Previously we saw the problems with Perl 4 libraries. Let's now see a better solution using Perl 5 namespaces.

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Other language also use namespaces. In Perl 5, in order to switch to another namespace we use the package keyword. (For some more clarification on what namespaces, packages, modules etc. are, look at this article.)

We use switch to a new namespace by writing package followed by the name of the new namespace. Calc in our example below. Namespaces usually start with a capital letter follower by lower-case letter, though this is more of a convention than a hard requirement of Perl.

In this script we already have use strict; and use warnings; because we entered the new milleneum.

Then we have package Calc; this means that from this point on, the code we write is in the Calc namespace until we call package again with some other namespace. We load use strict; and use warnings again, even though we don't really need them here, but we are planning to move the code of the package into another file and there we will already want them to be part of the code. Then we add functions. (OK, in this example there is only a single function that happens to be called add, but don't let this minor issue confuse you. You can put any number of functions inside the namespace.)

The we return to the main package by writing package main;.

This is something we have not talked about yet because there was no need for it, but when you start writing a perl script it is already inside a namespace called main. In most of the cases we don't have to do anything with it, but now it is handy so we can switch back to the namespace of the main script. The name itself is probably a left-over from the C programming language where you have to declare a function called main in order to have anything running.

Note, it is called main with lower-case letters.

So after the package main; statement we are back in the main namespace. If we now tried to call the add function add(3, 4), we would get an exception and the script would die with Undefined subroutine &main::add called at namespaces.pl line 20..

That's because we don't have an add function in the main namespace. Instead of that we have to write the fully qualified name of the function, including the namespace as a prefix separated by double-colon: Calc::add(3, 4)

namespaces.pl:

#!/usr/bin/perl
use strict;
use warnings;

package Calc;
use strict;
use warnings;

sub add {
    my $total = 0;
    $total += $_ for (@_);
    return $total;
}


package main;

print Calc::add(3, 4), "\n";

That's how you use package and that's how you create namespaces in Perl 5.