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Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C: The Apache API and mod_perl Paperback – April 11, 1999
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Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C will allow you to enhance your Apache HTTP server in just about any way you'd like. Overall, it is an excellent book, and it has a lot of good information and terrific examples on everything from "Content Handlers" to customizing the Apache server configuration process.
It's quickly apparent that Lincoln Stein and Doug MacEachern spent valuable time writing this book considering the breadth of their subject and the depth they devote to it. The only downside to the book is that it's kind of hard to explain all of the API functionality without assuming a minimum level of competence from the audience. For that reason, this book might be a bit intimidating to novice programmers, but it really rewards you if you put time into it and tinker with things.
The book also works well as a source of ideas and inspiration for when you have to write your own server modules, and I'd recommend it if you want to customize your Apache server or speed up your Perl CGI programs. --Doug Beaver
About the Author
Doug MacEachern has been addicted to Perl and web servers since early 1994 when he was introduced to Plexus as a student employee at the University of Arizona. Soon after returning to his home town of Boston, Massachusetts, and entering the "real world," he discovered the Apache web server, and since early 1996, he has been gluing Perl into all its nooks and crannies. His day job has consisted of integrating various other technologies with the Web, including DCE, Kerberos, and GSSAPI, but Perl has been the only one he cannot let go of. Doug has continued as a developer disguised as a consultant since the start of 1998, spending most of his time between Auckland, New Zealand, and San Francisco, California, with time at home in Boston during the warmer months. Doug likes to spend his time away from software--far, far away, sailing on the ocean, diving below it, or simply looking at it from a warm, sandy beach where technology doesn't go much beyond thatched huts and blenders.
Lincoln Stein is an assistant investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he develops databases and user interfaces for the Human Genome Project using the Apache server and its module API. He is the author of several books about programming for the Web, including The Official Guide to CGI.pm, How to Set Up and Maintain a Web Site, and Web Security: A Step-by-Step Reference Guide.
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Although this book is old, it has some useful reference material that can still be applied today.
It doesn't mention as much about C as it does PERL, but it does cover the basic fundamental principles of using either language to create your own apache modules, which was more of what I was interested in.
01. Server-Side Programming with Apache
02. First Module
03. Apache Module Architecture and API
04. Content Handlers
05. Maintaining State
06. Authentication & Authorization
07. Other Request Phases
08. Customizing the Apache Configuration Process
09. Perl API Reference Guide
10. C API Reference, Part I
11. C API Reference, Part II
When we do begin the writing of a module, it isn't a basic, stand-alone module, but a module to add footers to other content. So, the text digresses into a long and technical discussion of the various ways to configure Apache and associate MIME types so that this module will work with documents that we might or might not have on hand (It's just assumed that you have these laying around handy). During this discussion, we get bounced off of other Apache::xyz modules that apparently popped into the author's head in a moment of "As long as we're at it, why don't we throw this in too" inspiration. Wonderful information ... presented at the wrong time.
To give an example: A logical place to start learning Oracle SQL (or any other SQL) would be with the SELECT statement. However, the authors of this book would begin with a detailed discussion of PL/SQL exception handling, a listing of most of the built-in PL/SQL exceptions, and a listing of a number of the built-in Oracle packages. (Recall we were just starting with SQL. But what the heck! PL/SQL is cool, so why not talk about it now? We're going to use it eventually anyway.) Then for your first select statement, you would write something that used a complex join, a correlated subquery, and a few built-in functions. Well, obviously, we can't just throw this extra stuff in there and not talk about it. So we go whirling off into a discussion of complex joins, correlated subqueries and any other tangents that happen to pop into our head. And when it is all said and done, we still don't know how to display the entire contents of the EMP table.
This is a classic of case of making it difficult to see the forrest because of all the trees. The authors of this book have made no attempt to devise a progressive model for building knowledge. Instead, information is dumped on the reader apparently in the order it came to mind. Maybe this is a problem with having multiple authors. Perhaps the parts were written independently, then slung together. That's what it looks like.
I suppose this book will get you to where you are going ... eventually. But I suspect you will spend considerable time flipping back and forth between chapters re-reading and re-re-reading sections in order to re-assemble the information in a somewhat logical pattern; hence the comparison to a 5,000 piece puzzle.
For those who might be wondering: This book assumes you already know the Perl language. If you don't, the "Learning Perl" book is a good starting point (you do NOT want "Programming Perl" at this point). You will probably also want to get some knowledge of HTML and building web documents. And you will probably want to get at least a basic knowledge of custom configuring an Apache installation.
I haven't actually read the other mod_perl and developer-oriented Apache books out there but in my opinion this book is still indispensable if you plan to write Apache modules, either in Perl, C, or other languages. Especially if you write for mod_perl, this book is a great complement to the mod_perl guide. Stas' guide focuses on deployment and tuning issues (memory usage, speed, etc) while WAM focuses on the Apache API and how Apache can help you do the job by writing modules.
Personally, _Writing Apache Modules_ is still the most useful reference book to date. It's one that spends the largest amount of time on my desk.
And, oh yes, Amazon gives a good deal on this one ... .
Can't wait for the Apache 2 counterpart.
Most recent customer reviews
Its very straight forward, focuses only on things that are related to writing modules in both Perl...Read more