By Curtis Jewell
You may have heard about a new and larger Perl distribution for Windows called "Strawberry Perl Professional". The idea behind it was known as "Chocolate Perl". You may have heard that name, too. What does that mean for Strawberry Perl for Windows, and for Perl in general?
Don't worry, Strawberry Perl will still be maintained. In fact, Strawberry Perl Professional would not be possible without Strawberry Perl as it has been for the past few years, and is directly installable on top of Strawberry Perl. The ideas behind Strawberry Perl and Strawberry Perl Professional overlap, but are subtly different.
Strawberry Perl is made for the "intermediate-to-expert" Perl programmer (although even newbies can use it), who is likely to be coming over from Unix and is needing to write Perl scripts and modules in the Windows environment. The goal is to be as close to the Perl experience on Unix as possible, and with a minimum of problems, while still staying native to Windows.
The goals of the modules that Strawberry Perl includes, therefore, are:
- To be able to install other Perl modules easier, whether from CPAN, from .par files, or .ppm files.
- To include hard-to-install modules (the databases, and the cryptographic toolchain).
Strawberry Perl Professional is made for the Perl programmer of any (or even no) experience writing Perl in or for the Windows environment, and includes in addition:
- Modules that significant segments of the Perl community use on a regular basis (BioPerl, Catalyst.)
- Modules that help improve the quality and readability of the Perl code being written, and make releasing Perl programs and modules easier.
- Graphical programs to assist in maintenance and debugging of Perl code, viewing Perl documentation, and installing Perl modules.
To this end, Strawberry Perl Professional includes Padre as an IDE, and also includes a graphical CPANPLUS shell and Plain Old Documentation viewer. It also includes most of the modules in Task::Kensho, and more links to websites for the Perl community, especially relating to the installed modules, and introductions to programming Perl.
If you want to test out the first alpha version of Strawberry Perl Professional, read the announcement (so you know what you're getting into) and then go to the Strawberry Perl beta page and download and install it. Suggestions for improvements, and bug fixes to the component modules, are certainly welcome - I've already been given quite a few.
Curtis Jewell has been helping build and write Strawberry Perl for Windows for the past year, and also reports bugs and sends patches to other Perl projects.