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Journal of jbc (428)

Tuesday May 27, 2003
12:00 PM

CPAN book?

[ #12460 ]

There's a book I really want that apparently doesn't exist (yet). I wish someone could be persuaded to write it.

It could be called A Field Guide to CPAN, or maybe The Whole CPAN Catalog. Basically, I want to know more about what's available in CPAN, with an emphasis on the subset of modules that are the best/most useful, and I want to be able to learn that without needing to read an entire encyclopedia.

Ideally it would have little sidebars with commentary from some of my Perl heroes. Something I can browse through during the odd minute here and there, and also use as a reference when I want a quick take on the most-popular modules for a particular problem domain, before diving in for more-detailed research at CPAN proper.

I've heard that hfb is working on a CPAN book, and it seems possible that it might serve that purpose. It also seems possible that it will never actually be finished.

I've mentioned my desire to the good people at O'Reilly a few times, but they've apparently decided that given CPAN's kudzu-like nature, it would be impossible to keep such a book up-to-date.

So maybe it should be a Web-based resource, rather than a book. But darn it, I really want it, in whatever form. Just an extra layer of expert opinion, organized by problem domain, on what's worthwhile in CPAN. I'm tired of reinventing (rickety, square) wheels.

Sigh. I know the official answer to this: the information is out there already. I just need to commit some quality time browsing through the available CPAN structure and documentation. So yeah, I'll be doing that. I just wish there was a more efficient solution available.

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  • In thinking a bit more, I guess the new Perl Cookbook could well end up providing most of what I'm looking for. Assuming it's similar to the first edition, it will be organized by problem domain, with pointers to appropriate CPAN modules. So, when is that coming out again?
  • CPAN Rating System (Score:3, Interesting)

    by autarch (914) on 2003.05.27 13:47 (#20553) Homepage Journal
    Basically what you're asking for is a CPAN rating system, probably with a trust metric built-in, so that authors of well-rated modules in turn have more influence when they rate other modules.

    Anyway, this has been proposed and discussed many times, but nobody's built it yet. If somebody builds one that is easy to use, it might actually get used, but that hasn't happened yet.
  • by djberg96 (2603) on 2003.05.27 14:35 (#20554) Journal
    Well, there is Sam Tregar's Writing Perl Modules for CPAN [bookpool.com] that might interest you. Dunno if it has what you're looking for specifically, though.
  • Book? (Score:2, Informative)

    http://perlmonks.org/index.pl?node_id=250495
    http://perladvent.org/

    A book on modules would be outdated soon after its release :)
  • This has been tried a couple of times.

    O'Reilly's Perl REsource Kit [amazon.com] contains a book called Programming with Perl Modules, but this is now five years out of date.

    Instant Perl Modules [amazon.com] is very good, but it was published two years ago so will only get more outdated as time passes.

    So the biggest problem with this kind of book is the fact that CPAN changes so quickly.
  • So far, I've written an article about templating systems, given a talk (at OSCON last year) about shared data/cache modules, and will be giving another talk about object-relational tools at OSCON in Portland. My goal is to have all of these available on the web in article form.

    I have considered doing a whole series of these and eventually making a book out of them, but it takes a lot of work to do a good survey of a wide range of modules so for a book to be comprehensive it would need multiple authors.