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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.
It reduces days of surfing PODS (perl docs), man-pages (unix docs), and online Apache online references into a nice little kitty. But it¹s not a simple typographical candying/laser-printing of your online docs--the author gives thorough treatment to important GOALS one would want to achieve with the Apache and Apache+Perl facilities--the facilities are elegant, but the sample code and explanations are definitely clear too.
Even the reference section (Chapter 9-11) to Apache library are infested with snippets that improve code comprehension. I felt comfortable tackling the logic of third party Apache modules (in c) and Perl+Apache modules (in perl) after my first run through the book.
The authors made sure you¹ll feel equally comfortable in c when tackling the Apache API, I¹m really happy about this, because some sites require programming in c to maximize server availability when the number of concurrent clients are too high for normal perl or java solutions, and other situations. Since the authors worked with the core server as well as Apache API closely in the effort to bring Perl and Apache together, I can see their enthusiasm in their explanation of c side of the API--which is what they use when improving the GNU mod_perl project--this helps to make this reference far far from being another dry treatment of a programming interface.
While advanced CGI writers can learn all they need about Apache modules, I found it really soft and patient with newbies too. Newbies will find reading this book helps them a lot in understanding how one administer an Apache server (from a sys-admin or programmer¹s point of view) and learn what Apache is all about (if you thought the Apache Bible is good, this book helps you understand the workings of Apache even better). This book is like a brilliant TLC tele-surgery of high-performance Apache modules. Good for web-Jedi¹s all over the galaxy. I felt like I just camped and spent two weeks in a web-guru¹s workshop.Conclusion: *sniffle* Your book rule, worth every penny.
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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Its very straight forward, focuses only on things that are related to writing modules in both Perl...Read more