Reading remote documentation
When I need to read Perl documentation, I use perldoc. I spend most of my time working at the terminal, so it’s convenient to drop to a command prompt and bring up the documentation for some module or command right there in the terminal.
Sometimes I need to check the documentation of a module I don’t have installed on my machine, and in those cases,
perldoc can’t help me. Instead I could use cpandoc, as it behaves like perldoc, but it will fetch remote documentation if the module is not installed on your system.
$ cpandoc Foo::Bar # displays Foo::Bar pod in pager app
cpandoc supports the same options as
perldoc, you can use it for useful tricks like browsing the source code for a module without installing it.
♥ Metacpan ♥
Now, reading documentation in the terminal is fine and all, but I really like metacpan’s distribution pages, which not only include documentation, but also incorporate CPAN Testers’ results, a release history, open issues, and other useful links and data. So lately I’ve taken to reading documentation on metacpan.
Getting there though, can be tiresome. I open a new browser tab, start typing “metacpan”, my browser then autocompletes it to the most recent metacpan address I viewed, which is inevitably not the one I want, so I highlight the module name in the URL, and replace it with the one I’m looking for.
After having performed this routine more times than I’d like to admit, I finally wrote a shell script to do it for me:
#!/bin/sh URL="https://metacpan.org/pod/$1" if [[ "$OSTYPE" == "linux-gnu" ]]; then xdg-open "$URL" &>/dev/null elif [[ "$OSTYPE" == "darwin"* ]]; then open "$URL" &>/dev/null elif [[ "$OSTYPE" == "cygwin" ]]; then cygstart "$URL" &>/dev/null elif [[ "$OSTYPE" == "msys" ]]; then start "$URL" elif [[ "$OSTYPE" == "win32" ]]; then start "$URL" elif [[ "$OSTYPE" == "freebsd"* ]]; then xdg-open "$URL" &>/dev/null else echo "OS not recognized" fi
It constructs the metacpan URL using the first argument passed to the script, and then opens the URL in a new browser tab. I named the script
pod and placed it in my local path (I was going to call it
mcpan but that’s a little similar to
cpanm for my tastes, plus “pod” is faster to type). So now if I want to view something on metacpan, all I have to do is type:
$ pod Foo::Bar
And the script does the rest. I’ve added commands for other operating systems, but I’ve only tested it on Linux and MacOS.
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