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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A web programming marvel, October 17, 2001
This review is from: Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C: The Apache API and mod_perl (Paperback)
I once read that you could not consider yourself a Unix Wizard until you had hand written a SendMail configure script once, and that no sane person ever did it twice.
The first part of that truism can perhaps be said of Web Wizards and Apache modules. Fortunately Apache modules are a little easier to write than Sendmail configurations and this book makes it easier still.
Let's not mince words. Perl scripts and other CGI software can quickly become performance bottlenecks on any server, no matter the size of your hardware. The most powerful way of fixing this is to fold a fair amount of that programming inside the server where the overhead of loading interpreters, libraries and code is already taken care of, not to mention you find yourself with much more power and control over the dialogue between server and browser.
Unfortunately writing to an API as large and complex as that in Apache is not always easy. MacEachern and Stein go to a great deal of trouble and exert a fair degree of skill in breaking the learning down into manageable chunks and explaining it all with a large number of examples.
This was the first book I read that really made me understand the process going on, both between the two pieces of software and inside Apache, when a page is requested. From there the book goes on to give you a marvellous understanding of how to write a module in Perl that fits into that process. Finally the last three chapters are excellent API reference guides, one on the Perl API and two on the C API, and an excellent index (which indexes every function in the API's as well as key concepts) make this a superb tool when you get down to writing.
The book does not cover using C in any where near as much depth, but the vital conceptual understanding required and explained in the Perl chapters means that once you have written a module in Perl I don't believe you will find it a problem to do it in C. I have to say though, as a C programmer I am yet to do it, I get so much performance out of a module in Perl I've yet to find the need.
I read this book before starting my first module and I have now written three. I would never have even contemplated the task before reading this volume. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a full understanding of writing software for the web and anyone who wants a quantum leap in the performance of their web software. You will need some fair Perl skills and preferably written a few CGI scripts as this book does not cover the language skills required at all.
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