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The Definitive Guide to Catalyst: Writing Extensible, Scalable and Maintainable Perl-Based Web Applications (Expert's Voice in Web Development) 2009th Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1430223658
ISBN-10: 1430223650
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kieren Diment is a social researcher in the School of Management and Marketing, University of Wollongong, Australia, where he uses Catalyst for the collection analysis and presentation of research data. He has taken the lead in a significant portion of the Catalyst documentation including the Catalyst Advent Calendar in 2006 and 2007. His focus has been on ensuring a culture of documentation by example in the project, and ensuring that instructional documentation points to working example code wherever possible.
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Product Details

  • Series: Expert's Voice in Web Development
  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 2009 edition (July 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430223650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430223658
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Cross on September 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Catalyst is one of the most interesting projects to come out of the Perl community in the last few years. Originating as a fork of the Maypole web framework, Catalyst has grown into the de facto standard for building web application using Perl. Its power and flexibility make it a great choice for many web-based projects.

But often great power and flexibility goes hand in hand with complexity. I've used Catalyst in simple ways on a couple of projects but I had always suspected that I wasn't getting everything that I could out of the software. What I really needed was a good book that explained the best way to get the most out of Catalyst. With this book I think I've got what I was looking for. The book is written by two core members of the Catalyst team. They obviously know exactly what they are talking about and lead the reader confidently through the complexities of Catalyst.

Catalyst, like other well-known web frameworks like Django or Ruby on Rails, uses the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern. This book doesn't assume that you are already familiar with this pattern and chapter 1 explains the underlying concepts in some detail. It also takes time to compare the Catalyst way of doing things with CGI applications and to compare Catalyst itself with other Perl frameworks like CGI::Application and Jifty.

Chapter 2 gets you started by discussing how to install Catalyst. This can be difficult as Catalyst requires a large number of other Perl libraries to be installed, and this section explains the easiest way to do with by using Perl's built-in features. This chapter also contains an introduction to Object Oriented programming in Perl using Moose.
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I've used Perl for about ten years, and have experience with all of the "pre-Catalyst" frameworks and helpers (from CGI.pm to CGI::Application to dalliances with writing my own and trying Jifty). I've also used Rails and read several books on it (most of which are disappointments).

Unfortunately, I found this guide a disappointment as well. Most of the book seems to be structured around a few "examples," the largest of which is a translation app from English into "Lolcat." The problem with such an app as an example is that it could readily be done in a dead-simple, several-line CGI script (hell, even a one-liner could probably do it), so it requires a certain suspension of disbelief that one should be using stashes, chained dispatch methods, templates, and the like. Why not a normal CRUD type app as an example? Boring, yes, but to-the-point and more likely to be illustrative of the tools and their best applications.

The conversational "flow" of the book is distracting, as well. I understand that a more tabular or outlined form for making specific information easier to find could render it hard to read "straight through" as a book. But the sheer volume of information, and diversity of scenarios, make it unlikely that anyone will read it straight through and make equal use of all parts. Far better to organize the content more rigorously by function -- for example, the best and best-structured chapter by far is the chapter on dispatch (it gets to borrow for its prose structure from the flow chart on page 168. Less in-depth meanderings into such adjuncts as DBIx::Class and Moose, but more on how (if at all) such outside modules must interface / play nice with the Catalyst core. A chapter on errors. A chapter on logging. A chapter on templating.
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Format: Paperback
I'm the maintainer and refactor-er of the Catalyst::Helper namespace. That said, I should know a great deal about Catalyst. With THAT said, after even my first skim of this book, I picked up some great tips that I had not thought of or stumbled upon before. The collaboration between the authors and the attitude of "no less than excellent" each one of them has led to this being an extremely in depth, informative, and must-have resource for novice, experienced and non-Catalyst developers alike. Not only will you learn how to use the premier Perl web framework, but you will improve your Perl hacking skills as well.

From your first line of Catalyst, to deployment, to maintenance, you will learn how to create Catalyst applications the right way, the scalable way, and the easy way.

Kudos to each and everyone one of the authors, and the Catalyst community for making this such a great book.
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I've found that Catalyst (as a product) is lacking in reference material. There are a couple of tutorials online that are helpful, There is even one that comes with its on virtual disk image so that you can get a jump on the product to help decide if this is the way you want to go.

After spending a couple of days with Catalyst, I decided that it would be difficult to develop and document with an existing code base. I am fighting with about 80K lines of code written over a ten year period. I needed to develop a framework to allow the code to grow with demands on the system. I did not feel comfortable that I could use Catalyst around the existing code and to build a framework for the long run. I feel much more comfortable building a solid class structure that I can add incrementally to the existing code and take the code to the next level. So, I am back to some of the more basic CPAN packages and am focusing on good design.

I was hoping this book would act as a reference manual so that I could get a view of the internals and functionality. However, it does not seem to be organized in such a way. That being the case, I suggest that you check out the tutorials online to make a decision if you want to use Catalyst. If you decide on Catalyst this book's tutorial style, you will find it is a good book that provides solid examples, good design methods, information on databases and lots of basic software design discussion and comments on style.
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