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Monday, September 18, 2006

Planet - PLTScheme's central package storehouse and installation system.

Surely everyone envies Perl's CPAN. Other languages either already have such a system (like Ruby Gems or Common Lisp's asdf-install) or are building one.

So one of the happy warriors who hack PLTScheme, Jacob Matthews, has come up with a system of his own, Planet. It sounds good. I really don't know much about it but at least one can be heartened by his choice of models, CPAN and Debian's apt-get.

It has some nice features:
They enforce standards on the numbering of versions. If you release a version that breaks users of your previous version, you must call it by a new major number (5.0, 6.0, etc.)
They have integrated Dr. Scheme with this so that you can visually see what functions came from what packages, using the arrow pointing thing that Dr. Scheme uses to show you your stack trace when your code crashes. (Wait, is this just part of the packaging system? I'm not sure that Planet added this. In any case, it's a good thing for Scheme.)

Of course the real difference between this and CPAN is that CPAN has 2 gigabyes of perl source made up of who knows how many gazillions of modules. Planet has 115 packages (or modules, I don't know about Scheme packaging).

Given the trouble I've had getting Common Lisp's asdf-install configured properly on my Windows machine, I am hopeful about the prospect of something better in the Scheme world.

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