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Introducing CPANHQ and a Response to Limbic Region's "Improving search.cpan.org (Advanced Search)" - Shlomif's Technical Posts Community [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Introducing CPANHQ and a Response to Limbic Region's "Improving search.cpan.org (Advanced Search)" [Jun. 28th, 2009|02:56 pm]
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Limbic Region recently wrote a post on his use Perl journal titled "Improving search.cpan.org (Advanced Search)". The post concludes by saying that "Feel free to add your own [ideas] - I know someone who may actually be motivated to implement some of them as an alternate to search.cpan.org is reading :-)". Since I talked with L~R about CPANHQ, a seacrch.capn.org alternative in question, that I have been contributing to, I can assume meant me.

Before I reply to L~R's points, let me introduce CPANHQ. As documented in the first and only wiki page it has so far (which I wrote two days ago), "CPANHQ aims to be a community-driven, meta-data-enhanced alternative to such sites as http://search.cpan.org/ and http://kobesearch.cpan.org/. Currently, the functionality is very basic, but we have great ambitions."

I learned about CPANHQ by overhearing a conversation on Freenode's #perl channel. I joined the effort, and made several enhancements to the Catalyst and DBIx-Class-based code, which was a useful learning experience. The functionality is still very basic, and there's a lot of work to do, so any help would be appreciated. Just fork the github repository ( or my repository, which I tend to keep somewhat more up-to-date ), and play with the code.

Now back to L~R's suggestions. At first I was a bit sceptical of them and they seemed like an overkill, and not really useful. When I'm using search.cpan.org to search for a distribution, either I know the name of the module that I'm looking for and just perform a search to be directed to the location of the exact page, or I usually find the order of the search sufficient for my needs.

However, on a second reading, it seems like what Limbic suggests (like being able to sort results by Kwalitee, creation date, number of downloads, last update date, rating, etc., providing a code search, or recommendations) actually has some merit and should be considered. One thing I'm sure about is that the default CPAN search should remain simple, while only giving an option for an advances search using a different form, where it might be possible to formulate a more complex query using a specialised language. Otherwise, if we complicate the existing search, it could prove confusing to many users.

L~R's suggestions remind me of my CPAN Module-Rank thought experiment, that aimed to define an automatically calculated metric for the relevance of CPAN modules.

L~R later referred me to a post to Perlmonks.org titled "Advanced CPAN Search?" where someone asks a similar question.

To sum up, please consider monitoring or even contributing to CPANHQ if you want to improve the future of finding stuff and interacting with CPAN. It seems that some people have issue with the current CPAN search state-of-the-art, and would like to see it improved. We'd be happy to hear what you think.