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I've been a long time contributor and user of C::A and have written numerous articles & tutorials on using it that are posted on the C::A wiki (linked to in a previous post)
If this is what you consider a big block of C::A setup stuff, then maybe you're right.
But considering all I had to do to start building a new application was create my Application.pm file, inherit from my C::A Super Class module, and fill it with that bit code, I'd have to disagree with you.
By inheriting from my own Super Class built on C::A, those 3 quick steps give me access to cgi query params, session management, login authorization, conf file access, template file access, database connection & querying, logic to define which users have access to which "if/else" or "run-mode" blocks, MIME headers, cookie access, error handling and numerous other features.
What you're missing is that I can now concentrate on building the actual application logic at hand instead of worrying about where to store session information, connecting to the database, setting a cookie properly, loading an HTML::Template or T::T file, etc.
By relying on a Super Class module you can build stand-alone application and large groups of applications that all use the same code base, thus you save yourself time, energy and headaches.
Furthermore, by relying on compartmentalized code for basic operations you are safe to change those compartments at the Super Class level and know that all your applications will continue to run as they did before.
Sure it's all something you could roll on your own or build as you go. Yes it's something that you could acomplish on your own by making your code better and more modular in the first place.
All C::A is is a framework for building better applications faster. Maybe it's not the be-all-end-all of frameworks for build CGI app's but it's one of the best ones available right now, and it's supported by a large group of programmers like my self that try very hard to make sure it makes the easy things easy and the difficult things possible.
I mean, after all .. we could all be programming in binary, why add another layer of complexity and confusion like PERL to the equation.