Delivering statistics with DBI Apache/mod_perl

By Marta Regge
Date: Thursday, 24 July 2003 14:00
Duration: 40 minutes

The publication on the Web of statistical information/reports about
student population in a country is not a trivial task. And this is
because of two main reasons: the amount of information
addressed/processed, and the heterogeneity of the databases (usually,
entity-relationship databases) where information is stored.

Initially, statistical reports/graphics were generated using
Perl. Each page was generated by a script. Similar pages, with
slightly different characteristics were provided by different
scripts. In this way, a significant number of redundant scripts has
been created in a relatively short time. The management of these
scripts has become a challenging task. Another important disadvantage
was the time required between sending a request and visualizing the
result (tens of seconds till minutes). A brilliant solution to these
problems is the successful combination Apache-mod_perl. Simple
queries have been organized in "classes" of queries through a
parameterization process. Further, various types of objects have been
defined: tables, graphics, maps, objects specific to forms (lists,
check boxes, etc.), pdfs, etc. These objects include both query
results and formatting parameters. A query result can be visualized in
various ways: as a table, graphic, or a pdf file. The result of a
query may be used as input for a new query. Integration of different
parts implemented by different developers is easily performed, too.

Essentially, this solution takes advantages of embedding compiled Perl
into an Apache Web server. The developer has maximum control of the
requests and responses. The results are visualized in few seconds. And
last, but not least, the developer can continue to use Perl. The talk
will focus on three aspects: the objects/concepts defined, the
organization and management of the solution described, and some
aspects related to the DBI.

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