Day 25: Rakudo 2022 Review

In a year as eventful as 2022 was in the real world, it is a good idea to look back to see what one might have missed while life was messing with your (Raku) plans.

Rakudo saw about 1500 commits this year, about the same as the year before that. Many of these were bug fixes and performance improvements, which you would normally not notice. But there were also commits that actually added features to the Raku Programming Language. So it feels like a good idea to actually mention those more in depth.

So here goes! Unless otherwise noted, all of these changes are in language level 6.d, and available thanks to several Rakudo compiler releases during 2022.

New REPL functionality

It is now possible to refer to values that were produced earlier, using the $*N syntax, where N is a number greater than or equal to 0.

$ raku
To exit type 'exit' or '^D'
[0] > 42
[1] > 666
[2] > $*0 + $*1

Note that the number before the prompt indicates the index with which the value that is going to be produced, can be obtained.

New MAIN options

You can now affect the interpretation of command line arguments to MAIN by setting these options in the %*SUB-MAIN-OPTS hash:


Allow negation of a named argument to be specified as --no-foo instead of --/foo.


Allow specification of a numeric value together with the name of a single letter named argument. So -j2 being the equivalent of --j=2.

So for example, by putting:

my %*SUB-MAIN-OPTS = :allow-no, :numeric-suffix-as-value;

at the top of your script, you would enable these features in the command-line argument parsing.

New types

Native unsigned integers (both in scalar, as well as a (shaped) array) have finally become first class citizens. This means that a native unsigned integer can now hold the value 18446744073709551615 as the largest positive value, from 9223372036854775807 before. This also allowed for a number of internal optimisations as the check for negative values could be removed. As simple as this sounds, this was quite an undertaking to get support for this on all VM backends.

my uint  $foo = 42;
my uint8 $bar = 255;
my  int8 $baz = 255;

say $foo; # 42
say $bar; # 255
say $baz; # -1

say ++$foo; # 43
say ++$bar; # 0
say ++$baz; # 0

And yes, all of the other explicitly sized types, such as uint16uint32 and uint64, are now also supported!

New subroutines

A number of subroutines entered the global namespace this year. Please note that they will not interfere with any subroutines in your code with the same name, as these will always take precedence.


The NYI subroutine takes a string to indicate a feature not yet implemented, and turns that into a Failure with the X::NYI exception at its core. You could consider this short for ... with feedback, rather than just the “Stub code executed”.

say NYI "Frobnication";
# Frobnication not yet implemented. Sorry.


The chown subroutine takes zero or more filenames, and changes the UID (with the :uid argument) and/or the GID (with the :gid argument) if possible. Returns the filenames that were successfully changed. There is also a IO::Path.chown method version.

my @files  = ...;
my $uid    = +$*USER;
my changed = chown @files, :$uid;
say "Converted UID of $changed / @files.elems() files";

Also available as a method on IO::Path, but then only applicable to a single path.

head(), skip(), tail()

The .head.skip and .tail methods got their subroutine counterparts.

say head 3, ^10; # (0 1 2)
say skip 3, ^10; # (3,4,5,6,7,8,9)
say tail 3, ^10; # (7 8 9)

Note that the number of elements is always the first positional argument.

New methods


The .are method returns the type object that all of the values of the invocant have in common. This can be either a class or a role.

say (1, 42e0, .137).are;        # (Real)
say (1, 42e0, .137, "foo").are; # (Cool)
say (42,;     # (Any)

In some languages this functionality appears to be called infer, but this name was deemed to be too ComputerSciency for Raku.


Some low level IO features were added to the IO::Path class, in the form of 5 new methods. Note that they may not actually work on your OS and/or filesystem. Looking at you there, Windows πŸ™‚

  • .inode – the inode of the path (if available)
  • .dev – the device number of the filesystem (if available)
  • .devtype – the device identifier of the filesystem (if available)
  • .created – DateTime object when path got created (if available)
  • .chown – change uid and/or gid of path (if possible, method version of chown())


The Date and DateTime classes already provide many powerfule date and time manipulation features. But a few features were considered missing this year, and so they were added.

A new .days-in-year class method was added to the Date and DateTime classes. It takes a year as positional argument:

say Date.days-in-year(2023);  # 365
say Date.days-in-year(2024);  # 366

This behaviour was also expanded to the .days-in-month method, when called as a class method:

say Date.days-in-month(2023, 2);  # 28
say Date.days-in-month(2024, 2);  # 29

They can also be called as instance methods, in which case the parameters default to the associated values in the object:

given {
    .say;                # 2022-12-25
    say .days-in-year;   # 365
    say .days-in-month;  # 31

New Dynamic Variables

Dynamic variables provide a very powerful way to keep “global” variables. A number of them are provided by the Raku Programming Language. And now there is one more of them!


Determine the behaviour of rational numbers (aka Rats) if they run out of precision. More specifically when the denominator no longer fits in a native 64-bit integer. By default, Rats will be downgraded to floating point values (aka Nums). By setting the $*RAT-OVERFLOW dynamic variable, you can influence this behaviour.

The $*RAT-OVERFLOW dynamic variable is expected to contain a class (or an object) on which an UPGRADE-RAT method will be called. This method is expected to take the numerator and denominator as positional arguments, and is expected to return whatever representation one wants for the given arguments.

The following type objects can be specified using core features:


Default. Silently convert to floating point. Sacrifies precision for speed.


Downgrade to floating point, but issue a warning. Sacrifies precision for speed.


Silently upgrade to FatRat, aka rational numbers with arbitrary precision. Sacrifies speed by conserving precision.


Return an appropriate Failure object, rather than doing a conversion. This will most likely throw an exception unless specifically handled.


Throw an appropriate exception.

Note that you can introduce any custom behaviour by creating a class with an UPGRADE-RAT method in it, and setting that class in the $*RAT-OVERFLOW dynamic variable.

class Meh {
    method UPGRADE-RAT($num, $denom) is hidden-from-backtrace {
        die "$num / $denom is meh"
my $*RAT-OVERFLOW = Meh;
my $a = 1 / 0xffffffffffffffff;
say $a;     # 0.000000000000000000054
say $a / 2; # 1 / 36893488147419103230 is meh

Note that the is hidden-from-backtrace is only added so that any backtrace will show the location of where the offending calculation was done, rather than inside the UPGRADE-RAT method itself.

New Environment Variables

Quite a few environment variables are already checked by Rakudo whenever it starts. Two more were added in the past year:


This environment variable can be set to indicate the maximum number of OS-threads that Rakudo may use for its thread pool. The default is 64, or the number of CPU-cores times 8, whichever is larger. Apart from a numerical value, you can also specify "Inf” or "unlimited" to indicate that Rakudo should use as many OS-threads as it can.

These same values can also be used in a call to with the :max_threads named argument.

my $*SCHEDULER =<unlimited>);


This environment variable can be set to a true value if you do not want the REPL to check for installed modules to handle editing of lines. When set, it will fallback to the behaviour as if none of the supported line editing modules are installed. This appears to be handy for Emacs users, as the name implies πŸ™‚

New experimental features

Some Raku features are not yet cast in stone yet, so there’s no guarantee that any code written by using these experimental features, will continue to work in the future. Two new experimental features have been added in the past year:


If you add a use experimental :will-complain to your code, you can customize typecheck errors by specifying a will complain trait. The trait expects a Callable that will be given the offending value in question, and is expected to return a string to be added to the error message. For example:

use experimental :will-complain;
my Int $a will complain { "You cannot use -$_-, dummy!" }
$a = "foo";
# Type check failed in assignment to $a; You cannot use -foo-, dummy!

The will complain trait can be used anywhere you can specify a type constraint in Raku, so that includes parameters and attributes.


The RakuAST classes allow you to dynamically build an AST (Abstract Syntax Tree programmatically, and have that converted to executable code. What was previously only possible by programmatically creating a piece of Raku source code (with all of its escaping issues), and then calling EVAL on it. But RakuAST not only allows you to build code programmatically (as seen in yesterday’s blog post), it also allows you to introspect the AST, which opens up all sorts of syntax / lintifying possibilities.

There is an associated effort to compile the Raku core itself using a grammar that uses RakuAST to build executable code. This effort is now capable of passing 585/1355 test-files in roast completely, and 83/131 of the Rakudo test-files completely. So still a lot of work to do, although it has now gotten to the point that implementation of a single Raku feature in the new grammar, often creates an avalanche of now passing test-files.

So, if you add a use experimental :rakuast to your code, you will be able to use all of the currently available RakuAST classes to build code programmatically. This is an entire new area of Raku development, which will be covered by many blog posts in the coming year. As of now, there is only some internal documentation.

A small example, showing how to build the expression "foo" ~ "bar":

use experimental :rakuast;

my $left  ="foo");
my $infix ="~");
my $right ="bar");

my $ast =$left, :$infix, :$right);
dd $ast;  # "foo" ~ "bar"

This is very verbose, agreed. Syntactic sugar for making this easier will certainly be developed, either in core or in module space.

Note how each element of the expression can be created separately, and then combined together. And that you can call dd to show the associated Raku source code (handy when debugging your ASTs).

For the very curious, you can check out a proof-of-concept of the use of RakuAST classes in the Rakudo core in the Formatter class, that builds executable code out of an sprintf format.

New arguments to existing functionality

roundrobin(…, :slip)

The roundrobin subroutine now also accepts a :slip named argument. When specified, it will produce all values as a single, flattened list.

say roundrobin (1,2,3), <a b c>;        # ((1 a) (2 b) (3 c))
say roundrobin (1,2,3), <a b c>, :slip; # (1 a 2 b 3 c)

This is functionally equivalent to:

say roundrobin((1,2,3), <a b c>).map: *.Slip;

but many times more efficient.


The .chomp method by default any logical newline from the end of a string. It is now possible to specify a specific needle as a positional argument: only when that is equal to the end of the string, will it be removed.

say "foobar".chomp("foo"); # foobar
say "foobar".chomp("bar"); # foo

It actually works on all Cool values, but the return value will always be a string:

say 427.chomp(7); # 42


DateTime value has better than millisecond precision. Yet, the .posix method always returned an integer value. Now it can also return a Num with the fractional part of the second by specifying the :real named argument.

given {
    say .posix;        # 1671733988
    say .posix(:real); # 1671733988.4723697

Additional meaning to existing arguments

Day from end of month

The day parameter to and (whether named or positional) can now be specified as either a Whatever to indicate the last day of the month, or as a Callable indicating number of days from the end of the month.

say,12,*);   # 2022-12-31
say,12,*-6); # 2022-12-25

Additions in v6.e.PREVIEW

You can already access new v6.e language features by specifying use v6.e.PREVIEW at the top of your compilation unit. Several additions were made the past year!

term nano

nano term is now available. It returns the number of nanoseconds since midnight UTC on 1 January 1970. It is similar to the time term but one billion times more accurate. It is intended for very accurate timekeeping / logging.

use v6.e.PREVIEW;
say time; # 1671801948
say nano; # 1671801948827918628

With current 64-bit native unsigned integer precision, this should roughly be enough for another 700 years πŸ™‚

prefix //

You can now use // as a prefix as well as an infix. It will return whatever the .defined method returns on the given argument).

use v6.e PREVIEW;
my $foo;
say //$foo; # False
$foo = 42;
say //$foo; # True

Basically //$foo is syntactic sugar for $foo.defined.

snip() and Any.snip

The new snip subroutine and method allows one to cut up a list into sublists according the given specification. The specification consists of one or more smartmatch targets. Each value of the list will be smartmatched with the given target: as soon as it returns False, will all the values before that be produced as a List.

use v6.e.PREVIEW;
say (2,5,13,9,6,20).snip(* < 10);
# ((2 5) (13 9 6 20))

Multiple targets can also be specified.

say (2,5,13,9,6,20).snip(* < 10, * < 20);
# ((2 5) (13 9 6) (20))

The argument can also be an Iterable. To split a list consisting of integers and strings into sublists of just integers and just strings, you can do:

say (2,"a","b",5,8,"c").snip(|(Int,Str) xx *);
# ((2) (a b) (5 8) (c))

Inspired by Haskell’s span function.


The new .snitch method is a debugging tool that will show its invocant with note by default, and return the invocant. So you can insert a .snitch in a sequence of method calls and see what’s happening “half-way” as it were.

$ raku -e 'use v6.e.PREVIEW;\
say (^10)* + 1)* * 2)'
(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10)
(2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20)

You can also insert your own “reporter” in there: the .snitch method takes a Callable. An easy example of this, is using dd for snitching:

$ raku -e 'use v6.e.PREVIEW;\
say (^10).snitch(&dd).map(*+1).snitch(&dd).map(* * 2)'
(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).Seq
(2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20)


You can now specify more than one argument to the .skip method. Before, you could only specify a single (optional) argument.

my @a = <a b c d e f g h i j>;
say @a.skip;       # (b c d e f g h i j)
say @a.skip(3);    # (d e f g h i j)
say @a.skip(*-3);  # (h i j)

On v6.e.PREVIEW, you can now specify any number of arguments in the order: produce, skip, produce, etc. Some examples:

use v6.e.PREVIEW;
my @a = <a b c d e f g h i j>;
# produce 2, skip 5, produce rest
say @a.skip(2, 5);        # (a b h i j)
# produce 0, skip 3, then produce 2, skip rest
say @a.skip(0, 3, 2);     # (d e)
# same, but be explicit about skipping rest
say @a.skip(0, 3, 2, *);  # (d e)

In fact, any Iterable can now be specified as the argument to .skip.

my @b = 3,5;
# produce 3, skip 5, then produce rest
say @a.skip(@b);           # (a b c i j)
# produce 1, then skip 2, repeatedly until the end
say @a.skip(|(1,2) xx *);  # (a d g j)


On v6.e.PREVIEW, the .comb method will also accept a Pair as an argument to give it .rotor_-like capabilities. For instance, to produce trigrams of a string, one can now do:

use v6.e.PREVIEW;
say "foobar".comb(3 => -2);  # (foo oob oba bar)

This is the functional equivalent of "foobar".comb.rotor(3 => -2)>>.join, but about 10x as fast.

Changed semantics on Int.roll|pick

To pick a number from 0 till N-1, one no longer has to specify a range, but can use just the integer value as the invocant:

use v6.e.PREVIEW;
say (^10).roll;     # 5
say 10.roll;        # 7
say (^10).pick(*);  # (2 0 6 9 4 1 5 7 8 3)
say 10.pick(*);     # (4 6 1 0 2 9 8 3 5 7)

Of course, all of these values are examples, as each run will, most likely, produce different results.

More interesting stuff

There were some more new things and changes the past year. I’ll just mention them very succinctly here:

New methods on CompUnit::Repository::Staging

.deploy.remove-artifacts, and .self-destruct.

:!precompile flag on CompUnit::Repository::Installation.install

Install module but precompile on first loading rather than at installation.

New methods on Label

.file and .line where the Label was created.

.Failure coercer

Convert a Cool object or an Exception to a Failure. Mainly intended to reduce binary size of hot paths that do some error checking.

Cool.Order coercer

Coerce the given value to an Int, then convert to Less if less than 0, to Same if 0, and More if more than 0.

Allow semi-colon

Now allow for the semi-colon in my :($a,$b) = 42,666 because the left-hand side is really a Signature rather than a List.


I guess we’ve seen one big change in the past year, namely having experimental support for RakuAST become available. And many smaller goodies and tweaks and features.

Now that RakuAST has become “mainstream” as it were, we can think of having certain optimizations. Such as making sprintf with a fixed format string about 30x as fast! Exciting times ahead!

Hopefully you will all be able to enjoy the Holiday Season with sufficient R&R. The next Raku Advent Blog is only 340 days away!

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