Managing Boilerplate with Import::Base
Boilerplate is everything I hate about programming:
- Doing the same thing more than once
- Leaving clutter in every file
- Making it harder to change things in the future
- Eventually blindly copying without understanding (cargo-cult programming)
In an effort to reduce some of my boilerplate, I wrote
Import::Base a module to collect and
import useful bundles of modules, removing the need for long lists of
As I've grown as a Perl programmer, I've added more and more to my standard
preamble for all but the most trivial Perl scripts.
use strict and
warnings are absolute requirements. I want to use modern Perl's features like
state, and others, so I'll import a feature bundle with
":5.10". If I'm working on things I don't plan to share the code on CPAN, I
can go all the way to
use experimental qw( signatures postfix_deref ).
For class modules, I need to
use Types::Standard, and more. For
roles, I need to
use Moo::Role instead of Moo. If the project uses Moose, I
need to use Moose's version of those things instead of Moo's version (or, in
the case of Type::Tiny, make sure to use a Moo/Moose agnostic pattern).
For tests, I have a lot more.
use Test::Deep, and
Test::Differences, are my go-to comparison set. My best practices also include
use File::Temp, which requires that I
use File::Spec::Functions, and
FindBin so I can locate the t/share directory for ancillary test files.
For command-line scripts, I have
qw( GetOptionsFromArray ), in addition to my standard boilerplate of strict,
warnings, and features.
And every project I write has imports that are used in just about every module: YAML, JSON, Path::Tiny, and project-specific utility modules.
My standard solution was as simple and blunt as it could be: Copy and paste.
Besides being a stupidly-lazy solution, it left me with a problem: How could I
modify all my modules to use a new feature bundle? Should I brush up on my
sed(1) or write a Perl one-liner? What happens when I want to use a different
module with an equivalent API, like changing to use YAML::XS instead of
YAML::PP? How can I make a new module quickly available to all my classes, or
all my roles, or all my tests, or all my scripts?
All these questions boiled down to: If I copy/paste my boilerplate everywhere, what happens when my boilerplate changes? This is why I hate boilerplate.
With Import::Into, we have a way to remove a massive block of imports from our boilerplate. Using Import::Into, I wrote a simple class to manage my imports, and allow me to quickly create different bundles of imports to use in different situations: Import::Base.
With Import::Base, you build a list of imports in a module. When someone imports your module, they get all your imports. They can also subclass your module to add or remove what your module imports.
A common base module should probably include strict, warnings, and a feature set.
package My::Base; use base 'Import::Base'; our @IMPORT_MODULES = ( 'strict', 'warnings', feature => [qw( :5.14 )], );
Now we can consume our base module by doing:
package My::Module; use My::Base;
Which is equivalent to:
package My::Module; use strict; use warnings; use feature qw( :5.14 );
Now when we want to change our feature set, we only need to edit one file!
In addition to a set of modules, we can also create optional bundles:
package My::Base; use base 'Import::Base'; # Modules that will always be included our @IMPORT_MODULES 'strict', 'warnings', feature => [qw( :5.14 )], experimental => [qw( signatures )], ); # Named bundles to include our %IMPORT_BUNDLES = ( Class => [ 'Moo', 'Types::Standard' => [qw( :all )] ], Role => [ 'Moo::Role', 'Types::Standard' => [qw( :all )] ], Test => [qw( Test::More Test::Deep )], );
Now we can choose one or more bundles to include:
# lib/MyClass.pm use My::Base 'Class'; # t/mytest.t use My::Base 'Test'; # t/lib/MyTest.pm use My::Base 'Test', 'Class';
What makes Import::Base more useful than rolling your own with Import::Into is the granular control you can get on the consuming side. On a case-by-case basis, individual imports can be removed if they conflict with something in the module (a name collision, for example). Then, the offending module can be used directly.
package My::StrangeClass; use My::Base 'Class', -exclude => [ 'Types::Standard' ]; use Types::Standard qw( Str );
Boilerplate is everything I hate about programming. With Import::Base, I can remove boilerplate and replace it with a single line describing what the module needs.