The face of the CPAN

One of the things that people were emphasizing at YAPC::NA::2010 was the importance of marketing and framing Perl. Another thing we learned is that the CPAN is the "language" for our Perl "virtual machine."

If you were telling a novice Perl developer about the CPAN, which web site would you send them to?

Perform a Google search for "cpan" and notice that is returned as the first result. Don't get me wrong, is a great resource for developers. However, I don't think that it gives a very good first impression. seems to be an improvement, in my opinion.

What should the face of the CPAN be like?

No one wants to step on any toes. Is "well volunteered" or "patches welcome" friendly?

Or would we be better off referring and linking to the other faces of the CPAN?


The face of CPAN I like to see is IMHO it's easily the most useful ;)

My guess (but correct me if i'm wrong) is that most people that end up at are actually really looking for If that is the case, then the homepage doesn't do a very good job - the link to the search is 3rd down on the right hand list. Shouldn't it be more prominent? or even have a search box right there on the homepage?

On top of that it looks like the webiste that time forgot... which doesn't much help foster the 'modern' image that the Perl community seems to be striving for.

I support the " suggestion", (probably) the most used and most useful...

But if a switch occurs, a link to would definitely be a good idea...

I like as well, but with the addition of easy-to-use introductory text, links to popular modules, etc. (possibly instead of the module list links)

I don't understand how orders its results; very old modules which haven't been updated since the 1990s often come before the newer and better modules when searching.

Well, is useful in that you can actually search, although the search engine is fairly primitive (no insult intended, but its just a classic word match system) and I can find what I am looking for if I mostly know what I want. However I would say this is far from a useful way to explore CPAN. Its certainly very 'old school', like the way Yahoo was in the old days when there was no search just a user curated directory. That's not working for us anymore, obviously.

I agree in principle that we need something better, but I'm not sure what. In my head I'm seeing a cross between github and cpan with comments and tutorials but thats a lot of work and I don't hear of anyone with the time.

For now I usually point people to stuff like Task::Kensho or links to the stuff I think is useful. But I agree the way it is is very hard for newcomers. In fact we probably drive people off with the current system, I know a lot of professional perl programmers that avoid cpan mostly due to the trouble of finding the right thing, the difficulty of understanding what is the right thing, etc.

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About Jesse Thompson

user-pic I blog about Perl.