Dist::Zilla haters, stop your whining

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Some people just love to hate. And some of them love to blog their hate.

Dist::Zilla seems to rub some people wrong way. Here are some of the typical complaints I’ve seen or heard:

  • It’s good for authors but not contributors
  • I have to install half of CPAN to contribute
  • There’s no Makefile.PL or Build.PL in the code repository
  • I can’t install it from github

Well, sure. It is good for authors.

It was written by Ricardo Signes (RJBS), who is possibly the most prolific CPAN author to date. According to the CPAN Report, Ricardo released 230 distributions in 2013. Oh, and did I mention that he is the Perl Pumpking, too?

If you look at heavy Dist::Zilla users, you’ll find a who’s who of very active and involved CPAN contributors. These are people who spend a lot of time publishing code for the benefit of the broader Perl community.

So here’s my problem with whining about how their use of Dist::Zilla makes it hard to contribute:

You’re telling some extremely prolific CPAN contributors to be less productive for your convenience.

That’s asinine!

You ought to be thanking them for finding a tool that lets them give so much of their time to the Perl community. You ought to be bending over backwards to do it their way, even if that means a few extra minutes of your time.

You sure as hell shouldn’t be wasting any of their time or morale complaining about how they manage their code.

That said, there are ways to mitigate Dist::Zilla contributor-shock and I’ve been encouraging Dist::Zilla users to make such changes. One huge help is providing better documentation for how to contribute.

Here’s all it takes for most of my own distributions (note, no Dist::Zilla required):

$ git clone git://github.com/dagolden/...whatever...
    $ cd whatever
    $ cpanm --installdeps .
    # hack, hack, hack
    $ prove -l

If that’s too hard for you, I’m not sure I want your contributions anyway.

Maybe bitching about Dist::Zilla will make some potential new adopters think twice. Or maybe not.

Do you think people would rather listen to the guy releasing 230 distributions a year to CPAN or to the guy complaining about how he did it?

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