Tel Aviv Perl Mongers: Getting started in open source

As SawyerX announced the next meeting of the Tel Aviv Perl Mongers will take place on this Wednesday, the 23 February. There are going to be two lightning talks but most of the time I am going to fill with a presentation on how to get involved in Open Source projects.

We have a web site for Perl in Israel that has a lot of content. It has some design but of course it could be improved a lot. That's one of the things I'd like to achieve. A better design for

For that we will also need to improve the way the site is built. That's what I am going to use as an example on how to get involved in open source.

It might be not as interesting as contributing to Dancer with the possibility of thousands or even millions of users but nevertheless it allows me to show some of the techniques required.

The web site of Perl in Israel

The website is currently a bunch of static files generated by a few perl scripts using HTML::Template. It is in a Subversion repository.

In order to make simple changes one needs to be able to do the following:

  1. use subversion to check out the current code
    We will install SVN if needed and learn a bit about it. Checking out the source of the web site using the following command:

        svn co

  2. We will need to install a few CPAN modules using the cpan command. If on Linux then first we will install local::lib following the bootstrapping instructions
  3. the we will build the web site locally:

       perl new_site_bin/ --outdir ~/tmp/

  4. We will make some changes to the templates. That's just plain editing but one needs to understand the structure of the project and the HTML::Template templating system.
  5. Then we generate the site again and check if the changes look good
  6. Create a patch using svn diff and send it to one of the people with commit bit on the repository.


Then we can start to change the actual code that generates the web site. Some of the tasks we have:

  • Make sure the code runs on Windows as well (I think this used to be a problem but I am not sure if this still is)
  • We will go over the code and the various templates.
  • Install, learn and use Perl::Critic on the code. See what does it complain about and fix the issues
  • We will try to improve the code, eliminate duplicates.
  • Unite all the script in a single script/module and allow the running the individual parts by providing flags. Thereby simplifying the parameter checking.
  • I used to have some issues that I had to update new things in several places: Adding an item to the main page that did not automatically showed up in the news bar on the right hand side.
  • Fix the RSS feed that seems to be broken

Published on 2011-02-20 by Gabor Szabo