Tim Keefer > Gantry > Gantry::Docs::Tutorial

Download:
Gantry-3.64.tar.gz

Annotate this POD

CPAN RT

New  10
Open  3
View/Report Bugs
Source  

Name ^

Gantry::Docs::Tutorial - The Gantry Tutorial

Introduction ^

Gantry is a mature web framework, released in late 2005 onto an unsuspecting world. For more information on the framework, its features and history, see Gantry::Docs::About.

Here we will explore the basic workings of Gantry by constructing a very simple application. Don't let the simplicity of this example fool you -- this framework has extreme flexibility in delivering applications with web and scripted components. The example in this document is only to get you started.

This document begins by describing a simple one-table management application. It walks through the process of building the application. Then, it shows a tool -- called Bigtop -- which can be used to build the application from a relatively small configuration file. Finally, it shows how to add another table and regenerate the app via Bigtop.

Sample App Description ^

I'm worried about my wife's address book. There is only one copy and without it, we would lose track of many of our friends and some of our relatives. I want to put my wife's address book into a database, but allow her to use it through a web interface.

Here are the things that Lisa tracks:

name

the name of a person or nuclear family

address

postal address, so we can send toys to the kids etc.

phone

one or more numbers (email addresses are in the margin, but that will have to wait for version 1.1)

This leads to one table:

    CREATE SEQUENCE address_seq;
    CREATE TABLE address (
        id int4 PRIMARY KEY DEFAULT NEXTVAL( 'address_seq' ),
        name   varchar,
        street varchar,
        city   varchar,
        state  varchar,
        zip    varchar,
        phone  varchar
    );

The application needs to show all the addresses in a single table, allow for adding new ones and editing or deleting existing ones. To make it easier to accomodate Lisa's international family and friends, we won't do any validation of the data -- except to make sure she enters some. For example, this will allow her to wedge several numbers (home, cell, etc.) into the phone field.

Hand-writing the Sample App ^

After creating a directory called Apps-Address, I made a lib subdirectory for the code. (You could use h2xs to help with the initial steps. Or, you could use Bigtop, as I did, see "Using Bigtop" below.)

There are four key modules in this application:

Apps::Address

the base module

Apps::Address::Model

the DBIx::Class schema which controls the model. In a bigger app, it would control all models.

Apps::Address::Address

the controller for the address table

Apps::Address::Model::address

the object relational mapper class, which inherits from DBIx::Class

We'll walk through each of these in a subsection, showing the code with commentary interspersed. After our tour I'll show the modules again without the commentary, so you can see how they look when whole, in "Complete Code Listings".

Apps::Address

The job of the base module is to provide a home for shared code and a common place to hold site navigation links.

Here is our module (without its documentation but with commentary interspersed):

    package Apps::Address;
  
    use strict;
  
    our $VERSION = '0.01';

It begins like any other module...

    use Gantry qw{ -TemplateEngine=TT };
  
    our @ISA = ( 'Gantry' );

...but, it uses Gantry with a template engine (Template Toolkit).

Note that somewhere you need to use Gantry with the -Engine option. I'll do that in the stand alone server script. You could also do it in a CGI dispatching script or in httpd.conf for mod_perl deployments.

    use Apps::Address::Address;

For the convenience of future readers, the base module has an explicit use for the single controller Apps::Address::Address (which we will see below). This is purely for documentation.

    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->site_links(  )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub site_links { 
        my ( $self ) = @_;
 
        return [
            { link => $self->app_rootp() . 'address', label => 'Address' },
        ];
    } # END site_links

The site_links method provides a common place for all (or most) app pages to look for site navigation links. The only link here takes users to the default page in the address table's controller.

    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->do_main(  )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub do_main {
        my ( $self ) = @_;
  
        $self->stash->view->template( 'main.tt' );
        $self->stash->view->title( 'Main Listing' );
    
        $self->stash->view->data( {
            pages => [ 
                { link => 'address', label => 'Address' },
            ],
        } );
    } # END do_main
  
    1;

do_main is one (of two) default methods Gantry dispatches to. If you hit the controller on its base URL, Gantry will try to dispatch to do_main. If you don't have one of those, it will fall back to do_default (which we use sparingly, usually to accept URL parameters without having to use the query string).

This main method merely displays the site links in main.tt which ships with Gantry. It shows a bulleted list of all navigation links.

There is one other commonly useful method in the base controller: init. Gantry.pm handles a set of standard configuration parameters. If you need to handle others, implement an init sub and accessors for them. First, dispatch to SUPER, so it can handle the standard parameters. Then handle your app specific ones. For example, an init to catch an SMTP host name might look like this:

    sub init {
        my ( $self ) = @_;
 
        # process SUPER's init code
        $self->SUPER::init( );
 
        $self->smtp_host( $self->fish_conf( 'smtp_host' ) || '' );
    } # END init

Using fish_conf has two advantages over a more direct approach like this:

        $self->smtp_host( $self->r->dir_config( 'smtp_host' ) || '' );

First, using dir_config ties you to mod_perl. Second, directly fishing from the request object prevents a more general solution, like Gantry::Conf (see Gantry::Conf::Tutorial for how to use that).

Apps::Address::Model

The Model might better be called Apps::Address::Schema, since it inherits from DBIx::Class::Schema. But we call it the model. It has two purposes. First, is to load the actual model classes. Second, it sets the DBI options for the database connections.

    package Apps::Address::Model;
    use strict; use warnings;
 
    use base 'DBIx::Class::Schema';
 
    __PACKAGE__->load_classes( qw/
            address
    / );
 
    sub get_db_options {
        return { AutoCommit => 1 };
    }
 
    1;

See DBIx::Class::Schema for a discussion of load_classes and the other things you can set up in your schema.

This schema only loads address, since that is our only table. Even for complex apps, there is rarely any more complexity to this module. But, it will have more classes to load.

Apps::Address::Address

This is the workhorse for this application. It manages the CRUD (create, retrieve, update, and delete) for address book rows. Again, I'll include it a piece at a time with running commentary.

    package Apps::Address::Address;
 
    use strict;
 
    use base 'Apps::Address';

It begins like any subclass. Note that it is a subclass of Apps::Address which is itself a subclass of Gantry. The only handler sub is in Gantry.pm (unless you count user authentication, but that's way ahead of our little story about the vulnerable address book with the flowers on the cover).

    use Gantry::Plugins::DBIxClassConn qw( get_schema );
 
    use Apps::Address::Model;
    use Apps::Address::Model::address qw( $ADDRESS );

To ease DBIx::Class use, Gantry provides a plugin: Gantry::Plugins::DBIxClassConn. That plugin exports get_schema, which controllers need to read their database. We'll see how to use it below.

In addition to loading the plugin, our controller also needs to use the base model (a.k.a., the schema) and which ever models it actually needs.

Each table has a model in the Model namespace with the same name as the table (note the case -- this exactly matches the sql shown in the previous section). The model exports an alias to its full name as $ADDRESS to save us some typing when we use it. It uses uc on the table's name to make the alias more visible.

    use Gantry::Plugins::AutoCRUD;

This is the real key to avoiding work. AutoCRUD handles create, update and delete (we'll see retrieval in a minute). This module is more of a mixin than a plugin. It exports five methods to us: do_add, do_edit, do_delete, form_name, and write_file. The form_name is just the name of the template to use for add/edit input. If you don't want the standard form.tt, that comes with Gantry, don't import that method. Instead, implement that method so it returns the name of your template file.

The write_file method handles file uploads, which we don't need for this app.

In Gantry, the handler calls methods named do_* where the star is replaced with a string from the url. So the URL for adding an entry to the address book would be something like:

    http://somehost.example.com/address/add

where somehost.example.com is our host (or virtual host) and /address/add is the requested page. address is a Location in our apache conf and add becomes do_add, the name of the method to execute. Using the do_ prefix has two advantages. First, since URL pieces are used directly, it keeps people from running non-handlers by clever url spoofing. Second, and for our company more importantly, it makes it clear which methods are accessible, and which are not. This aids us when we are modifying a controller. If it starts with do_ it can be reached via url.

So, we are mixing in do_add, do_edit, and do_delete. We need to implement a few methods to complete our controller.

We need a small sub so the DBIx::Class plugin can find our schema:

    sub schema_base_class { return 'Apps::Address::Model'; }

Now we are coming to the real code. The default action for a Location in Gantry is do_main. We usually use it to display a table with one summary row for each database row like this. It looks like this:

    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->do_main(  )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub do_main {
        my ( $self ) = @_;
 
        $self->stash->view->template( 'results.tt' );
        $self->stash->view->title( 'Address' );

The do_main controller uses the results.tt default main listing template which ships with Gantry. If you change templates, you'll probably need to substantially modify the rest of do_main.

        my $real_location = $self->location() || '';
        if ( $real_location ) {
            $real_location =~ s{/+$}{};
            $real_location .= '/';
        }

Some care is required to avoid missing or doubled slashes when forming URLs. But, that's nothing a little string work can't address. With a clean address in place we are ready to build the output.

        my $retval = {
            headings       => [
                'Name',
                'Street',
            ],
            header_options => [
                {
                    text => 'Add',
                    link => $real_location . "add",
                },
            ],
        };

The template always receives a hash reference. I frequently call mine $retval, short for return value. For results.tt, the hash describes the main listing table. The are two parts to that: the heading row and the body rows. There is one heading row for the table. This one has labels: 'Name' and 'Street.' There is one option the user can invoke for the whole table: Add. Clicking that will lead to the same URL with 'add' appended. That URL will be dispatched to the do_add we mixed in from the AutoCRUD plugin.

Now we need the data for the main listing. For simplicity, I'll get all the data. It is not hard to get pages of data, but I'll leave that for later documents (look for rows or paged_conf in bigtop or tentmaker's docs).

        my $schema = $self->get_schema();
        my @rows   = $ADDRESS->get_listing( { schema => $schema } );

First, I asked for the DBIx::Class schema, but calling the get_schema accessor mixed in for us by the DBIxClassConn plugin. Next, I called get_listing on the address model, through its alias. This sugar method returns the rows for our main listing. Note that it expects named arguments in a hash reference and schema is required.

Now, it's a fairly simple matter to loop over each database row making a table row in the template data.

        foreach my $row ( @rows ) {
            my $id = $row->id;
            push(
                @{ $retval->{rows} }, {
                    data => [
                        $row->name,
                        $row->street,
                    ],
                    options => [
                        {
                            text => 'Edit',
                            link => $real_location . "edit/$id",
                        },
                        {
                            text => 'Delete',
                            link => $real_location . "delete/$id",
                        },
                    ],
                }
            );
        }

First, I fished the row id out of the DBIx::Class object, and stored it in a scalar. This allows direct interpolation into a couple of URL link strings. Then I pushed the data and the row options into the rows key of the return value hash. The data are just the family's name and street address. You could add any other columns from the underlying table. For instance, to add phone, add:

    $row->phone,

to the data list after $row-street>. The order and contents of the data are up to you.

Just as the header row has an Add option, each data row has an Edit and a Delete option. Note that their URLs include the row id to work on. The only thing I have left to do in do_main is to set the return value data in place:

        $self->stash->view->data( $retval );
    } # END do_main

The only other large piece is the form, in which users enter new addresses or edit existing ones. AutoCRUD calls this method for you when the users visits do_add and do_edit pages. Call this method form. If an edit triggered the call, it will pass in the row as it stands in the database.

The following code produces this on the screen:

    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->form( $row )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub form {
 
        return {
            row    => $row,
            legend => $self->path_info =~ /edit/i ? 'Edit' : 'Add',
            fields => [

The default template is called form.tt. Among other things, it expects the return value hash to contain row (if editing), legend (legend of form's fieldset), and fields (what the user will see and enter or edit). If the row is supplied, its values are used for initial form population. The legend is set based on the path_info which contains part of the URL. If that URL fragment includes 'edit,' the legend is 'Edit.' Otherwise, it is 'Add.'

The fields are an array of the entry elements the user will see. The order of the array controls the on screen order. Each field is a little hash. While there are other keys, the four most common are used over and over, not just in this example.

                {
                    name => 'name',
                    optional => 0,
                    label => 'Name',
                    type => 'text',
                },

The name must be the name of the column in the database and will also be used as the name of the html form element.

If optional is true, the field is optional. Otherwise, it is required. I could have omitted optional from the Name hash, since required is the default.

The label is displayed in the left hand column of the form input table.

The type is the HTML form element type. See form.tt in Gantry's templates for a complete list of types is understands. That will also explain how to include other field hash keys to specify things like pull down options.

The other fields hashes are all of the same form. Only the field names and labels change. Here is one example:

                {
                    name => 'city',
                    optional => 1,
                    label => 'City',
                    type => 'text',
                },
                #...
            ],
        };
    } # END form

Finally, there are some small subs which return strings used by the AutoCRUD plugin at various points.

    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # get_model_name( )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub get_model_name {
        return $ADDRESS;
    }

Gantry::Plugins::AutoCRUD uses get_model_name to find out which model class to use for create, update, delete, and lookups.

    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # get_orm_helper( )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub get_orm_helper {
        return 'Gantry::Plugins::AutoCRUDHelper::DBIxClass';
    }

For historical reasons, the AutoCRUD plugin defaults to using Class::DBI. We no longer use that. So, we have to provide get_orm_helper to identify our CRUD helper.

    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # text_descr( )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub text_descr     {
        return 'address';
    }

Gantry::Plugins::AutoCRUD uses text_descr to fill in the blank in things like:

    Delete _____?

That's the whole controller (save the #... where the other fields go -- see below for "Complete Code Listing").

Apps::Address::Model::address

To separate sql from the controller (and view) we use Gantry with an Object-Relational Mapper (ORM). For this example I will show DBIx::Class, since it the one we've settled on. You could also use Class::DBI or Gantry's native models, but I won't show you how.

Gantry provides its own base class to add to DBIx::Class it is Gantry::Utils::DBIxClass. Each model subclasses it and represents one table in the database. These classes are standard DBIx::Class subclasses. Here is the own for my address table:

    package Apps::Address::Model::address;
    use strict; use warnings;
 
    use base 'Gantry::Utils::DBIxClass', 'Exporter';
 
    our $ADDRESS = 'Apps::Address::Model::address';
 
    our @EXPORT_OK = ( '$ADDRESS' );

Note that we export the alias for controllers to use when referring to the model class. This mitigates the length of the name. Gantry does not require you to do this. If you prefer to type the name, feel free.

    __PACKAGE__->load_components( qw/ PK::Auto Core / );
    __PACKAGE__->table( 'address' );
    __PACKAGE__->add_columns( qw/
        id
        name
        street
        created
        modified
        city
        state
        zip
        phone
    / );
    __PACKAGE__->set_primary_key( 'id' );
    __PACKAGE__->base_model( 'Apps::Address::Model' );

All of these calls are common when using DBIx::Class, except base_model. Gantry uses it to hide the connection inside Gantry::Plugins::DBIxClassConn.

Various parts of Gantry use other methods I should define here. They are all simple.

    sub foreign_display {
        my $self = shift;
 
        my $name = $self->name() || '';
 
        return "$name";
    }

The foreign_display controls the default sort order of get_listing which I called in do_main of the controller for the address table. It also controls how rows from the table will be summarized when other tables refer to this one via a foreign key.

    sub get_foreign_display_fields {
        return [ qw( name ) ];
    }

This tells anyone who is interested the names in the foreign display string in their order of appearance there. get_foreign_display_fields is what actually controls get_listing sort order.

    sub get_foreign_tables {
        return qw(
        );
    }

This returns a list of table names for which this table has foreign keys.

    sub table_name {
        return 'address';
    }

Finally, this returns the name of the table. This becomes important if you are using Postgres schemas which preface the table name with its schema name and a dot (for instance: my_schema.my_table). This table name will have the dot, even though the dot is converted to an underscore for the package name and in other places where Perl objects to dots.

See the perldoc for DBIx::Class and DBIx::Class::ResultSet for more details.

Complete Code Listings

Note that all POD sections have been omitted for brevity.

SQL for database creation

    CREATE SEQUENCE address_seq;
    CREATE TABLE address (
        id int4 PRIMARY KEY DEFAULT NEXTVAL( 'address_seq' ),
        name   varchar,
        street varchar,
        city   varchar,
        state  varchar,
        zip    varchar,
        phone  varchar
    );

Apps::Address

    package Apps::Address;
 
    use strict;
 
    our $VERSION = '0.01';
 
    use Apps::Address::Address;
 
    use Gantry qw{ -TemplateEngine=TT };
 
    our @ISA = qw( Gantry );
 
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->do_main(  )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub do_main {
        my ( $self ) = @_;
 
        $self->stash->view->template( 'main.tt' );
        $self->stash->view->title( 'Main Listing' );
 
        $self->stash->view->data( {
            pages => [
                { link => 'address', label => 'Address' },
            ],
        } );
    } # END do_main
 
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->site_links(  )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub site_links {
        my ( $self ) = @_;
 
        return [
            { link => $self->app_rootp() . 'address', label => 'Address' },
        ];
    } # END site_links
 
    1;

Apps::Address::Model

    package Apps::Address::Model;
    use strict; use warnings;
 
    use base 'DBIx::Class::Schema';
 
    __PACKAGE__->load_classes( qw/
        address
    / );
 
    sub get_db_options {
        return { AutoCommit => 1 };
    }
 
    1;

Apps::Address::Address

    package Apps::Address::Address;
 
    use strict;
 
    use base 'Apps::Address';
 
    use Gantry::Plugins::DBIxClassConn qw( get_schema );
 
    use Apps::Address::Model;
    use Apps::Address::Model::address qw( $ADDRESS );
 
    use Gantry::Plugins::AutoCRUD qw(
        do_add
        do_edit
        do_delete
        form_name
        write_file
    );
 
    sub schema_base_class { return 'Apps::Address::Model'; }
 
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->do_main(  )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub do_main {
        my ( $self ) = @_;
 
        $self->stash->view->template( 'results.tt' );
        $self->stash->view->title( 'Address' );
 
        my $real_location = $self->location() || '';
        if ( $real_location ) {
            $real_location =~ s{/+$}{};
            $real_location .= '/';
        }
 
        my $retval = {
            headings       => [
                'Name',
                'Street',
            ],
            header_options => [
                {
                    text => 'Add',
                    link => $real_location . "add",
                },
            ],
        };
 
        my $schema = $self->get_schema();
        my @rows   = $ADDRESS->get_listing( { schema => $schema } );
 
        foreach my $row ( @rows ) {
            my $id = $row->id;
            push(
                @{ $retval->{rows} }, {
                    data => [
                        $row->name,
                        $row->street,
                    ],
                    options => [
                        {
                            text => 'Edit',
                            link => $real_location . "edit/$id",
                        },
                        {
                            text => 'Delete',
                            link => $real_location . "delete/$id",
                        },
                    ],
                }
            );
        }
 
        $self->stash->view->data( $retval );
    } # END do_main
 
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # $self->form( $row )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub form {
        my ( $self, $row ) = @_;
 
        return {
            row        => $row,
            legend => $self->path_info =~ /edit/i ? 'Edit' : 'Add',
            fields     => [
                {
                    name => 'name',
                    optional => 0,
                    label => 'Name',
                    type => 'text',
                },
                {
                    name => 'street',
                    optional => 1,
                    label => 'Street',
                    type => 'text',
                },
                {
                    name => 'city',
                    optional => 1,
                    label => 'City',
                    type => 'text',
                },
                {
                    name => 'state',
                    optional => 1,
                    label => 'State',
                    type => 'text',
                },
                {
                    name => 'zip',
                    optional => 1,
                    label => 'Zip',
                    type => 'text',
                },
                {
                    name => 'phone',
                    optional => 1,
                    label => 'Phone',
                    type => 'text',
                },
            ],
        };
    } # END form
 
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # get_model_name( )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub get_model_name {
        return $ADDRESS;
    }
 
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # get_orm_helper( )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub get_orm_helper {
        return 'Gantry::Plugins::AutoCRUDHelper::DBIxClass';
    }
 
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    # text_descr( )
    #-----------------------------------------------------------------
    sub text_descr     {
        return 'address';
    }
 
    1;

Apps::Address::Model::address

    package Apps::Address::Model::address;
    use strict; use warnings;
 
    use base 'Gantry::Utils::DBIxClass', 'Exporter';
 
    our $ADDRESS = 'Apps::Address::Model::address';
 
    our @EXPORT_OK = ( '$ADDRESS' );
 
    __PACKAGE__->load_components( qw/ PK::Auto Core / );
    __PACKAGE__->table( 'address' );
    __PACKAGE__->add_columns( qw/
        id
        name
        street
        created
        modified
        city
        state
        zip
        phone
    / );
    __PACKAGE__->set_primary_key( 'id' );
    __PACKAGE__->base_model( 'Apps::Address::Model' );
 
    sub get_foreign_display_fields {
        return [ qw( name ) ];
    }
 
    sub get_foreign_tables {
        return qw(
        );
    }
 
    sub foreign_display {
        my $self = shift;
 
        my $name = $self->name() || '';
 
        return "$name";
    }
 
    sub table_name {
        return 'address';
    }
 
    1;

Deploying the Application ^

After coding the above modules we only need to do two more things: create the database and add our application to httpd.conf.

In Postgres, you can merely say something like

    createdb address
    psql address -U apache < schema.postgres

(supplying passwords as requested) where schema.postgres is the one shown above in "Sample App Description".

Assuming you are using mod_perl 1.3, you can add the following to your httpd.conf:

    <Perl>
        #!/usr/bin/perl
 
        use lib '/home/me/Apps-Address/lib';
 
        use Address;
        use Address::Address;
    </Perl>
 
    <Location />
        PerlSetVar dbconn dbi:Pg:dbname=address
        PerlSetVar dbuser apache
        PerlSetVar dbpass secret
        PerlSetVar template_wrapper wrapper.tt
        PerlSetVar root /home/me/Apps-Address/html:/home/me/srcgantry/root
    </Location>
 
    <Location /address>
        SetHandler  perl-script
        PerlHandler Apps::Address::Address
    </Location>

Adjust the dbconn, dbuser, and dbpass PerlSetVars for your database. The root needs to include the directory where wrapper.tt lives. You can copy one from the sample_wrapper.tt that ships with gantry (look in the directory named root).

Now all that remains is to restart the server.

If you are using Gantry::Conf (which we prefer, but didn't discuss above), you need to set one var:

    PerlSetVar GantryConfInstance addressbook

Then create a config file for the set vars shown above. See Gantry::Conf::Tutorial for details.

If you are using CGI you need to make a script instead of adjusting apache locations. Here is ours:

    #!/usr/bin/perl
 
    use CGI::Carp qw( fatalsToBrowser );
 
    use lib '/home/me/Apps-Address/lib';
 
    use Apps::Address qw{ -Engine=CGI -TemplateEngine=TT };
 
    use Gantry::Engine::CGI;
 
    my $cgi = Gantry::Engine::CGI->new( {
        config => {
            dbconn => 'dbi:Pg:dbname=address',
            dbuser => 'apache',
            template_wrapper => 'wrapper.tt',
            root => '/home/me/Apps-Address/html:',
                    '/home/me/srcgantry/root',
        },
        locations => {
            '/' => 'Apps::Address',
            '/address' => 'Apps::Address::Address',
        },
    } );
 
    $cgi->dispatch();

If you are using Gantry::Conf with CGI, use the single config hash key:

    my $cgi = Gantry::Engine::CGI->new( {
        config => {
            GantryConfInstance => 'address',
        }
        # locations as above
    } );

If you want to deploy the app as a stand alone server (most useful during testing), change the above cgi script to this:

    #!/usr/bin/perl
 
    use Gantry::Server;
 
    use lib '/home/me/Apps-Address/lib';
 
    use Apps::Address qw{ -Engine=CGI -TemplateEngine=TT };
    use Gantry::Engine::CGI;
 
    my $cgi = Gantry::Engine::CGI->new( {
        config => {
            dbconn => 'dbi:Pg:dbname=address',
            dbuser => 'apache',
            template_wrapper => 'wrapper.tt',
            root => '/home/me/Apps-Address/html:',
                    '/home/me/srcgantry/root',
        },
        locations => {
            '/' => 'Apps::Address',
            '/address' => 'Apps::Address::Address',
        },
    } );
 
    my $port = shift || 8080;
    my $server = Gantry::Server->new( $port );
 
    $server->set_engine_object( $cgi );
    $server->run();

That is, trade use CGI::Carp for use Gantry::Server and <$cgi-dispatch>> for the last four lines shown above. Running the script will start a server on port 8080 (or whatever port was supplied on the command line).

Using Bigtop ^

Now I have a confession. I never coded the example in the previous section. I let Bigtop do it.

Bigtop is a code generator which can safely regenerate as thing change (like the data model). The bigtop script reads a Bigtop file to produce apps like the one shown above. There is a more detailed example in the tutorial for Bigtop.

Bigtop uses its own little language to describe web applications. The language is designed for simplicity of structure. There are basically only two constructs: semi-colon terminated statements and brace delimited blocks.

The easiest way to edit bigtop files is to use tentmaker, a browser delivered editor. It saves a lot of typing. If you really want to see what the bigtop file looks like, see "Complete Bigtop Code Listings" below. If you want to just build the app from that listing, use address-new.bigtop from the examples directory of the Bigtop distribution. Type:

    bigtop -c address-new.bigtop all

If you want to build that bigtop file, keep reading.

First, type:

    tentmaker -n Apps::Address address

This will start tentmaker, tell it to make a new app called Apps::Address and give it a single table address. Once it starts, tentmaker will print a URL on your screen like this:

 ...You can connect to your server at http://localhost:8080/

Go to the URL indicated with a DOM compliant browser like Firefox or Safari. There are five tabs in tentmaker. We need to change things only in the App Body, so click it.

Scroll down to edit the tables called 'address' (it should be the only table). After clicking 'edit,' scroll down further until you see the 'Field Quick Edit' table. Change the 'Column Name' ident to 'name.' Click 'Apply Quick Edit.' (Actually, you can click anywhere in the browser outside fo the input box to update it.) Change 'description' to 'street'. Then, under 'Create Field(s),' enter a single string:

    city state zip phone email

Then press 'Create.' You should see the new fields in the quick edit table.

Click optional in the quick edit heading row to make all fields optional. Finally, uncheck optional for the name.

Now click the 'Bigtop Config' table. Enter a file name next to 'Save As:' After you enter a name, click 'Save As:'. tentmaker will print a little message under the the buttons telling you whether save your file or not. If it saved successfully, press 'Stop Server' and confirm that you want to stop the server.

In the same shell where you launched tentmaker, you should have your prompt back. Type:

    bigtop -c address.bigtop all

Change address.bigtop to whatever you called the bigtop file. Bigtop will build the application and give you instructions on how to start it. Follow those. For example, since I have an executable 'sqlite' in my path, bigtop said this:

    I have generated your 'Apps::Address' application.  I have also
    taken the liberty
    of making an sqlite database for it to use.  To run the application:
 
        cd Apps-Address
        ./app.server [ port ]
 
    The app.server runs on port 8080 by default.
 
    Once the app.server starts, it will print a list of the urls it can serve.
    Point your browser to one of those and enjoy.
 
    If you prefer to run the app with Postgres or MySQL type one of these:
 
        bigtop --pg_help
        bigtop --mysql_help

If you don't have sqlite, it will add a step for building the database. Do type:

        bigtop --pg_help

or

        bigtop --mysql_help

if you use one of those databases.

Generating with bigtop

There are about 100 lines in the example bigtop file built above. Here is a complete list of what bigtop built for you from that file (with directory levels shown by indentation):

 Apps-Address/ - a directory where everything in the app lives
    app.cgi        CGI script
    app.db         sqlite database, if you sqlite in your path
    app.server     stand alone server script
    Build.PL
    Changes        ready for use
    MANIFEST       complete as of the initial generation
    MANIFEST.SKIP
    README         in need of heavy editing
    docs/
       address.bigtop  - the original bigtop file
       schema.mysql    - ready for use with mysql
       schema.postgres - ready for use with psql
       schema.sqlite   - ready for use with sqlite
    html/
        templates/
            genwrapper.tt     - a simple site look
    lib/
       Apps/
          Address.pm    - base module stub for the app
          GENAddress.pm - generated base module for the app
          Address/
             Address.pm - controller stub for the address table
                GEN/
                   Address.pm - generated code for Address.pm above
                Model.pm  - DBIx::Class schema to all models
                Model/
                   address.pm - model stub for the address table
                   GEN/
                      address.pm - generated code for address.pm above
    t/
       01_use.t      - tests whether each controller compiles
       02_pod.t      - if you have Test::Pod, validates all pod in all modules
       03_podcover.t - if you have Test::Pod::Coverage, looks for missing pod
       10_run.t      - hits the default page of each controller

Note that there are more modules than in the hand written version. This allows you to change the data model and regenerate without fear of losing hand coded changes. So, Address.pm, Address::Model, Address::Address, and Address::Model::address are stubs providing a place for you to add your customized code as needed; while Address::GEN::Address, Address::Model::GEN::address, etc. are generated each time you run bigtop. If you need to do something other than what the generated code does, simply redefine the behavior in the non-generated code stubs and that will be used. Do not edit the GEN modules, instead only add code to the stubs as needed.

Revisions

Suppose that you want some validation of the input.

Further, suppose my wife wants us to add a birth day table so she can send cards.

We'll see how to add those things here, by manually editing the bigtop file. You could do these things with tentmaker as well. But sometimes it is easier to work with your favorite text editor. Do what makes sense.

Constraining things

No data in the sample address book is validated (because Lisa has too many friends and relatives living in too many places for meaningful validation).

But, if you want validation, you can include it like so:

    field zip {
        is    varchar;
        label Zip;
        html_form_type text;
        html_form_optional 1;
        html_form_constraint `qr{^\d{5}$}`;
    }

The constraint could be a valid Perl regex. You could also call a sub which returns a regex. If you include a uses statement in your controller like this:

    uses Data::FormValidator::Constraints => `qw(:closures)`;

You can set the constraint like so:

        html_form_constraint `zip_or_postcode()`;

See perldoc Data::FormValidator::Constraints for details of the closures available. All of them return a regex suitable for use as shown.

Email address field

It is particularly easy to add a new field to the address table:

    field email {
        is                 varchar;
        label              `Email Address`;
        html_form_type     text;
        html_form_optional 1;
    }

Note that I put the label for this field in backquotes, since its name contains a space.

We don't have to change the Address controller block, because the only thing affected is the form. tentmaker already specified that the form should have all_fields_but id. So, email will show up upon regeneration.

Birthday table

The most interesting change is adding birthdays. In my mind, this leads to a new table with this schema:

    CREATE SEQUENCE birth_seq;
    CREATE TABLE birth (
        id int4 PRIMARY KEY DEFAULT NEXTVAL( 'birth_seq' ),
        name varchar,
        family int4,
        birthday date
    );

To generate this sql, its model and controller we can add this to our bigtop file (again, I'll show it a bit at a time with commentary):

    table birth {
        field id { is int4, primary_key, auto; }
        field name {
            is             varchar;
            label          Name;
            html_form_type text;
        }

This will be the name of one person in a nuclear family.

        field family {
            is                int4;
            label             Family;
            html_form_type    select;
            refers_to         address;
        }

This field becomes a foreign key pointing to the address table, since it uses the refers_to statement. When the user enters a value for this field, they must choose one family defined in the address table.

        field birthday {
            is                date;
            label             Birthday;
            html_form_type    date;
            date_select_text `Popup Calendar`;
        }
        foreign_display `%name`;
    }

I've chosen to store the actual date of birth (which leads to recording women's ages, shame on me). This is to show how date selection works smoothly for your users. There are three steps to this process. The first one is shown here: use the date_select_text statement. Its value becomes the link text the user clicks to popup the calendar selection mini-window. See, the controller below for the other two steps.

    controller Birth is AutoCRUD {
        controls_table   birth;
        rel_location     birthday;
        uses             Gantry::Plugins::Calendar;

Step two in easy dates is to use Gantry::Plugins::Calendar which provides javascript code generation routines.

        text_description birthday;
        page_link_label  `Birth Day`;

This page will show up in site navigation with its page_link_label

        method do_main is main_listing {
            title            `Birth Day`;
            cols             name, family, birthday;
            header_options   Add;
            row_options      Edit, Delete;
        }

The main listing is just like the one for the address table, except for the names of the displayed fields.

        method form is AutoCRUD_form {
            form_name        birthday_form;
            all_fields_but   id;
            extra_keys
                legend     => `$self->path_info =~ /edit/i ? 'Edit' : 'Add'`,
                javascript => `$self->calendar_month_js( 'birthday_form' )`;
        }
    }

Now the name of the form becomes important. The calendar_month_js method (mixed in by Gantry::Plugins::Calendar) generates the javascript for the popup and its callback, which populates the date fields. Note that we don't tell it which fields to handle. It will work on all fields that have date_select_text statements.

Once these changes are made, we can regenerate the application:

    bigtop docs/address.bigtop all

Execute this command while in the build directory (the one with the Changes file in it).

For the app to work successfully, you will need to alter the existing database so it has the new columns and birth day table. Either throw out the old database or alter it at your option. Bigtop has data statements which allow you to specify initial data for tables. This makes discarding a database less painful.

Again, I confess that I used tentmaker to get me started with the changes above, then cleaned its output until it became the "Complete Bigtop Code Listing" below.

You can continue to edit the bigtop file with a text editor or tentmaker and regenerate as the app matures. We have regenerated production apps months after deployment.

Complete Bigtop Code Listing

 config {
     engine CGI;
     template_engine TT;
     Init Std {  }
     SQL SQLite {  }
     SQL Postgres {  }
     SQL MySQL {  }
     CGI Gantry { gen_root 1; with_server 1; flex_db 1; }
     Control Gantry { dbix 1; }
     Model GantryDBIxClass {  }
     SiteLook GantryDefault {  }
 }
 app Apps::Address {
     config {
         dbconn `dbi:SQLite:dbname=app.db` => no_accessor;
         template_wrapper `genwrapper.tt` => no_accessor;
     }
     controller is base_controller {
         method do_main is base_links {
         }
         method site_links is links {
         }
     }
     table address {
         field id {
             is int4, primary_key, auto;
         }
         field name {
             is varchar;
             label Name;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 0;
         }
         field street {
             is varchar;
             label Street;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 1;
         }
         foreign_display `%name`;
         field city {
             is varchar;
             label City;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 1;
         }
         field state {
             is varchar;
             label State;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 1;
         }
         field zip {
             is varchar;
             label Zip;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 1;
             html_form_constraint `qr{^\d{5}$}`;
         }
         field country {
             is varchar;
             label Country;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 1;
         }
         field email {
             is varchar;
             label Email;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 1;
         }
         field phone {
             is varchar;
             label Phone;
             html_form_type text;
             html_form_optional 1;
         }
     }
     controller Address is AutoCRUD {
         controls_table address;
         rel_location address;
         text_description address;
         page_link_label Address;
         method do_main is main_listing {
             cols name, street;
             header_options Add;
             row_options Edit, Delete;
             title Address;
         }
         method form is AutoCRUD_form {
             all_fields_but id, created, modified;
             extra_keys
                 legend => `$self->path_info =~ /edit/i ? 'Edit' : 'Add'`;
         }
     }
     table birth {
         field id {
             is int4, primary_key, auto;
         }
         field name {
             is varchar;
             label Name;
             html_form_type text;
         }
         field family {
             is int4;
             label Family;
             refers_to address;
             html_form_type select;
         }
         field birthday {
             is date;
             label Birthday;
             html_form_type text;
             date_select_text `Popup Calendar`;
         }
         foreign_display `%name`;
     }
     controller Birth is AutoCRUD {
         controls_table   birth;
         rel_location     birthday;
         uses             Gantry::Plugins::Calendar;
         text_description birthdays;
         page_link_label `Birth Days`;
         method do_main is main_listing {
             title `Birth Day`;
             cols name, family, birthday;
             header_options Add;
             row_options Edit, Delete;
         }
         method form is AutoCRUD_form {
             form_name birthday_form;
             all_fields_but id;
             extra_keys
                 legend => `$self->path_info =~ /edit/i ? 'Edit' : 'Add'`,
                 javascript => `$self->calendar_month_js( 'birthday_form' )`;
         }
     }
 }

Summary ^

In this document we have seen how a simple Gantry app can be written and deployed. While building a simple app with bigtop can take just a few minutes, interesting parts can be fleshed out as needed. Our goal is to provide a framework that automates the 50-80% of most apps which is repetitive, allowing us to focus our time on the more interesting bits that vary from app to app.

If you want to see a more realistic app, see Bigtop::Docs::Tutorial which builds a basic freelancer's billing app.

There are other documents you might also want to read.

Gantry::Docs::FAQ

categorized questions and answers explaining how to do common tasks

Gantry::Docs::About

marketing document listing the features of Gantry and telling its history

The modules have their own docs which is where would be gantry developers should look for more information.

Author ^

Phil Crow <philcrow2000@yahoo.com>

Copyright and License ^

Copyright (c) 2006-7, Phil Crow.

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself, either Perl version 5.8.6 or, at your option, any later version of Perl 5 you may have available.

syntax highlighting: