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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I don’t consider it an unfortunate aspect of its history that CPAN is crufty. All successful large systems start as successful small systems – organic growth is directly correlated with success. In effect, all big systems have some measure of cruft, though some more so than others.

    I am highly skeptical of a push to rebuild CPAN from scratch in an integrated fashion. There are a lot of moving parts involved, and each of them is complex in its own right, so it would take a very long time – and there’s still no guarantee that the new design will work.

    Even if, against all odds, you manage to succeed, the new system will then have to compete with the existing CPAN (you weren’t going to propose that CPAN be abandoned as soon as it works, were you?) – much like the biggest competitor to Microsoft Office is older versions of Microsoft Office. You’ll have to overcome a lot of inertia.

    To even dream of retiring CPAN one day, you’ll have to move across all the distributions, thousands of which have not been maintained in years – so such a move would cause a lot of unnecessary bit rot.

    A better idea than rewriting from scratch is to keep improving CPAN one aspect at a time, moving things forward steadily without breaking anything. Refactoring, in a word. This isn’t just theory; it is already reality and has been for years. There is ongoing work on a better installer (two of them, in fact). Packaging, being that it’s not something that should be addressed by the CPAN itself, has had a lot of work where it should be done: depending on your system, you use PPMs, Debian packages, RPMs, Gentoo ebuilds or something else. search.cpan.org wasn’t around from the start. The CPAN Testers project is newer than that, and the CPAN Ratings system was introduced just two or three years ago (I forget how long it has been); AnnoCPAN is even newer. The source to most of these things is available at least on request.

    If you want a better CPAN, seek out whichever of these projects strikes your fancy and lend a hand.

    • I don’t consider it an unfortunate aspect of its history that CPAN is crufty.

      Neither do I. Any large system that hasn't grown organically is going to have deep flaws. All I'm interested in is taking a step back, looking at how we've grown, and maybe considering growth in a slightly different direction.

      I am highly skeptical of a push to rebuild CPAN from scratch in an integrated fashion.

      I would be, too. That's not what I'm suggesting, nor planning to do, nor hoping anyone else will do. Especially no