Following on from my previous post on CPAN terminology, this one focusses on the model and terminology related to dependencies: the modules that your dist uses, and the other CPAN distributions that use yours.

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This is a collection of terms related to CPAN and CPAN distributions. I've often looked for such a thing, wanting to link from it in blog posts and the like, or somewhere to direct people to (such as PRC participants).

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There are some distributions on CPAN that were last released 20 years or so ago. Understandably many of them don't follow many of the conventions that we expect today, and some of them fail all their tests, and have for a while. I think we should do something about these dists: either update them to be well-behaved modern distributions, or remove them from CPAN. They'll continue to be available on BackPAN. Here I'll go through a batch of the oldest.

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This blog post describes a model that we found useful for talking about CPAN dependencies and reverse dependencies at the QA Hackathon. At the head of the river is Perl itself with the core modules. The river flows into the sea, which contains all distributions that aren't used by any other distribution. Other distributions sit somewhere along the river, their position determined by their reverse dependencies. This post introduces the core concepts, but nothing more.

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This blog post outlines an idea for a service that informs people when their CPAN distributions gain reverse dependencies. Many authors are probably not even aware that their distributions have reverse dependencies, and what the implications of that can be. Sending them an email gives us a chance to congratulate and engage authors, but also to educate and encourage them in some new practices.

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This blog post outlines an idea for a service where people can register that they're using (i.e. dependent / reliant on) a CPAN distribution. This would provide additional information about which distributions underpin the Perl world, and if the registrants were contactable, it would help authors minimise breakages when making changes.

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We recently established an informal metadata standard for marking a distribution as deprecated, using the x_deprecated key. This is useful when automatically processing distributions, rather than pattern matching on the word 'deprecated' and variants. MetaCPAN will probably visually identify a distribution as deprecated based on this metadata. Here I'll describe how to add this to a distribution, using some of the distribution builders.

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I think it would be helpful to establish (more of) a convention for recording your todo list for a distribution with the distribution itself. Some dists already have a TODO file. I can't find any proposed conventions for this (eg in Perl Best Practices), so how about we say it's markdown, call it TODO.md, and get MetaCPAN to present it on a distribution's home page, like it does for the Changes in the most recent release?

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Email me to sign up for the 2015 CPAN pull request challenge! Each month I'll assign you a CPAN distribution, randomly selected. You'll have a month to submit a pull request.

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CPAN is awesome - it's "the killer feature for Perl". And you know who we've got to thank for that? Us! CPAN is a rambling random hodge-podge of code; dozens of duplicates; variable quality of code, documentation, test coverage and run-time performance. And d'you know who's to blame? Us!

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