Want a copy of the Camel book for $4 including shipping? Trying to find a first edition of some obscure tome? BookFinder.com has been finding books for a decade now, and it's all Perl.
I visited BookFinder.com HQ in Berkeley, California a couple of weeks ago and met with Anirvan Chatterjee and Charlie Hsu, some of the brains behind the site. We talked about books, CPAN, test driven development, CPAN, books, and CPAN.
The guys have been using Perl and Mason web framework since the beginning, but they've more recently become fans of Perl's test modules, such as Test::More. Anirvan tells me they have 33,000 tests spread across 85 test files. "It's really been making refactoring a whole lot easier." He admits, though, that he's not thinking in tests yet for some of their database workflows. Luckily most of the code on CPAN has tests. "It's part of the culture -- to see the tests, they're just there. There's always something you can look at and say, 'oh, that's how they did it.'"
Other favourite Perl modules? The guys listed:
- List::MoreUtils -- "They're tiny, but they save me five lines of code, each one," says Charlie
- Geography::Countries and Geo::Distance, which BookFinder.com uses to figure out shipping rates around the world.
- Locale::Maketext for i18n. "We're localised for 4 or 5 different locales right now, and it's been really fun and challenging. We had to take this huge codebase and make every little bit of it localised, and L::M made it work for us."
Anirvan also described Perl::Critic and Perl::Tidy as "life-changing". They've contributed some patches back to Perl::Critic to help it run on Perl 5.6, as well as contributing patches to other open source projects, such as SpamAssassin.
So far, however, BookFinder.com's involvement in the Perl community has mostly been online. Anirvan admitted, "The concept of the Perl community never really came alive for me until recently, when I started listening to Perlcast. I realised, hey, there are really people out there, talking about Perl. Just listening to Perlcast has made me think that I need to get to YAPC one of these years." So hopefully you'll be seeing the guys at an upcoming Perl conference or two.
As it happens BookFinder.com are hiring. I asked them for their pitch. "We're a developer driven company -- all Perl nerds here. And we're committed to using the powers of Perl to make sense of really, really dirty data. You can affect the direction of the company. Only two other people here! We're stable, because we're owned by a larger company but we operate as a totally independent unit. So we have health benefits and all that." You can read their job ad on jobs.perl.org.