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NAME ^

perlmodlib - constructing new Perl modules and finding existing ones

DESCRIPTION ^

THE PERL MODULE LIBRARY ^

Many modules are included the Perl distribution. These are described below, and all end in .pm. You may discover compiled library file (usually ending in .so) or small pieces of modules to be autoloaded (ending in .al); these were automatically generated by the installation process. You may also discover files in the library directory that end in either .pl or .ph. These are old libraries supplied so that old programs that use them still run. The .pl files will all eventually be converted into standard modules, and the .ph files made by h2ph will probably end up as extension modules made by h2xs. (Some .ph values may already be available through the POSIX, Errno, or Fcntl modules.) The pl2pm file in the distribution may help in your conversion, but it's just a mechanical process and therefore far from bulletproof.

Pragmatic Modules

They work somewhat like compiler directives (pragmata) in that they tend to affect the compilation of your program, and thus will usually work well only when used within a use, or no. Most of these are lexically scoped, so an inner BLOCK may countermand them by saying:

    no integer;
    no strict 'refs';
    no warnings;

which lasts until the end of that BLOCK.

Some pragmas are lexically scoped--typically those that affect the $^H hints variable. Others affect the current package instead, like use vars and use subs, which allow you to predeclare a variables or subroutines within a particular file rather than just a block. Such declarations are effective for the entire file for which they were declared. You cannot rescind them with no vars or no subs.

The following pragmas are defined (and have their own documentation).

attributes

Get/set subroutine or variable attributes

attrs

Set/get attributes of a subroutine (deprecated)

autouse

Postpone load of modules until a function is used

base

Establish IS-A relationship with base class at compile time

blib

Use MakeMaker's uninstalled version of a package

caller

Inherit pragmatic attributes from caller's context

charnames

Define character names for \N{named} string literal escape.

constant

Declare constants

diagnostics

Force verbose warning diagnostics

fields

Declare a class's attribute fields at compile-time

filetest

Control the filetest operators like -r, -w for AFS, etc.

integer

Compute arithmetic in integer instead of double

less

Request less of something from the compiler (unimplemented)

lib

Manipulate @INC at compile time

locale

Use or avoid POSIX locales for built-in operations

ops

Restrict unsafe operations when compiling

overload

Overload Perl operations

re

Alter regular expression behavior

sigtrap

Enable simple signal handling

strict

Restrict unsafe constructs

subs

Predeclare subroutine names

utf8

Turn on UTF-8 and Unicode support

vars

Predeclare global variable names (obsoleted by our())

warnings

Control optional warnings

Standard Modules

Standard, bundled modules are all expected to behave in a well-defined manner with respect to namespace pollution because they use the Exporter module. See their own documentation for details.

AnyDBM_File

Provide framework for multiple DBM libraries

AutoLoader

Load subroutines only on demand

AutoSplit

Split a package for autoloading

B

Guts of the Perl code generator (aka compiler)

B::Asmdata

Autogenerated data about Perl ops, used to generate bytecode

B::Assembler

Assemble Perl bytecode

B::Bblock

Walk basic blocks

B::Bytecode

Perl compiler's bytecode backend

B::C

Perl compiler's C backend

B::CC

Perl compiler's optimized C translation backend

B::Debug

Walk Perl syntax tree, printing debug info about ops

B::Deparse

Perl compiler backend to produce Perl code

B::Disassembler

Disassemble Perl bytecode

B::Lint

Module to catch dubious constructs

B::Showlex

Show lexical variables used in functions or files

B::Stackobj

Helper module for CC backend

B::Stash -- XXX NFI XXX

B::Terse

Walk Perl syntax tree, printing terse info about ops

B::Xref

Generates cross reference reports for Perl programs

Benchmark

Benchmark running times of code

ByteLoader

Load byte-compiled Perl code

CGI

Simple Common Gateway Interface class

CGI::Apache

Make things work with CGI.pm against Perl-Apache API

CGI::Carp

CGI routines for writing to the HTTPD (or other) error log

CGI::Cookie

Interface to Netscape Cookies

CGI::Fast

CGI Interface for Fast CGI

CGI::Pretty

Module to produce nicely formatted HTML code

CGI::Push

Simple Interface to Server Push

CGI::Switch

Try more than one constructors and return the first object available

CPAN

Query, download, and build Perl modules from CPAN sites

CPAN::FirstTime

Utility for CPAN::Config file initialization

CPAN::Nox

Wrapper around CPAN.pm without using any XS module

Carp

Act like warn/die from perspective of caller

Carp::Heavy

Carp guts

Class::Struct

Declare struct-like datatypes as Perl classes

Config

Access Perl configuration information

Cwd

Get pathname of current working directory

DB

Programmatic interface to the Perl debugging API (experimental)

DB_File

Perl5 access to Berkeley DB version 1.x

Data::Dumper

Serialize Perl data structures

Devel::DProf

A Perl execution profiler

Devel::Peek

A data debugging tool for the XS programmer

Devel::SelfStubber

Generate stubs for a SelfLoading module

DirHandle

Supply object methods for directory handles

Dumpvalue

Provide screen dump of Perl data

DynaLoader

Dynamically load C libraries into Perl code

English

Use English (or awk) names for ugly punctuation variables

Env

Access environment variables as regular ones

Errno

Load the libc errno.h defines

Exporter

Implement default import method for modules

Exporter::Heavy

Exporter guts

ExtUtils::Command

Utilities to replace common Unix commands in Makefiles etc.

ExtUtils::Embed

Utilities for embedding Perl in C/C++ programs

ExtUtils::Install

Install files from here to there

ExtUtils::Installed

Inventory management of installed modules

ExtUtils::Liblist

Determine libraries to use and how to use them

ExtUtils::MM_Cygwin

Methods to override Unix behavior in ExtUtils::MakeMaker

ExtUtils::MM_OS2

Methods to override Unix behavior in ExtUtils::MakeMaker

ExtUtils::MM_Unix

Methods used by ExtUtils::MakeMaker

ExtUtils::MM_VMS

Methods to override Unix behavior in ExtUtils::MakeMaker

ExtUtils::MM_Win32

Methods to override Unix behavior in ExtUtils::MakeMaker

ExtUtils::MakeMaker

Create an extension Makefile

ExtUtils::Manifest

Utilities to write and check a MANIFEST file

ExtUtils::Miniperl, writemain - Write the C code for perlmain.c

ExtUtils::Mkbootstrap

Make a bootstrap file for use by DynaLoader

ExtUtils::Mksymlists

Write linker options files for dynamic extension

ExtUtils::Packlist

Manage .packlist files

ExtUtils::testlib

Add blib/* directories to @INC

Fatal

Replace functions with equivalents which succeed or die

Fcntl

Load the libc fcntl.h defines

File::Basename

Split a pathname into pieces

File::CheckTree

Run many filetest checks on a tree

File::Compare

Compare files or filehandles

File::Copy

Copy files or filehandles

File::DosGlob

DOS-like globbing and then some

File::Find

Traverse a file tree

File::Glob

Perl extension for BSD filename globbing

File::Path

Create or remove a series of directories

File::Spec

Portably perform operations on file names

File::Spec::Functions

Portably perform operations on file names

File::Spec::Mac

File::Spec for MacOS

File::Spec::OS2

Methods for OS/2 file specs

File::Spec::Unix

Methods used by File::Spec

File::Spec::VMS

Methods for VMS file specs

File::Spec::Win32

Methods for Win32 file specs

File::stat

By-name interface to Perl's built-in stat() functions

FileCache

Keep more files open than the system permits

FileHandle

Supply object methods for filehandles

FindBin

Locate installation directory of running Perl program

GDBM_File

Access to the gdbm library

Getopt::Long

Extended processing of command line options

Getopt::Std

Process single-character switches with switch clustering

I18N::Collate

Compare 8-bit scalar data according to current locale

IO

Front-end to load various IO modules

IO::Dir

Supply object methods for directory handles

IO::File

Supply object methods for filehandles

IO::Handle

Supply object methods for I/O handles

IO::Pipe

Supply object methods for pipes

IO::Poll

Object interface to system poll call

IO::Seekable

Supply seek based methods for I/O objects

IO::Select

OO interface to the select system call

IO::Socket

Object interface to socket communications

IO::Socket::INET

Object interface for AF_INET domain sockets

IO::Socket::UNIX

Object interface for AF_UNIX domain sockets

IPC::Msg

SysV Msg IPC object class

IPC::Open2

Open a process for both reading and writing

IPC::Open3

Open a process for reading, writing, and error handling

IPC::Semaphore

SysV Semaphore IPC object class

IPC::SysV

SysV IPC constants

Math::BigFloat

Arbitrary length float math package

Math::BigInt

Arbitrary size integer math package

Math::Complex

Complex numbers and associated mathematical functions

Math::Trig

Trigonometric functions

Net::Ping

Check a remote host for reachability

Net::hostent

By-name interface to Perl's built-in gethost*() functions

Net::netent

By-name interface to Perl's built-in getnet*() functions

Net::protoent

By-name interface to Perl's built-in getproto*() functions

Net::servent

By-name interface to Perl's built-in getserv*() functions

O

Generic interface to Perl Compiler backends

Opcode

Disable named opcodes when compiling Perl code

POSIX

Perl interface to IEEE Std 1003.1

Pod::Checker

Check pod documents for syntax errors

Pod::Html

Module to convert pod files to HTML

Pod::InputObjects

Manage POD objects

Pod::Man

Convert POD data to formatted *roff input

Pod::Parser

Base class for creating POD filters and translators

Pod::Select

Extract selected sections of POD from input

Pod::Text

Convert POD data to formatted ASCII text

Pod::Text::Color

Convert POD data to formatted color ASCII text

Pod::Usage

Print a usage message from embedded pod documentation

SDBM_File

Tied access to sdbm files

Safe

Compile and execute code in restricted compartments

Search::Dict

Search for key in dictionary file

SelectSaver

Save and restore selected file handle

SelfLoader

Load functions only on demand

Shell

Run shell commands transparently within Perl

Socket

Load the libc socket.h defines and structure manipulators

Symbol

Manipulate Perl symbols and their names

Sys::Hostname

Try every conceivable way to get hostname

Sys::Syslog

Interface to the libc syslog(3) calls

Term::Cap

Termcap interface

Term::Complete

Word completion module

Term::ReadLine

Interface to various `readline' packages.

Test

Provides a simple framework for writing test scripts

Test::Harness

Run Perl standard test scripts with statistics

Text::Abbrev

Create an abbreviation table from a list

Text::ParseWords

Parse text into a list of tokens or array of arrays

Text::Soundex

Implementation of the Soundex Algorithm as described by Knuth

Text::Tabs -- expand and unexpand tabs per expand(1) and unexpand(1)

Text::Wrap

Line wrapping to form simple paragraphs

Tie::Array

Base class for tied arrays

Tie::Handle

Base class definitions for tied handles

Tie::Hash

Base class definitions for tied hashes

Tie::RefHash

Use references as hash keys

Tie::Scalar

Base class definitions for tied scalars

Tie::SubstrHash

Fixed-table-size, fixed-key-length hashing

Time::Local

Efficiently compute time from local and GMT time

Time::gmtime

By-name interface to Perl's built-in gmtime() function

Time::localtime

By-name interface to Perl's built-in localtime() function

Time::tm

Internal object used by Time::gmtime and Time::localtime

UNIVERSAL

Base class for ALL classes (blessed references)

User::grent

By-name interface to Perl's built-in getgr*() functions

User::pwent

By-name interface to Perl's built-in getpw*() functions

To find out all modules installed on your system, including those without documentation or outside the standard release, just do this:

    % find `perl -e 'print "@INC"'` -name '*.pm' -print

To get a log of all module distributions which have been installed since perl was installed, just do:

    % perldoc perllocal

Modules should all have their own documentation installed and accessible via your system man(1) command, or via the perldoc program. If you do not have a find program, you can use the Perl find2perl program instead, which generates Perl code as output you can run through perl. If you have a man program but it doesn't find your modules, you'll have to fix your manpath. See perl for details.

Extension Modules

Extension modules are written in C (or a mix of Perl and C). They are usually dynamically loaded into Perl if and when you need them, but may also be be linked in statically. Supported extension modules include Socket, Fcntl, and POSIX.

Many popular C extension modules do not come bundled (at least, not completely) due to their sizes, volatility, or simply lack of time for adequate testing and configuration across the multitude of platforms on which Perl was beta-tested. You are encouraged to look for them on CPAN (described below), or using web search engines like Alta Vista or Deja News.

CPAN ^

CPAN stands for Comprehensive Perl Archive Network; it's a globally replicated trove of Perl materials, including documentation, style guides, tricks and trap, alternate ports to non-Unix systems and occasional binary distributions for these. Search engines for CPAN can be found at http://cpan.perl.com/ and at http://theory.uwinnipeg.ca/mod_perl/cpan-search.pl .

Most importantly, CPAN includes around a thousand unbundled modules, some of which require a C compiler to build. Major categories of modules are:

Registered CPAN sites as of this writing include the following. You should try to choose one close to you:

Africa
    South Africa   ftp://ftp.is.co.za/programming/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.saix.net/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.sun.ac.za/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftpza.co.za/pub/mirrors/cpan/
Asia
    China          ftp://freesoft.cei.gov.cn/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    Hong Kong      ftp://ftp.pacific.net.hk/pub/mirror/CPAN/
    Indonesia      ftp://malone.piksi.itb.ac.id/pub/CPAN/
    Israel         ftp://bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il/pub/software/perl/CPAN/
    Japan          ftp://ftp.dti.ad.jp/pub/lang/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.jaist.ac.jp/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.lab.kdd.co.jp/lang/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.meisei-u.ac.jp/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.ring.gr.jp/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://mirror.nucba.ac.jp/mirror/Perl/
    Saudi-Arabia   ftp://ftp.isu.net.sa/pub/CPAN/
    Singapore      ftp://ftp.nus.edu.sg/pub/unix/perl/CPAN/
    South Korea    ftp://ftp.bora.net/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.kornet.net/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.nuri.net/pub/CPAN/
    Taiwan         ftp://coda.nctu.edu.tw/computer-languages/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.ee.ncku.edu.tw/pub3/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp1.sinica.edu.tw/pub1/perl/CPAN/
    Thailand       ftp://ftp.nectec.or.th/pub/mirrors/CPAN/
Australasia
    Australia      ftp://cpan.topend.com.au/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.labyrinth.net.au/pub/perl-CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.sage-au.org.au/pub/compilers/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/perl/CPAN/
    New Zealand    ftp://ftp.auckland.ac.nz/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://sunsite.net.nz/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
Central America
    Costa Rica     ftp://ftp.ucr.ac.cr/pub/Unix/CPAN/
Europe
    Austria        ftp://ftp.tuwien.ac.at/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    Belgium        ftp://ftp.kulnet.kuleuven.ac.be/pub/mirror/CPAN/
    Bulgaria       ftp://ftp.ntrl.net/pub/mirrors/CPAN/
    Croatia        ftp://ftp.linux.hr/pub/CPAN/
    Czech Republic ftp://ftp.fi.muni.cz/pub/perl/
                   ftp://sunsite.mff.cuni.cz/Languages/Perl/CPAN/
    Denmark        ftp://sunsite.auc.dk/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    Estonia        ftp://ftp.ut.ee/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    Finland        ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    France         ftp://ftp.grolier.fr/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.lip6.fr/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.oleane.net/pub/mirrors/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.pasteur.fr/pub/computing/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.uvsq.fr/pub/perl/CPAN/
    German         ftp://ftp.gigabell.net/pub/CPAN/
    Germany        ftp://ftp.archive.de.uu.net/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.freenet.de/pub/ftp.cpan.org/pub/
                   ftp://ftp.gmd.de/packages/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.leo.org/pub/comp/general/programming/languages/script/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.mpi-sb.mpg.de/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.rz.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.uni-erlangen.de/pub/source/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.uni-hamburg.de/pub/soft/lang/perl/CPAN/
    Germany        ftp://ftp.archive.de.uu.net/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.freenet.de/pub/ftp.cpan.org/pub/
                   ftp://ftp.gmd.de/packages/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.leo.org/pub/comp/general/programming/languages/script/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.mpi-sb.mpg.de/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.rz.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.uni-erlangen.de/pub/source/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.uni-hamburg.de/pub/soft/lang/perl/CPAN/
    Greece         ftp://ftp.ntua.gr/pub/lang/perl/
    Hungary        ftp://ftp.kfki.hu/pub/packages/perl/CPAN/
    Iceland        ftp://ftp.gm.is/pub/CPAN/
    Ireland        ftp://cpan.indigo.ie/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://sunsite.compapp.dcu.ie/pub/perl/
    Italy          ftp://cis.uniRoma2.it/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.flashnet.it/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.unina.it/pub/Other/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.unipi.it/pub/mirror/perl/CPAN/
    Netherlands    ftp://ftp.cs.uu.nl/mirror/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.nluug.nl/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    Norway         ftp://ftp.uit.no/pub/languages/perl/cpan/
                   ftp://sunsite.uio.no/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    Poland         ftp://ftp.man.torun.pl/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.pk.edu.pl/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://sunsite.icm.edu.pl/pub/CPAN/
    Portugal       ftp://ftp.ci.uminho.pt/pub/mirrors/cpan/
                   ftp://ftp.ist.utl.pt/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.ua.pt/pub/CPAN/
    Romania        ftp://ftp.dnttm.ro/pub/CPAN/
    Russia         ftp://ftp.chg.ru/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.sai.msu.su/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/
    Slovakia       ftp://ftp.entry.sk/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
    Slovenia       ftp://ftp.arnes.si/software/perl/CPAN/
    Spain          ftp://ftp.etse.urv.es/pub/perl/
                   ftp://ftp.rediris.es/mirror/CPAN/
    Sweden         ftp://ftp.sunet.se/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/
    Switzerland    ftp://sunsite.cnlab-switch.ch/mirror/CPAN/
    Turkey         ftp://sunsite.bilkent.edu.tr/pub/languages/CPAN/
    United Kingdom ftp://ftp.demon.co.uk/pub/mirrors/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.flirble.org/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.mirror.ac.uk/sites/ftp.funet.fi/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.plig.org/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://sunsite.doc.ic.ac.uk/packages/CPAN/
North America
    Alberta        ftp://sunsite.ualberta.ca/pub/Mirror/CPAN/
    California     ftp://cpan.nas.nasa.gov/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://cpan.valueclick.com/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.cdrom.com/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   http://download.sourceforge.net/mirrors/CPAN/
    Colorado       ftp://ftp.cs.colorado.edu/pub/perl/CPAN/
    Florida        ftp://ftp.cise.ufl.edu/pub/perl/CPAN/
    Georgia        ftp://ftp.twoguys.org/CPAN/
    Illinois       ftp://uiarchive.uiuc.edu/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/
    Indiana        ftp://csociety-ftp.ecn.purdue.edu/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.uwsg.indiana.edu/pub/perl/CPAN/
    Kentucky       ftp://ftp.uky.edu/CPAN/
    Manitoba       ftp://theoryx5.uwinnipeg.ca/pub/CPAN/
    Massachusetts  ftp://ftp.ccs.neu.edu/net/mirrors/ftp.funet.fi/pub/languages/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.iguide.com/pub/mirrors/packages/perl/CPAN/
    Mexico         ftp://ftp.msg.com.mx/pub/CPAN/
    New York       ftp://ftp.deao.net/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.rge.com/pub/languages/perl/
    North Carolina ftp://ftp.duke.edu/pub/perl/
    Nova Scotia    ftp://cpan.chebucto.ns.ca/pub/CPAN/
    Oklahoma       ftp://ftp.ou.edu/mirrors/CPAN/
    Ontario        ftp://ftp.crc.ca/pub/packages/lang/perl/CPAN/
    Oregon         ftp://ftp.orst.edu/pub/packages/CPAN/
    Pennsylvania   ftp://ftp.epix.net/pub/languages/perl/
    Tennessee      ftp://ftp.sunsite.utk.edu/pub/CPAN/
    Texas          ftp://ftp.sedl.org/pub/mirrors/CPAN/
                   ftp://jhcloos.com/pub/mirror/CPAN/
    Utah           ftp://mirror.xmission.com/CPAN/
    Virginia       ftp://ftp.perl.org/pub/perl/CPAN/
                   ftp://ruff.cs.jmu.edu/pub/CPAN/
    Washington     ftp://ftp-mirror.internap.com/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.llarian.net/pub/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.spu.edu/pub/CPAN/
South America
    Brazil         ftp://cpan.if.usp.br/pub/mirror/CPAN/
                   ftp://ftp.matrix.com.br/pub/perl/
    Chile          ftp://sunsite.dcc.uchile.cl/pub/Lang/PERL/

For an up-to-date listing of CPAN sites, see http://www.perl.com/perl/CPAN/SITES or ftp://www.perl.com/CPAN/SITES .

Modules: Creation, Use, and Abuse ^

(The following section is borrowed directly from Tim Bunce's modules file, available at your nearest CPAN site.)

Perl implements a class using a package, but the presence of a package doesn't imply the presence of a class. A package is just a namespace. A class is a package that provides subroutines that can be used as methods. A method is just a subroutine that expects, as its first argument, either the name of a package (for "static" methods), or a reference to something (for "virtual" methods).

A module is a file that (by convention) provides a class of the same name (sans the .pm), plus an import method in that class that can be called to fetch exported symbols. This module may implement some of its methods by loading dynamic C or C++ objects, but that should be totally transparent to the user of the module. Likewise, the module might set up an AUTOLOAD function to slurp in subroutine definitions on demand, but this is also transparent. Only the .pm file is required to exist. See perlsub, perltoot, and AutoLoader for details about the AUTOLOAD mechanism.

Guidelines for Module Creation

Do similar modules already exist in some form?

If so, please try to reuse the existing modules either in whole or by inheriting useful features into a new class. If this is not practical try to get together with the module authors to work on extending or enhancing the functionality of the existing modules. A perfect example is the plethora of packages in perl4 for dealing with command line options.

If you are writing a module to expand an already existing set of modules, please coordinate with the author of the package. It helps if you follow the same naming scheme and module interaction scheme as the original author.

Try to design the new module to be easy to extend and reuse.

Try to use warnings; (or use warnings qw(...);). Remember that you can add no warnings qw(...); to individual blocks of code that need less warnings.

Use blessed references. Use the two argument form of bless to bless into the class name given as the first parameter of the constructor, e.g.,:

 sub new {
        my $class = shift;
        return bless {}, $class;
 }

or even this if you'd like it to be used as either a static or a virtual method.

 sub new {
        my $self  = shift;
        my $class = ref($self) || $self;
        return bless {}, $class;
 }

Pass arrays as references so more parameters can be added later (it's also faster). Convert functions into methods where appropriate. Split large methods into smaller more flexible ones. Inherit methods from other modules if appropriate.

Avoid class name tests like: die "Invalid" unless ref $ref eq 'FOO'. Generally you can delete the eq 'FOO' part with no harm at all. Let the objects look after themselves! Generally, avoid hard-wired class names as far as possible.

Avoid $r->Class::func() where using @ISA=qw(... Class ...) and $r->func() would work (see perlbot for more details).

Use autosplit so little used or newly added functions won't be a burden to programs that don't use them. Add test functions to the module after __END__ either using AutoSplit or by saying:

 eval join('',<main::DATA>) || die $@ unless caller();

Does your module pass the 'empty subclass' test? If you say @SUBCLASS::ISA = qw(YOURCLASS); your applications should be able to use SUBCLASS in exactly the same way as YOURCLASS. For example, does your application still work if you change: $obj = new YOURCLASS; into: $obj = new SUBCLASS; ?

Avoid keeping any state information in your packages. It makes it difficult for multiple other packages to use yours. Keep state information in objects.

Always use -w.

Try to use strict; (or use strict qw(...);). Remember that you can add no strict qw(...); to individual blocks of code that need less strictness.

Always use -w.

Follow the guidelines in the perlstyle(1) manual.

Always use -w.

Some simple style guidelines

The perlstyle manual supplied with Perl has many helpful points.

Coding style is a matter of personal taste. Many people evolve their style over several years as they learn what helps them write and maintain good code. Here's one set of assorted suggestions that seem to be widely used by experienced developers:

Use underscores to separate words. It is generally easier to read $var_names_like_this than $VarNamesLikeThis, especially for non-native speakers of English. It's also a simple rule that works consistently with VAR_NAMES_LIKE_THIS.

Package/Module names are an exception to this rule. Perl informally reserves lowercase module names for 'pragma' modules like integer and strict. Other modules normally begin with a capital letter and use mixed case with no underscores (need to be short and portable).

You may find it helpful to use letter case to indicate the scope or nature of a variable. For example:

 $ALL_CAPS_HERE   constants only (beware clashes with Perl vars)
 $Some_Caps_Here  package-wide global/static
 $no_caps_here    function scope my() or local() variables

Function and method names seem to work best as all lowercase. e.g., $obj->as_string().

You can use a leading underscore to indicate that a variable or function should not be used outside the package that defined it.

Select what to export.

Do NOT export method names!

Do NOT export anything else by default without a good reason!

Exports pollute the namespace of the module user. If you must export try to use @EXPORT_OK in preference to @EXPORT and avoid short or common names to reduce the risk of name clashes.

Generally anything not exported is still accessible from outside the module using the ModuleName::item_name (or $blessed_ref->method) syntax. By convention you can use a leading underscore on names to indicate informally that they are 'internal' and not for public use.

(It is actually possible to get private functions by saying: my $subref = sub { ... }; &$subref;. But there's no way to call that directly as a method, because a method must have a name in the symbol table.)

As a general rule, if the module is trying to be object oriented then export nothing. If it's just a collection of functions then @EXPORT_OK anything but use @EXPORT with caution.

Select a name for the module.

This name should be as descriptive, accurate, and complete as possible. Avoid any risk of ambiguity. Always try to use two or more whole words. Generally the name should reflect what is special about what the module does rather than how it does it. Please use nested module names to group informally or categorize a module. There should be a very good reason for a module not to have a nested name. Module names should begin with a capital letter.

Having 57 modules all called Sort will not make life easy for anyone (though having 23 called Sort::Quick is only marginally better :-). Imagine someone trying to install your module alongside many others. If in any doubt ask for suggestions in comp.lang.perl.misc.

If you are developing a suite of related modules/classes it's good practice to use nested classes with a common prefix as this will avoid namespace clashes. For example: Xyz::Control, Xyz::View, Xyz::Model etc. Use the modules in this list as a naming guide.

If adding a new module to a set, follow the original author's standards for naming modules and the interface to methods in those modules.

To be portable each component of a module name should be limited to 11 characters. If it might be used on MS-DOS then try to ensure each is unique in the first 8 characters. Nested modules make this easier.

Have you got it right?

How do you know that you've made the right decisions? Have you picked an interface design that will cause problems later? Have you picked the most appropriate name? Do you have any questions?

The best way to know for sure, and pick up many helpful suggestions, is to ask someone who knows. Comp.lang.perl.misc is read by just about all the people who develop modules and it's the best place to ask.

All you need to do is post a short summary of the module, its purpose and interfaces. A few lines on each of the main methods is probably enough. (If you post the whole module it might be ignored by busy people - generally the very people you want to read it!)

Don't worry about posting if you can't say when the module will be ready - just say so in the message. It might be worth inviting others to help you, they may be able to complete it for you!

README and other Additional Files.

It's well known that software developers usually fully document the software they write. If, however, the world is in urgent need of your software and there is not enough time to write the full documentation please at least provide a README file containing:

  • A description of the module/package/extension etc.
  • A copyright notice - see below.
  • Prerequisites - what else you may need to have.
  • How to build it - possible changes to Makefile.PL etc.
  • How to install it.
  • Recent changes in this release, especially incompatibilities
  • Changes / enhancements you plan to make in the future.

If the README file seems to be getting too large you may wish to split out some of the sections into separate files: INSTALL, Copying, ToDo etc.

Adding a Copyright Notice.

How you choose to license your work is a personal decision. The general mechanism is to assert your Copyright and then make a declaration of how others may copy/use/modify your work.

Perl, for example, is supplied with two types of licence: The GNU GPL and The Artistic Licence (see the files README, Copying, and Artistic). Larry has good reasons for NOT just using the GNU GPL.

My personal recommendation, out of respect for Larry, Perl, and the Perl community at large is to state something simply like:

 Copyright (c) 1995 Your Name. All rights reserved.
 This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
 modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

This statement should at least appear in the README file. You may also wish to include it in a Copying file and your source files. Remember to include the other words in addition to the Copyright.

Give the module a version/issue/release number.

To be fully compatible with the Exporter and MakeMaker modules you should store your module's version number in a non-my package variable called $VERSION. This should be a floating point number with at least two digits after the decimal (i.e., hundredths, e.g, $VERSION = "0.01"). Don't use a "1.3.2" style version. See Exporter for details.

It may be handy to add a function or method to retrieve the number. Use the number in announcements and archive file names when releasing the module (ModuleName-1.02.tar.Z). See perldoc ExtUtils::MakeMaker.pm for details.

How to release and distribute a module.

It's good idea to post an announcement of the availability of your module (or the module itself if small) to the comp.lang.perl.announce Usenet newsgroup. This will at least ensure very wide once-off distribution.

If possible, register the module with CPAN. You should include details of its location in your announcement.

Some notes about ftp archives: Please use a long descriptive file name that includes the version number. Most incoming directories will not be readable/listable, i.e., you won't be able to see your file after uploading it. Remember to send your email notification message as soon as possible after uploading else your file may get deleted automatically. Allow time for the file to be processed and/or check the file has been processed before announcing its location.

FTP Archives for Perl Modules:

Follow the instructions and links on:

   http://www.perl.com/CPAN/modules/00modlist.long.html
   http://www.perl.com/CPAN/modules/04pause.html

or upload to one of these sites:

   https://pause.kbx.de/pause/
   http://pause.perl.org/pause/

and notify <modules@perl.org>.

By using the WWW interface you can ask the Upload Server to mirror your modules from your ftp or WWW site into your own directory on CPAN!

Please remember to send me an updated entry for the Module list!

Take care when changing a released module.

Always strive to remain compatible with previous released versions. Otherwise try to add a mechanism to revert to the old behavior if people rely on it. Document incompatible changes.

Guidelines for Converting Perl 4 Library Scripts into Modules

There is no requirement to convert anything.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Perl 4 library scripts should continue to work with no problems. You may need to make some minor changes (like escaping non-array @'s in double quoted strings) but there is no need to convert a .pl file into a Module for just that.

Consider the implications.

All Perl applications that make use of the script will need to be changed (slightly) if the script is converted into a module. Is it worth it unless you plan to make other changes at the same time?

Make the most of the opportunity.

If you are going to convert the script to a module you can use the opportunity to redesign the interface. The guidelines for module creation above include many of the issues you should consider.

The pl2pm utility will get you started.

This utility will read *.pl files (given as parameters) and write corresponding *.pm files. The pl2pm utilities does the following:

  • Adds the standard Module prologue lines
  • Converts package specifiers from ' to ::
  • Converts die(...) to croak(...)
  • Several other minor changes

Being a mechanical process pl2pm is not bullet proof. The converted code will need careful checking, especially any package statements. Don't delete the original .pl file till the new .pm one works!

Guidelines for Reusing Application Code

Complete applications rarely belong in the Perl Module Library.
Many applications contain some Perl code that could be reused.

Help save the world! Share your code in a form that makes it easy to reuse.

Break-out the reusable code into one or more separate module files.
Take the opportunity to reconsider and redesign the interfaces.
In some cases the 'application' can then be reduced to a small

fragment of code built on top of the reusable modules. In these cases the application could invoked as:

     % perl -e 'use Module::Name; method(@ARGV)' ...
or
     % perl -mModule::Name ...    (in perl5.002 or higher)

NOTE ^

Perl does not enforce private and public parts of its modules as you may have been used to in other languages like C++, Ada, or Modula-17. Perl doesn't have an infatuation with enforced privacy. It would prefer that you stayed out of its living room because you weren't invited, not because it has a shotgun.

The module and its user have a contract, part of which is common law, and part of which is "written". Part of the common law contract is that a module doesn't pollute any namespace it wasn't asked to. The written contract for the module (A.K.A. documentation) may make other provisions. But then you know when you use RedefineTheWorld that you're redefining the world and willing to take the consequences.

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