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How lazy am I?

Occasionally I find myself running some random Perl script from a Github gist or dealing with some code from a colleague that doesn’t have proper dependency management (yet). It’s a bit painful to

  • run the script
  • wait for it to die on a failed dependency
  • install the missing dependency
  • re-run the script
  • wait for it to die
  • install the missing dependency
  • rinse
  • lather
  • repeat

Being lazy

I was aware of Acme::Magic::Pony. It already solves this problem, but it uses cpan for the installation. lib::xi also solves this problem, but does this via cpanm. (I was only made aware of lib::xi later). I’ve lately been using App::cpm to install modules, so I wanted a solution that would also use App::cpm. I came up with something which I’ve been using for my own needs. I’m now ready for the general public to tell me how bad of an idea it really is. Drum roll please…

I give you lazy.

Let’s take an example script, called foo.pl:

If you are missing an installed module, your output might look something like:

Let’s try re-invoking this script, but this time with lazy:

perl -Mlazy foo.pl

This will attempt to install any missing dependencies in a place where they are globally available to you. If all goes well you’ll be installing dependencies and running your code all in one invocation of your script. Does it work? Let’s test it.

It did work and it was pretty painless. lazy noticed that a module (Open::This) was missing, so it installed it, loaded it and then allowed the script successfully to run to completion.

(Note that the above script is giving you the arguments which you could pass to an editor, like vim to open up LWP::UserAgent at the line where sub new is defined. I hope to get to Open::This in a subsequent blog post.)

That’s enough information to make you dangerous. At this point you can stop reading and get on with your life. If you’d like to see some more advanced use cases, read on.

Using an arbitrary local::lib

If you’d like to keep the new dependencies in a sandbox, you can do this:

perl -Mlocal::lib=my_sandbox -Mlazy foo.pl

This will install the missing modules to the my_sandbox folder and it will also use this folder to find them. Your install might look something like:

But wait, there’s more!

Using a default local::lib

If you’re too lazy to specify a local directory, but you still want to use a local lib, lazy will use whatever your first default local::lib install location is:

perl -Mlocal::lib -Mlazy foo.pl

In my case it looks like:

But wait, there’s more!

Passing args to cpm

If you want to pass some extra flags to cpm you can do this by passing them to lazy:

perl -Mlazy=-v foo.pl

This switches on cpm‘s verbose reporting. The first part of the output now looks like:

Now, if you also want to remove the colour from this reporting, that’s easy enough:

perl -Mlazy=-v,--no-color foo.pl

Maybe you want to install man pages too:

perl -Mlazy=-v,--no-color,--man-pages foo.pl

Check cpm --help for a more exhaustive list of available options.

Anything you can do via command line switches, you can also do directly in your code.

In Your Editor

This whole thing got me thinking about a vim integration. In my case I’ve added the following to my .vimrc:

nnoremap <leader>l :!perl -Mlazy -c %:p

This essentially means that in my editor, if I type ,l then vim helpfully takes the name of the file I’m currently working on (Foo.pm) and runs perl -Mlazy -c Foo.pm. Since lazy will still be invoked when run via -c we don’t even have to run code to install modules. We can essentially just run a compile check and this sets the module installation chain of events into motion. I can install missing modules without leaving my editor.

Now, this is where the pedants among you speak up and say “but -c does run code in BEGIN and CHECK blocks”. See more discussion at https://stackoverflow.com/a/12908487/406224. Essentially code could be run under -c and it’s helpful to be aware of this, for security reasons.

In Your Linter

As an https://github.com/w0rp/ale + vim user, I’ve been using SKAJI’s syntax-check-perl plugin for https://github.com/w0rp/ale. Since this linter runs your code via -c, adding a use lazy; to your code will install your CPAN modules on demand, every time your linter runs. So, it’s possible for your modules to be installed asynchronously as you happily go about writing your code. Just be sure to add a use lazy; to the code you are writing. This statement must be before any modules which you would like to be auto-installed.

Wrapping Up

You get the idea. I’d be tickled if you decided to give lazy a spin and then headed over to Github to tell me all the things that it doesn’t do correctly. 🙂