2008Q4 Grant Proposal: CPAN::Forum development

  • Name: Gabor Szabo
  • Project Title: CPAN::Forum development
  • Synopsis: Lots of general improvements of CPAN::Forum.

Gabor Szabo

Project Title:
CPAN::Forum development

Lots of general improvements of CPAN::Forum.

Benefits to the Perl Community:
CPAN::Forum has been around for several years now and it is linked from both major search engines but it is under utilized. Improving its interface will make it easier for users to ask questions regarding specific modules.

The whole idea of CPAN::Forum was to provide an alternative to setting up module specific mailing lists so with one registration one can participate in several sub-forums.

Improved tagging and exporting it to the search engines will allow users to find related modules easier than today. Allowing a simple rating of a modules (or integration with CPANRATINGS) along with a trust system will lead to a better way to select the right modules.


  • threaded view
  • enable javascript version of the tags view and tags editing for easy integration with other web sites so search.cpan.org and kobesearch.cpan.org or anyone else will be able to show the tags of a module and related tags.
  • enable marking modules as recommended or favorite
  • make markup easier to use
  • allow people to edit their posts after submission
  • allow module authors to identify themselves for extra administrative bits
  • allow people to "trust" a module author and to "trust" the opinion of another user to see which modules are recommended
  • Session information: remember logged in user
  • One-time notification of module author when the first post arrives to one of her modules.
  • Posting a message under more than one distribution
  • Exporting all the data (except of the personal information) to be reusable by anyone trying to improve CPAN searching tools.

The code is distributed under the "perl" license as CPAN::Forum. The service is is available at http://www.cpanforum.com/

Project Details:
First the project directory have to be cleaned up. I'll have to add lots of unit-tests and make sure the service runs on mod_perl. It also has to be moved to a new server.

The release mechanism has to be fixed. So the web-site will always run released versions of the code.

The rest is "just a matter of coding".

Project Schedule:
I plan to begin the project immediately and finish it within 3 months.

Gabor Szabo has been programming Perl since 1995 and teaching it since 2000. He has several modules on CPAN and has contributed to many other modules including ack. Gabor is the primary author and maintainer of CPAN::Forum.

See also http://szabgab.com/ http://www.cpanforum.com/ and http://svn1.hostlocal.com/cpan-forum/trunk/TODO

Amount Requested:
USD 3000



Need to make this a better resource.

Some of the deliverables seem redundant with existing tools, like cpanratings. On the other hand, there are several usability issues with cpanratings, so maybe this is a good step? The trust feature sounds cool, but complicated.

This is my favorite among Gabor's three proposals. It has the most obvious benefit to the community, since cpanforum is already the de-factor bulletin board for CPAN. I do think users get confused whether to post to RT or cpanforum or just email the author (or post to PerlMonks or StackOverflow or ...), though, so I'm interested in future proposals to address that space.

I don't think this is a good use of the Foundation's money. Web forums are a poor replacement for mailing lists, doubly so for the sort of people who use modules from the CPAN, who tend to be already on several mailing lists and like to have discussions delivered to them instead of having to remember to check several online places, and put up with someone elses idea of a good user interface.

Personally I never found online forums a productive tool for discussions. I find an email client with all the offline capabilities it has a much superior tool.

But I know that there are those who prefer online forums.

If the system includes an associated mailing list, I would very much welcome such a system. If not, then I think we have enough online web forum systems we can use.

Best regards,

In an ideal world the users would all subscribe to our project mail lists and do what we want (or, what suits us authors best). But of course that's not going to be the case!

I get a mix of RT, CPAN Forum, and direct Email contact in support of my modules, and the key point is that I am *glad* for this. It means all users can choose the method they are most comfortable with. There are many users who are very familiar with forums (phpbb etc) and naturally gravitate to that. I wouldn't wish to reject those users.

Sometimes I bounce Forum or personal Email into RT, which is fine. But the Forum is important, and desperately needs some work to make it smoother for all to use.

I vote my support for this proposal.

However, it's a lot of money and I hope the web user interface is going to get a lot better, and that features such as being able to reply via Email to my Email CCs of postings becomes possible. There is not much detail of the interface enhancements in the proposal.

Let me address the mailing list issues. CPAN::Forum already provides both an optional e-mail and rss feed of the posts in selected sub-forums.

I've forgotten to add it to the original proposal but I'd also like to add an email2forum gateway so people can answer emails sent by the forum by replying in e-mail.

We can then hook up this into existing mailing lists so project that do already have mailing lists will be able to use that only and let other, who prefer the web forums, use that.

While I do think this is an important feature I also think that many people will prefer to use web forums. See the success of PerlMonks for example.

I strongly agree with Oliver and feel that CPAN would do well to try to overcome its UNIX orientation, this will allow greater interaction from the DARKPAN. I say this being a debian person who prefers mailing lists.

I also think Gabor is the right man for the job since he is very results oriented, a man of his word, and makes good decisions about design and functionality.

This is a very good use of the Foundation's money.

"CPAN::Forum development"
it isn't the good idea to spend the money!

About TPF

The Perl Foundation - supporting the Perl community since 2000. Find out more at www.perlfoundation.org.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Alberto Simões published on November 2, 2008 10:08 PM.

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