[Chicago-talk] Fwd: Perl MySQL question

Jim Thomason jim at jimandkoka.com
Thu Mar 26 08:53:30 PDT 2015

I'd say that using Catalyst or any other MVC framework (my camp in this
religious debate would be Mojolicious) is way overkill, especially for an
initial simple pass. If you just want to get something braindead simple up
and running lightning fast...

1) Get some sort of web server installed and configured. apache/nginx/one
of the myriad perl servers, whatever. Ask your friendly local sysadmin for
help and/or suggestions, if necessary. And as always, be concerned about
security if this is public facing.

2) Enable CGI in some manner - this is usually either enabling scripts in a
certain directory, or things with a .cgi extension to be executable.

3) your cgi script is more or less the same as a command line script. If
you're going to output just plain text (as you would have if you were
sending to the screen or piping it to a file), just add this to the top:

print "Content-type: text/plain\n\n";

And you're done. That'll spit it out to the web and it'll look exactly the
same as if you were sending it to a file. HTTP communication is really easy
if you skirt a few of the rules - it really just needs a Content-type
header so the browser knows the type of data it's receiving. There's more
that you -should- do, and I don't suggest you do the above as a production
run, but to get your feet wet and up and going, this'll have you spitting
out text to the browser in under an hour.

...and now that the simple start up pleasantries are out of the way...

First of all, you need to worry about security - make sure that the user
can't send in arbitrary SQL queries to your server, ESPECIALLY if it's not
firewalled off for only authorized users. The last thing you'd need is an
open arbitrary SQL gateway that allows any black hat to come in and run an
insert/update/drop table/alter table statement. This task is potentially
non-trivial, but at a minimum, don't write it to accept arbitrary SQL from
the browser.

The CGI module is pretty popular for the IO requirements here. There are
myriad other derivatives - CGI::Lite, CGI::Minimal, etc. Use whatever's
handy. That'll give you better header handling, and simpler processing for
reading in options passed by the user.

Next, to pretty it up, templating libraries like Text::Template or
HTML::Template can help layout an interface for you.

You may need login/user capabilities. You can do that with CGI and
templating yourself, but it's a lot of infrastructure you need to set up.
One of the frameworks may be more useful for you at this point.

Nowadays, it's also very trendy to have your web front ends be javascript
apps that handle all the layout and interface, and your communication back
and forth to the server is all done by handing JSON objects or XML. So you
might want to look into that as well. On the one hand, it makes the web
front end more complicated and brings in different languages, but on the
other it can keep the server side a lot simpler if you're only handing data
structures back and forth to the client and letting the client side handle
all the interaction.


On Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 9:30 AM, Alan Mead <amead2 at alanmead.org> wrote:

>  Richard,
> I think that most people will tell you to use a web-based framework and
> some of them are optimized for this.
> But it's pretty simple to create a single-page CGI that displays some data
> and there are many examples available online.  I find HTML::Template to
> have a fairly easy interface for creating HTML tables from DBI queries.
> Probably a key issue is how much other infrastrcture you need.  For
> example, if people need to login, that's going to make a simple CGI a bad
> idea.
> -Alan
> On 3/26/2015 8:59 AM, Richard Reina wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Richard Reina <gatorreina at gmail.com>
> Date: 2015-03-26 8:15 GMT-05:00
> Subject: Perl MySQL question
> To: chicago-talk at pm.org
>  Hello All,
> What would be the easiest way to display query results from a MySQL
> database -- running on a Debian machine -- onto a webpage. What I would
> like is to allow a user to log in and be able to do a few simple queries. I
> know enough perl and SQL to write the queries via perl->DBI but I have
> never done any web programing. What I mean is that I have written a lot of
> perl programs that query databases and display the results on a console
> screen via curses but never displayed results onto the www. I'm guessing
> that I might need to install Apache but really have no clue beyond that.
>  PS It does not have to be anything fancy.
>  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
>  Richard
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