The story behind this module is interesting. This module was created during Brian Ingerson's Inline talk at YAPC::NorthAmerica 2001 when he asked me to code something fun using Inline, so blame him for this.
To be fair, I'd been thinking about the idea for this module for a while. Perl hashes take up a lot of memory, and occasionally you'd like to have huge hashes in memory (for Markov chains, say).
I had been aware that there were various different hash libraries around, so I picked a random one which was likely to be installed on a computer: the GNOME glib's ghash library. I checked out the API docs and it seemed fairly easy to use. I found an article explaining the rest of the details, and everything looked sweet.
Now I needed to code up a basic Inline module (using the new Inline::MakeMaker module). I did a simple h2xs incantation, changed the Makefile.PL to use Inline::MakeMaker and WriteInlineMakefile, set up a module as documented in Inline.pod, and then read the Inline::C cookbook to learn "How can I use Inline to make use of some shared library?".
While I could have provided an object-oriented version to these hashes, it was far better to make the hashes look just like Perl internal hashes. This can be acheived by tie-ing the hash - see the perltie documentation. Basically, all you need to do is set up various functions such as TIEHASH, STORE, FETCH, etc. What's cute is that with Inline I simply code these functions in C (there is a little wrapping of the glib hash functions, but only a little).
Being a good little extreme programmer, I had already written a test suite. With 511 tests. I built the module. It all worked. I worried.
This was now halfway through Brian's talk and there was a break, so I showed him the code. He ooooh-ed and aaaaah-ed. I spent the rest of his talk cleaning it up, writing documentation, improving the tests, writing some benchmarks, writing to firstname.lastname@example.org about the name, building the distribution, etc. I managed to upload it to CPAN just as Brian was finishing his talk.
So there you go. One of the first modules on CPAN that uses Inline. So who's next?