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Functional Spec for a Classification Proposal of CPAN Modules:
---------------------------------------------------------------
This is a functional spec that describes a proposal for classification
of Perl distributions on CPAN. It describes a way to assign:
1. Freshmeat.net-like Trove categories. (Several of them).
2. Del.icio.us-like Tags/Labels. (Many; almost unlimited)
These can be assigned both by the authors and users of the modules. Tags which
the users assigned are distinguished from author tags, and normally gain
strength if more users assigned a certain tag to a certain module.
Phase 1: The Birth of an Editor:
--------------------------------
Richard M. Stallman (RMS) decides to release his
brand-new editor, "Emacs" on the CPAN with its first version 29.999.99.
In order to package it, he invokes the trusty ol' module-starter
(see http://search.cpan.org/dist/Module-Starter/ ) which
creates a skeleton of a CPAN distribution for him.
He fills in the skeleton with the actual code of Emacs, types
"perl Build.PL", and "./Build test" and makes sure all the tests pass. Then he
types "./Build config --gui" and gets a nice GUI to configure the various
parameters of the Module meta-data.[M-B-Data]
In the GUI, Richard goes to the Trove categorisation tab, and selects
categories. This is done in a similar way to Freshmeat's project
categorisation dialog (a list of options to the left, with selected options
to the right and arrows to move them left or right, while allowing multiple
select options.). He choose such categories as "Programming Language :: Lisp",
and "Intended Audience :: Emacs Users", "Operating System :: GNU", and
"Topic :: Editors". (Note: I believe the
category list should be fetched using a public web-service to keep them
up-to-date.)
Then he goes to the tags section. There he enters tags/labels to label
the editor. He can select more tags in the tag cloud, and re-use tags
of other CPAN modules or that he previously entered.
Eventually, he exits the configuration GUI while instructing it to
save all changes. The program saves the settings, and runs ./Build.PL again.
He then run ./Build disttest, ./Build dist and uploads the project to the
CPAN.[Force-to-Classify]
{Footnotes:
[M-B-Data] - since editing the Build.PL file directly is error-prone, I
suggest that Module::Build will be modified or extended to read the relevant and other
parameters from a YAML file specified and stored in the distribution. This is
the file that the GUI will edit.
[Force-to-Classify] - it is possible we want Module-Starter to force the user
to classify his CPAN distribution before he uploads it. One way to achive
it is to have a t/has-module-classification.t test that processes the data.
}
Phase 2: Second Birth of an editor:
-----------------------------------
After several weeks of having the editor on CPAN, Richard has received many
patches, and wrote a lot of code on his own. Now Emacs is not only an editor
but a calendar tool, an Eliza program, a web browser, a mail user agent
and many other things.
So in order to release version 30.000.00 he needs to update the categorisation.
He runs ./Build config --gui again, and adds more categories. However, he
enters too many categories (because Emacs now does them all), and the GUI
refuses to save the file because it will overflow the limit that the
web-service specified the CPAN classification services allow to handle. So
Richard keeps only the important categories, adds more tags, and saves it.
He then tests the distribution again, and uploads the new distribution to the
CPAN.
Phase 3: The 3rd-Party Developer
--------------------------------
Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft decides to use Richard Stallman's Emacs as the
basis of his company's state-of-the-art product Microsoft Editing Macros™
Enterprise Edition XP .NET Professional. However since MS Editing Macros™ is
a commercial, proprietary program which he intends to sell at computer stores,
Bill is not going to upload it to the CPAN. He builds upon Emacs, sends
patches to Richard and learns a lot about it.
When he's finished building Microsoft Editing Macros™ he surfs to the
Emacs homepage on CPAN, and adds some categories and tags of his own.
Eventually, enough people like Bill tag and categorise Emacs, and it gains
more classification.
Phase 4: Enhancing the CPAN Experience
--------------------------------------
kobesearch.cpan.org looks at the tags and categories that people tagged and
categorised and takes them into account. It presents a tag cloud like:
http://cpanforum.com/tags/
And has a browse-by-category feature like:
http://freshmeat.net/browse/18/
It also takes them into account in the searches, and displays them in the
distributions' homepage.