As for installing modules directly from CPAN, ActivePerl does not fully support that right away after install. If you're using a 32-bit version of ActivePerl, use ppm to install mingw and dmake from ActiveState's repository and then you can install modules directly from CPAN.
Activestate fully supports installing modules from CPAN and has done so already for many years. The only "catch" was that modules that have XS-components and need some compilation failed to install. But that is only a minority of the modules available.
Nowadays, ppm indeed allow you to install the necessary compilers and attendant tools.
A program should be light and agile, its subroutines connected like a string of pearls. The spirit and intent of the program should be retained throughout. There should be neither too little or too much, neither needless loops nor useless variables, neither lack of structure nor overwhelming rigidity." - The Tao of Programming, 4.1 - Geoffrey James
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