# Packages and modules

# Using a module

use Cwd;

This will import the Cwd module at compile time and import its default symbols, i.e. make some of the module's variables and functions available to the code using it. (See also: perldoc -f use (opens new window).)

Generally this is will do the right thing. Sometimes, however, you will want to control which symbols are imported. Add a list of symbols after the module name to export:

use Cwd 'abs_path';

If you do this, only the symbols you specify will be imported (ie, the default set will not be imported).

When importing multiple symbols, it is idiomatic to use the qw() list-building construct:

use Cwd qw(abs_path realpath);

Some modules export a subset of their symbols, but can be told to export everything with :all:

use Benchmark ':all';

(Note that not all modules recognize or use the :all tag).

# Loading a module at runtime

require Exporter;

This will ensure that the Exporter module is loaded at runtime if it hasn't already been imported. (See also: perldoc -f require (opens new window).)

N.B.: Most users should use modules rather than require them. Unlike use, require does not call the module's import method and is executed at runtime, not during the compile.

This way of loading modules is useful if you can't decide what modules you need before runtime, such as with a plugin system:

package My::Module;
my @plugins = qw( One Two );
foreach my $plugin (@plugins) {
    my $module = __PACKAGE__ . "::Plugins::$plugin";
    $module =~ s!::!/!g;
    require "$module.pm";

This would try to load My::Package::Plugins::One and My::Package::Plugins::Two. @plugins should of course come from some user input or a config file for this to make sense. Note the substitution operator s!::!/!g that replaces each pair of colons with a slash. This is because you can load modules using the familiar module name syntax from use only if the module name is a bareword. If you pass a string or a variable, it must contain a file name.

# Using a module inside a directory

use lib 'includes';
use MySuperCoolModule;

use lib 'includes'; adds the relative directory includes/ as another module search path in @INC. So assume that you have a module file MySyperCoolModule.pm inside includes/, which contains:

package MySuperCoolModule;

If you want, you can group as many modules of your own inside a single directory and make them findable with one use lib statement.

At this point, using the subroutines in the module will require prefixing the subroutine name with the package name:

MySuperCoolModule::SuperCoolSub_1("Super Cool String");

To be able to use the subroutines without the prefix, you need to export the subroutine names so that they are recognised by the program calling them. Exporting can be set up to be automatic, thus:

package MySuperCoolModule;
use base 'Exporter';
our @EXPORT = ('SuperCoolSub_1', 'SuperCoolSub_2');

Then in the file that uses the module, those subroutines will be automatically available:

use MySuperCoolModule;
SuperCoolSub_1("Super Cool String");

Or you can set up the module to conditionally export subroutines, thus:

package MySuperCoolModule;
use base 'Exporter';
our @EXPORT_OK = ('SuperCoolSub_1', 'SuperCoolSub_2');

In which case, you need to explicitly request the desired subroutines to be exported in the script that uses the module:

use MySuperCoolModule 'SuperCoolSub_1';
SuperCoolSub_1("Super Cool String");

# Executing the contents of another file

do './config.pl';

This will read in the contents of the config.pl file and execute it. (See also: perldoc -f do (opens new window).)

N.B.: Avoid do unless golfing or something as there is no error checking. For including library modules, use require or use.

# CPAN.pm

CPAN.pm (opens new window) is a Perl module which allows to query and install modules from CPAN sites.

It supports interactive mode invoked with



perl -MCPAN -e shell

Querying modules

By name:

cpan> m MooseX::YAML

By a regex against module name:

cpan> m /^XML::/

Note: to enable a pager or redirecting to a file use | or > shell redirection (spaces are mandatory around the | and >), e.g.: m /^XML::/ | less.

By distribution:

cpan> d LMC/Net-Squid-Auth-Engine-0.04.tar.gz

Installing modules

By name:

cpan> install MooseX::YAML

By distribution:

cpan> install LMC/Net-Squid-Auth-Engine-0.04.tar.gz

# List all installed modules

From command line:

cpan -l

From a Perl script:

use ExtUtils::Installed;
my $inst = ExtUtils::Installed->new();
my @modules = $inst->modules();

# Syntax

  • require Module::Name; # Require by name from @INC
  • require "path/to/file.pm"; # Require by relative path from @INC
  • use Module::Name; # require and default import at BEGIN
  • use Module::Name (); # require and no import at BEGIN
  • use Module::Name (@ARGS); # require and import with args at BEGIN
  • use Module::Name VERSION; # require, version check, and default import at BEGIN
  • use Module::Name VERSION (); # require, version check, and no import at BEGIN
  • use Module::Name VERSION (@ARGS); # require, version check, import with args at BEGIN
  • do "path/to/file.pl"; # load and eval the given file