Catalyst: Accelerating Perl Web Application Development

Posted December 28, 2009 by Lino Ramirez
Categories: Free and Open Source Software, Perl

If you are a Perl fan that is looking for ways to developing high quality Perl Web Applications, Catalyst: Accelerating Perl Web Application Development is one book you should consider for your library. This is an introductory book to Catalyst, an open source web application framework written in Perl. With it you will get a good understanding of the Catalyst framework, its MVC (Model-VIew-Controller) architecture, and how to create web applications using Catalyst. All chapters start with an introduction followed by step-by-step instructions to accomplish the chapter’s goals. The chapters ends with a summary of what was learned to ease the learning process.

Chapter 1, “Introduction to Catalyst”, explain the need of using a MVC framework when developing web applications. It also explains how Catalyst fulfills that need. This chapter also discusses the Catalyst architecture and how to get it installed in Debian-based Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Windows using ActiveState.

Chapter 2, “Creating a Catalyst Application”, shows you how to do the Hello World! Application using Catalyst. The most useful elements of this chapter are the description of the directory structure and the description of the files in the different directories. As a bonus, this chapter includes a brief introduction to SQLite.

Chapter 3, “Building a Real Application”, discusses the steps required to create a basic but extensible AddressBook. Among the steps discussed are environment setup, database design, and creating an Index, and Non Found pages. Of particular interest are the section on a CRUD (Create Retrieve Update Delete) interface to delete a person’s information from the database and the section on Forms to add information to the database.

Chapter 4, “Expanding the Application”, explains how to use configuration files to add value to the AddressBook developed in Chapter 3. Sessions, authentication, and authorization are added to personalize the Address Book. Also, searching and paging functionalities are incorporated into the Address Book to facilitate locating information.

Chapter 5, “Building a More Advanced Application”, describes a tool (ChatStat) for tracking opinions expressed in a popular Perl IRC Channel ( Of key interest in this chapter are the section on extracting data from the IRC Channel and the section on manipulating the data to make sense of it.

Chapter 6, “Building Your Own Model”, deals with different ways of accessing the accessing the database models. The options explored in this chapter are: (1) mixing a procedural interface with a relational DBIx::Class interface, used to enhanced the AddressBook Application; (2) writing a database interface without DBIx::Class for the AddressBook; and (3) building a custom Model that does not use a database at all (this model was used to create a simple Blog application).

Chapter 7, “Hot Web Topics”, focuses on adding interactivity and improving responsiveness to web sites. The chapter deals first with adding a REST API to the AddressBook application so that API clients can easily look up people and their addresses. Authentication is handled by using username and password. Next, the AddressBook application user interface is modified using Jemplate to allow users to edit addresses in place. The final topic covered in this chapter is RSS feeds. The XML::Feed CPAN module is used to add an RSS feed to the mini blog application described in Chapter 6.

Chapter 8, “Testing”, deals with automating testing of Catalyst applications. The author starts the chapter by promoting “test driven development”, which suggests writing the tests before writing the code. The author, then, how to test applications outside Catalyst using as an example the testing of the message parser and the database of the ChatStat application. Next, the author describes how to test the ChatStats web interface using Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst. After that, the author tests the AddressBook application using a test user and Selenium RC, a portable software testing framework for web applications.

Chapter 9, “Deployment”, teaches how to get a Catalyst application from development to production. is used to manage dependencies and to create packages. PAR deployment is discussed for cases in which the development and production environment are at the same platform. Configuration management and performance issues are also discussed.

In short, this is a well written book with lots of tips to get started with Catalyst. Even though it has many typos, it would certainly be a good addition to your library of Perl books.


Please, help us find missing Canadian Pilot using Google Earth

Posted December 26, 2007 by Lino Ramirez
Categories: Canada, News, Technology

Thanks to technology, you can be instrumental to bringing peace to a tormented family. We are trying to find an apple seed in a backyard infested with weed. We need your eyes and your goodwill.

Ron Boychuk disappeared on October 23, 2007 on his way home, while he was flying alone in a Cessna 172 plane. Ron departed from Revelstoke, Canada en route to the Vancouver Island community of Qualicum, Canada and never arrived. The Canadian government has given up the search. This is why friends and family have been sending their cry for help to the online community.

The incredible people at DigitalGlobe and InternetSAR responded the call and have donated their invaluable time and resources to make this search possible.

DigitalGlobe arranged for a satellite sweep of some of the highest value areas, and have donated us free of charge the best image quality available in North America.

InternetSAR are providing us with their valuable time, experience, and technology to support the collaborative analysis of those images.

We now need many people to thoroughly observe the images and report any spot that should be looked at more closely. We are trying to find an apple seed in a backyard infested with weed.

We need your eyes; we need volunteers; we need goodwill. Thanks to technology, you can help. You can be instrumental to bringing peace to a tormented family.

If you want to help, please:

  1. go to
  2. follow the link “Ron Boychuk Search”
  3. create your account
  4. review one or more imagery overlays with Google Earth

Any question, please join the Google Earth Community. There, we have enabled a forum related to the Search for Ron Boychuk

Our sincerest thanks


Calgary Open Source Systems Festival: The largest free technology event in Calgary

Posted October 21, 2007 by Lino Ramirez
Categories: Free and Open Source Software, News, Perl

This coming weekend is the Calgary Open Source Systems Festival (COSSFest 2007). For those open source lovers and those curious about open source, this is a must attend event. By the way, I will be giving two talks: one on Machine Learning Development with Perl and another on Open Source Business Analytics.

Here is the official press release:


COSSFEST 07 (Calgary Open Source Systems Festival) will bring together professionals, students and enthusiasts who share a common interest in Open Source software.

This one-day conference and expo will be made up of speakers and hourly workshops.

Booths featuring hardware vendors, software companies, services companies, and (of course) user groups will be on hand. This event is the largest free technology event in Calgary!


COSSFEST 07 will publicize open source systems and educate the community at large on how open source systems can satisfy their software needs. This is a great opportunity for visionaries, developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, programmers, CIOs, CTOs, educators, not-for-profit leaders, hackers and average users to meet, network and learn.




4-Nines Dining Centre, John Ware Building

SAIT Polytechnic

1301 – 16th Avenue NW, Calgary, AB T2M 0L4

Saturday, October 27, 2007

9:30 am to 5:30 pm.


This is a FREE event

(Registration for attendance is required at


For more information, please visit:

Contact: Kin Wong at 403.617.9316 or e-mail:


Everyone interested in Linux, Unix, Open Source and Free Software is welcome


IBM Joins Community

Posted September 14, 2007 by Lino Ramirez
Categories: Free and Open Source Software, News

10 September 2007 — The community today announced that IBM will be joining the community to collaborate on the development of software. IBM will be making initial code contributions that it has been developing as part of its Lotus Notes product, including accessibility enhancements, and will be making ongoing contributions to the feature richness and code quality of Besides working with the community on the free productivity suite’s software, IBM will also leverage technology in its products.

read the full press release at

Machine Learning Development with Perl

Posted September 11, 2007 by Lino Ramirez
Categories: analytics, knowledge discovery, Perl

I just posted in PerlMonks a draft of a 45 minutes-long talk on Machine Learning Development with Perl. Here is an extract of that post:


Machine Learning Development with Perl

The development of machine learning applications can be seen as a three-phase process involving: preparation, modeling, and implementation (See Fig. 1).

As a developer, you have to move back and forth between phases until you get a satisfactory result.


In the preparation phase, you work with your customer to define the problem. You proceed, then, to gather some data. After that, you analyze the data and do some cleaning if necessary and select the features you are going to use in the model. Based on the type of problem, you may decide what type of model you want to develop: a classifier, an estimator, or a clustering application.


In the modeling phase, you do the model selection in case you did not do it in the preparation phase and then you do the development and finally you do the evaluation. Based on the results you get, you may decide to got back to the preparation phase and select other features, other cleaning method, or maybe other type of model.


In the implementation phase, you simply implement your model. One important consideration is that your model should continue learning from new data. Sometimes, in machine learning, your model works well initially but when the data grow significantly then the model does not perform as well as before. This is why it is important to allow the model to continue learning as more data become available.


The full post ( including source code ) is available at RFC: Machine Learning Development with Perl



Presenting AranduCorp

Posted September 10, 2007 by Lino Ramirez
Categories: knowledge discovery, News

AranduCorp is a consulting firm focused on helping organizations improve their business processes, marketing, and sales. AranduCorp offers training and consulting services on predictive analytics and will soon offer affordable predictive analytics software solutions for small and medium size businesses.

For more information visit:

AranduCorp’s Website

AranduCorp’s Blog

Machine Learning Made Easy with Perl (the day before)

Posted July 24, 2007 by Lino Ramirez
Categories: Free and Open Source Software, OSCON, OSCON07, Perl

Machine Learning Made Easy with Perl is the name of the session I am giving tomorrow afternoon at OSCON. I really worked hard on this one 🙂 It took me more time than I expected to make machine learning easy 😉 I do not want to spoil the surprise but the talk is really packed so if you are attending, do not close your eyes for a second because you might miss one of the pointers that could save your next machine learning project.

There is a small update to the session: I will only be covering “Exploratory financial data analysis using fuzzy clustering” and “Medical decision support systems using support vector machines”. I will cover only two case studies to provide more in depth information. Come and see what I mean 🙂

I hope to see many faces there. By the way, I will make available the slides and the source code one week after the talk.