docs/gettingstarted.pod - Parrot Developer FAQ
You're already on the right track. This FAQ should help you find everything you need to become an active member of the Parrot community. Just look through the questions below and read the ones that apply to you.
- There is a web interface to the subversion repository, in case you just want to browse the source.
- The easiest solution is to grab the most recent snapshot of the Parrot SVN repository. It's a tar-gzipped download of a recent checkout of Parrot, updated every six hours. You can find it here:
- Even better is the option to use SVN,
which gets you the very latest copy of the Parrot distribution.
The procedure for this is:
svn checkout https://svn.perl.org/parrot/trunk parrot
- Or, if you're one of those rsync folks, you can access the repository with:
rsync -av --delete svn.perl.org::parrot-HEAD parrot
The above instructions are also on the Parrot website:
Now that you've downloaded Parrot, you probably want to try it out. All you need is Perl 5.005_03 or later, a C compiler (any ANSI C compliant compiler should do - if you find one that doesn't work, please report it to us), and some reasonable form of
make. To do this, follow these three easy steps.
cdto your parrot directory and run
Configure.plto create the makefile for your platform.
maketo compile everything and build parrot.
make testto run the test suite and verify that everything works on your system.
Well, Parrot documentation is a great place to contribute, should you be looking for something to do. Figure out which parts were confusing, and either help us fix them, or let us know where we should fix them. Luckily, all of the current Parrot documentation is included along with the Parrot distribution, in the /docs/ directory.
There is also some experimental auto-generated HTML documentation available by running the following command in the Parrot distribution's root directory:
% make html
To view the HTML documentation start with the page docs/html/index.html.
There are a few categories of documentation, each with different intents. It'll probably help to be aware of them before you go digging in. I highly suggest you check out /docs/pdds/pdd07_codingstd.pod for guidelines on how documentation is supposed to be laid out. For now, here's the executive summary:
Parrot Design Documents (PDDs) document the basic design of the Parrot interpreter, with each PDD focusing on a particular topic, such as the design of the garbage collector (PDD 09) or the object system (PDD 15). They can be found in the /docs/pdds directory.
NB: Some important areas are still missing PDDs; we're working to rectify that.
- Developer files
These are files which correspond to a specific source file, and can be found in /docs/dev/. A developer file contains documentation on all the implementation decisions associated with the source file. (Note that this is in contrast to PDDs, which describe design decisions). This is the place for mini-essays on how to avoid overflows in unsigned arithmetic, or on the pros and cons of differing hash algorithms, and why the current one was chosen, and how it works.
If you are coming to a particular source file for the first time, you should be able to read the .dev file and gain an immediate overview of what the source file is for, the algorithms it implements, etc.
NB: We need more .dev files too. Patches welcome!
- Source file documentation
Each source file includes comments embedded in the document. Usually this means function-level documentation that describes the purpose and intent of a function, along with any other important information. For larger functions, it will include additional documentation that explains the meaning of code, as opposed to a verbatim translation of code.
Most of the Parrot-related development discussion occurs on the perl6-internals mailing list. There are a variety of interfaces to the list:
- Developer Mailing List Interface (subscribing, unsubscribing, etc)
- Perl 6 Internals NNTP Interface
- Perl 6 Internals Archives
- Searching the Perl 6 Internals Mailing List
There are no directly searchable interfaces to the mailing lists. However, Google works quite well. After clicking the below links, just add your search terms to the Google search box.
If you find the traffic too much to keep up with, weekly summaries of the discussion on
email@example.com posted to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternately, you can find these summaries here:
Or if you prefer to subscribe to the list:
In addition, there is a mailing list which logs all commits to the Parrot SVN repository. If you're interested in Parrot development, you might find it very helpful to subscribe and keep up on changes that people are making.
- Mailing List Interface (subscribing, unsubscribing, etc)
- Parrot Commits NNTP Interface
- Commit List Archives
- Searching the Parrot Commits List
After clicking the below links, just add your search terms to the Google search box.
The mailing list is the main resource for Parrot development. However, there is an IRC channel which you may find useful if your problem is better solved with real-time discussion. To find this channel, visit the channel #parrot in the following IRC servers (either one will do):
There's a lot of traffic that goes through the mailing list, and it's quite possible that if you send patches directly to the mailing list, they will get lost in the mailboxes of those with commit access.
As such, a better solution would be to submit your patch to RT, the request tracker system that maintains bugs and patches for the Parrot project. To visit RT, go here:
Or if you want to submit a patch, send an email to
email@example.com with the moniker [PATCH] (including the brackets) at the start of the subject so that it can be appropriately tagged in the RT system. Please note that you do not have to CC
firstname.lastname@example.org when reporting a bug. The RT system will correctly handle that on its own.
A listing of the pending patches can be found here:
Well, if you know enough about the bug that you can fix the problem, please do so. Then you can create a patch and submit it to the list, with a better chance of your bug getting attention. If you're not able to solve it on your own, we're still interested in seeing what the problem is, and hopefully helping to resolve it. To report a bug, email
email@example.com with a brief description of your bug in the subject. For more information about the bug management system, see the previous question.
There are several other useful resources that can be found via:
- Experimental Parrot Wiki
A collection of various other pieces of useful Parrot information and documentation that have yet to make it into the SVN repository. Includes a comprehensive guide to getting started with Parrot development (called, unsurprisingly, 'Getting Started with Parrot Development').
- Revision 0.1 - 27 July 2002
Written to prepare for the fallout from TPC 6.