Today I have uploaded a new release of my Perl::Critic::logicLAB, it lists the two new policies I mentioned on earlier occasions in my blog.
Both released are released and maintained as separate distributions and Perl::Critic::logicLAB acts as a collection (Task::). RequirePackageNamePattern 0.01 was uploaded to CPAN about a month ago and RequireParamsValidate 0.01 was uploaded today together with Perl::Critic:.logicLAB 0.08.
I could have uploaded RequireParamsValidate earlier, but I decided to participate in the Questhub challenge of releasing a new CPAN distribution for every month for 2014 so I decided to stretch the releases for two months. Apparently I forgot to blog about the releases as nicely pointed out by the master questhubber and overall CPAN magician Neil Bowers, so here it is the public announcement of the two releases for January and February.
Their basic details have been fleshed out earlier so I am not going to go into details with the policies as such, but I do however want to address an issue that was raised in conjunction with the challenge on Questhub and that was the flooding of CPAN of new releases bringing no actual value (as I read it). This brings me back to my own contributions and the two mentioned policies.
It is really hard to come up with CPAN distributions that satisfy a greater audience, I for one do by no means satisfy needs other than my own, I would love to, but lets be honest, that is hard – I will get back to that later.
The same problem applies to Perl::Critic policies, coming up with original ones are not so easy as it sounds. But I write policies that my own scratch my own itch and I write policies to get accustomed to working with policies. And just as policies, Perl distributions serve many purposes and some are for getting your head around a specific problem area or improving your own workflow for working with a certain problem area.
A very positive thing in all this apart from the obvious reasons like learning something new, sharing your knowledge and sharing your techniques as open source benefits others – yes it might be annoying and it might be hard to find exactly the best suited module for addressing a certain problem, but my experience with CPAN tells me that the community part of CPAN will take care of that and you can always use trusted sources like the Intarwebs to find your way – what I really mean is that you can always go to you local Perl mongers group, IRC or places like StackOverflow to get guidance and pointers in the right direction and if all is lost – roll you own.
I have several distributions on CPAN, which are dead-ends, they should perhaps be deleted, they will persist on BackPAN, but I just have not gotten “around to it”. These distributions served a purpose at one time, I made errors and mistakes, I learned lessons and I improved as a Perl programmer, CPAN distribution maintainer and Open Source contributor.
Most of us can agree that trial and error is one of the best learning practices and practicing with CPAN distributions might be overkill for silly and personal experiments, but for a long time and still to some extent CPAN is the main repository for Perl code, yes we have Github and cpanm and we can do things differently, but CPAN is just a part of larger ecosystem and the questions you most hear often when you interact with the Perl community when people outline an idea, a concept or a project are:
- It is on CPAN?
- When will it be on CPAN?
- Will it be on CPAN?
(the order of the questions should be random, but for the sake of the beauty of the poetry in the questions the order here is arranged).
So CPAN is important for marketing and distributing your work and getting all the benefits of the community driven tool-chain. And to get back to a previous blog post on Perl and its role in the overall developer community, where it is often regarded as dead, every little contribution, every new distribution which is uploaded or updated on CPAN matters. Perl is alive because of CPAN (*1), because here everybody can play along and it is not so hard and it should not be hard to contribute. I recently migrated my Workflow distribution from SourceForge to Github, simply to easy the process of contributing and SourceForge and Github are important, but CPAN is the distribution channel.
And if you read the blog post I mentioned, the other languages to which Perl is compared their repositories are larger and they are growing and have outgrown CPAN and they are generating buzz, so there is absolutely no need to shut the castle gates and go all ivory over Perl – yes there will be lots of useless crap uploaded and I for one will be one of the contributors in to the (cr)App:: namespace (*2), but natural selection will sort it out and the best distributions will survive, long after there authors have stopped maintaining them, simply because of the community – and CPAN is the community, so when you contribute to CPAN you contribute the community.
It is hard to contribute with original stuff, it is hard to come up with original ideas and implementations that will rock the community. But everybody who has just touched product development, entrepreneurship know so. So until you ship that distribution, which will rock CPAN and get the Perl community all buzzing, because “you can get it on CPAN today” – code, share and learn.
I plan to upload 10 more new distributions this year, I have about 5 up my sleeve and I will run out of ideas just after summer with the current plan, but I am sure that using CPAN and interacting with the Perl community will give me additional ideas for contributions and this gives me a slight chance that I might be able to complete the challenge for 2014.
*1 Not solely, I do not want to forget all the people contributing to the Perl core, they are indeed keeping Perl alive, but in this context they will be mentioned in a footnote – sorry.
*2 This is just a pun, like “Captain of the USS Make-shit-up”, the App:: namespace is a fine a well respected namespace of which I am a happy user – thanks to its contributors