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For 2023 (and 2024 ...) - we are now fully retired from IT training.
We have made many, many friends over 25 years of teaching about Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, Java, C and C++ - and MySQL, Linux and Solaris/SunOS too. Our training notes are now very much out of date, but due to upward compatability most of our examples remain operational and even relevant ad you are welcome to make us if them "as seen" and at your own risk.

Lisa and I (Graham) now live in what was our training centre in Melksham - happy to meet with former delegates here - but do check ahead before coming round. We are far from inactive - rather, enjoying the times that we are retired but still healthy enough in mind and body to be active!

I am also active in many other area and still look after a lot of web sites - you can find an index ((here))
Designing your data structures for a robust Perl application

Whatever language you're programming in, design of your data structures is important. You should consider such design ahead of time, and before you start to code - "What am I going to be doing with this data" and "how do I want to access it".

It is easy - VERY easy - to fall into the trap of staring to code without adequate thought (and a diagram) and in language like Perl (especially) which assumes you know what you are doing, and where a few bytes of code can do a lot of work, you can so easily head for trouble if you're unplanned.

So here is a piece of PLANNED code! I am going to be writing code to analyse a log file. It's a web server's access log file, where each request is a separate line in the file, with the first field on each line identifying the visiting client computer.

My data design:

• I want a HASH, keyed by the visiting client computer's identity (IP address).

• the values in that hash are to be references to a LIST of accesses from that client and

• each access record is itself to be a list of individual strings from the incoming access records.

So - in summary - a Hash of lists of lists.

Design done - let's NOW write the setup code!

open (FH,"ac_20090818") or die;
while (<FH>) {
  my ($thisip,@otherparts) = split;
  push @{$all{$thisip}}, \@otherparts;

Do not be mislead by how short that code is - it really does set up the three-tier structure I described. What a good job I HAD described it, though, so that it's easy to handle. Let's now test it, by printing out part of one record and also a summary of the number of visitors:

# For IP address, look at the
# 7th hit and tell us the 6th fld.
print ${${$all{""}}[6]}[5],"\n";
print $all{""}->[6]->[5],"\n";
print $all{""}[6][5],"\n";
@visitors = keys %all;
print "Visits from ",@visitors+0," places\n";

and running that:

Dorothy-2:pl grahamellis$ perl actab
Visits from 14872 places
Dorothy-2:pl grahamellis$

What if your code is going to be more than just a few lines long? Are you going to be able to design / recall / easily code structures like these? Probably not - you'll want to use an approach that is more extensible. And that's where you'll take the complicated logic bits inside and hide them ("encapsulate them") within a module or a class - Structured and Object Oriented Programming which allows you to go from small to medium and large applications robustly, and without writing code that becomes a nightmare to enhance.

The example above was written at the end of yesterday's opening day of our Perl for Larger Projects class. I'll be carrying on with it today - moving to an Object Oriented application where each of the layers will be written with more straightforward, verifiable, testable, re-usable code - leading towards an application in which we can extract and report on information about our web site visitors with ease ... and which we can easily enhance and modify as further analyses are required.
(written 2009-08-25, updated 2009-08-26)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
P711 - An Introduction to Standards in Perl
  [242] Satisfaction of training - (2005-03-11)
  [668] Python - block insets help with documentation - (2006-04-04)
  [743] How to debug a Perl program - (2006-06-04)
  [945] Code quality counts - (2006-11-26)
  [965] KISS - one action per statement please - Perl - (2006-12-05)
  [1047] Maintainable code - some positive advice - (2007-01-21)
  [1221] Bathtubs and pecking birds - (2007-06-07)
  [1345] Perl and Shell coding standards / costs of an IT project - (2007-09-11)
  [1395] Dont just convert to Perl - re-engineer! - (2007-10-18)
  [1555] Advanced Python, Perl, PHP and Tcl training courses / classes - (2008-02-25)
  [1728] A short Perl example - (2008-07-30)
  [1853] Well structured coding in Perl - (2008-10-24)
  [1863] About dieing and exiting in Perl - (2008-11-01)
  [2688] Security considerations in programming - what do we teach? - (2010-03-22)
  [2875] A long day in Melksham ... - (2010-07-17)
  [3398] Perl - making best use of the flexibility, but also using good coding standards - (2011-08-19)
  [4326] Learning to program - comments, documentation and test code - (2014-11-22)

P704 - Managing Perl Projects
  [836] Build on what you already have with OO - (2006-08-17)
  [2070] Converting to Perl - the sort of programs you will write - (2009-03-08)

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Long job - progress bar techniques (Perl)
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Translation from Ghanaian to English
Public Transport from (and to) Melksham on Sundays
Quiet summer days? I think not!
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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