Author image Mattia Barbon
and 1 contributors


App::Build - extends Module::Build to build/install/configure entire applications (i.e. web applications), not just modules and programs


  This module is used within a Build.PL script directly or
  it can be subclassed to provide extra capabilities.

  use App::Build;

  my $build = App::Build->new (
      dist_name         => "App-Build-Foo",
      dist_version      => "1.0",
      dist_author       => "stephen.adkins\",
      extra_dirs        => [ "htdocs", "cgi-bin", "etc", "var" ],
      license           => "perl",
      build_requires => {
          "App::Build"  => 0,  # needed for installing the software


App::Build is a subclass of Module::Build, so you can use it in place of Module::Build when creating your "Build.PL" installation scripts.

Module::Build is good at installing perl modules and programs/scripts. Full applications (i.e. web applications) need to install other files such as web pages, images, CSS style sheets, javascript files, CGI programs, data files, and configuration data. App::Build addresses these issues.

The vision of App::Build is to make installing entirely functional perl applications (particularly web applications) as easy as installing individual modules from CPAN.

An ISP customer (or other unprivileged user) who has shell access should be able to install any number of available applications from CPAN simply by typing the usual

  perl -MCPAN -e "install App::Build::Foo"

and the "Foo" application is installed on his account.

App::Build does this by implementing the following features.

1. Distributions that use App::Build instead of Module::Build can easily install files to other places, besides just "lib" and "bin". e.g. "htdocs", "cgi-bin", "etc". (see the "extra_dirs" argument in the example in the Synopsis above)

2. App::Build also adds a hook into the "install" action to call the "configure()" method. If you are subclassing App::Build, you can override this method and perform customized configuration tasks.


Although the distribution primarily supports the deployment of an application whose files are included in the distribution, it also supports deployment of applications which are not included or are not on CPAN at all.

Anyone who finds a useful perl application somewhere (i.e. "Foo") can write a small perl distribution called App-Build-Foo and upload it to CPAN. When someone uses the CPAN shell, they can install the application simply by typing

 install App::Build::Foo

Within the App-Build-Foo distribution would be a module, App::Build::Foo, which would be a subclass of App::Build. It would contain any specific logic necessary to download and install the Foo application.

All applications installed with App::Build (and its derivatives) should conform to a set of standards (see below) so that when multiple applications are installed, they are integrated seamlessly and work side by side.


The following are the requirements of all App::Build installations.

 * The installation MUST be useful to ISP's (internet
   service providers) and ASP's (application service
   providers) such that the software is installed
   in such a way that each customer of theirs may use
   it without any interactions with other customers.

 * The installation SHOULD allow for multiple versions
   even for an unprivileged user (an ISP/ASP customer).
   This allows a user to install a new version of an
   application and evaluate it and run it in parallel
   with an existing version of the application.


The following are additional standards of all App::Build installations.

 * TBD


Since App::Build uses App::Options, App::Options makes all the of the --var=value options available via the global %App::options hash. App::Build however does not remove the --var=value options from @ARGV.

This will be put to good use sometime in the future.


Module::Build complains if the PREFIX environment variable is set. App::Build doesn't. It just ignores it.

The CPAN shell (for some reason I don't understand) runs Build.PL as "perl Build.PL Build" and this fails. App::Build just throws away the "Build" so that the default "build" action is invoked.

Module::Build deprecated the PREFIX option to Makefile.PL (i.e. "perl Makefile.PL PREFIX=/usr/foo"). App::Build just makes the PREFIX option a synonym for "install_base", which does essentially the same thing.


The documentation of the methods below is not for users of the App::Build module (who are writing Build.PL scripts), but for people interested in the internals of how App::Build extends Module::Build.

It is also so that I can remember what I was doing so that if the internals of Module::Build change, I can maintain this code.


We override the new() method in order to enhance the install paths.

In the future, we may also download and unpack external perl distributions.


Overridden to transparently call _enhance_install_paths().


Overridden to transparently call _enhance_install_paths().


Downloads supporting software (if necessary), unpacks it, compiles it, and installs it.


This lowercase-ifies the dist_name, removes "app-build-" from the front, and returns it as the "application tag". Therefore, a distribution called "App-Build-Kwiki" would have an "app_tag" of "kwiki". An "app_tag" is used for looking up configuration settings in the %App::options hash produced by App::Options.


This returns the "install_base" property if it was supplied on the command line. i.e.

   perl Build.PL install_base=/usr/mycompany/prod

or (synonymously) ...

   perl Build.PL PREFIX=/usr/mycompany/prod

If the install_base was not supplied, the "prefix" out of perl's own is returned. So if perl is installed in "/usr/local/bin", then "/usr/local" is returned. If perl is installed in "/usr/bin", then "/usr" is returned.


The install_sets (core, site, vendor) as set from values in perl's own are enhanced to include the absolute directories in which the extra_dirs will be installed.


We override ACTION_code() to copy additional directories of files needed to install the application.

When you invoke "./Build", the method $self->ACTION_build() gets called on this object. This, in turn, calls $self->ACTION_code() and $self->ACTION_docs(). Each of these methods copies files into the "blib" subdirectory in preparation for installation.


We override this method to ensure that "lib" (libraries to be installed) is added to the front of @INC. This is because we often want to use the (latest) enclosed module as the installing module, even if it has already been installed.


Gets the list of extra_dirs to be installed.

The extra_dirs may be specified in the Build.PL in a variety of ways. It can be a scalar (comma-separated list of directories), an array ref of directories, or a hash ref where the keys are the directories.

If extra_dirs is specified with a hash ref, the hash values are hashrefs of attributes. i.e.

   extra_dirs => {
       var => {
           dest_dir => "var",
       htdocs => {
           dest_dir => "htdocs",
       "cgi-bin" => {  # any dir ending in "bin" contains executable scripts
           dest_dir => "cgi-bin",
       support => {
           dest_dir => "support",
           executable => 1,  # treat contents as executable scripts

So far, only the "dest_dir" attribute is defined. The "dest_dir" attribute can be overridden using the "--install_path" parameter.


Gets the hash of all extra_dirs attributes.


During "./Build" (which calls ACTION_code()), the process_app_files() method copies files from the extra_dirs to their appropriate locations under "blib".


This is used by process_app_files() to get the list of files under "extra_dirs" to copy to "blib".


Don't include CVS, RCS, and SVN (*/.svn/*) files.


This creates the name of the "packlist" file that needs to be written with the list of all of the files that get installed.


This method is only overridden in order to put in the fix so that it creates a .packlist based on dist_name if the module_name is not specified.


No. We're not using config data. Always return FALSE.


This method is overridden to put in the configure() hook so that a module which extends App::Build can implement the configure() method. Then the configure() method will run when "./Build install" is invoked.


This method should be modelled after ExtUtils::Command::MM::perllocal_install so that it writes the same information at MakeMaker does.

It currently is a stub, waiting to be implemented


Do nothing. This method is a hook that can be overridden by a subclass of App::Build. The idea is that after installing files, you might need to run additional code to configure the application.


    * Signature: $build->mirror($url, $file);
    * Param:  $url          string
    * Param:  $file         string

TODO: Should be rewritten to use cross-platform, pure-perl.


    * Signature: $build->unpack($archive_file, $directory, $subdir);
    * Param:  $archive_file string
    * Param:  $directory    string
    * Param:  $subdir       string

TODO: Should be rewritten to use cross-platform, pure-perl.


 * Author:  Stephen Adkins <>
 * Maintainer: Mattia Barbon <>


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.


The latest sources can be found on GitHub at