Tutorials for modules

TL;DR

Some thoughts about writing tutorials for Perl modules.

It’s no secret I love Perl and I have some modules in CPAN. I’m the main consumer of my modules (which is a generous way to say the only…) but a rather happy one, because I actually make use of the from time to time, and find the documentation up to my expectations.

Well… mostly.

I tend to focus documentation on being a good reference (with dubious results, as future me sometimes finds out), but it’s terribly lacking from the point of view of using the module quickly.

Module App::Easer is no exception: there are definitely some edges that can benefit from some smoothing. This is where I think that one or more tutorials would be perfect.

And this is also where I enter the rabbit hole.

As a general rule, I want to be as general as possible. Any doc I write should be readable from the command line through the venerable perldoc, as well as on metacpan.org, as well as on GitHub.

The natural choice is then to write the tutorial(s) in Plain Old Documentation format: its support in Perl is… excellent, of course, and GitHub renders it great too (e.g. see the documentation for App::Easer 0.007).

So… problem solved, right? POD to the rescue, right?

Well, not so fast.

I like writing in Markdown better, to the point that I often use it inside modules documentation, which does not get me what I want. Additionally, I’d also like these tutorials to work fine as a small website for the modules, which would be a no-brainer with Markdown because I could just push the files and everything would be all right.

Hence, I’m actually thinking about writing the documentation in Markdown, and then convert it back to POD to also ship it with the modules themselves.

Then - possibly - switch to POD as the main source and use it to generate the tutorial’s website. Why? My understanding is that the pipelines from POD to something else (remember Pod::Markdown and Pod::Markdown::Github for the win!) are somehow less brittle (or heavy) than the other way around, so it’s also hopefully easier to automate the conversion completely.

Time will tell. In the meantime… stay safe!


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