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O'Reilly Open Source Convention
Sheraton San Diego Hotel, San Diego, CA
July 23-27, 2001

News Coverage


Web Engineering with Perl and the Template Toolkit

Andy Wardley, Software Researcher, Canon Research Centre Europe Ltd.

Track: mod_perl
Date: Tuesday, July 24
Time: 1:45pm - 5:15pm
Location: Harbor Island III

Target Audience
This tutorial is aimed at anyone responsible for building or maintaining a web system. This may be anything from a small collection of personal pages to an extensive e-commerce delivery system. The tutorial will teach the tools and techniques required to build web sites of any size that are easily updated, adapted and extended. The tutorial will focus on using Perl and specifically, the Template Toolkit as a primary tool for achieving this.

The tutorial will assume a reasonable understanding of basic Perl concepts and syntax. A familiarity with the Template Toolkit (or one of the many other fine template systems) would be advantageous but not essential. As the tutorial progresses to cover SQL databases, XML content and the Apache/mod_perl environment, some understanding of the basic concepts in these areas will be beneficial (e.g. an understanding of the concept of an SQL query, if not the exact syntax, a familiarity with basic XML syntax, if not the precise semantics, etc).

What Attendees Will Learn
The tutorial will teach the use of Perl and the Template Toolkit as a primary tool for building web site content and components. As well as teaching about this particular tool, it will also teach around it, presenting a number of general techniques that can significantly reduce the burden associated with building and maintaining web sites.

It will be organized in three sections. The first will introduce the concepts behind the Template Toolkit and demonstrate how presentation elements can and should be extracted to create reusable user interface components libraries. It will show the start of a simple project, built from scratch but quickly developed into a usable content framework. It will highlight the benefits of this approach as providing far greater control over the look and feel of a web site (e.g. stylesheeting) in an easily extensible way.

The second section will look at how data and other content can be integrated into this front-end from a number of different sources. These will include static content pages or fixed data files, SQL databases, XML files and library or custom Perl code. As the earlier examples are developed, the fledgling project will grow to include a variety of different content types, illustrating the relative strengths and weaknesses of these different approaches.

The final section will concentrate on programming application logic. It will demonstrate how template "plugins" can be written and used to abstract data access or implement reusable application logic modules. It will show how the techniques learnt so far can be applied to building adaptable web applications and more general-purpose dynamic content generation and delivery systems. Again, this will be demonstrated by extension of the earlier examples, showing the relative merits of the different approaches in a practical scenario.

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