Home CPAN Turns Sweet 0x10: How it Changed the World

CPAN Turns Sweet 0x10: How it Changed the World

It seems like the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) has been around forever. Nope, just for 0x10, er, 16 years. Today marks the 16th anniversary of the announcement to comp.lang.perl.announce, which was the culmination of about two years of work by a number of Perl contributors like Jarkko Hietaniemi, Tom Christiansen, Randal Schwartz, and Bill Middleton.

Often known as Perl’s “killer app,” much of Perl’s popularity (which has waned, somewhat) could be credited to CPAN. As an archive of Perl modules and documentation, it serves as a toolkit for Perl programmers all over the world. Want to do something in Perl? Be sure to check CPAN before implementing something from scratch – the odds are that CPAN has something for just about any task with more than 100,000 modules written by more than 9,000 contributors.

CPAN is more than just a collection of modules and documentation. It includes tools like cpanm (CPAN Minus) to get and install modules from CPAN. As a former system administrator, I have both fond and not-so-fond memories of grabbing modules from CPAN.

CPAN is actually not the first of its kind. It was modeled after the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN), but CPAN has far surpassed CTAN in terms of influence.

Even if you’ve never programmed in Perl, you have felt CPAN’s influence if you’ve used PHP’s Extension and Application Repository (PEAR), Ruby Gems, Python’s Package Index (PyPI) or the direct descendant of CPAN, the JavaScript Archive Network (JSAN). The Perl folks have also passed down quite a bit of wisdom about large-scale open source projects with a lot of maintainers, different licenses and enormous mirror networks.

Though Perl may not be one of the hot topics these days, the language is doing just fine in terms of activity. A look at the stats for CPAN show plenty of activity in the last year.

So raise a glass (non-alcoholic, please – it’s only 16!) to CPAN, and wish it another successful 16 years. Hat tip to Nat Torkington for the link and reminder that today’s CPAN’s birthday.

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