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Developing CGI Applications with Perl
by Rick Smith (July 9, 2001)

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B O O K   I N F O R M A T I O N
Title: Developing CGI Applications with Perl
Authors: John Deep
Peter Holfelder
Publisher: Wiley Computer Publishing

Developing CGI Applications with Perl starts out a tad slow. The book begins with the history of the World Wide Web and then presents an HTML 2.0 summary, describes HTML forms, details the Common Gateway Interface (CGI), introduces the Perl language and explains the HTTP protocol in the first 100 pages of the book.

Perl code is finally shown in the 7th chapter of this 17 chapter book. This example shows how to parse an HTML form and send the data via e-mail. It requires the sendmail program to function. It does show you how to process a form directly, which may be fine for learning, but could expose a user to security problems. Other program examples are a Random Image Displayer and Matt Wright's guestbook application. The eight pages of Guestbook source code are described with nearly six pages of description. This is good since each Perl script is described in enough detail to make this book a good training guide for the novice Perl CGI developer.

The major application in the book is a Web-based Project Information Management system -- PIMS which was developed on a Sun Sparc 20 running Solaris 2.3. This chapter goes beyond simply listing the code with an explanation, but details the development process in detail by describing the background, requirements, design details, phase one implementation, field-testing, improvements and phase two implementation. Since this program is only a prototype, it describes the system limitations in detail.

Several interesting topics are started in the final chapters, but unfortunately these three chapters total slightly over 30 pages. These topics are:

  • The Oracle Gateway which is a Perl CGI program that allows you to easily search, add a record and update records in an Oracle database, using a Web Browser form.

  • Perl objects. As this is the only topic of some books, five pages don't really do this topic justice.

  • Dynamic Documents. The concept of server-push animations is described.

  • Millicent commerce transactions are introduced in six pages in the final chapter that has little to do with Perl CGI applications.

    If you are interested in a Project Information Management system or the Oracle Gateway, this could be a resource early in the project. Unfortunately, this book spends the first third of the book on topics covered in depth elsewhere and only lightly covers the unique topics in the final chapters.

    On the back cover of the book, it mentions that you'll find "All of the sample CGI applications developed in the book" and "links to sites around the world where you can watch some of the hottest CGI applications in action". Unfortunately, the only information I could find about this book on the Wiley site was author information, a description of the book and a chapter listing. Sadly, without a website or a CD, you will have to type in (or OCR) each example.

    Chapter Titles

    Copyright 2001 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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