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Perlbuzz news roundup for 2012-08-13

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These links are collected from the Perlbuzz Twitter feed. If you have suggestions for news bits, please mail me at andy@perlbuzz.com.

Announcing Strawberry Perl Professional

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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:

  1. To be able to install other Perl modules easier, whether from CPAN, from .par files, or .ppm files.
  2. 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:

  1. Modules that significant segments of the Perl community use on a regular basis (BioPerl, Catalyst.)
  2. Modules that help improve the quality and readability of the Perl code being written, and make releasing Perl programs and modules easier.
  3. 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.

Microsoft will support CPAN authors with free access to Windows machines

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Adam Kennedy's announcement tells the long story, but the short version is this: Microsoft will be providing every CPAN author with free access to a centrally-hosted virtual machine environment containing every major version of Windows.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will CPAN authors use the resources from Microsoft to make sure that our modules work on Windows? I know that I'm especially interested because I want ack to be transparently cross-platform. Anything I can do to help get ack out on Windows boxen, to help Windows programmers know that the command-line can be better than an IDE, is a win.

This is pretty big, and I'm glad to see Microsoft providing this service. I'm especially thankful for Adam putting what I'm sure was a huge number of hours making this happen. I'm glad we have him on our side.

Perl debuts in the Microsoft 3rd Annual Scripting Games

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Jan Dubois posted about Microsoft's 3rd Annual Scripting Games, where you can win prizes for writing Perl programs to solve programming problems like "find a word that you can make out of a phone number," and "count the number of characters in a given text file."

I'd enter if there were interesting prizes, but all the prizes for Windows-only software packages. :-(

The future of Strawberry Perl

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Adam Kennedy is thinking about the future of Strawberry Perl.

In line with my attitude that the main Strawberry "product" should be conservative, reliable and predictable (I'm going with a rough analogy to Firefox product-wise) I've been thinking a little about how the release tempo should look. My current thinking for Strawberry Perl is to do quarterly releases, with a tentative schedule of releases in January/April/July/October and aiming at being available for download before the second Monday of the month.

In addition, he's asking for your ideas on features to include in the April 2008 release.

Strawberry Perl is all-inclusive

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Yesterday's article about Strawberry Perl referred to a blog post with incorrect installation instructions. All the downloading and installing discussed is just not necessary, even for CPAN installations. According to Adam Kennedy:

The install and setup process for Strawberry Perl is to uninstall any existing Perl, run the installer, and then run "cpan" or run it from the Start menu. There is no additional installation required.

How to install and set up Strawberry Perl

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Note: Beware of the instructions in the link below. It has you do far more work than is necessary. See this follow-up article for details.

Here's the first big blog post I've seen about Strawberry Perl: How to install and set up Strawberry Perl

I am writing this article with much joy and glee.... Active State no longer has a monopoly on the issue of Perl on the Windows platform

I haven't read the Strawberry Perl docs, since I'm Windows-free. The blog post gives details about what tools are necessary to make the install, with links to the tools. Now, I thought that part of Strawberry Perl was that you wouldn't need any external tools, but maybe they're just for building CPAN modules.

Strawberry Perl 5.10.0 now available

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Adam Kennedy has released his Strawberry Perl for Perl 5.10.0. Strawberry Perl is the Windows Perl distribution that's an alternative to ActiveState's distribution, and it includes tools for building CPAN modules natively, so you're not tied to ActiveState's PPM repository, which may not include the module you want to install, or may be behind a few versions.

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