January 2, 2004

Columnist in Business Week Talks About the Hidden Costs of Offshore Programming

BusinessWeek recently published a column written by Christopher Kenton called The Changing Face of Offshore Programming. This is a particularly interesting column because it clearly explains some of the most difficult issues associated with outsourcing development work to other countries. Among the problems Kenton cites:

  • Project management: Kenton says, "I've spent a lot more time than I expected in project management, quality assurance, contract issues, and communication. These issues have added significantly to the bottom-line costs of outsourcing."

  • Intellectual property protection: Through research, Kenton determined that there are no real international standards for intellectual property protection. Although some extremely large companies try to break projects into discrete pieces so that no one overseas contractor has a comprehensive understanding of the project, that increases project management costs even more.

  • Quality control: Kenton has been satisfied overall with the quality of code delivered by overseas programmers. But, he has carefully selected the projects that he sent overseas, and employs state-side developers to help with quality assurance on these projects. Kenton felt almost compelled to do this because: "I don't think it's smart to deliver a code base with comments and variables written in a language you don't understand."

  • Cost convergence: On top of everything else, the fully-loaded cost of developers in low-wage countries and those in the United States are converging. This is probably due in part to the huge downward pressure created by all of the recent outsourcing. But, Kenton implies that the cost differential has to be fairly large before it makes sense for most U.S. companies to outsource even non-sensitive projects.

Another critical element that needs to be considered is what will happen to cost and availability of programming resources as demand increases through the economic recovery? There are still a lot of well qualified American software developers on the bench. Our guess is that a large number of them will go back to work at some point in the next 18 months, if they haven't taken a job outside the industry and want to keep writing software. Will developer salaries and billing rates continue to trend down from where they are, or do current market prices reflect an over-correction?

November 2, 2003

Spidering Hacks: a Book for Developers Who Want More than Google Can Give Them

Dave Aiello wrote, "Yesterday was the publication date of
Spidering Hacks
, the latest book in the O'Reilly & Associates hacks series. This book represents 100 good ideas for building screen scraping tools that can make research jobs easier. Lots of code examples that leverage Perl and the LWP Perl module."

"I'm looking forward to getting a copy of this book because it could help me in my latest sideline project. I have an almost insatiable desire for RSS feeds lately. More on this later, maybe."

September 26, 2003

Sophos Acquires ActiveState for its Anti-SPAM Expertise

Martin O'Donnell pointed out that ActiveState has been acquired by Sophos. ActiveState is a leader in the design of OpenSource software development tools, but has recently achieved major success in development of server-level anti-SPAM software. Sophos is an anti-virus software developer that had begun to develop email filtering tools, but had been more successful in the anti-virus part of email filtering market prior to the acquisition.

The ActiveState Language tools, ASPN Perl, ASPN Tcl, Komodo, and related products are particularly important to Microsoft Windows users who are committed to incorporating OpenSource into their work environments. Both companies stated that they remail committed to marketing these tools under the ActiveState name in the future. We hope that they live up to that commitment.

September 23, 2003

"Eclipse in Action" Makes a Difference in How Quickly You Learn the Environment

Dave Aiello wrote, "The other day, I picked up a copy of
Eclipse in Action: A Guide for the Java Developers
because I'm trying to build a new Java-based web application. This may be the only book that discusses integration between Eclipse, an Open Source Integrated Development Environment, and Tomcat, the Open Source JavaServer Pages execution environment. As such, it will save me a lot of trial and error time."

"In addition, this book discusses Eclipse integration with Log4J, JUnit, and CVS. All of these are technologies that I have either used in the past or wanted to try to use in this project."

"I'm really glad I found this book before embarking on a new body of Java work. I will make additional comments about it, if I find things that warrant special mention."

August 15, 2003

Writing a Custom Error Response Handler for Netscape Enterprise Server for Windows

CTDATA has experienced a problem getting a CGI-based custom error response handler to work properly on Netscape Enterprise Server version 3.63 running on Windows NT 4. We are attempting to implement this error handler as a part of a multi-stage migration off of this platform to a LAMP-based server that is patched to current standards.

Read on for more details:




Continue reading "Writing a Custom Error Response Handler for Netscape Enterprise Server for Windows" »

June 10, 2003

OnJava Reports on Java-based PostNuke-like Content Management System

Dave Aiello wrote, "Last week, Marc Fleury and Julien Viet reported on Nukes for Nukes is an Open Source Java-based content management system similar to PostNuke."

"This is a really interesting project, because it gives people with some experience running Slash-like content management systems some exposure to Java and JBoss. I'd love to try to build a server with Nukes on it, to increase my knowledge of Java."

"If I do this, I'd be following the path that I used to implement Slash for the first time. I began the effort with minimal Perl knowledge, and ended up with a working content management system and very good knowledge of Perl. The process took more than a month, but it was definitely worth it."

April 27, 2003

Tim O'Reilly Calls Amazon Web Services One of Four Killer Apps on His Radar Screen

Dave Aiello wrote, "The other day reported that Tim O'Reilly labeled Amazon Web Services one of four up-and-coming "killer apps" driven by hacker cultures that he expects to become extremely influential as the Internet continues to develop. This insight was provided at the O'Reilly Radar talk at O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference that took place at the end of this past week in Santa Clara."

"I've generated a large percentage of CTDATA's recent income from small applications written with Amazon Web Services, and I agree that the opportunities to make money with that technology are not widely understood. I can also say with some confidence that I know of no one who is getting rich off of what they built with Amazon Web Services yet. Therefore, it's also reasonable to conclude, if only from personal experience, that some of the people doing the best work with Amazon Web Services didn't make the conference."

"One day I hope to be able to commericialize one of the small applications that I have built with Amazon Web Services, and make it available to others in the Internet community in exchange for small payments for its use. I'm deliberately hedging on this because I am still not sure which part of the tool set I am developing will be the one that I will ultimately want to productize, or when I will be able to do it."

"Part of the problem is that I can't stop trying to generate income with what I have already developed until income from other sources increases and stablilizes. This is a rather bizarre chicken-or-the-egg problem, IMHO. Imagine developing a nascent technology to the point where it is just barely usable, then using it for nine months to generate income, sharing it with a few very close friends, but never finding the money to make it any more real. So far, this is CTDATA's record with Amazon Web Services. And, it's one of my greatest current frustrations."

April 22, 2003

TiVo Releases Developer Kit for Series2 Home Media Option

Dave Aiello wrote, "On his O'Reilly Weblog, William Grosso points out that TiVo has released a developer kit for the Home Media Option that's available on its
TiVo Series2 Digital Video Recorder
. Apparently, the reason they relased an SDK is to get help from the developer community to support media formats that are not as widely used as formats like JPEG or MP3. The also want help providing TiVo Desktop functionality on operating systems other than the ones they support out-of-the-box (i.e. Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP, and Apple Macintosh OS X)."

"The TiVo Series2 is something I have on my wishlist at It lets you record TV programs, but it also allows you to display digital photos and display MP3s. It's much more of a home media center than the original TiVo. My wife and I have a 'Series1' TiVo and we love it."

March 27, 2003

Enhancing a Perl-UNIX Daemon: Integration with System Logs

Dave Aiello wrote, "Last week, I talked about the minimal changes that are required to daemonize a Perl program originally designed to run as a UNIX cron job. I have to admit that the approach I suggested was too simplistic for my application."

"I took down the new daemon within six hours because it was silently dying-- something a UNIX daemon obviously can't be allowed to do. And, simply sending standard output and standard error to /dev/null, as the WebReference tutorial suggested, didn't help me understand what the problem was."

"This time, I went to my bookshelf for guidance, and picked up Lincoln Stein's excellent
Network Programming with Perl
, published by Addison-Wesley. There is a lot of information in this book that is applicable to this problem. I found Chapter 14, Bulletproofing Servers, to be particularly useful. It talks about using Sys::Syslog to write status messages to the system error log, and to overload warn() and die() so that they are logged in the same fashion."

"The chapter also takes a simple server that had been written in previous examples in the book and adds these features to it. When making significant changes to programs like this, it's always useful to be able to compare the before and after states of an example."

"I am going to try to implement the recommended changes in my own daemon today, and I will report on the value of these changes in a future article."

March 18, 2003

Using Perl to Write a UNIX Daemon

Dave Aiello wrote, "Earlier today, I converted a Perl program I wrote to a UNIX daemon. I did this because the program, which had been run as a cron job, was failing more and more frequently. It's easy to get a cron-based program to fail if it has to be run frequently-- the execution time of an instance of the program simply has to exceed the time between invocations of the job."

"A better approach is to daemonize the program. In other words, put an outer loop in the program that causes it to execute repeatedly, with a programmatic delay at the end of the loop. As long as variables are re-initialized properly and resources are conserved, the program will theoretically run forever."

"I know that any self-respecting professional Perl programmer would look at PerlMonks for help before looking anywhere else. But, I decided to perform a Google search first. As a result of this choice, I was able to find a great tutorial on WebReference called UNIX Daemons in Perl."

"This is a great tutorial-- well worth reading-- despite the fact that it was originally written in December 1999. It provides a very simple example that can be used as a model for modification of existing Perl programs."

"It's surprising that the daemonization of a Perl program is largely done in 10 lines of code. But, the psedo-code for daemonization is this simple:"

  1. Change the working directory to the root directory ( / ).
  2. Set standard input, output, and error to /dev/null (unless you want to enable logging).
  3. Fork a new process and test to make sure it worked.
  4. Call setsid from the Posix module.
  5. Set the umask.

Contributor to XML Standard: "XML is Too Hard for Programmers"

Dave Aiello wrote, "In a recently published essay on his Ongoing weblog, Tim Bray says XML is too hard for programmers to use. The topic alone is certain to get a lot of developers with web infrastructure interests to tune in. What does he mean? Well, he says:"

During the process of setting up ongoing {his weblog}, for the first time in a year or more I wrote a bunch of code to process arbitrary incoming XML, and I found it irritating, time-consuming, and error-prone.

"Nice to know that one of the authors of the XML specification has the same sort of problems that the rank and file does. But, many of us have studied XML manipulation extensively and found one or more solutions that work in our problem spaces."

"It turns out that Bray writes a lot of code in Perl, but he defaults to the lowest common denominator method for parsing XML:"

As regards XML, I've been living in the land of scripting generally and Perl specifically in recent times.... That leaves input data munging, which I do a lot of, and a lot of input data these days is XML. Now here's the dirty secret; most of it is machine-generated XML, and in most cases, I use the perl regexp {regular expression} engine to read and process it. I've even gone to the length of writing a prefilter to glue together tags that got split across multiple lines, just so I could do the regexp trick.

"Bray's chief complaint, when you get down to it, is that he wants a reliable stream-oriented XML parser in Perl that does not rely on callbacks. I was never able to find one, but I found a way to do what I wanted by using XML::Twig. XML::Twig is fast, memory-efficient, and can be used in an object-oriented or callback-oriented method."

"Initially, I fought against using a Perl module like XML::Twig. I said to myself, 'I ought to be able to extract the small amount of data I need using regular expressions.' I tried it. It's not easy. And, it never worked 100 percent of the time for me."

"Maybe the problem I solved was different from Bray's, but I get the impression from reading his article that he hasn't tried all the different ways the Perl community has come up with to process XML."

Parent of Wrox Press Reportedly in Bankruptcy

Yesterday, The Register reported that Peer Information has filed for bankruptcy. Peer is the owner of Wrox Press, publishers of dozens of programming books, as well as, ASPToday, and C# Today.

Some of these sites hint at the financial problems. For instance, C# Today says, "The addition of new content has currently been suspended, we apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause."

CTDATA doesn't have as many Wrox books on its permanent reference shelf as it does books published by O'Reilly and Associates or SAMS Publishing. But, the loss or impairment of a major IT book publisher would hurt the development community. On the other hand, it would be surprising if the huge reduction in employment of software developers in the United States that has taken place in the last two years did not have a major effect on the publishing industry.

March 17, 2003

Output of Amazon Web Services Change Without Notice

CTDATA has developed a number of unreleased programs that tap into Amazon Web Services. We use these programs to do price analysis on books in the Amazon catalog that we are considering buying.

Last week, one of our price anaylsis tools broke. Initially, we thought it had to do with XML interface performance problems that were reported by web services users on Friday. When the problem did not resolve itself, we did some testing and saw that price offers were suddenly being returned with currency symbols. These symbols were not present before.

The addition of currency to the offer prices might have been inferred from a developer chat that took place on March 5. This chat discussed the introduction of Amazon Web Services to This would necessitate the introduction of some means of designating the currency in which each offer price is expressed. But the problem is that we didn't discover the text of this chat until after we did some troubleshooting, and worked around the changes that Amazon made.

We are surprised that these sorts of changes are made without a great deal of notice from How do they think developers are using these web services? Don't they realize that prepending a currency symbol changes the XML node from something that can be interpreted as a number to something that has to be manipulated before it can be converted into a number? Didn't they realize that would have an effect on applications that are already in use?

It's harder to justify the development of applications that use Amazon Web Services when changes like these take place silently. Caveat developer.

February 25, 2003

InfoWorld: Many Large Corporations Avoid Using Scripting Languages for What They Do Best

Slashdot pointed out that Chad Dickerson spent an entire column discussing the fact that some major corporations discourage the use of scripting languages like Perl and Python to solve problems to which they are uniquely suited. According to the article:

Although it has often been subtle, there is a level of quiet discomfort between the “scripting” versus “programming” factions in some corporate development environments in which I have participated. In some instances, executive-level technology management has held scripting languages in disdain as not being “real” languages for day-to-day problem solving, which has discouraged highly talented scripters on staff from practicing their craft....

On a practical level, I’ve found that two things happen in these environments: 1) many of the most talented scripters eventually become disgruntled and leave for scripting-friendly pastures, and 2) the “real” developers spend days and weeks writing Java and C++ code to solve problems that those talented Perl or Python programmers could have knocked out in a few hours.

In our experience, this is definitely true in environments that do not have a long history of UNIX usage.

You'd think that Windows shops would be more open to scripting languages like Perl and Python, since many depend on Visual Basic for strategic applications. However, sites that use Visual Basic do a lot of development using IDEs, while Perl and Python are generally not used in those contexts.

February 12, 2003

It Never Hurts to Review Old Code

Dave Aiello wrote, "In the course of adding an XML-RPC ping for to CTDATA, I found a significant inefficiency in our version of slashd. The program was recreating at least one index page every time it checked for updated stories. When you multiply this inefficiency by three weblogs and four or five iterations per hour, that's a major waste of CPU cycles."

"I'm all for finding and fixing inefficiencies as a by-product of adding a seemingly unrelated new feature."

CTDATA Puts Its Weblogs on

Dave Aiello wrote, "For a long time, I have wondered why the weblogs that we run here at CTDATA are highly ranked by Google, but hardly exist from the perspective of some of the major weblog community sites. One of the problems I have noticed is that our sites do not appear on 'weblog aggregators' like"

"In the course of reading recent articles like Building with Blogs in Linux Journal, I came to the conclusion that a lot of weblog community sites are driven off aggregators like So, I integrated a simple Perl script into our version of Slash called weblogUpdatesPing by Hans Kellner."

"This Perl script uses IO::Socket to create an XML-RPC connection to a server at This notifies that one of our sites has been updated. then hits the site to verify that the site has been updated, and adds it to its changes.xml document. Other weblog community sites read that document in order to derive statistics about the weblog community."

"The bottom line is that,, and will be on the RADAR screen of a lot more people in the weblog community. We'll see if this results in more traffic to our sites."

January 23, 2003 Publishes Great Article on Difficulties of RSS Processing

Mark Pilgrim wrote an excellent article on practical RSS processing for, called Parsing RSS at All Costs. In it, he gives a sense of the breadth of problems associated with trying to parse headline feeds from many of the weblogs out on the Internet:

...{As} RSS has gained popularity, the quality of RSS feeds has dropped. There are now dozens of versions of hundreds of tools producing RSS feeds. Many have bugs. Few build RSS feeds using XML libraries; most treat it as text, by piecing the feed together with string concatenation, maybe (or maybe not) applying a few manually coded escaping rules, and hoping for the best.

Then he explain how desktop news aggregators are dealing with the situation:

... {Most} desktop news aggregators are now incorporating parse-at-all-costs RSS parsers which they use when XML parsing fails. However, since no one likes tag soup, they are also implementing subtle visual clues, such as smiley and frown icons, to indicate feed quality. Click on the frown face, and the end user can learn that this RSS feed is not well-formed XML. But the program still displays the content of the feed, as best it can, using a parse-at-all-costs parser.

The article goes on to give some code examples of how to deal with these problems using Python.

January 18, 2003

Using REST for Web Services, Instead of SOAP

Amit Asaravala wrote an interesting piece for called Giving SOAP a REST. In it, he explains that REST means "Representational State Transfer" and that it is a serious alternative to SOAP ("Simple Object Access Protocol"). Both of these are protocols for web services.

What's the difference between REST and SOAP and why should you care?

REST is more an old philosophy than a new technology. Whereas SOAP looks to jump-start the next phase of Internet development with a host of new specifications, the REST philosophy espouses that the existing principles and protocols of the Web are enough to create robust Web services. This means that developers who understand HTTP and XML can start building Web services right away, without needing any toolkits beyond what they normally use for Internet application development.

The key to the REST methodology is to write Web services using an interface that is already well known and widely used: the URI....

This is a great article that helps to define REST for people who are seeing the term used for the first time. It also provides some high level discussion of the pros and cons of REST versus SOAP, and argues that REST is rapidly becoming a nearly complete alternative to SOAP as a web services protocol.

Why CTDATA Switched from SOAP to XML Over HTTP When Using Amazon Web Services

Dave Aiello wrote, "One of the more interesting aspects of the time I spent with Amazon Web Services was the realization that the SOAP interface provided by doesn't implement as many search methods as the XML over HTTP interface does. I discovered this when I built a Perl script that iterates through Amazon Marketplace offers for a given item in order to get specific details about each offer. This is easily done using REST, but not possible using SOAP."

"Apparently, I am not the only one who discovered this. There is a useful article on CYBAEA called Which interface should I use: XML/HTTP (REST) or SOAP? that comes to the same conclusion:"

SOAP... Does not provide access to the full AWS functionality (specifically the XSLT service is not available through SOAP)....

"The CYBAEA article goes into more detail on the pros and cons of using the AWS SOAP and REST implementations. Even more useful information is found in the CYBAEA Amazon Web Services FAQ, which includes the article I just mentioned. The FAQ is definitely worth exploring if you are using Amazon Web Services for anything more than experimentation."

January 17, 2003

XML::Twig Cleanly Picks Elements Off of XML Documents

Dave Aiello wrote, "I've been working with Amazon Web Services again recently. In the course of doing so, I found that using regular expressions to extract elements (data fields) from XML documents doesn't work reliably. I looked through my copy of
Perl & XML
and saw reference made to a number of XML processing modules. For example: XML::Parser, XML::LibXML, XML::XPath, XML::Writer, XML::SAX, XML::Simple, etc."

"My task was to extract only a few elements from each XML document. Some of the documents contained sets of nodes, so they would have multiple instances of the same node."

"The easiest, most efficient, and most "perlish" way of handling this turned out to be using XML::Twig. I found a really good article about XML::Twig on It does the job and provides the kind of TMTOWTDI that experienced Perl users expect from a Perl module."

"Perl and XML is a very good book, but, it's surprising that a module as useful as XML::Twig was left out of it. I'd recommend taking a fresh look at all the Perl XML modules whenever you set out to solve a type of XML problem that's new to you."

December 23, 2002

"Install Slash for Dummies" Proves Very Useful

Dave Aiello wrote, "Over the weekend, I completed my first Slash 2.2.6 installation. I got a lot of ideas and useful help from a recent HOWTO document called Install Slash for Dummies by Evan Erwin."

"The document took me step-by-step through the installation. I can't say that I had an install that was free of head-scratching. Installing the Slash-related Perl modules (aka Bundle::Slash) did not go perfectly smoothly. The problems I had were more likely to be attributed to the idiosyncracies of the distribution that I am using, rather than the install document itself."

"I would recommend Install Slash for Dummies to anyone installing Slash 2.x for anything less than the fifth time. There is no doubt that you can learn from it."

December 18, 2002

Discussion of Slash Integration with E-commerce Systems on

Dave Aiello wrote, "Over on Slashcode, Tim McCormick started a thread about Integrating Slash with E-commerce. I replied to it suggesting Interchange as a good candidate for integration with Slash, and I added an outline of the Interchange configuration that I created for a client."

"I would like to put up a more detailed discussion of the Interchange installation here on, but I haven't had time to put it together yet. Watch for that article within the next week."

August 14, 2002

Sun Articulates a LAMP Strategy for the Low End

Computerworld reported yesterday that Sun Microsystems will attempt to leverage the LAMP tools in its effort to enter the low-end Internet server market. LAMP refers to Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. This term is widely used in the OpenSource community (example: O'Reilly's OnLAMP), and can also refer to the Perl and Python programming languages.

This is an interesting development because Sun is endorsing a major OpenSource development methodology for the market below that which it is serving with J2EE services. In the past, major companies have been reluctant to develop client-facing applications based on these technologies because none of their vendors have been willing to support all of these components.

A lot of corporate web applications do not require the scalability that comes with traditional application servers. So, Sun's strategy is a very practical / economical one. It will be interesting to see if the UNIX-based financial services companies change their development philosophies now.

July 22, 2002

PerlMonks Search Alternative

One of the issues with using PerlMonks recently is the intermittent availability and sometimes questionable result quality of the PerlMonks Super Search. In attempting to use SuperSearch over the weekend, we noticed the following addition to the instructions on that page:

There are certainly some serious issues with this new search technique (including generating "Server Error"s -- no need to report those). You might be happier using Google's advanced search against

It turns out that is a static version of the PerlMonks web site. It was a good idea to build this parallel site because PerlMonks itself is not very search engine friendly. This is because of the high percentage of dynamically-generated content on the site.

July 20, 2002

Major New Version of Perl Released

On Thursday, a major new version of Perl was released. The new version is 5.8.0, and it includes the following improvements:

  • better Unicode support
  • a new threads implementation, and
  • a new Input/Output layer

The release notes and links to the download mirrors are located on

July 15, 2002

Yahoo! Mail Substituting Entire English Words in HTML Messages as a Security Measure

When we first read about this on Slashdot, we thought it might be an April Fool's Joke three and a half months late. But, believe it or not, Yahoo! Mail is changing the text of email messages sent to its subscribers in the HTML format. Need To Know, a UK-based web site, says:

In a fantastically clumsy attempt to prevent cross-site scripting attacks, the free e-mail wing of the sprawling giant has long been replacing complete English words in the text of HTML mail sent to its users. Mention "mocha" in an HTML mail to a friend with a account, and your choice in coffee will be silently switched to "espresso"....

According to the document containing the full list of automagic Yahoo! replacements, "Yahoo's hack doesn't respect word boundaries: so evaluate would become
reviewuate, retrieval becomes retrireview."

Hey, we never said that the developers at CTDATA were the greatest programmers in the world, but even the regular expressions we write in our 0.1 code are less greedy than this. Maybe we should come up with a topic for "How Not to Do" something. Anybody got an idea for a "worst practices" icon?

July 12, 2002

Tour de France Passed Through Perl During Stage 2

Our friends over at reported that The Tour de France passed through Perl, Germany during Stage 2. Apparently, Perl is a village in Saarland near the border with Luxembourg and France. Merijn Boeren, a fellow Perl developer, visited Perl a couple of years ago, and got several good pictures of the signs at the outskirts of the village.

Those of you who read CTDATA regularly know that some of us have a big interest in Perl and cycling. This story is just too much of a coincidence to let pass.

June 21, 2002

Developer Suggests Perl is to Programming what Yiddish is to Spoken Language

We stumbled onto an interesting opinion piece on the Internet the other day from a web developer named Yoz Grahame. He suggests that Perl is Internet Yiddish. He sites several similarities between the two languages, in spite of their vastly different uses.

Ultimately, Yiddish and Perl share the potentially detractive qualities of complexity and inconsistency, but turn them in their favour due to the huge amount of character they provide. This is because they have History. This has resulted in Culture and Community, and a great degree of affection.

The most interesting aspect of the article is the association that Grahame makes between regional Yiddish dialects and the time-honored Perl concept of TMTOWTDI.

May 31, 2002

Latest Slash Install Reveals Discrepancies Between Documentation and Practical Advice

Dave Aiello wrote, "For the past couple of days, I have devoted myself to building a new Slashcode installation using Slash version 2.2.5. At times, this has been frustrating because I have found a couple of situations where the available documentation suggests one course of action, while experienced Slash users recommend something completely different. Here are a couple of examples:"

  • Installing mySQL: The book Running Weblogs With Slash says: "Though MySQL makes binary distributions for most operating systems, building it from source avoids several hassels." I took this to mean that I should build mySQL from the source code. As I noted in an article I later submitted to Ask Slashcode, the mySQL documentation suggested that I use the binaries that they provide on their web site instead of building from the sources.

    Feedback on this question clearly indicated that I could use the mySQL-compiled binaries quite safely.

  • Perl Module Installation: The Slash INSTALL file suggests using the CPAN shell to install Bundle::Slash. What the documentation doesn't say is that you have to choose specific options in order to get Bundle::DBD::Msql and Template-Toolkit to build successfully.

    The Template-Toolkit build problem is documented on Slashcode. The simplest way around it is to choose not to perform the DBI tests when doing the build tests for this module.

    I resolved the Bundle::DBD::Msql problem by choosing to only install the mySQL DBD and not include the legacy code to make older Perl programs work. I have not found another posting on the Internet that specifically addresses this problem.

Dave Aiello continued, "This experience indicates that people doing new Slash installations still have to be resourceful and look for some of their answers on the Internet, not just in the book or the distribution documentation."

April 26, 2002

What Do You Mean You Don't Know Java Well Enough?

Dave Aiello wrote, "Earlier this week my friend Sesh Rengaswamy wrote to ask me why I haven't been posting as many stories on in the past few days? The reason is that I am working on the Java Programming Language Library courses from Sun Educational Services. I'm doing this to prepare to take the Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform exam."

"Some people who know me are going to ask why I'm doing this when I've worked on a couple of major Java-based projects before, and my resume reflects this? The reason is that much of what I've learned about Java has come from reading other people's code and from debugging. As a result, it's very difficult for me to talk about Java programming in the abstract. It's also difficult for me to do well on the technical aspect of job interviews when the job requires Java programming experience."

"I want to take this certification exam to force myself to learn the correct terminology for the language elements I know and use. I am also very curious about the process of taking a certification exam at a technology testing center like Prometric."

"I'm hoping to take the Java exam some time during the week of May 6. I will post on some of the thoughts I have about courses I'm taking. I also plan to relate some sense of the experience of taking the Java certification exam without violating the integrity of it by disclosing the specific nature of the questions."

April 8, 2002

OnJava Documents Six Common Mistakes in Enterprise Java Development

Brett McLaughlin, wrote an excellent article called Six Common Enterprise Programming Mistakes. We have experienced several of the problems he illustrates in this article while on consulting projects at financial services firms in the New York area.

Brett is the author of Building Java Enterprise Applications Volume I: Architecture. If this is an indication of the overall quality of the book, it is a must read for developers on J2EE projects.

March 18, 2002

What is the Zlib Double-Free Vulnerability and Why Should I Care?

Dave Aiello wrote, "Last week, a story made the rounds of a bug in a component of Linux called Zlib. This is a library upon which gzip (GNU zip), a compression utility, is based. Gzip turned out to be much more widely implemented than originally thought, in part because it is implemented without use of any patented compression algorithms."

"It turns out that a number of widely-used Perl modules also use the zlib library. I had no idea what the scope of the effort involved in patching the affected Perl modules would be. So, I posted a question about it on PerlMonks and got some interesting responses. I recommend that developers with Perl code in production read this PerlMonks thread and consider the implications."

Industrial Estates in India Make Programmers Think Twice About Coming to the USA

Monday's New York Times suggests that newly constructed industrial estates in India give qualified programmers a high quality-of-life without the effort and difficulty of getting a job in the United States. This article is interesting, but it leaves out a few dimensions of the decision Indians typically make when they come to the United States or Europe to work in IT. One obvious irreplaceable element of a job in the United States is the opportunity to have the complete cultural experience of living here, as opposed to the creature comforts of living and working in a modern environment.

Indians who come to the United States on H1-B visas seem to get a lot out of living and working here, in spite of the fact that many of them return to India on extended vacations periodically, or to take managerial jobs with the companies for which they work. Either way, it's hard to believe that the Indians who return to their country don't tell their friends that life in the United States is a great opportunity.

Another issue the article doesn't address is the job placement process in the United States. Many Indians come to the United States as employees of Indian technical services firms, and have pre-negotiated contract positions at Fortune 500 companies. So, the risk of coming to the United States and finding a job is not as great as it might seem.

NY Times Says Quest for Job in IT is Now "Long" and "Humbling"

Sunday's New York Times contained an article called The Long, Humbling Quest for a Job in Technology. This recounts the stories of a few people who had jobs in the Information Technology sector of the economy in the New York area, who lost their jobs in the economic downturn, and can't find jobs new jobs.

Some of the information provided the article is truly useful, like not applying for a job unless your resume has all of the stated requirements listed on it. But, that advice flies in the face of advice that experienced IT people often give job seekers in the field: make your resume concise because no one wants to read a 24 page resume.

People who are seeking jobs in the field may take some comfort in the fact that this article has run in The New York Times in the first place. Often it seems that by the time a newspaper like the Times runs a story like this, the economic sector they are talking about is at or past the bottom.

March 7, 2002

Developer Shed Publishes Article on "Web Mining" with Perl

Developer Shed has published an article on constructing a special-purpose web client in Perl that does things like automatic link or data extraction. The article refers to this type of programming as web mining. It's not a bad way to describe it because more people will probably understand the concept by calling it web mining than by referring to it as web client building.

The article focuses on describing the Perl modules that can be used to build this type of program quickly. It is light on describing the unethical uses of the technology, like email address harvesters used by spammers.

This is the first mention of Developer Shed on, although they've been around almost as long as has this web site. The site looks like a good reference for server side and client side programming. We will be taking more of a look at it in the near future. You can visit Developer Shed at

March 6, 2002

Thinking about Building a Personal Mail Archive Management Tool in Perl

Dave Aiello wrote, "In my spare time today, I contributed a writeup to PerlMonks called Managing a Personal Email Archive. I ask the Perl developers that congregate there to provide some advice on ways I can better manage my email archive. Messages in the archive go all the way back to 1996."

"There are a couple of really good ideas posted in the comment thread-- something I've come to expect when I post questions on the PerlMonks site. Check it out, if you are interested."

"One of these days, I'll have to actually count the messages that I've saved over the years. How much spam must I have gotten? Hmm...."

February 21, 2002 Provides Tips on Preventing Cross-Site Scripting Attacks

Yesterday, published an article by Paul Lidner called Preventing Cross-site Scripting Attacks. This article takes a shot at explaining one of the more poorly understood dangers of Internet programming. It also offers some good tips to help programmers who use and mod_perl to avoid vulnerabilities.

February 6, 2002

ActiveState Releases Perl Dev Kit 4.0

ActiveState is now shipping Perl Dev Kit Version 4.0. This is the latest followup to the successful book/CD set that it co-published with O'Reilly several years ago.

The new Perl Dev Kit includes support for .NET, HP-UX, and Windows 95-98. Read on for a copy of the announcement mailed to registered users of previous versions....

Continue reading "ActiveState Releases Perl Dev Kit 4.0" »

January 31, 2002

PerlMonks Server Migration Still Underway reports that PerlMonks is still in the process of changing ISPs and access to the site has been very sporadic for the past few days. Our most recent experience was that the DNS server changes had not yet taken effect. So, a page located at the site's old TCP/IP address is redirecting people to the new location via a temporary URL.

Hopefully, vroom and friends will work out the kinks soon.

Skipping Dot Net Produces List of OpenSource Database Resources

Skipping Dot Net has produced a list of OpenSource database resources that it calls Open Source Databases Linkfest. This document is loaded with links to PostgreSQL and mySQL.

Shane McChesney, the author of this document, evaluated the two databases and chose PostgreSQL for his applications. According to his analysis:

For me, features won out over raw speed, and I recently opted to focus on PostgreSQL, despite it's, er, lame support for Windows deployment. Since a Windows solution isn't really what I'm looking for, I'm letting my desire to use PostgreSQL pull me into arranging for a Linux server earlier than I otherwise might have. I'll only consider MySQL further if I find performance to be unacceptable or hit some other wall with PostgreSQL. But I don't think that's going to happen.

Our choice of recommended database platforms would differ from his. As periodic contributors to the Slashcode Open Source Project, we are more likely to use mySQL. We would also tend to select mySQL because of the huge installed base that mySQL has, relative to PostgreSQL. This installed base advantage results in a more widely tested software product, a larger developer community, and more documentation and related support resources.

January 28, 2002

HP and Intel Back Mono, Open Source Alternative to .NET

InfoWorld reports that Hewlett-Packard and Intel have announced their support for the Mono Project. Mono is an attempt to implement an open source version of the Microsoft .NET architecture. Microsoft has been promoting .NET as a framework for Internet-based services which developers can tie applications into, but the backend of these services is intended to stay closed to Microsoft competitors.

A large number of companies are interested in integrating their software with .NET services, but are hesitant to do so if it gives Microsoft leverage over them in dealing with their own customers. Mono may provide companies that have this concern with a level of comfort that will allow them to proceed with experimentation with .NET-like internet services.

January 21, 2002

O'Reilly Network Article Explains Slash Plug-in Architecture has published an article by chromatic explaining the Slashcode plug-in architecture and how to use to build applications on top of recent versions of Slash. This is an excellent article, and it demonstrates the evolution of the Slash engine from a framework that helps web publishers build Slashdot-like web sites to a more general purpose tool for doing web publishing and building web applications.

Some people in the Linux and BSD communities don't evaluate Slash because of the perception that it is only useful for building sites that look like Slashdot. But, the Slash architecture has really been opened-up in the past year, and it compares more favorably to more general web publishing frameworks than ever before. We are really looking forward to the introduction of the O'Reilly book Running Weblogs with Slash, because it will raise the level of understanding that the programming community has in Slash as a platform.

January 11, 2002

jEdit: a Syntax-Aware OpenSource Program Editor

Dave Aiello wrote, "The other day, I asked my friend Brett Tofel from the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College what Integrated Development Environment he would use to develop an understanding of Java Server Page development if cost was a consideration? Brett said, '...{I} don't use an IDE per se. I do my editing in jEdit which is
syntactically aware of jsp and highlights/ formats/ etc. correctly (cost=free).'"

"After a little further research, I located the jEdit Web Site and got more details about the program. JEdit is a programmer's text editor written in Java, being developed by a team led by Slava Pestov. It provides all of the features that Brett mentioned out of the box. It also has a large number of plugins which extend its functionality, and a plugin manager that makes it easy to install the plugins and try them out."

"I just started using this program, so I can't say I swear by it. But, initial indications are that it will be useful. And, it's definitely interesting to try an OpenSource product for this task, when the alternatives are definitely commercial and many of the good alternatives are quite expensive."

January 7, 2002

Perl Receives Criticism at MIT Lightweight Languages Workshop

An article that appeared in Dr. Dobb's Journal discusses the MIT Lightweight Languages Workshop. The workshop was held at MIT's prestigious Artificial Intelligence Lab.

A number of passages in the DDJ article indicate that Perl was criticized by some attendees at the workshop. Perhaps this is to be expected, considering that the conference took place in an academic setting, and that attendance was probably dominated by artificial intelligence researchers. However, there is no doubt that Perl has been a highly useful language in many practical applications. It would be nice if languages were evaluated on their merits, and on the relative utility of the applications that have been produced with them, rather than on the basis of their lexical or syntactic purity.

There is a discussion thread on PerlMonks that addresses the workshop and the articles in DDJ and on that describe it.

December 19, 2001

ActiveState Ships Komodo 1.2 for Linux and Windows

NewsForge reports that ActiveState has shipped Komodo 1.2 an Integrated Development Environment for Linux and Windows. According to the article, "It is optimized for programming languages such as Perl, Python, and Tcl and now features cutting-edge XSLT and PHP editing and debugging capabilities."

CTDATA holds a commercial license on the product and is currently evaluating it as a Perl development tool.

December 18, 2001

Happy 14th Birthday, Perl!

Now, on to something really important... a number of sites have reported on this date in 1987, Perl 1.0 was released. (Reports / information: PerlMonks | | )

December 12, 2001 Publishes an Introduction to Software Testing in Perl published an article by chromatic introducing software engineering testing methodology and the Perl testing tools that can be used to implement it. This is a valuable article, but is best understood when it is looked at side-by-side with an uninstalled Perl module.

For an idea of just how rigorously code can be tested in an automated fashion, take a look at Perl module test output. The output is even more impressive with the verbose option turned on. Isn't it sad that so many Perl modules have such rigorous verification methods, while so many corporate Perl projects don't even use strict?

Damian Conway Interviewed by

Damian Conway is interviewed in the December 2001 issue of the Pair Networks Insider Newsletter. The interview is quite interesting because it discusses:

  • the delay of his planned book on Perl modules (for O'Reilly),
  • the number of separate projects he must juggle that he considers full-time jobs,
  • the aspects of the Perl language that make it his favorite programming tool,
  • the issues with keeping CPAN useful during the transition between Perl 5.6 and Perl 6,
  • the ways in which rank-and-file Perl developers can contribute to the OpenSource movement, and
  • the areas he recommends Perl developers focus on if they want to be prepared for the future.

This is a very interesting and wide-ranging interview, and it is highly recommended.

Continue reading "Damian Conway Interviewed by" »

December 4, 2001

Perl Links Slashbox Updated on Programming Section Page

We've updated the Perl Links Slashbox on the CTDATA: Programming section page. The changes include:

  • Link added to CPAN.
  • Links added to pages maintained by Perl community leaders Larry Wall, Randal Schwartz, and Damian Conway.
  • Vendor section added with links to ActiveState, O'Reilly, and Roth Consulting.
  • Link and search form for relocated to a separate Slashbox.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

November 28, 2001 Publishes Article on Creating RSS Files for 3rd Party Sites

Chris Ball has written an excellent article published on that discusses how to create an RSS file for a third party Web Site using the LWP::Simple, HTML::TokeParser, and XML::RSS Perl modules.

The Web Site could benefit from a program like this that digested certain well known Web Pages (example1, example2) at Rensselaer and produced RSS files for them. Then, the Slash engine on could process those RSS files into Slashboxes as if the files had been created by the sites themselves.

We're sure this type of problem comes up a lot with other news-oriented community web sites that are not designed for the Web Development or Programming communities. If you run a site that falls in that category, this article is a must read. But, it's also a good tutorial for Perl developers who want to better understand network programming and simple XML processing in Perl.

November 27, 2001

List of Perl and Sybase Development Links Being Built

Sesh Rengaswamy asked if it would be possible for to put together a consolidated set of links to Perl and Sybase Web Resources? We began the process today, and the results are two Slashboxes located on the Programming Section Page.

Although these lists of links are nothing to write home about now, we are sure that they will evolve into a useful resource. The community is welcome to leverage off of them. Please let us know, by posting a comment or sending an email, if you know of a resource that should be added to either of these lists.

November 15, 2001

Question About Perl's exit() Statement Generates Huge Response on PerlMonks

Dave Aiello wrote, "Yesterday, I posted a question to PerlMonks called How aggressively does Perl clean up when you exit()?. This question arose out of a discussion at one of our consulting clients where one of the client's managers expressed doubt about the robustness of a procedure we are using to exit from batch jobs we are writing during fatal error conditions."

"This question generated a much larger response than I expected. At last check, the question had seven or eight high quality responses, and the original question had been awarded over 100 experience points. I guess you can never tell the sort of question that will hold the attention of a technical community like the one that frequents PerlMonks."

"More importantly, I am convinced that the best policy when it comes to a question that falls between the cracks in printed Perl documentation is to do as much on-line research as possible, but also to pose the question on PerlMonks. I have never been disappointed."

November 12, 2001

Free Software Foundation: SourceForge is Drifting

In an article on the Web Site of Free Software Foundation Europe, Loic Dachary says that SourceForge is "drifting" because it is now using proprietary software components and because some portions of the Web Site that allowed OpenSource projects to be exported have been removed. SourceForge is a Web Service operated by VA Linux Systems that provides version control and communications services to OpenSource software projects.

In our opinon, there has always been "counterparty risk" associated with using the SourceForge service (i.e., will OpenSource projects be able to continue if SourceForge ceases to exist?). But, people involved in OpenSource projects have not acted as if this was a major concern until relatively recently.

November 7, 2001

New PerlMonks Discussion on Sybase Interfaces

Dave Aiello wrote, "Over on PerlMonks, Michael Peppler posted an article comparing sybperl and DBI::Sybase. This may seem like navel-gazing to many of our readers, but it is critically important to a consulting project that I recently started."

"As I argue in my reply, many developers are using sybperl by default. This is a problem because sybperl has a documentation deficit when compared to DBI. Furthermore, much of the example code floating around in the securities industry is not of high quality. This almost always results in trouble when in the hands of a less experienced developer."

"DBI has a heck of a lot more documentation and good sample code than sybperl. But, as long as companies start using sybperl before the call people like us, we will have to continue to support it. So, I suggested that increased sybperl documentation and sample code be produced by the community."

November 1, 2001

On-Line vi Reference Manual: Useful If You Get Stuck

Dave Aiello wrote, "Aside: I feel like we are returning to our geek roots with this article."

A couple of days ago, we found ourselves casting about for a reminder of what ex commands are useable in the vi file editor (present on nearly all UNIX systems). In searching the Web, we found this handy vi Reference, which should get most people through the day, until they can get back home and pick up their O'Reilly book.

October 10, 2001

Mini Network Monitor Version 0.1

Dave Aiello wrote, "Some of you know that I have been working for the last couple of weeks to develop some more significant experience with the Java programming language. Now that I have successfully built an application and figured out how to make a JAR file out of it, I am releasing it for comment, at least to friends and relatives."

"The program is called Mini Network Monitor, or mnm. It monitors a list of web servers by DNS name and reports on the application's ability to connect to them. It is not a full featured application, and it is being released without any warranty whatsoever. You can download it from the following link:"

[ mnm 0.1 in JAR format ]

"If you want to see the source code, please send me an email, and I will consider releasing it to you. Read on for system requirements and instructions for running the application...."

Continue reading "Mini Network Monitor Version 0.1" »

August 31, 2001

Computerworld: Demand for IT Workers Still Exceeds Supply

Amazingly, Computerworld published an article today headlined Demand still exceeds supply for IT workers. We find this surprising because it contradicts the information one can gather at any bar in Lower Manhattan by being a fly-on-the-wall.

This article should not be ignored just because its title and first idea are hard to believe. There is a lot of interesting (all be it anecdotal) information there. Among other things:

  • "the glut of ex-dot-com workers flooding the job market has led to a mismatch of skills between employers and potential employees...."
  • "Java programmers are not in top demand now.... Because companies are concerned with integrating legacy systems with e-business systems, {people} with cross-application integration skills {are in demand}."

August 23, 2001

Trying to Automatically Kill Hanging Programs on Windows Using Perl

One of the things that occasionally causes services on CTDATA's Web Sites to fail is a program that occasionally fails to finish running on one of our Windows NT 4 servers. We have spent a while trying to debug this, only to leave ourselves frustrated because the problem is so infrequent.

In order to improve our uptime, we are looking for ways to write an NT service that will kill processes by certain names that have run for an abnormally long time. Research on the Web has uncovered a brief thread on which discusses the writing such a service. Since no one bothered to contribute a code snippet to the thread, we will try to produce something generic, once we have solved our own problem.

June 7, 2001

NY Times Reveals Startling Truth: Women Can Program Computers

Dave Aiello wrote, "An article published in the New York Times today reveals that women are developing algorithms and writing computer programs. This is obviously one of those articles that appears in the mainstream media from time to time, attempting to demonstrate the fact that:"

  1. the software development community is largely populated by men, but
  2. women are making inroads.

"I have several problems with this article. First, it states the obvious: women have been writing code for decades. I'm surprised J.D. Biersforfer didn't mention Grace Hopper or Ada the Countess of Lovelace. The article goes on to say that women stand out in the software development community for the mere fact that they are not men. No one I know in this business wants to be known primarily for their physical attributes-- they want to be known for the quality of their work."

"Imagine if an article like this appeared in the sports section, saying that white men are making a contribution to NBA teams, in spite of their unique status. People from all walks of life would be outraged."

January 12, 2001

Fixed Bug in Slash 0.4 Comment Submission Mechanism That Blocked Posting of Longer Comments

Earlier this week, John Cloninger one of the authors on, reported that his web site was displaying SQL errors when he attempted to post a response to a posted story. Eventually, we determined that users of sites running Slash 0.4 with Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 were experiencing this problem if they attempted to post comments that were more than 2k in length. As far as we can tell, the problem never affected sites running Sybase 11.3.x and later.

We have modified the SQL logic in and this appears to have fixed the problem. This should result in a better user experience on the following public Web Sites:

Please contact your site's Web Master if you receive any runtime errors of this or any other nature.

November 6, 2000

Philip Greenspun Provides Insights on Managing Software Developers

Slashdot reported that Philip Greenspun wrote an article for ArsDigita Systems Journal describing how to manage software engineers. The article itself is quite interesting, with a number of unique insights, including:

One of the paradoxes of software engineering is that people with bad ideas and low productivity often think of themselves as supremely capable. They are the last people whom one can expect to fall in line with a good strategy developed by someone else.

We have encountered more than our fair share of developers like these, over the years.

Almost as interesting as Philip Greenspun's commentary is the commentary from the registered users of Slashdot itself. Whenever Slashdot runs a technical management article about motivating a staff of developers to achieve remarkable things, the story commentary is overloaded with "technology workers of the world unite" rhetoric. Are the most outspoken users of Slashdot waiting for the day that they can participate in a technological Haymarket Square Riot?

Continue reading "Philip Greenspun Provides Insights on Managing Software Developers" »

October 31, 2000 Makes Slashcode Mailing List Archive Searchable

On the Slashcode Mailing List, Shane pointed out that he is hosting a searchable archive of the mailing list. It is located at

This is a really spartan page, but it is a valuable resource for developers who are building Slash-based Web Sites. We added it to our list of "Slashcode Support Resources" in the "Quick Links" Slashbox on our home page.

September 15, 2000 Is the OSS Model Failing? is carrying an article called Is the OSS Model Failing? The author of the piece, Serge Egelman, cites the proliferation of slightly different open source projects as evidence of the fact that only older, well established projects are benefitting from Open Source development techniques and the GPL.

He also wonders (rhetorically) why people start projects that are only slightly different from one that already exists. His primary conclusion is that wanna-be developers want to see their names on sites like SourceForge and Freshmeat.

CTDATA is the primary force behind a fork from the Slashcode project based on an early version of the code base that ran Slashdot. The version of Slashcode that we began our project with is known as Slash 0.3. If you are interested in why we haven't merged our efforts with the main Slashcode branch, read on....

Continue reading " Is the OSS Model Failing?" »

August 31, 2000

Converting "slashd" and Other Slash Daemons to "cron" Jobs

On the Slashcode Mailing List, Leo Grapendaal asked, "Where I ... have a problem {running Slashcode} is with the daemons. A lot providers, including
mine, do not allow you to run daemons of your own, so running slashd and
portald is out of the question.
Does anyone {know} if there is a way to run without these daemons? It'll
probably impact performance, but that's ok with me."

CTDATA has taken its copy of slashd and converted it into a cron job. If you are interested in how this is done, read on.

Continue reading "Converting "slashd" and Other Slash Daemons to "cron" Jobs" »

August 29, 2000

CTDATA Developing Slash 0.4 Multihoming Capability

CTDATA is in the process of developing multihoming capability for our customized version of the Slash Engine. Our version is code named "Slash 0.4" because it is derived from Slash 0.3, the last major release prior to Slashcode 1.x.

This will allow us to roll out Slash Engine functionality to other Web Sites in our network. These Web Sites include and

Continue reading "CTDATA Developing Slash 0.4 Multihoming Capability" »

August 28, 2000

USPTO May Issue Broad Patent on International Commerce via Internet

The Wall Street Journal says that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may issue a broad technology patent covering "a process for
carrying out an international transaction ... using
computer-to-computer communication."

Of course, it's difficult to say what the true implications of this patent would be, if it is finally issued. But, if defense of this patent results in the encumberment of much international e-commerce, that would be a negative development for e-commerce and the software development industry.

Continue reading "USPTO May Issue Broad Patent on International Commerce via Internet" »

NY Times: Presidential Commission Recommends Government Support for Open Source

The New York Times is reporting that a soon-to-be released report from the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee calls on the U.S. government to support the creation of Open Source software as one of the ways to address an expected shortfall in commercial quality applications.

According to the article, leaders of the Open Source movement say, "The point ... is not to destroy the profit motive that has helped
make software a $175 billion-a-year business worldwide. The goal
instead is to bring software development into the Internet era by sharing
knowledge widely, allowing programmers to build on each other's work
and accelerate the pace of software debugging and improvement. " (Note: Free registration is required to access content on

Continue reading "NY Times: Presidential Commission Recommends Government Support for Open Source" »

August 27, 2000

O'Reilly Announces "University of Perl", Classes in Four Cities in October

O'Reilly has announced that its conference group will offer University of Perl 2000, a series of Perl training sessions that will take place in four different cities in the United States during October.

Members of the CTDATA staff have attended these tutorial programs in previous incarnations, and gotten a lot out of them. So, we recommend them highly.

Continue reading "O'Reilly Announces "University of Perl", Classes in Four Cities in October" »

August 11, 2000

Web Techniques Magazine: an Important Resource for Web Developers

We are adding Web Techniques Magazine to our Quick Links slashbox because we find ourselves referring to it several times a week. It is doing a good job of providing coverage of Perl, Java, and various scripting environments through its Script Junkie column. They've produced some excellent discussions of infrastructure technologies, including one of the most sober analyses of ICE we've seen.

Continue reading "Web Techniques Magazine: an Important Resource for Web Developers" »

August 9, 2000

Web Site Offers Easy Way to Evaluate Strength of Development Teams

Scripting News pointed to this article on Joel on Software which provides a simple way to evaluate the efficiency of a development team. It is delivered in the form of a 12 question test where each question can be answered "yes" or "no".

We feel that the test is more oriented to classic desktop or client-server application development than it is to Web development, and it focuses a lot more on good team management practices than on any specific programming techniques. Regardless, it is something worth looking at and seeing how your team measures up.

Continue reading "Web Site Offers Easy Way to Evaluate Strength of Development Teams" »

August 8, 2000

Perl Monks Publishes Guide to Its Site

One of the problems we have had with the Perl Monks Web Site is that we had difficulty understanding what the specific purpose of each major section was. We just discovered that Everything Development Company has published the Perl Monks guide to the Monastery. So, if you were wondering what sections like "Seekers of Perl Wisdom", "Meditations", and "Craft" were about, this is the document for you.

August 4, 2000

Making Progress with HTML::Parser

Dave Aiello wrote, "By continually plugging away at writing code that implements HTML::Parser, I have gotten it to work. I leaned heavily on the best how to article I could find on the subject Parsing HTML with HTML::Parser (unfortunately a subscription to Perl Journal magazine is required to access this)."

"I feel that way the code is written is unintuitive and I can't believe that HTML parsed to your specification is not explicitly returned by a call to $parser->parse($html)."

Continue reading "Making Progress with HTML::Parser" »

August 2, 2000

A Search for Documentation on HTML::Parser

Dave Aiello wrote, "For the last three days, I have been searching for usable documentation and examples for the HTML::Parser module for Perl. Everything I read on-line says that this is the way to implement an HTML parser in Perl, but you'd never know it from the information that people have posted about how to actually use it."

Continue reading "A Search for Documentation on HTML::Parser" »