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Re^2: What can bring the excitement back to Perl?

by whakka (Hermit)
on Mar 25, 2008 at 18:59 UTC ( #676203=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: What can bring the excitement back to Perl?
in thread What can bring the excitement back to Perl?

CPAN could definitely be more user-friendly. I came to it as a complete newbie to programming and was overwhelmed at first, it was absolutely imperative for me to glean as much wisdom from perlmonks as possible. But is that the best way to go about things if you're trying to attract users? I still have to dig through perlmonks to find the appropriate module for some specific task X, and then test out a bunch before I settle on one I can manage fairly easily.

I have read from someone here before that CPAN shouldn't be changed to accommodate users like myself since that would favor the older, popular, and (perhaps, perhaps not) more inferior modules. But why is this such a Bad Thing? It seems the Perl community is deathly afraid of any action that may stifle innovation. But to me there's obvious parallels elsewhere in the open source world, and I think Firefox's extensions is one such thing (see here). You have a compact front page with links to search and popular extensions as well as major categories. Individual extension pages have short snippets explaining the major functions of the extension. I install with a mouse-click on a big green button. Extensive documentation is several clicks away. The rating system is widely used (let's be honest - CPAN's is somewhat worthless). With this setup I don't have to go mucking about tech blogs to find extensions that I like and use on a daily basis.

Aside from being ignorant, my other problem is being a Windows user (a fatal combination, I know). Installing modules is can be somewhat of a pain for me if I can't use ppm, and then ActiveState's repository is rather poor on updating (even with widely-used modules) so I have to go fishing for repositories that do update if I want to be able to install an updated module easily. Otherwise I have to go get some Microsoft executable and change something else (obviously I haven't figured that one out).

All that whining aside, I love Perl and the ease with which I can do any number of things with little effort. It has been a joy to learn and the community is really what keeps it viable. It would be nice, even from my perspective, if it didn't have to rely on it so much though.

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Re^3: What can bring the excitement back to Perl?
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Mar 25, 2008 at 19:06 UTC
    It is such a "Bad Thing" because it would reduce the power of CPAN. The community feels very strongly that what we have definitely needs to stick around.

    BUT . . . it doesn't have to be the only thing. If you want to set up an easier way to find and install modules, go right ahead! In fact, if you're willing to put in some work, I'm pretty sure Andreas would love to have help with CPAN. I've discussed some things with him in the past and he's a great guy to work with. Just talking about it doesn't help anybody. Go ahead and do it. Just make sure it's compatible and life is good.

    As for Win32, check out Strawberry Perl.

    My criteria for good software:
    1. Does it work?
    2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?

      Thank you, dragonchild, first and foremost, for the reference to Strawberry Perl.

      I didn't mean to belittle the opinion that CPAN shouldn't be touched, nor that I should just sit around and complain, nor that those who contribute don't provide an invaluable service to everyone, not least of which myself. Rather I was trying to constructively point out my own mini wishlist, thinking that making CPAN and the better parts of Perl more accessible to the uninitiated may be relevant to a discussion of drawing new users to Perl. The fact that you dismissed it out-of-hand shows that it's a tired argument, and I apologize for that.

        I didn't dismiss it out of hand. I said that CPAN, as it stands right now, will not change. This doesn't mean you cannot write your own interface to the data provides an interface to. Randy Kobes has done just that.

        My criteria for good software:
        1. Does it work?
        2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
      > As for Win32, check out Strawberry Perl.

      To be honest, what he REALLY wants is Chocolate Perl.

      For a while now, it's been my intention that we have...

      Vanilla Perl - Experimentation

      Strawberry Perl - Perl people that don't know Windows.

      Chocolate Perl - Windows people that don't know Perl

      Having a viable Chocolate Perl is the big pay day, because with the cornucopia of CPAN behind it we are in a position to create a high profile scripting language for doing Windows sysadmin and utility programming that doesn't rely on Microsoft, that won't change unexpectedly, that doesn't cost anything, and that you can whip up a quick solution to your problem even with nothing but Notepad.

      That would be exciting!

        Isn't ActiveState's Perl distro Chocolate Perl? I installed it way back in the day when I was, effectively, a computer idiot (I am merely a computer rube these days). It installs quickly and easily, modules get installed via graphical PPM, and in general is easy as pie.

Re^3: What can bring the excitement back to Perl?
by eserte (Deacon) on Mar 25, 2008 at 20:47 UTC
    It's a common misconception what CPAN is. CPAN is a distributed archive where users may store perl-related resources for public use. Additionaly there's a little bit of infrastructure around it (a permission system for module namespaces etc.)

    Anything else is just an add-on around the core CPAN. is just a useful view at CPAN, but it must not be the only one . In fact, there's also kobesearch providing an alternative view. There you find a listing of PPM packages for Win32 for every distribution.

    And it's quite easy to provide an additional view to CPAN. Recently I wrote the CPAN Testers Matrix because I was not satisfied with the test report presentation on Currently it's ennobled by being linked from both and kobesearch.

    I happen also to like the cpanratings. It's usually the first page I am reading each morning.

      Actually I have a patched version of the module that generates the CPAN Testers gui. Unfortunately it has not yet been installed on the production server.

      It can be seen here CPAN Testers at szabgab with the extra part being here: stats

      It also has a cross reference of successful reports like this one ACME::Error

Re^3: What can bring the excitement back to Perl?
by Anonymous Monk on Mar 26, 2008 at 12:28 UTC
    CPAN is not
      For newbies and non-programmers, it most certainly is.

      To the user, the user interface is the application.


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