It’s official, we’re buying a house. Last night I got the last of the down payment together in the form of a certified check. It’s extremely difficult seeing several thousand dollars of hard-fought money being taken out of the savings account in a single fell swoop. Difficult, but at the same time extremely rewarding and reassuring.

Settlement is happening on Thursday afternoon. From now until then my free time is allocated for packing, planning and cooking. We’re cooking meals that can be easily packaged, frozen, and reheated later. These are not only for us on days when our kitchen sundries are all trapped in boxes, for days when we may have to make some necessary kitchen improvements (We bought a house without a dishwasher!), and also for my in-laws. My wife’s mother is having surgery early next month, and we want to have some pre-made food available to help make the recovery period easier. Anything I can cook and freeze today will be a huge help in the days ahead.

Of course, the victim here is the free time I would normally spend on other stuff: Coding, blogging, chatting on #parrot and searching for funny pictures of cats on the internet. All of these things will take something of a back seat for the next few days, and my availability in general will be down. This includes for the Parrot Developer Summit meeting we’re holding online this coming weekend. We haven’t scheduled a definitive time for the meeting yet, but I have to make the conservative assumption that I won’t have 2-3 hours at any point during the weekend to sit focused in front of a computer. Maybe we move so much stuff during the mornings that we are exhausted and need to vegetate in the evenings. Maybe, more likely, the hard work will start as soon as the boxes are all moved in to the apartment but not yet unpacked. I’ll do my best to attend the meeting at least in part, but I make no promises.

Jim Keenan sent out an email to the parrot-dev list asking for people to start thinking and discussing the kinds of things we want to talk about at the summit. In a general sense, the summit is the time when we lay out our development roadmap for the next few months. The development roadmap is the list of things that we are committed to deliver, and have assigned people to work on. It is not, emphatically so, a list of things we would like to have, or a list of things that would be really cool to have. The roadmap is only for the things that we need, are capable of delivering in that timespan, and for which we are committed to deliver. By necessity, the roadmap has tended to be a small list of things, but our track record in delivering them has been pretty good since the new system started. Much better than the old system where the roadmap was little more than hopes and dust, thrown into the wind.

So, since I might not be at PDS in person, I want to lay out my ideas for these questions in blog form. I’ll talk about the things I think Parrot can and should deliver in the next three months, and which projects I would be willing to be assigned to.


GSoC is going very well, and several of our students are on schedule and are generally kicking some code butt. They do need our continued support, however, to ensure that they continue onward and upward and that we get good results at the end of the summer. This isn’t the kind of specific goal that will end up on our roadmap, and it’s not the kind of thing we can really assign to a person. What I want to see is that the students continue to get excellent support from the developer community and that they are given the best opportunities to succeed by the end of the summer.


If you look at the benchmarks comparing the Rakudo nom and master branches, what you see might be a little surprising. The “nom” branch, which is the migration of Rakudo to 6model (among other changes) is significantly faster than master. There are a few reasons for this, the most compelling of which is that 6model allows native-typed attributes. Parrot’s current Object implementation boxes all attributes into PMCs, which is extremely costly and wasteful. 6model also brings in some other efficiencies too, and enables certain optimizations that we just don’t have available in Parrot today.

We want 6model. I want it. And, most importantly, I’m extremely eager to do the necessary work to bring it into Parrot. Given what we know today about the problems with our current object model and the extreme improvements 6model offers, everybody else should be chomping at the bit to make it happen as well. Getting 6model moved into Parrot, and doing it as quickly as possible, should be a big priority, and I would love to see it added to the roadmap. I would love to spearhead the charge, and I think there are a few other developers who would love to help it as well.

In fact, I’m probably going to assemble a team and work on this project whether it’s on the roadmap or not. Plan accordingly.


Thinking about profiling was on our roadmap leading up to the 3.6 release, and we did the bare minimum of that. Christoph, who probably knows the most about it, was busy with Lorito and I, who knows nearly nothing, wasn’t really able to do much in the way of productive advancement. Strictly-speaking, the road map goal was to think about profiling, figure out what was wrong with it and come up with a way forward. Actually implementing some of those things should probably be on the roadmap for this quarter.

6model is going to bring some performance improvements throughout, at least for languages and libraries which aren’t currently using 6model. Rakudo for instance probably won’t see much of a bump, except in streamlining a few corner cases. What will help to benefit Rakudo is adding in some improved profiling tools, so they can find and eliminate bottlenecks. I think we really need to work hard on this issue. I can’t say I’m as eager to work on profiling as I am to work on 6model, but I am willing to do it if hands are needed and if suitable direction is provided. I won’t be designing the new tools, but I am willing to help implement them, since they are so important.

General Optimization

There’s a branch floating around to improve tunings for the GC. PCC is ripe for optimizations and improvements. Several pending deprecations could bring improved code and better performance. PMC- and Object-related code could be significantly streamlined and improved, both before the migration to 6model and afterwards. IMCC could stand to see some optimizations and removal of more cruft. Besides these big areas, there is potential for a lot of streamlining in various hotspots, spread throughout the codebase. I think it’s reasonable, and in fact it’s becoming necessary, that we start to focus on optimizations. I would like to see Parrot 3.9 be at least 10% faster on an assortment of benchmarks on a variety of machines, than 3.6. With a concerted effort and dedicated developer resources, I think we can make it happen. We do need to pick the platforms that we want to target, and the benchmarks we want to track, but that could be done in a week or less. We could write up several benchmarks in NQP and Winxed, both of which would be significantly easier than writing up benchmarks in PIR. Plus, we would be able to get a more comprehensive measurement, including the speed of Parrot execution and the quality of generated code in those widely-used tools.

I am definitely willing to spend some significant amount of time on general-purpose optimization, and the more developers we can devote to this, the better. I would love to see something like this end up on our roadmap, and I think our users would love to see it as well.


This is an ancillary request. I would really like to see some serious thought put in to various bits of the Parrot community infrastructure.

Our Trac installation doesn’t have anything like a captcha or other limiting tools to prevent spam, so we’ve been preventing arbitrary users from creating tickets for bug reports and feature requests. That’s a horrible situation and needs to change. Since it appears to me that there aren’t many good alternatives, that Trac development appears a little anemic, and since upgrading these kinds of things to get new features tends to be a royal pain, I would be perfectly happy to move off Trac if an alternate idea were presented. I’m not pushing this agenda, simply stating that I wouldn’t shed any tears if we left trac behind. Also, Git integration with Trac is apparently broken now. I don’t know how much of a hassle that will be to fix.

Other things could use a look too, even if only to verify that they are what we need: The buildbot infrastructure, smolder, the mailing-lists, the various chat bots that help with our IRC chatroom, the website, and the various steps in the monthly release procedure and the things that are required by it. It’s good for us to take inventory, and make sure that we are getting the most utility for the developer hours that we spend to set up and maintain these things.

This isn’t a road map goal per se, but it is something that I think the Parrot community should take the time to consider in the coming months.

So those are five things that I think we need to focus on between now and 3.9: GSoC, 6model, Profiling, Optimization and infrastructure. Those are just my ideas, and I know other developers are going to have other things as well. Of roadmap items that I am interested in working on, 6model definitely tops the list followed by optimization and then profiling.

If I cannot attend PDS, please consider this list of suggestions of things that we should put on the roadmap, and this is me volunteering to work on any and all of them.