Perl 5 has two separate poles around which we users orbit when considering the historical stages of Perl 5 adoption: system administrators and developers.
While explaining the meaning of the phrase "Modern Perl" the other day, I realized that there are two categories of users of Perl 5 when we consider the use of Perl 5.
One category uses Perl 5 because it's ubiquitous. It's already installed and configured (whether as part of the default OS installation or a shared hosting package or a helpful system administrator). It's easy to begin. Copious tutorials abound, the core libraries are sufficient, and Perl's lack of ceremony means that they can write baby Perl and get their jobs done and that's as far as it goes.
You're in the other category, almost assuredly. I am. We use the CPAN. We look forward to upgrading to Perl 5.14 and Perl 5.16. We see something like MooseX::Declare or Plack::Middleware::Auth::Basic and can't wait to replace custom code in our applications with a component other people have written, documented, tested, and maintained. We're comfortable with a community built around the simple structures that have arisen from community consensus regarding the CPAN.
Modern Perl, as I see it, is an invitation for the people in the first group to join us in the second group.
With that said, we must keep in mind the concerns of the first group:
- I'm not necessarily a programmer.
- I'm not necessarily a system administrator.
- I don't understand how to manage dependencies effectively.
- I don't know which modules to use.
- I'm stuck with an ancient version of Perl 5.
- I don't know which book or tutorial to read.
... while removing technical and social barriers to encourage them to join the second:
- Improving the development process and release schedule of Perl 5 to help supported (read "Modern") versions of Perl 5 spread
- Making CPAN distributions available without requiring root access
- Making CPAN configuration and use simpler and faster
- Improving documentation beyond API references
- Replacing XS (and the need for a compiler) with Ctypes for Perl
- Improving the introductory material for Perl beginners
... and more.
Not everyone in the first group will migrate to the second, but given that the evolution of Perl 5 is primarily in the hands of the CPAN these days, we can only do novices a service by making the CPAN ecosystem—code and tribal knowledge—available.