I make calls to external programs using IPC::Open3.
I had a look at that on Cpan and "open a process for reading, writing, and error handling" didn't mean much to me though, sorry I don't understand how I would use that.
Next I tried Anti-Word which is much faster and goes straight to text or to Postscript. I use it for the conversion to Postscript and then use ps2pdf to create the final PDF file. The documents come out perfectly.
Antiword is pretty small so in my spare time I've kind of been looking into ways it could be accessed directly from a Perl module. Not having much spare time or being very good at C has somewhat hindered that progress though :)
I have downloaded the *nix verion, but it looks like I'd need to compile all that in C, ... too much hassle and my brain hurts with that type of stuff. I'm downloading the 'Win' version, because it's a binary, and at a d/load speed of 0.2K/sec, it should be finished by tomorrow. You wouldn't be able to send me the *nix version of AntiWord' would you (please) ?