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THIS module is called "ClearCase::Argv". There is a DIFFERENT module called simply "Argv". ClearCase::Argv depends on (requires) Argv. More precisely, ClearCase::Argv is a subclass of Argv. Therefore, you must download and install BOTH in order for ClearCase::Argv to work. This naming has confused quite a few people so I highlight it here.


Though ClearCase::Argv is itself pretty small, it represents the "Grand Unification" of some of my other ClearCase-related modules. The module itself is fully documented in the standard POD format; this file is an accompanying overview and chronology.




I wrote IPC::ClearTool to manage cleartool as a co-process for reasons of speed. I.e. instead of doing a fork/exec for each cleartool command it forks just one process in the background and sends all cleartool commands down to it. This is much (possibly up to 10 times) faster. Unfortunately IPC::ClearTool suffered from a few paradigmatic flaws:

I was able to "port" IPC::ClearTool to Windows by calling in to the ClearCase Automation Library (CAL), a COM interface first available in ClearCase 4.0. But the other issues remained, until ...


I also had a ClearCase/Perl module called ClearCase::Ct. This was a wrapper that ran on top of cleartool to extend its functionality and/or allow site policies to be established at the wrapper level. But it suffered from an ugly programming model too (do we sense a trend here?). In particular it was necessary to do lots of shifting, grepping, splicing, and quoting of @ARGV, leading to terribly spaghetti-like code in places, especially when you throw in the need for UNIX/Windows portability and different shell-quoting rules. So extensions written to the ClearCase::Ct "API" tended to resemble a nest of ifdefs.

So I set out to rewrite ClearCase::Ct. The first step was to write a support module (eventually called Argv) to hide all the @ARGV machinations under an OO interface. Argv has plenty of its own docs so I won't go into it here, but suffice it to say it provides lots of ways to slice and dice an arg vector. In fact it provides much more parsing power than almost anyone would ever need, so while this was its original reason for existence it's the least interesting to most.

However, Argv also has execution methods, i.e. you can execute your Argv object via $obj-system()> or $obj-qx()>. Handling platform differences (quoting, pathname separators, etc.) in Argv seemed like a natural extension, so I added that. This lead to convenience methods like $obj-autochomp> (should be obvious) and $obj-qxargs> (implements xargs-like behavior to ensure that system limits aren't exceeded), etc.

At this point I realized that though the parsing features had a tiny constituency, the portability abstraction of the execution methods might be of interest to more users. So in order to make that more accessible I added a functional interface, allowing the single line

    use Argv qw(system exec qv);

to overrride the Perl builtins with Argv's relatively platform- independent versions. Note: qv is used because Perl doesn't allow qx(), which is itself a synonym for backquotes, to be overridden. Bottom line, adding the above line - plus converting `cmd` to qv("cmd") - buys a lot of UNIX/Win32 portability.

I eventually did get around to rewriting ClearCase::Ct; the new module is called ClearCase::Wrapper.


Note that Argv itself has nothing to do with ClearCase. So I made a little subclass of Argv to tune it for use with cleartool, since I write a lot of Perl/ClearCase code. Originally, ClearCase::Argv simply extended Argv to prepend the word "cleartool" to all arg vectors. Thus, while

    Argv->new('ls', -l');

represents an "ls -l" command,

    ClearCase::Argv->new('ls', -l')->system;

would run "cleartool ls -l", and it understands that the 'program' part of the command line is "cleartool ci" (or more properly qw(cleartool ci)).

The functional interface of Argv is exposed through ClearCase::Argv, and it's also extended to support methods called ctsystem(), ctexec(), and ctqx() which automatically prepend 'cleartool'. E.g.:

        my @views = ccqx(lsview -s);

Attributes can be set through the functional interface like this:

        my @views = ccqx({autochomp=>1, dbglevel=>0}, lsview -s);


Then one day I got an email question from Mark Scandariato of Lucent:

    Do you have any plan to use IPC-ClearTool within ClearCase-Ct? (I'd
    hate to duplicate anything already underway.)

I replied that I didn't but it got me to thinking about whether ClearCase::Argv could be taught to send its commands to a co-process. A few days later I got a chance to play with it and it came together with surprising ease. This is the big connection that makes it all pretty neat, IMHO, since you get improved speed, portability, and ease of use in one package. Without having to make a major commitment of rewriting code.

Then, years later, I found a way to achieve the same co-process capability without needing the IPC::ClearTool module. This is way simpler and easier to maintain, and proves the value of the ClearCase::Argv abstraction layer since the change was achieved without affecting users. At this point IPC::ClearTool is obsolete, though I have not yet removed it from CPAN since some people still use it.

So, bottom line, ClearCase::Argv now can be told to execute cleartool commands via the traditional process spawning model OR via the specialty APIs (IPC or ClearCase::CtCmd). Writing to the ClearCase::Argv API sets you free from that decision until runtime.


Some regression testing cases were extracted from the main, which is meant as a fast smoke test, into an r sub-directory.

They are accessible one by one with e.g.: make test TEST_FILE=r/setup or better: perl -Mblib r/cygwin

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