Using the PEAR Website
Perhaps the greatest resource for information on PEAR and PEAR packages is the official website at http://pear.php.net/.
The PEAR website provides a full manual that is constantly updated by the community. In addition, the full package database is available to search, browse, and find information and documentation for each package.
Figure 8.1 shows the home page for the PEAR website, where there is a listing of recent package releases and a form to search the site, the mailing lists, and the package database.
Figure 8.1. The PEAR website.
Browsing the Package List
As mentioned, the PEAR website provides a listing of all packages released to the PEAR database. Clicking the Packages link accesses this listing, shown in Figure 8.2.
Figure 8.2. The PEAR website's package list is organized by category.
The website package listing is organized categorically according to the function of the package. Each category displays the total number of packages in it and a short listing of those packages. Clicking the category name displays a full listing of the packages.
Searching for a Package
In addition to the simple package search functionality that is commonly found on all pages in the PEAR website, the search page itselfaccessed either by searching or through the Search Packages linkprovides advanced search features. Packages may be searched by package name, maintainer, category, and release date. With this advanced functionality, you may easily find the most recently released packages or the oldest releases for historical purposes.
Downloading and Installing a Package
Every package information page has three sections other than its main page: Download, Documentation, and Bugs. Figure 8.3 shows the package information page for PEAR::DB. A wealth of information is on each of these pages, and most users will find the documentation for a package most helpful. However, the download page can also be a useful tool.
Figure 8.3. The package information page for PEAR::DB includes download and documentation links, among other information.
Rather than using the PPM to download a package, it may be necessary to download a package manually and either install it locally using the PPM or use it apart from the PEAR installation altogether. In cases such as these, the package may be downloaded from its page on the PEAR website.
A package's download page on the PEAR website lists the most recent release, its release notes, any package dependencies, and all previous releases for historical purposes. All packages are provided for download in gzipped format.
After it is downloaded, the package may be installed through the PPM, as described earlier in the "Alternative Installation Methods" section, or used outside of a standard PEAR installation, as described later in this chapter under "Using Packages Not Installed Through pear."