I have used CPAN for many years and it is so much more rock solid and automagic. If a mirror is down it jumps to the next one without a beat.
The CPAN modules are great too. I was using XML:Simple recently, but the XML files got too big. So I looked around a little and started using XML:Twig, which works great. Then I needed to sort alphabetically words in a variety of languages. So I went with Sort:ArbBiLex which allows me to create my own sort dictionary and has suggested Western language dictionaries on the documentation page. And yes, it has a cmp call which allows for easy multi-column sorting. For whatever problem I have, it seems someone has already written a module for it, which I can get going with little effort.