This document describes version 1.0 of the META.yml specification.
The META.yml file describes important properties of contributed Perl distributions such as the ones found on CPAN. It is typically created by tools like Module::Build and ExtUtils::MakeMaker.
The fields in the META.yml file are meant to be helpful to people maintaining module collections (like CPAN), for people writing installation tools (like CPAN.pm or CPANPLUS), or just people who want to know some stuff about a distribution before downloading it and starting to install it.
META.yml files are written in the YAML format. The reasons we chose YAML instead of, say, XML or Data::Dumper are discussed in this thread on the MakeMaker mailing list.
The first line of a META.yml file should be a valid YAML document header
The rest of the META.yml file is one big YAML mapping, whose keys are described here.
The name of the distribution. Often created by taking the "main module" in the distribution and changing "::" to "-". Sometimes it's completely different, however, as in the case of the libwww-perl distribution.
The version of the distribution to which the META.yml file refers.
The license under which this distribution may be used and redistributed. See Module::Build for the list of valid options.
What kind of stuff is contained in this distribution. Most things on
modules (which can also mean a collection of
modules), but some things are
A YAML mapping indicating the Perl modules this distribution requires for proper operation. The keys are the module names, and the values are version specifications as described in the documentation for Module::Build's "requires" parameter.
Note: the exact nature of the fancy specifications like
A YAML mapping indicating the Perl modules this distribution recommends for enhanced operation.
A YAML mapping indicating the Perl modules required for building and/or testing of this distribution. These dependencies are not required after the module is installed.
A YAML mapping indicating the Perl modules that cannot be installed while this distribution is installed. This is a pretty uncommon situation.
A boolean flag indicating whether a Build.PL or Makefile.PL (or similar) must be executed, or whether this module can be built, tested and installed solely from consulting its metadata file. The main reason to set this to a true value if that your module performs some dynamic configuration (asking questions, sensing the environment, etc.) as part of its build/install process.
Currently Module::Build doesn't actually do anything with this flag - it's probably going to be up to higher-level tools like CPAN.pm to do something useful with it. It can potentially bring lots of security, packaging, and convenience improvements.
Indicates the tool that was used to create this META.yml file. It's good form to include both the name of the tool and its version, but this field is essentially opaque, at least for the moment.