Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason > Constant-Export-Lazy-0.03 > Constant::Export::Lazy



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Module Version: 0.03   Source   Latest Release: Constant-Export-Lazy-0.07


Constant::Export::Lazy - Utility to write lazy exporters of constant subroutines


This increasingly verbose example of your My::Constants package that you write using Constant::Export::Lazy demonstrates all our features (from t/lib/My/Constants.pm in the source distro):

    package My::Constants;
    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use Exporter 'import';
    use constant {
        X => -2,
        Y => -1,
    our @EXPORT_OK = qw(X Y);
    use Constant::Export::Lazy (
        constants => {
            # This is the simplest way to go, just define plain constant
            # values.
            A => sub { 1 },
            B => sub { 2 },
            # You get a $ctx object that you can ->call() to retrieve the
            # values of other constants. This is how you can make some
            # constants depend on others without worrying about
            # ordering. Constants are still guaranteed to only be
            # fleshened once!
            SUM => sub {
                my ($ctx) = @_;
                $ctx->call('A') + $ctx->call('B'),
            # For convenience you can also access other constants,
            # e.g. those defined with constant.pm
            SUM_INTEROP => sub {
                my ($ctx) = @_;
                $ctx->call('X') + $ctx->call('Y'),
            # We won't call this and die unless someone requests it when
            # they import us.
            DIE => sub { die },
            # These subroutines are always called in scalar context, and
            # thus We'll return [3..4] here.
            # Unlike the constant.pm that ships with perl itself we don't
            # support returning lists (there's no such things as constant
            # list subroutines, constant.pm fakes it with a non-inlined
            # sub). So if you want to return lists you have to return a
            # reference to one.
            LIST => sub { wantarray ? (1..2) : [3..4] },
            # We can also supply a HashRef with "call" with the sub, and
            # "options" with options that clobber the global
            # options. Actually when you supply just a plain sub instead
            # of a HashRef we internally munge it to look like this more
            # verbose (and more flexible) structure.
            PI => {
                call    => sub { 3.14 },
                options => {
                    override => sub {
                        my ($ctx, $name) = @_;
                        # You can simply "return;" here to say "I don't
                        # want to override", and "return undef;" if you
                        # want the constant to be undef.
                        return $ENV{PI} ? "Pi is = $ENV{PI}" : $ctx->call($name);
                    # This is an optional ref that'll be accessible via
                    # $ctx->stash in any subs relevant to this constant
                    # (call, override, after, ...)
                    stash => {
                        # This `typecheck_rx` is in no way supported by
                        # Constant::Export::Lazy, it's just something
                        # we're passing around to the 'after' sub below.
                        typecheck_rx => qr/\d+\.\d+/s, # such an epicly buggy typecheck...
        options => {
            # We're still exporting some legacy constants via Exporter.pm
            wrap_existing_import => 1,
            # A general override so you can override other constants in
            # %ENV
            override => sub {
                my ($ctx, $name) = @_;
                return unless exists $ENV{$name};
                return $ENV{$name};
            after => sub {
                my ($ctx, $name, $value, $source) = @_;

                if (defined(my $stash = $ctx->stash)) {
                    my $typecheck_rx = $stash->{typecheck_rx};
                    die "PANIC: The value <$value> for <$name> doesn't pass <$typecheck_rx>"
                        unless $value =~ $typecheck_rx;

                print STDERR "Defined the constant <$name> with value <$value> from <$source>\n" if $ENV{DEBUG};


And this is an example of using it in some user code (from t/synopsis.t in the source distro):

    package My::User::Code;
    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use Test::More qw(no_plan);
    use lib 't/lib';
    BEGIN {
        # Supply a more accurate PI
        $ENV{PI} = 3.14159;
        # Override B
        $ENV{B} = 3;
    use My::Constants qw(

    is(X, -2);
    is(Y, -1);
    is(A, 1);
    is(B, 3);
    is(SUM, 4);
    is(SUM_INTEROP, -3);
    is(PI,  "Pi is = 3.14159");
    is(join(",", @{LIST()}), '3,4');

And running it gives:

    $ DEBUG=1 perl -Ilib t/synopsis.t
    Defined the constant <A> with value <1> from <callback>
    Defined the constant <B> with value <3> from <override>
    Defined the constant <SUM> with value <4> from <callback>
    Defined the constant <SUM_INTEROP> with value <-3> from <callback>
    Defined the constant <PI> with value <Pi is = 3.14159> from <override>
    Defined the constant <LIST> with value <ARRAY(0x16b8918)> from <callback>
    ok 1
    ok 2
    ok 3
    ok 4
    ok 5
    ok 6
    ok 7
    ok 8


This is a utility to write lazy exporters of constant subroutines. It's not meant to be a user-facing constant exporting API, it's something you use to write user-facing constant exporting APIs.

There's dozens of similar constant defining modules and exporters on the CPAN, why did I need to write this one?

It's lazy

Our constants fleshened via callbacks that are guaranteed to be called only once for the lifetime of the process (not once per importer or whatever), and we only call the callbacks lazily if someone actually requests that a constant of ours be defined.

This makes it easy to have one file that runs in different environments and generates some subset of its constants with a module that you may not want to use, or may not be available in all your environments. You can just require it in the callback that generates the constant that requires it.

It makes it easier to manage creating constants that require other constants

Maybe you have one constant indicating whether you're running in a dev environment, and a bunch of other constants that are defined differently if the dev environment constant is true.

Now say you have several hundred constants like that, managing the inter-dependencies and that everything is defined in the right order quickly gets messy.

Constant::Import::Lazy takes away all this complexity. When you define a constant you get a callback object that can give you the value of other constants, and will either generate them if they haven't been generated, or look them up in the symbol table if they have.

Thus we end up with a Makefile-like system where you can freely use whatever other constants you like when defining your constants, just be careful not to introduce circular dependencies.


Our API is exposed via a nested key-value pair list passed to use, see the "SYNOPSIS" for an example. Here's description of the data structure you can pass in:


This is a key-value pair list of constant names to either a subroutine or a hash with "call" and optional options. Internally we just convert the former type of call into the latter, i.e. CONST = sub {...}> becomes CONST = { call => sub { ... } }>.


The subroutine we'll call with a context object to fleshen the constant. It's guaranteed that this sub will only ever be called once for the lifetime of the process, except if you manually call it multiple times during an "override".

options (local)

Our options hash to override the global "options". The semantics are exactly the same as for the global hash.


We support various options, most of these can be defined either globally if you want to use them for all the constants, or locally to one constant at a time with the more verbose hash invocation to "constants".

The following options are supported:


A boolean that can only be supplied as a global option. If you provide this the package you're importing us into has to already have a defined import subroutine.

We'll clobber it with something that uses us to export all the constants we know about (i.e. the ones passed to "constants"), but anything we don't know about will be passed to the import subroutine we clobbered.

This is handy for converting existing packages that use e.g. a combination of Exporter to export a bunch of constant constants without having to port them all over to Constant::Export::Lazy at the same time. This allows you to do so incrementally.


This callback can be defined either globally or locally and will be called instead of your call. In addition to the context object this will also get an argument to the $name of the constant that we're requesting an override for.

This can be used for things like overriding default values based on entries in %ENV (see the "SYNOPSIS"), or anything else you can think of.

In an override subroutine return $value will return a value to be used instead of the value we'd have retrieved from "call", doing a return; on the other hand means you don't want to use the subroutine to override this constant, and we'll stop trying to do so and just call L/<call> to fleshen it.

You can also get the value of "call" by doing <$ctx-call($name)>>. We have some magic around override ensuring that we only get the value, we don't actually intern it in the symbol table.

This means that calling <$ctx-call($name)>> multiple times in the scope of an override subroutine is the only way to get Constant::Export::Lazy to call a L/<call> subroutine multiple times. We otherwise guarantee that these subs are only called once (as discussed in "It's lazy" and "call").


This callback will be called after we've just interned a new constant into the symbol table. In addition to the context object this will also get $name, $value and $source arguments. The $name argument is the name of the constant we just defined, $value is its value, and $source is either "override" or "callback" depending on how the constant was defined. I.e. via "override" or directly via "call".

This was added to support replacing modules that in addition to just defining constants might also want to check them for well-formedness after they're defined, or push known constants to a hash somewhere so they can all be retrieved by some complimentary API that e.g. spews out "all known settings".


This is a reference that you can provide for your own use, we don't care what's in it. It'll be accessible via the context object's stash method (e.g. <my $stash = $ctx-stash> for "call", /override and /after calls relevant to its scope, i.e. global if you define it globally, otherwise local if it's defined locally.


As discussed above we pass around a context object to all callbacks that you can define. See $ctx in the "SYNOPSIS" for examples.

This objects has only two methods:


Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason <avar@cpan.org>

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