used to create objects by providing it with arguments.
The default constructor can only be provided with named arguments.
If you consider the above example, you’ll remark that all the arguments supplied to .new() are defined by name:

  • name ⇒ 'John'

  • age ⇒ 23

What if I do not want to supply the name of each attribute each time I want to create a new object?
Then I need to create another constructor that accepts positional arguments.

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
  has $.sex;
  has $.nationality;
  #new constructor that overrides the default one.
  method new ($name,$age,$sex,$nationality) {
    self.bless(:$name,:$age,:$sex,:$nationality);
  }
}

my $john = Human.new('John',23,'M','American');
say $john;

9.4. Methods

9.4.1. Introduction

Methods are the subroutines of an object.
Like subroutines, they are a means of packaging a set of functionality, they accept arguments, have a signature and can be defined as multi.

Methods are defined using the method keyword.
In normal circumstances, methods are required to perform some sort of action on the objects' attributes. This enforces the concept of encapsulation. Object attributes can only be manipulated from within the object using methods. The outside world, can only interact with the object methods, and has no access to its attributes.

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
  has $.sex;
  has $.nationality;
  has $.eligible;
  method assess-eligibility {
      if self.age < 21 {
        $!eligible = 'No'
      } else {
        $!eligible = 'Yes'
      }
  }

}

my $john = Human.new(name => 'John', age => 23, sex => 'M', nationality => 'American');
$john.assess-eligibility;
say $john.eligible;

Once methods are defined within a class, they can be called on an object using the dot notation:
object . method or as in the above example: $john.assess-eligibility

Within the definition of a method, if we need to reference the object itself to call another method we use the self keyword.

Within the definition of a method, if we need to reference an attribute we use ! even if it was defined with .
The rationale being that what the . twigil does is declare an attribute with ! and automate the creation of an accessor.

In the above example if self.age < 21 and if $!age < 21 would have the same effect, although they are technically different:

  • self.age calls the .age method (accessor)
    Can be written alternatively as $.age

  • $!age is a direct call to the variable

9.4.2. Private methods

Normal methods can be called on objects from outside the class.

Private methods are methods that can only be called from within the class.
A possible use case would be a method that calls another one for specific action. The method that interfaces with the outside world is public while the one referenced should stay private. We do not want users to call it directly, so we declare it as private.

The declaration of a private method requires the use of the ! twigil before its name.
Private methods are called with ! instead of .

method !iamprivate {
  #code goes in here
}

method iampublic {
  self!iamprivate;
  #do additional things
}

9.5. Class Attributes

Class attributes are attributes that belong to the class itself and not to its objects.
They can be initialized during definition.
Class attributes are declared using my instead of has.
They are called on the class itself instead of its objects.

class Human {
  has $.name;
  my $.counter = 0;
  method new($name) {
    Human.counter++;
    self.bless(:$name);
  }
}
my $a = Human.new('a');
my $b = Human.new('b');

say Human.counter;

9.6. Access Type

Until now all the examples that we’ve seen, used accessors to get information from the objects' attributes.

What if we need to modify the value of an attribute?
We need to label it as read/write using the following keywords is rw

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age is rw;
}
my $john = Human.new(name => 'John', age => 21);
say $john.age;

$john.age = 23;
say $john.age;

By default, all attributes are declared as read only but you can explicitly do it using is readonly

9.7. Inheritance

9.7.1. Introduction

Inheritance is another concept of object oriented programming.

When defining classes, soon enough we will realize that some attributes/methods are common to many classes.
Should we duplicate code?
NO! We should use inheritance

Let’s consider we want to define two classes, a class for Human beings and a class for Employees.
Human beings have 2 attributes: name and age.
Employees have 4 attributes: name, age, company and salary

One would be tempted to define the classes as follow:

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
}

class Employee {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
  has $.company;
  has $.salary;
}

While technically correct the above piece of code is considered conceptually poor.

A better way to write it would be as follow:

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
}

class Employee is Human {
  has $.company;
  has $.salary;
}

The is keyword defines inheritance.
In object oriented parlance we say Employee is a child of Human, and Human is a parent of Employee.

All child classes inherit the attributes and methods of the parent class, so there is no need to redefine them.

9.7.2. Overriding

Classes inherit all attributes and methods from their parent classes.
There are cases where we need the method in the child class to behave differently than the one inherited.
To achieve this, we redefine the method in the child class.
This concept is called overriding.

In the below example, the method introduce-yourself is inherited by the Employee class.

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
  method introduce-yourself {
    say 'Hi I am a human being, my name is ' ~ self.name;
  }
}

class Employee is Human {
  has $.company;
  has $.salary;
}

my $john = Human.new(name =>'John', age => 23,);
my $jane = Employee.new(name =>'Jane', age => 25, company => 'Acme', salary => 4000);

$john.introduce-yourself;
$jane.introduce-yourself;

Overriding works as follow:

class Human {
  has $.name;
  has $.age;
  method introduce-yourself {
    say 'Hi I am a human being, my name is ' ~ self.name;
  }
}

class Employee is Human {
  has $.company;
  has $.salary;
  method introduce-yourself {
    say 'Hi I am a employee, my name is ' ~ self.name ~ ' and I work at: ' ~ self.company;
  }

}

my $john = Human.new(name =>'John',age => 23,);
my $jane = Employee.new(name =>'Jane',age => 25,company => 'Acme',salary => 4000);

$john.introduce-yourself;
$jane.introduce-yourself;

Depending of which class the object is, the right method will be called.

9.7.3. Submethods

Submethods are a type of method that are not inherited by child classes.
They are only accessible from the class they were declared in.
They are defined using the submethod keyword.

9.8. Multiple Inheritance

Multiple inheritance is allowed in Perl 6. A class can inherit from multiple other classes.

class bar-chart {
  has Int @.bar-values;
  method plot {
    say @.bar-values;
  }
}

class line-chart {
  has Int @.line-values;
  method plot {
    say @.line-values;
  }
}

class combo-chart is bar-chart is line-chart {
}

my $actual-sales = bar-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10]);
my $forecast-sales = line-chart.new(line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);

my $actual-vs-forecast = combo-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10],
                                         line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);
say "Actual sales:";
$actual-sales.plot;
say "Forecast sales:";
$forecast-sales.plot;
say "Actual vs Forecast:";
$actual-vs-forecast.plot;
Output
Actual sales:
[10 9 11 8 7 10]
Forecast sales:
[9 8 10 7 6 9]
Actual vs Forecast:
[10 9 11 8 7 10]
Explanation

The combo-chart class should be able to hold two series, one for the actual values plotted on bars, and another for forecast values plotted on a line.
This is why we defined it as a child of line-chart and bar-chart.
You should have noticed that calling the method plot on the combo-chart didn’t yield the required result. Only one series was plotted.
Why did this happen?
combo-chart inherits from line-chart and bar-chart, and both of them have a method called plot. When we call that method on combo-chart Perl 6 internals will try to resolve the conflict by calling one of the inherited methods.

Correction

In order to behave correctly, we should have overridden the method plot in the combo-chart.

class bar-chart {
  has Int @.bar-values;
  method plot {
    say @.bar-values;
  }
}

class line-chart {
  has Int @.line-values;
  method plot {
    say @.line-values;
  }
}

class combo-chart is bar-chart is line-chart {
  method plot {
    say @.bar-values;
    say @.line-values;
  }
}

my $actual-sales = bar-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10]);
my $forecast-sales = line-chart.new(line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);

my $actual-vs-forecast = combo-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10],
                                         line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);
say "Actual sales:";
$actual-sales.plot;
say "Forecast sales:";
$forecast-sales.plot;
say "Actual vs Forecast:";
$actual-vs-forecast.plot;
Output
Actual sales:
[10 9 11 8 7 10]
Forecast sales:
[9 8 10 7 6 9]
Actual vs Forecast:
[10 9 11 8 7 10]
[9 8 10 7 6 9]

9.9. Roles

Roles are somehow similar to classes in the sense that they are a collection of attributes and methods.

Roles are declared with the keyword role and classes that wish to implement the role can do so using the does keyword.

Let’s rewrite the multiple inheritance example using roles:
role bar-chart {
  has Int @.bar-values;
  method plot {
    say @.bar-values;
  }
}

role line-chart {
  has Int @.line-values;
  method plot {
    say @.line-values;
  }
}

class combo-chart does bar-chart does line-chart {
  method plot {
    say @.bar-values;
    say @.line-values;
  }
}

my $actual-sales = bar-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10]);
my $forecast-sales = line-chart.new(line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);

my $actual-vs-forecast = combo-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10],
                                         line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);
say "Actual sales:";
$actual-sales.plot;
say "Forecast sales:";
$forecast-sales.plot;
say "Actual vs Forecast:";
$actual-vs-forecast.plot;

Run the above script and you will see that results are the same.

By now you’re asking yourself; if roles behave like classes what’s their use?
To answer your question modify the first script used to showcase multiple inheritance, the one where we forgot to override the plot method.

role bar-chart {
  has Int @.bar-values;
  method plot {
    say @.bar-values;
  }
}

role line-chart {
  has Int @.line-values;
  method plot {
    say @.line-values;
  }
}

class combo-chart does bar-chart does line-chart {
}

my $actual-sales = bar-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10]);
my $forecast-sales = line-chart.new(line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);

my $actual-vs-forecast = combo-chart.new(bar-values => [10,9,11,8,7,10],
                                         line-values => [9,8,10,7,6,9]);
say "Actual sales:";
$actual-sales.plot;
say "Forecast sales:";
$forecast-sales.plot;
say "Actual vs Forecast:";
$actual-vs-forecast.plot;
Output
===SORRY!===
Method 'plot' must be resolved by class combo-chart because it exists in multiple roles (line-chart, bar-chart)
Explanation

If multiple roles are applied to the same class, and a conflict arises, a compile-time error will be thrown.
This is a much safer approach than multiple inheritance where conflicts are not considered errors and are simply resolved at runtime.

Roles will warn you that there’s a conflict.

9.10. Introspection

Introspection is the process of getting information about an object properties like its type, or its attributes or its methods.

class Human {
  has Str $.name;
  has Int $.age;
  method introduce-yourself {
    say 'Hi I am a human being, my name is ' ~ self.name;
  }
}

class Employee is Human {
  has Str $.company;
  has Int $.salary;
  method introduce-yourself {
    say 'Hi I am a employee, my name is ' ~ self.name ~ ' and I work at: ' ~ self.company;
  }
}

my $john = Human.new(name =>'John',age => 23,);
my $jane = Employee.new(name =>'Jane',age => 25,company => 'Acme',salary => 4000);

say $john.WHAT;
say $jane.WHAT;
say $john.^attributes;
say $jane.^attributes;
say $john.^methods;
say $jane.^methods;
say $jane.^parents;
if $jane ~~ Human {say 'Jane is a Human'};

Introspection is facilitated by:

  • .WHAT returns the class from which the object has been created.

  • .^attributes returns a list containing all attributes of the objects.

  • .^methods returns all methods that can be called on the object.

  • .^parents returns all parent classes of the class the object belongs.

  • ~~ is called the smart-match operator. It evaluates to True if the object is created from the class it is being compared against or any of its inheritances.

For more info on Object Oriented Programming in Perl 6, see:

10. Exception Handling

10.1. Catching Exceptions

Exceptions are a special behavior that happens at runtime when something goes wrong.
We say that exceptions are thrown.

Consider the below script that runs correctly:

my Str $name;
$name = "Joanna";
say "Hello " ~ $name;
say "How are you doing today?"
Output
Hello Joanna
How are you doing today?

Now consider this script that throws an exception:

my Str $name;
$name = 123;
say "Hello " ~ $name;
say "How are you doing today?"
Output
Type check failed in assignment to $name; expected Str but got Int
   in block <unit> at exceptions.pl6:2

You should have remarked that whenever an error occurs (in this case assigning a number to a string variable) the program will stop and other lines of code will not be evaluated, even if correct.

Exception handling is the process of catching an exception that has been thrown in order for the script to continue working.

my Str $name;
try {
  $name = 123;
  say "Hello " ~ $name;
  CATCH {
    default {
      say "Can you tell us your name again, we couldn't find it in the register.";
    }
  }
}
say "How are you doing today?";
Output
Can you tell us your name again, we couldn't find it in the register.
How are you doing today?

Exception handling is done by using a try-catch block.

try {
  #code goes in here
  #if anything goes wrong, the script will enter the below CATCH block
  #if nothing goes wrong the CATCH block will be ignored
  CATCH {
    default {
      #the code in here will be evaluated only if an exception has been thrown
    }
  }
}

The CATCH block can be defined the same way a given block is defined. This means we can catch and handle differently many types of exceptions.

try {
  #code goes in here
  #if anything goes wrong, the script will enter the below CATCH block
  #if nothing goes wrong the CATCH block will be ignored
  CATCH {
    when X::AdHoc { #do something if an exception of type X::AdHoc is thrown }
    when X::IO { #do something if an exception of type X::IO is thrown }
    when X::OS { #do something if an exception of type X::OS is thrown }
    default { #do something if an exception is thrown and doesn't belong to the above types }
  }
}

10.2. Throwing Exceptions

In contrast to catching exceptions, Perl 6 also allows you to explicitly throw exceptions.
Two types of exceptions can be thrown:

  • ad-hoc exceptions

  • typed exceptions

ad-hoc
my Int $age = 21;
die "Error !";
typed
my Int $age = 21;
X::AdHoc.new(payload => 'Error !').throw;

Ad-hoc exceptions are thrown using the die subroutine followed by the exception message.

Typed exceptions are objects, hence the use of the .new() constructor in the above example.
All typed exceptions descend from class X , below are a few examples:
X::AdHoc is the simplest exception type
X::IO is related to IO errors
X::OS is related to OS errors
X::Str::Numeric related to trying to coerce a string to a number

For a complete list of exception types and their associated methods go to https://docs.perl6.org/type-exceptions.html

11. Regular Expressions

A regular expression, or regex is a sequence of characters that is used for pattern matching.
The easiest way to understand it is to think of it as a pattern.

if 'enlightenment' ~~ m/ light / {
    say "enlightenment contains the word light";
}

In this example, the smart match operator ~~ is used to check if a string (enlightenment) contains the word (light).
"Enlightenment" is matched against a regex m/ light /

11.1. Regex definition

A regular expression can be defined as follows:

  • /light/

  • m/light/

  • rx/light/

Unless specified explicitly, white space is irrelevant, m/light/ and m/ light / are the same.

11.2. Matching characters

Alphanumeric characters and the underscore _ are written as is.
All other characters have to be escaped using a backslash or surrounded by quotes.

Backslash
if 'Temperature: 13' ~~ m/ \: / {
    say "The string provided contains a colon :";
}
Single quotes
if 'Age = 13' ~~ m/ '=' / {
    say "The string provided contains an equal character = ";
}
Double quotes
if 'name@company.com' ~~ m/ "@" / {
    say "This is a valid email address because it contains an @ character";
}

11.3. Matching categories of characters

Characters can be classified into categories and we can match against them.
We can also match against the inverse of that category (everything except it):

Category

Regex

Inverse

Regex

Word character (letter, digit or underscore)

\w

Any character except a word character

\W

Digit

\d

Any character except a digit

\D

Whitespace

\s

Any character except a whitespace

\S

Horizontal whitespace

\h

Any character except a horizontal whitespace

\H

Vertical whitespace

\v

Any character except a vertical whitespace

\V

Tab

\t

Any character except a Tab

\T

New line

\n

Any character except a new line

\N

if "John123" ~~ / \d / {
  say "This is not a valid name, numbers are not allowed";
} else {
  say "This is a valid name"
}
if "John-Doe" ~~ / \s / {
  say "This string contains whitespace";
} else {
  say "This string doesn't contain whitespace"
}

11.4. Unicode properties

Matching against categories of characters as seen in the preceding section is convenient.
That being said, a more systematic approach would be to use of Unicode properties.
Unicode properties are enclosed in <: >

if "John123" ~~ / <:N> / {
  say "Contains a number";
} else {
  say "Doesn't contain a number"
}
if "John-Doe" ~~ / <:Lu> / {
  say "Contains an uppercase letter";
} else {
  say "Doesn't contain an upper case letter"
}
if "John-Doe" ~~ / <:Pd> / {
  say "Contains a dash";
} else {
  say "Doesn't contain a dash"
}

11.5. Wildcards

Wildcards can also be used in a regex.

The dot . means any single character.

if 'abc' ~~ m/ a.c / {
    say "Match";
}
if 'a2c' ~~ m/ a.c / {
    say "Match";
}
if 'ac' ~~ m/ a.c / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}

11.6. Quantifiers

Quantifiers come after a character and are used to specify how many times we are expecting it.

The question mark ? means zero or one time.

if 'ac' ~~ m/ a?c / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}
if 'c' ~~ m/ a?c / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}

The star * means zero or multiple times.

if 'az' ~~ m/ a*z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}
if 'aaz' ~~ m/ a*z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}
if 'aaaaaaaaaaz' ~~ m/ a*z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}
if 'z' ~~ m/ a*z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}

The + means at least one time.

if 'az' ~~ m/ a+z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}
if 'aaz' ~~ m/ a+z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}
if 'aaaaaaaaaaz' ~~ m/ a+z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}
if 'z' ~~ m/ a+z / {
    say "Match";
} else {
    say "No Match";
}

11.7. Match Results

Whenever the process of matching a string against a regex is successful, the match result is stored in a special variable $/

Script
if 'Rakudo is a Perl 6 compiler' ~~ m/:s Perl 6/ {
    say "The match is: " ~ $/;
    say "The string before the match is: " ~ $/.prematch;
    say "The string after the match is: " ~ $/.postmatch;
    say "The matching string starts at position: " ~ $/.from;
    say "The matching string ends at position: " ~ $/.to;
}
Output
The match is: Perl 6
The string before the match is: Rakudo is a
The string after the match is:  compiler
The matching string starts at position: 12
The matching string ends at position: 18
Explanation

$/ returns a Match Object (the string that matches the regex)
The following methods can be called on the Match Object:
.prematch returns the string preceding the match.
.postmatch returns the string following the match.
.from returns the starting position of the match.
.to returns the ending position of the match.

By default whitespace in a regex definition is irrelevant.
If we want to match against a regex containing whitespace we have to do so explicitly.
The :s in the regex m/:s Perl 6/ forces whitespace to be considered and not discarded.
Alternatively we could have written the regex as m/ Perl\s6 / and used \s which as we saw earlier is a placeholder for whitespace.
If a regex contains more than a single whitespace, using :s becomes more effective in contrast with using \s for each and every whitespace.

11.8. Example

Let’s check if an email is valid or not.
For the sake of this example we will assume that a valid email address is formed as following:
first name [dot] last name [at] company [dot] (com/org/net)

The regex used in this example for email validation is not very accurate.
Its sole purpose is to demonstrate regex functionality in Perl 6.
Do not use it as-is in production.
Script
my $email = 'john.doe@perl6.org';
my $regex = / <:L>+\.<:L>+\@<:L+:N>+\.<:L>+ /;

if $email ~~ $regex {
  say $/ ~ " is a valid email";
} else {
  say "This is not a valid email";
}
Output

john.doe@perl6.org is a valid email

Explanation

<:L> matches a single letter
<:L>+ matches a single letter or more
\. matches a single [dot] character
\@ matches a single [at] character
<:L+:N> matches a letter and a number
<:L+:N>+ matches one or more (letters and numbers)

The regex can be decomposed as following:

  • first name <:L>+

  • [dot] \.

  • last name <:L>+

  • [at] \@

  • company name <:L+:N>+

  • [dot] \.

  • com/org/net <:L>+

Alternatively a regex can be broken down into multiple named regexes
my $email = 'john.doe@perl6.org';
my regex many-letters { <:L>+ };
my regex dot { \. };
my regex at { \@ };
my regex many-letters-numbers { <:L+:N>+ };

if $email ~~ / <many-letters> <dot> <many-letters> <at> <many-letters-numbers> <dot> <many-letters> / {
  say $/ ~ " is a valid email";
} else {
  say "This is not a valid email";
}

A named regex is defined using the following syntax: my regex regex-name { regex definition }
A named regex can be called using the following syntax: <regex-name>

For more info on regexes, see https://docs.perl6.org/language/regexes

12. Perl 6 Modules

Perl 6 is a general purpose programming language. It can be used to tackle a multitude of tasks including: text manipulation, graphics, web, databases, network protocols etc.

Reusability is a very important concept whereby programmers don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time they want to do a new task.

Perl 6 allows the creation and redistribution of modules. Each module is a packaged set of functionality that can be reused once installed.

Panda is a module management tool that comes with Rakudo Star.

To install a specific module, type the below command in your terminal:

panda install "module name"

The Perl 6 modules directory can be found on: https://modules.perl6.org/

12.1. Using Modules

MD5 is a cryptographic hash function that produces a 128-bit hash value.
MD5 has a variety of applications of which encryption of passwords stored in a database. When a new user registers, their credentials are not stored as plain text but rather hashed. The rationale behind this is that if the DB gets compromised, the attacker will not be able to know what the passwords are.

Let’s say you need a script that generates the MD5 hash of a password in preparation for storing it in the DB.

Luckily there’s a Perl 6 module that already implemented the MD5 algorithm. Let’s install it:
panda install Digest::MD5

Now run the below script:

use Digest::MD5;
my $password = "password123";
my $hashed-password = Digest::MD5.new.md5_hex($password);

say $hashed-password;

In order to run the md5_hex() function that creates hashes, we need to load the required module.
The use keyword loads the module for use in the script.

In practice MD5 hashing alone is not sufficient, because it is prone to dictionary attacks.
It should be combined with a salt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_(cryptography).

13. Unicode

Unicode is a standard for encoding and representing text, that caters for most writing systems in the world.
UTF-8 is a character encoding capable of encoding all possible characters, or code points, in Unicode.

Characters are defined by a:
Grapheme: Visual representation.
Code point: A number assigned to the character.

13.1. Using Unicode

Let’s look at how we can output characters using Unicode
say "a";
say "\x0061";
say "\c[LATIN SMALL LETTER A]";

The above 3 lines showcase different ways of building a character:

  1. Writing the character directly (grapheme)

  2. Using \x and the code point

  3. Using \c and the code point name

Now lets output a smiley
say "☺";
say "\x263a";
say "\c[WHITE SMILING FACE]";
Another example combining two code points
say "á";
say "\x00e1";
say "\x0061\x0301";
say "\c[LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH ACUTE]";

The letter á can be written:

  • using its unique code point \x00e1

  • or as a combination of the code points of a and acute \x0061\x0301

Some of the methods that can be used:
say "á".NFC;
say "á".NFD;
say "á".uniname;
Output
NFC:0x<00e1>
NFD:0x<0061 0301>
LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH ACUTE

NFC returns the unique code point.
NFD decomposes the character and return the code point of each part.
uniname returns the code point name.

Unicode letters can be used as identifiers:
my  = 1;
++;
say ;
Unicode can be used to do math:
my $var = 2 + ;
say $var;

14. Parallelism, Concurrency and Asynchrony

14.1. Parallelism

Under normal circumstances, all tasks in a program run sequentially.
This might not be a problem unless what you’re trying to do is consuming a lot of time.

Naturally speaking Perl 6 has features that will enable you to run things in parallel.
At this stage, it is important to note that parallelism can mean one of two things:

  • Task Parallelism: Two (or more) independent expressions running in parallel.

  • Data Parallelism: A single expression iterating over a list of elements in parallel.

Let’s begin with the latter.

14.1.1. Data Parallelism

my @array = (0..50000);                     #Array population
my @result = @array.map({ is-prime $_ });   #call is-prime for each array element
say now - INIT now;                         #Output the time it took for the script to complete
Considering the above example:

We are only doing one operation @array.map({ is-prime $_ })
The is-prime subroutine is being called for each array element sequentially:
is-prime @array[0] then is-prime @array[1] then is-prime @array[2] etc.

Fortunately we can call is-prime on multiple array elements at the same time:
my @array = (0..50000);                         #Array population
my @result = @array.race.map({ is-prime $_ });  #call is-prime for each array element
say now - INIT now;                             #Output the time it took to complete

Notice the use of race in the expression. This method will enable parallel iteration of the array elements.

After running both examples (with and without race), compare the time it took for both scripts to complete.

race will not preserve the order of elements. If you wish to do, so use hyper instead.

race
my @array = (1..1000);
my @result = @array.race.map( {$_ + 1} );
.say for @result;
hyper
my @array = (1..1000);
my @result = @array.hyper.map( {$_ + 1} );
.say for @result;

If you run both examples, you should notice that one is sorted and the other is not.

14.1.2. Task Parallelism

my @array1 = (0..49999);
my @array2 = (2..50001);

my @result1 = @array1.map( {is-prime($_ + 1)} );
my @result2 = @array2.map( {is-prime($_ - 1)} );

say @result1 eqv @result2;

say now - INIT now;
Considering the above example:
  1. We defined 2 arrays

  2. applied a different operation for each array and stored the results

  3. and checked if both results are the same

The script waits for @array1.map( {is-prime($_ + 1)} ) to finish
and then evaluates @array2.map( {is-prime($_ - 1)} )

Both operations applied to each array do not depend on each other.

Why not do both in parallel?
my @array1 = (0..49999);
my @array2 = (2..50001);

my $promise1 = start @array1.map( {is-prime($_ + 1)} ).eager;
my $promise2 = start @array2.map( {is-prime($_ - 1)} ).eager;

my @result1 = await $promise1;
my @result2 = await $promise2;

say @result1 eqv @result2;

say now - INIT now;
Explanation

The start subroutine evaluates the code and returns an object of type promise or shortly a promise.
If the code is evaluated correctly, the promise will be kept.
If the code throws an exception, the promise will be broken.

The await subroutine waits for a promise.
If it’s kept it will get the returned values.
If it’s broken it will get the exception thrown.

Check the time it took each script to complete.

Parallelism always adds a threading overhead. If that overhead is not offset by gains in computational speed, the script will seem slower.
This is why, using race, hyper, start and await for fairly simple scripts can actually slow them down.

14.2. Concurrency and Asynchrony

For more info on Concurrency and Asynchronous Programming, see https://docs.perl6.org/language/concurrency

15. The Community

  • #perl6 IRC channel. Much discussion happens on IRC. This should be your go to place for any enquiry: https://perl6.org/community/irc

  • p6weekly a weekly overview of changes in and around Perl 6.

  • pl6anet blog aggregator. Stay tuned by reading blog posts that focus on Perl 6.

  • /r/perl6 Subscribe to the Perl 6 subreddit.