Catalyst on Windows with Strawberry Perl

The Catalyst Framework is an elegant Model-View-Controller based web framework for Perl, with similarities to Ruby on Rails. It is a popular choice for Web 2.0 applications based on Perl, speeding up and simplifying development.

Catalyst is very nice to use, but has a reputation of being hard to use, particularly on Windows. Windows has historically been regarded as the “outcast” of Perl development environments—the lack of proper build tools had made installing most modules (including Catalyst) difficult, to say the least. ActiveState’s binary PPM packages are hard to find and often outdated. The effect has been that the complex dependencies of Catalyst were nearly impossible for the average mortal to manage on Windows.

I recently discovered Strawberry Perl, which has made building modules on Windows easier than ever. It includes a bundled MinGW toolchain for compiling and pure-Perl equivalents for other necessary tools. Now, it is no longer necessary to install Visual Studio or Dev-C++ just to build Perl modules. Using the CPAN installer from the command line Just Works.

If you have tried to install Catalyst on Windows before, you’ll know that hunting for PPMs and building the missing modules takes hours and leaves you with an installation that isn’t up-to-date. With Strawberry Perl, I was able to install the newest Catalyst fresh from CPAN in about 10 minutes.

Read on for easy instructions in 5 steps.