Darren Duncan > CGI-Portable-0.51 > CGI::Portable

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Module Version: 0.51   Source  

NAME ^

CGI::Portable - Framework for server-generic web apps

DEPENDENCIES ^

Perl Version

        5.004

Standard Modules

        I<none>

Nonstandard Modules

        File::VirtualPath 1.011
        CGI::MultiValuedHash 1.09
        HTML::EasyTags 1.071  -- only required in page_as_string()

SYNOPSIS ^

Content of thin shell "startup_cgi.pl" for CGI or Apache::Registry env:

        #!/usr/bin/perl
        use strict;
        use warnings;

        require CGI::Portable;
        my $globals = CGI::Portable->new();

        use Cwd;
        $globals->file_path_root( cwd() );  # let us default to current working directory
        $globals->file_path_delimiter( $^O=~/Mac/i ? ":" : $^O=~/Win/i ? "\\" : "/" );

        $globals->set_prefs( 'config.pl' );
        $globals->current_user_path_level( 1 );

        require CGI::Portable::AdapterCGI;
        my $io = CGI::Portable::AdapterCGI->new();

        $io->fetch_user_input( $globals );
        $globals->call_component( 'DemoAardvark' );
        $io->send_user_output( $globals );

        1;

Content of thin shell "startup_socket.pl" for IO::Socket::INET:

        #!/usr/bin/perl
        use strict;
        use warnings;

        print "[Server $0 starting up]\n";

        require CGI::Portable;
        my $globals = CGI::Portable->new();

        use Cwd;
        $globals->file_path_root( cwd() );  # let us default to current working directory
        $globals->file_path_delimiter( $^O=~/Mac/i ? ":" : $^O=~/Win/i ? "\\" : "/" );

        $globals->set_prefs( 'config.pl' );
        $globals->current_user_path_level( 1 );

        require CGI::Portable::AdapterSocket;
        my $io = CGI::Portable::AdapterSocket->new();

        use IO::Socket;
        my $server = IO::Socket::INET->new(
                Listen    => SOMAXCONN,
                LocalAddr => '127.0.0.1',
                LocalPort => 1984,
                Proto     => 'tcp'
        );
        die "[Error: can't setup server $0]" unless $server;

        print "[Server $0 accepting clients]\n";

        while( my $client = $server->accept() ) {
                printf "%s: [Connect from %s]\n", scalar localtime, $client->peerhost;

                my $content = $globals->make_new_context();

                $io->fetch_user_input( $content, $client );
                $content->call_component( 'DemoAardvark' );
                $io->send_user_output( $content, $client );

                close $client;

                printf "%s http://%s:%s%s %s\n", $content->request_method, 
                        $content->server_domain, $content->server_port, 
                        $content->user_path_string, $content->http_status_code;
        }

        1;

Content of settings file "config.pl"

        my $rh_prefs = {
                title => 'Welcome to DemoAardvark',
                credits => '<p>This program copyright 2001 Darren Duncan.</p>',
                screens => {
                        one => {
                                'link' => 'Fill Out A Form',
                                mod_name => 'DemoTiger',
                                mod_prefs => {
                                        field_defs => [
                                                {
                                                        visible_title => "What's your name?",
                                                        type => 'textfield',
                                                        name => 'name',
                                                }, {
                                                        visible_title => "What's the combination?",
                                                        type => 'checkbox_group',
                                                        name => 'words',
                                                        'values' => ['eenie', 'meenie', 'minie', 'moe'],
                                                        default => ['eenie', 'minie'],
                                                        rows => 2,
                                                }, {
                                                        visible_title => "What's your favorite colour?",
                                                        type => 'popup_menu',
                                                        name => 'color',
                                                        'values' => ['red', 'green', 'blue', 'chartreuse'],
                                                }, {
                                                        type => 'submit', 
                                                },
                                        ],
                                },
                        },
                        two => {
                                'link' => 'Fly Away',
                                mod_name => 'DemoOwl',
                                mod_prefs => {
                                        fly_to => 'http://www.perl.com',
                                },
                        }, 
                        three => {
                                'link' => 'Don\'t Go Here',
                                mod_name => 'DemoCamel',
                                mod_subdir => 'files',
                                mod_prefs => {
                                        priv => 'private.txt',
                                        prot => 'protected.txt',
                                        publ => 'public.txt',
                                },
                        },
                        four => {
                                'link' => 'Look At Some Files',
                                mod_name => 'DemoPanda',
                                mod_prefs => {
                                        food => 'plants',
                                        color => 'black and white',
                                        size => 'medium',
                                        files => [qw( priv prot publ )],
                                        file_reader => '/three',
                                },
                        }, 
                },
        };

Content of fat main program component "DemoAardvark.pm"

This module acts sort of like CGI::Portable::AppMultiScreen.

        package DemoAardvark;
        use strict;
        use warnings;
        use CGI::Portable;

        sub main {
                my ($class, $globals) = @_;
                my $users_choice = $globals->current_user_path_element();
                my $rh_screens = $globals->pref( 'screens' );
        
                if( my $rh_screen = $rh_screens->{$users_choice} ) {
                        my $inner = $globals->make_new_context();
                        $inner->inc_user_path_level();
                        $inner->navigate_url_path( $users_choice );
                        $inner->navigate_file_path( $rh_screen->{mod_subdir} );
                        $inner->set_prefs( $rh_screen->{mod_prefs} );
                        $inner->call_component( $rh_screen->{mod_name} );
                        $globals->take_context_output( $inner );
        
                } else {
                        $globals->set_page_body( "<p>Please choose a screen to view.</p>" );
                        foreach my $key (keys %{$rh_screens}) {
                                my $label = $rh_screens->{$key}->{link};
                                my $url = $globals->url_as_string( $key );
                                $globals->append_page_body( "<br /><a href=\"$url\">$label</a>" );
                        }
                }
        
                $globals->page_title( $globals->pref( 'title' ) );
                $globals->prepend_page_body( "<h1>".$globals->page_title()."</h1>\n" );
                $globals->append_page_body( $globals->pref( 'credits' ) );
        }

        1;

Content of component module "DemoTiger.pm"

This module acts sort of like DemoMailForm without the emailing.

        package DemoTiger;
        use strict;
        use warnings;
        use CGI::Portable;
        use HTML::FormTemplate;

        sub main {
                my ($class, $globals) = @_;
                my $ra_field_defs = $globals->resolve_prefs_node_to_array( 
                        $globals->pref( 'field_defs' ) );
                if( $globals->get_error() ) {
                        $globals->set_page_body( 
                                "Sorry I can not do that form thing now because we are missing ", 
                                "critical settings that say what the questions are.",
                                "Reason: ", $globals->get_error(),
                        );
                        $globals->add_no_error();
                        return( 0 );
                }
                my $form = HTML::FormTemplate->new();
                $form->form_submit_url( $globals->recall_url() );
                $form->field_definitions( $ra_field_defs );
                $form->user_input( $globals->user_post() );
                $globals->set_page_body(
                        '<h1>Here Are Some Questions</h1>',
                        $form->make_html_input_form( 1 ),
                        '<hr />',
                        '<h1>Answers From Last Time If Any</h1>',
                        $form->new_form() ? '' : $form->make_html_input_echo( 1 ),
                );
        }

        1;

Content of component module "DemoOwl.pm"

This module acts sort of like DemoRedirect.

        package DemoOwl;
        use strict;
        use warnings;
        use CGI::Portable;

        sub main {
                my ($class, $globals) = @_;
                my $url = $globals->pref( 'fly_to' );
                $globals->http_status_code( '301 Moved' );
                $globals->http_redirect_url( $url );
        }

        1;

Content of component module "DemoCamel.pm"

This module acts sort of like DemoTextFile.

        package DemoCamel;
        use strict;
        use warnings;
        use CGI::Portable;

        sub main {
                my ($class, $globals) = @_;
                my $users_choice = $globals->current_user_path_element();
                my $filename = $globals->pref( $users_choice );
                my $filepath = $globals->physical_filename( $filename );
                SWITCH: {
                        $globals->add_no_error();
                        open( FH, $filepath ) or do {
                                $globals->add_virtual_filename_error( 'open', $filename );
                                last SWITCH;
                        };
                        local $/ = undef;
                        defined( my $file_content = <FH> ) or do {
                                $globals->add_virtual_filename_error( "read from", $filename );
                                last SWITCH;
                        };
                        close( FH ) or do {
                                $globals->add_virtual_filename_error( "close", $filename );
                                last SWITCH;
                        };
                        $globals->set_page_body( $file_content );
                }
                if( $globals->get_error() ) {
                        $globals->append_page_body( 
                                "Can't show requested screen: ".$globals->get_error() );
                        $globals->add_no_error();
                }
        }

        1;

Content of component module "DemoPanda.pm"

This module acts sort of like nothing I've ever seen.

        package DemoPanda;
        use strict;
        use warnings;
        use CGI::Portable;

        sub main {
                my ($class, $globals) = @_;
                $globals->set_page_body( <<__endquote );
        <p>Food: @{[$globals->pref( 'food' )]}
        <br />Color: @{[$globals->pref( 'color' )]}
        <br />Size: @{[$globals->pref( 'size' )]}</p>
        <p>Now let's look at some files; take your pick:
        __endquote
                $globals->navigate_url_path( $globals->pref( 'file_reader' ) );
                foreach my $frag (@{$globals->pref( 'files' )}) {
                        my $url = $globals->url_as_string( $frag );
                        $globals->append_page_body( "<br /><a href=\"$url\">$frag</a>" );
                }
                $globals->append_page_body( "</p>" );
        }

        1;

DESCRIPTION ^

The CGI::Portable class is a framework intended to support complex web applications that are easily portable across servers because common environment-specific details are abstracted away, including the file system type, the web server type, and your project's location in the file system or uri hierarchy.

Also abstracted away are details related to how users of your applications arrange instance config/preferences data across single or multiple files, so they get more flexability in how to use your application without you writing the code to support it. So your apps are easier to make data-controlled.

Application cores would use CGI::Portable as an interface to the server they are running under, where they receive user input through it and they return a response (HTML page or other data type) to the user through it. Since CGI::Portable should be able to express all of their user input or output needs, your application cores should run well under CGI or mod_perl or IIS or a Perl-based server or a command line without having code that supports each type's individual needs.

That said, CGI::Portable doesn't contain any user input/output code of its own, but allows you to use whatever platform-specific code or modules you wish between it and the actual server. By using my module as an abstraction layer, your own program core doesn't need to know which platform-specific code it is talking to.

As a logical extension to the interfacing functionality, CGI::Portable makes it easier for you to divide your application into autonomous components, each of which acts like it is its own application core with user input and instance config data provided to it and a recepticle for its user output provided. This module would be an interface between the components.

This class has 5 main types of functionality, or sets of properties that exist in parallel but are fully/mostly independant from each other. As such, it could conceptually be split into 5 physical modules, some of which could be used on their own, but they are actually contained in this one module for simplicity of use (just one object for user code to keep track of). The 5 functionality sets could be called: Errors, Files, Request, Response, Misc.

Errors - Manages error list for operations

This class implements methods that manage an "error list" property, which is designed to accumulate any error strings that should be printed to the program's error log or shown to the user before the program exits. What constitutes an error condition is up to you, but the suggested use is for things that are not the web user's fault, such as problems compiling or calling program modules, or problems using file system files for settings or data. The errors list is not intended to log invalid user input, which would be common activity. Since some errors are non-fatal and other parts of your program would still work, it is possible for several errors to happen in parallel; hence a list. At program start-up this list starts out empty.

An extension to this feature is the concept of "no error" messages (undefined strings) which if used indicate that the last operation *did* work. This gives you the flexability to always record the result of an operation for acting on later. If you use get_error() in a boolean context then it would be true if the last noted operation had an error and false if it didn't. You can also issue an add_no_error() to mask errors that have been dealt with so they don't continue to look unresolved.

Files - Manages virtual file system and app instance config files

This class implements two distinct but closely related "input" properties, the "file path", and the "preferences", which manage a virtual file system and application instance config data respectively. Please see VIRTUAL FILE SYSTEM OVERVIEW and INSTANCE PREFERENCES OVERVIEW below for a conceptual explanation of what these are for and how to use them.

Request - Stores user input, makes self-referencing urls

This class implements several distinct but closely related "input" properties, the "user input", and the "url constructor", which store several kinds of input from the web user and store pieces of new self-referencing urls respectively. Please see TCP/IP CONNECTION OVERVIEW, HTTP REQUEST OVERVIEW, USER INPUT OVERVIEW, MAKING NEW URLS OVERVIEW, and RECALL URLS OVERVIEW below for a conceptual explanation of what these are for and how to use them.

Response - Stores user output; HTTP headers/body, HTML page pieces

This class is designed to accumulate and assemble the components of an HTTP response, complete with status code, content type, other headers, and a body. The intent is for your core program to use these to store its user output, and then your thin program config shell would actually send the page to the user. These properties are initialized with values suitable for returning an HTML page.

Half of the 'Response' functionality is specialized for HTML responses, which are assumed to be the dominant activity. This class is designed to accumulate and assemble the components of a new HTML page, complete with body, title, meta tags, and cascading style sheets. HTML assembly is done with the page_as_string() method.

The "http body" property is intended for use when you want to return raw content of any type, whether it is text or image or other binary. It is a complement for the html assembling methods and should be left undefined if they are used.

Misc

The miscellaneous functionality includes the call_component() method and the methods listed in these documentation sections: METHODS FOR DEBUGGING, METHODS FOR SEARCH AND REPLACE, METHODS FOR GLOBAL PREFERENCES, METHODS FOR MISCELLANEOUS OBJECT SERVICES.

VIRTUAL FILE SYSTEM OVERVIEW ^

This class implements methods that manage a "file path" property, which is designed to facilitate easy portability of your application across multiple file systems or across different locations in the same file system. It maintains a "virtual file system" that you can use, within which your program core owns the root directory.

Your program core would take this virtual space and organize it how it sees fit for configuration and data files, including any use of subdirectories that is desired. This class will take care of mapping the virtual space onto the real one, in which your virtual root is actually a subdirectory and your path separators may or may not be UNIXy ones.

If this class is faithfully used to translate your file system operations, then you will stay safely within your project root directory at all times. Your core app will never have to know if the project is moved around since details of the actual file paths, including level delimiters, has been abstracted away. It will still be able to find its files. Only your program's thin instance startup shell needs to know the truth.

The file path property is a File::VirtualPath object so please see the POD for that class to learn about its features.

INSTANCE PREFERENCES OVERVIEW ^

This class implements methods that manage a "preferences" property, which is designed to facilitate easy access to your application instance settings. The "preferences" is a hierarchical data structure which has a hash as its root and can be arbitrarily complex from that point on. A hash is used so that any settings can be accessed by name; the hierarchical nature comes from any setting values that are references to non-scalar values, or resolve to such.

CGI::Portable makes it easy for your preferences structure to scale across any number of storage files, helping with memory and speed efficiency. At certain points in your program flow, branches of the preferences will be followed until a node is reached that your program wants to be a hash. At that point, this node can be given back to this class and resolved into a hash one way or another. If it already is a hash ref then it is given back as is; otherwise it is taken as a filename for a Perl file which when evaluated with "do" returns a hash ref. This filename would be a relative path in the virtual file system and this class would resolve it properly.

Since the fact of hash-ref-vs-filename is abstracted from your program, this makes it easy for your data itself to determine how the structure is segmented. The decision-making begins with the root preferences node that your thin config shell gives to CGI::Portable at program start-up. What is resolved from that determines how any child nodes are gotten, and they determine their children. Since this class handles such details, it is much easier to make your program data-controlled rather than code-controlled. For instance, your startup shell may contain the entire preferences structure itself, meaning that you only need a single file to define a project instance. Or, your startup shell may just have a filename for where the preferences really are, making it minimalist. Depending how your preferences are segmented, only the needed parts actually get loaded, so we save resources.

TCP/IP CONNECTION OVERVIEW ^

This class implements methods for storing pertinent details relating to the current TCP/IP connection for which the program using this class is the server or host, and a user's web browser or a robot is the client. Using the analogy that a TCP connection is like a pipe, that is connected at one end to a process on a server, and at the other end to the process on the client, these pertinent details are the fully-qualified location or address of each end of the pipe. At each end, we have an IP Address, which says how to find the particular machine, and we have a Port Number, which says what process on that machine is handling the connection. An ip address is like "127.0.0.1" and a port is like "80". Each ip address can optionally have a "domain" (or several) aliased to it, which is a more human-friendly. This class stores 6 details on the TCP connection, 3 each for server and client, which are the ip, domain, and port. In a CGI environment, where your script isn't the actual server but talks to the server, the connection details match %ENV keys like SERVER_NAME or REMOTE_PORT. These details are technically not in the HTTP request headers.

HTTP REQUEST OVERVIEW ^

This class implements methods for storing all of the details from the http request. Using the above analogy of a pipe, the http request is all of the data that is sent from the client to the server that tells the server what the client wants it to return. The http response is everything that the server sends to the client afterwards. The two main parts of an http request (and response) are headers and body, which are separated by a blank line. While the content of the request body is arbitrary, the headers are specially formatted text lines with one line per header. The very first header is special, and looks like "GET / HTTP/1.0" or "GET /dir/script.pl?q=v HTTP/1.0". The 3 pieces of information there are the "method", "uri", and "protocol". All of the other header lines are key/value pairs in the format "Key: value". In a CGI environment, all of the request headers that aren't ignored match %ENV keys; most normal headers match one key, and the first header can be parsed to match 5 or more keys; the request body isn't put in %ENV but piped to STDIN instead. For your convenience, this class also stores parsed copies of complicated parts of the http request, available under USER INPUT.

USER INPUT OVERVIEW ^

This class implements methods that manage several "user input" properties, which include: "user path", "user query", "user post", and "user cookies". These properties store parsed copies of the various information that the web user provided when invoking this program instance. Note that you should not modify the user input in your program, since the recall methods depend on them.

This class does not gather any user input itself, but expects your thin program instance shell to do that and hand the data to this class prior to starting the program core. The rationale is both for keeping this class simpler and for keeping it compatible with all types of web servers instead of just the ones it knows about. So it works equally well with CGI under any server or mod_perl or when your Perl is its own web server or when you are debugging on the command line. This class does know how to *parse* some url-encoded strings, however.

The kind of input you need to gather depends on what your program uses, but it doesn't hurt to get more. If you are in a CGI environment then you often get user input from the following places: 1. $ENV{QUERY_STRING} for the query string -- pass to user_query(); 2. <STDIN> for the post data -- pass to user_post(); 3. $ENV{HTTP_COOKIE} for the raw cookies -- pass to user_cookies(); 4. either $ENV{PATH_INFO} or a query parameter for the virtual web resource path -- pass to user_path(). If you are in mod_perl then you call Apache methods to get the user input. If you are your own server then the incoming HTTP headers contain everything except the post data, which is in the HTTP body. If you are on the command line then you can look in @ARGV or <STDIN> as is your preference.

The virtual web resource path is a concept with CGI::Portable designed to make it easy for different user interface pages of your program to be identified and call each other in the web environment. The idea is that all the interface components that the user sees have a unique uri and can be organized hierarchically like a tree; by invoking your program with a different "path", the user indicates what part of the program they want to use. It is analogous to choosing different html pages on a normal web site because each page has a separate uri on the server, and each page calls others by using different uris. What makes the virtual paths different is that each uri does not correspond to a different file; the user just pretends they do. Ultimately you have control over what your program does with any particular virtual "user path".

The user path property is a File::VirtualPath object, and the other user input properties are each CGI::MultiValuedHash objects, so please see the respective POD for those classes to learn about their features. Note that the user path always works in the virtual space and has no physical equivalent like file path.

MAKING NEW URLS OVERVIEW ^

This class implements methods that manage several "url constructor" properties, which are designed to store components of the various information needed to make new urls that call this script back in order to change from one interface screen to another. When the program is reinvoked with one of these urls, this information becomes part of the user input, particularly the "user path" and "user query". You normally use the url_as_string() method to do the actual assembly of these components, but the various "recall" methods also pay attention to them.

RECALL URLS OVERVIEW ^

This class implements methods that are designed to make HTML for the user to reinvoke this program with their input intact. They pay attention to both the current user input and the current url constructor properties. Specifically, these methods act like url_as_string() in the way they use most url constructor properties, but they use the user path and user query instead of the url path and url query.

SIMILAR MODULES ^

Based on the above, you could conceivably say CGI::Portable has similarities to these modules: CGI::Screen, CGI::MxScreen, CGI::Application, CGI::BuildPage, CGI::Response, HTML::Mason, CGI, and others.

To start with, all of the above modules do one or more of: storing and providing access to user input, helping to organize access to multiple user screens or application modes, collecting and storing output for the user, and so on.

Some ways that the modules are different from mine are: level of complexity, because my module is simpler than HTML::Mason and CGI::MxScreen and CGI, but it is more complex and/or comprehensive than the others; functionality, because it takes portability between servers to a new level by being agnostic on both ends, where the other solutions are all/mostly tied to specific server types since they do the I/O by themselves; my module also does filesystem translation and some settings management, and I don't think any of the others do; I have built-in functionality for organizing user screens hierarchically, called user_path/url_path (in/out equivalents); I keep query params and post params separate whereas most of the others use CGI.pm which combines them together; more differences.

YES, THIS MODULE DOES IMAGES ^

Just in case you were thinking that this module does plain html only and is no good for image-making applications, let me remind you that, yes, CGI::Portable can map urls to, store, and output any type of file, including pictures and other binary types.

To illustrate this, I have provided the "image" demo consisting of an html page containing a PNG graphic, both of which are generated by the same script. (You will need to have GD installed to see the picture, though.)

Besides that, this module has explicit support for the likes of cascading style sheets (css) and complete multi-frame documents in one script as well, which are normally just used in graphical environments.

So while a few critics have pointed out the fact that my own websites, which use this module, don't have graphics, then that is purely my own preference as a way to make them load faster and use less bandwidth, not due to any lack of the ability to use pictures.

A DIFFERENT MASTER OVERVIEW ^

This class is designed primarily as a data structure that intermediates between your large central program logic and the small shell part of your code that knows anything specific about your environment. The way that this works is that the shell code instantiates an CGI::Portable object and stores any valid user input in it, gathered from the appropriate places in the current environment. Then the central program is started and given the CGI::Portable object, from which it takes stored user input and performs whatever tasks it needs to. The central program stores its user output in the same CGI::Portable object and then quits. Finally, the shell code takes the stored user output from the CGI::Portable object and does whatever is necessary to send it to the user. Similarly, your thin shell code knows where to get the instance-specific file system and stored program settings data, which it gives to the CGI::Portable object along with the user input.

Here is a diagram:

                    YOUR THIN             CGI::Portable          YOUR FAT "CORE" 
        USER <----> "MAIN" CONFIG, <----> INTERFACE LAYER <----> PROGRAM LOGIC
                    I/O SHELL             FRAMEWORK              FUNCTIONALITY
                    (may be portable)     (portable)             (portable)

This class does not gather any user input or send any user input by itself, but expects your thin program instance shell to do that. The rationale is both for keeping this class simpler and for keeping it compatible with all types of web servers instead of just the ones it knows about. So it works equally well with CGI under any server or mod_perl or when your Perl is its own web server or when you are debugging on the command line.

Because your program core uses this class to communicate with its "superior", it can be written the same way regardless of what platform it is running on. The interface that it needs to written to is consistent across platforms. An analogy to this is that the core always plays in the same sandbox and that environment is all it knows; you can move the sandbox anywhere you want and its occupant doesn't have to be any the wiser to how the outside world had changed.

From there, it is a small step to breaking your program core into reusable components and using CGI::Portable as an interface between them. Each component exists in its own sandbox and acts like it is its own core program, with its own task to produce an html page or other http response, and with its own set of user input and program settings to tell it how to do its job. Depending on your needs, each "component" instance could very well be its own complete application, or it would in fact be a subcontractee of another one. In the latter case, the "subcontractor" component may have other components do a part of its own task, and then assemble a derivative work as its own output.

When one component wants another to do work for it, the first one instantiates a new CGI::Portable object which it can pass on any user input or settings data that it wishes, and then provides this to the second component; the second one never has to know where its CGI::Portable object it has came from, but that everything it needs to know for its work is right there. This class provides convenience methods like make_new_context() to simplify this task by making a partial clone that replicates input but not output data.

Due to the way CGI::Portable stores program settings and other input/output data, it lends itself well to supporting data-driven applications. That is, your application components can be greatly customizable as to their function by simply providing instances of them with different setup data. If any component is so designed, its own config instructions can detail which other components it subcontracts, as well as what operating contexts it sets up for them. This results in a large variety of functionality from just a small set of components.

Another function that CGI::Portable provides for component management is that there is limited protection for components that are not properly designed to be kept from harming other ones. You see, any components designed a certain way can be invoked by CGI::Portable itself at the request of another component. This internal call is wrapped in an eval block such that if a component fails to compile or has a run-time exception, this class will log an error to the effect and the component that called it continues to run. Also, called components get a different CGI::Portable object than the parent, so that if they mess around with the stored input/output then the parent component's own data isn't lost. It is the parent's own choice as to which output of its child that it decides to copy back into its own output, with or without further processing.

Note that the term "components" above suggests that each one is structured as a Perl 5 module and is called like one; the module should have a method called main() that takes an CGI::Portable object as its argument and has the dispatch code for that component. Of course, it is up to you.

SYNTAX ^

This class does not export any functions or methods, so you need to call them using object notation. This means using Class->function() for functions and $object->method() for methods. If you are inheriting this class for your own modules, then that often means something like $self->method().

CONSTRUCTOR FUNCTIONS AND METHODS ^

These functions and methods are involved in making new CGI::Portable objects.

new([ FILE_ROOT[, FILE_DELIM[, PREFS]] ])

This function creates a new CGI::Portable (or subclass) object and returns it. All of the method arguments are passed to initialize() as is; please see the POD for that method for an explanation of them.

initialize([ FILE_ROOT[, FILE_DELIM[, PREFS]] ])

This method is used by new() to set the initial properties of objects that it creates. The optional 3 arguments are used in turn to set the properties accessed by these methods: file_path_root(), file_path_delimiter(), set_prefs().

clone([ CLONE ])

This method initializes a new object to have all of the same properties of the current object and returns it. This new object can be provided in the optional argument CLONE (if CLONE is an object of the same class as the current object); otherwise, a brand new object of the current class is used. Only object properties recognized by CGI::Portable are set in the clone; other properties are not changed.

METHODS FOR CONTEXT SWITCHING ^

These methods are designed to facilitate easy modularity of your application into multiple components by providing context switching functions for the parent component in a relationship. While you could still use this class effectively without using them, they are available for your convenience.

make_new_context([ CONTEXT ])

This method initializes a new object of the current class and returns it. This new object has some of the current object's properties, namely the "input" properties, but lacks others, namely the "output" properties; the latter are initialized to default values instead. As with clone(), the new object can be provided in the optional argument CONTEXT (if CONTEXT is an object of the same class); otherwise a brand new object is used. Only properties recognized by CGI::Portable are set in this object; others are not touched.

take_context_output( CONTEXT[, LEAVE_SCALARS[, REPLACE_LISTS]] )

This method takes another CGI::Portable (or subclass) object as its CONTEXT argument and copies some of its properties to this object, potentially overwriting any versions already in this object. If CONTEXT is not a valid CGI::Portable (or subclass) object then this method returns without changing anything. The properties that get copied are the "output" properties that presumably need to work their way back to the user. In other words, this method copies everything that make_new_context() did not. This method will never copy any properties which are undefined scalars or empty lists, so a CONTEXT with no "output" properties set will not cause any changes. If any scalar output properties of CONTEXT are defined, they will overwrite any defined corresponding properties of this object by default; however, if the optional boolean argument LEAVE_SCALARS is true, then the scalar values are only copied if the ones in this object are not defined. If any list output properties of CONTEXT have elements, then they will be appended to any corresponding ones of this object by default, thereby preserving both (except with hash properties, where like hash keys will overwrite); however, if the optional boolean argument REPLACE_LISTS is true, then any existing list values are overwritten by any copied CONTEXT equivalents.

call_component( COMP_NAME )

This method can be used by one component to invoke another. For this to work, the called component needs to be a Perl 5 module with a method called main(). The argument COMP_NAME is a string containing the name of the module to be invoked. This method will first "require [COMP_NAME]" and then invoke its dispatch method with a "[COMP_NAME]->main()". These statements are wrapped in an "eval" block and if there was a compile or runtime failure then this method will log an error message like "can't use module '[COMP_NAME]': $@" and also set the output page to be an error screen using that. So regardless of whether the component worked or not, you can simply print the output page the same way. The call_component() method will pass a reference to the CGI::Portable object it is invoked from as an argument to the main() method of the called module. If you want the called component to get a different CGI::Portable object then you will need to create it in your caller using make_new_context() or new() or clone(). Anticipating that your component would fail because of it, this method will abort with an error screen prior to any "require" if there are errors already logged and unresolved. Any errors existing now were probably set by set_prefs(), meaning that the component would be missing its config data were it started up. This method will return 0 upon making an error screen; otherwise, it will return 1 if everything worked. Since this method calls add_no_error() upon making the error screen, you should pay attention to its return value if you want to make a custom screen instead (so you know when to).

METHODS FOR ERROR MESSAGES ^

These methods are accessors for the "error list" property of this object, which is designed to accumulate any error strings that should be printed to the program's error log or shown to the user before the program exits. See the DESCRIPTION for more details.

get_errors()

This method returns a list of the stored error messages with any undefined strings (no error) filtered out.

get_error([ INDEX ])

This method returns a single error message. If the numerical argument INDEX is defined then the message is taken from that element in the error list. INDEX defaults to -1 if not defined, so the most recent message is returned.

add_error( MESSAGE )

This method appends the scalar argument MESSAGE to the error list.

add_no_error()

This message appends an undefined value to the error list, a "no error" message.

METHODS FOR THE VIRTUAL FILE SYSTEM ^

These methods are accessors for the "file path" property of this object, which is designed to facilitate easy portability of your application across multiple file systems or across different locations in the same file system. See the DESCRIPTION for more details.

get_file_path_ref()

This method returns a reference to the file path object which you can then manipulate directly with File::VirtualPath methods.

file_path_root([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "physical root" string property of the file path, which it returns. If VALUE is defined then this property is set to it. This property says where your project directory is actually located in the current physical file system, and is used in translations from the virtual to the physical space. The only part of your program that should set this method is your thin startup shell; the rest should be oblivious to it.

file_path_delimiter([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "physical delimiter" string property of the file path, which it returns. If VALUE is defined then this property is set to it. This property says what character is used to delimit directory path levels in your current physical file system, and is used in translations from the virtual to the physical space. The only part of your program that should set this method is your thin startup shell; the rest should be oblivious to it.

file_path([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the "virtual path" array property of the file path, which it returns. If VALUE is defined then this property is set to it; it can be an array of path levels or a string representation in the virtual space. This method returns an array ref having the current virtual file path.

file_path_string([ TRAILER ])

This method returns a string representation of the file path in the virtual space. If the optional argument TRAILER is true, then a virtual file path delimiter, "/" by default, is appended to the end of the returned value.

navigate_file_path( CHANGE_VECTOR )

This method updates the "virtual path" property of the file path by taking the current one and applying CHANGE_VECTOR to it using the FVP's chdir() method. This method returns an array ref having the changed virtual file path.

virtual_filename( CHANGE_VECTOR[, WANT_TRAILER] )

This method uses CHANGE_VECTOR to derive a new path in the virtual file-system relative to the current one and returns it as a string. If WANT_TRAILER is true then the string has a path delimiter appended; otherwise, there is none.

physical_filename( CHANGE_VECTOR[, WANT_TRAILER] )

This method uses CHANGE_VECTOR to derive a new path in the real file-system relative to the current one and returns it as a string. If WANT_TRAILER is true then the string has a path delimiter appended; otherwise, there is none.

add_virtual_filename_error( UNIQUE_PART, FILENAME[, REASON] )

This message constructs a new error message using its arguments and appends it to the error list. You can call this after doing a file operation that failed where UNIQUE_PART is a sentence fragment like "open" or "read from" and FILENAME is the relative portion of the file name. The new message looks like "can't [UNIQUE_PART] file '[FILEPATH]': $!" where FILEPATH is defined as the return value of "virtual_filename( FILENAME )". If the optional argument REASON is defined then its value is used in place of $!, so you can use this method for errors relating to a file where $! wouldn't have an appropriate value.

add_physical_filename_error( UNIQUE_PART, FILENAME[, REASON] )

This message constructs a new error message using its arguments and appends it to the error list. You can call this after doing a file operation that failed where UNIQUE_PART is a sentence fragment like "open" or "read from" and FILENAME is the relative portion of the file name. The new message looks like "can't [UNIQUE_PART] file '[FILEPATH]': $!" where FILEPATH is defined as the return value of "physical_filename( FILENAME )". If the optional argument REASON is defined then its value is used in place of $!, so you can use this method for errors relating to a file where $! wouldn't have an appropriate value.

METHODS FOR INSTANCE PREFERENCES ^

These methods are accessors for the "preferences" property of this object, which is designed to facilitate easy access to your application instance settings. See the DESCRIPTION for more details.

resolve_prefs_node_to_hash( RAW_NODE )

This method takes a raw preferences node, RAW_NODE, and resolves it into a hash ref, which it returns. If RAW_NODE is a hash ref then this method performs a single-level copy of it and returns a new hash ref. Otherwise, this method takes the argument as a filename and tries to execute it. If the file fails to execute for some reason or it doesn't return a hash ref, then this method adds a file error message and returns an empty hash ref. The file is executed with "do [FILEPATH]" where FILEPATH is defined as the return value of "physical_filename( FILENAME )". The error message uses a virtual path.

resolve_prefs_node_to_array( RAW_NODE )

This method takes a raw preferences node, RAW_NODE, and resolves it into an array ref, which it returns. If RAW_NODE is a hash ref then this method performs a single-level copy of it and returns a new array ref. Otherwise, this method takes the argument as a filename and tries to execute it. If the file fails to execute for some reason or it doesn't return an array ref, then this method adds a file error message and returns an empty array ref. The file is executed with "do [FILEPATH]" where FILEPATH is defined as the return value of "physical_filename( FILENAME )". The error message uses a virtual path.

get_prefs_ref()

This method returns a reference to the internally stored "preferences" hash.

set_prefs( VALUE )

This method sets this object's preferences property with the return value of "resolve_prefs_node_to_hash( VALUE )", even if VALUE is not defined.

pref( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method is an accessor to individual settings in this object's preferences property, and returns the setting value whose name is defined in the scalar argument KEY. If the optional scalar argument VALUE is defined then it becomes the value for this setting. All values are set or fetched with a scalar copy.

METHODS FOR TCP/IP CONNECTION ^

These methods are accessors for the "TCP Connection" properties of this object. Under a CGI environment these would correspond to some of the %ENV keys.

server_ip([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "server ip" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. During a valid TCP/IP connection, this property refers to the IP address of the host machine, which this program is running on.

server_domain([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "server domain" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property refers to the tcp host domain, if any, that was resolved to the server IP. It would be provided in the TCP request header named "Host". Often, multiple domains will resolve to the same IP address, in which case this "Host" header is needed to tell what website the client really wanted.

server_port([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "server port" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. During a valid TCP/IP connection, this property refers to the tcp port on the host machine that this program or its parent service is listening on. Port 80 is the standard one used for HTTP services.

client_ip([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "client ip" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. During a valid TCP/IP connection, this property refers to the IP address of the client machine, which is normally what the web-browsing user is sitting at, though it could be a proxy or a robot instead.

client_domain([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "client domain" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property often is not set, but if it is then it refers to internet domain for the ISP that the web-browsing user is employing, or it is the domain for the machine that the web robot is on.

client_port([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "client port" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. During a valid TCP/IP connection, this property refers to the tcp port on the client machine that the web browser or robot is using for this connection, and it is also how the web server can differentiate between multiple clients talking with it on the same server port. Web browsers often use multiple client ports at once in order to request multiple files (eg, images) at once.

METHODS FOR HTTP REQUEST ^

These methods are accessors for all "http request" properties of this object. Under a CGI environment these would correspond to various %ENV keys. Some request details are special, and parsed versions are also under USER INPUT.

request_method([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "request method" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is a string such as ['GET','POST','HEAD','PUT'] and refers to the type of http operation that the client wants to do. It would be provided as the first word of the first line of the HTTP request headers. If the request method is POST then the server should expect an HTTP body; if the method is GET or HEAD then the server should expect no HTTP body. If the method is GET or POST then the client expects an HTTP response with both headers and body; if the method is HEAD then the client expects only the response headers.

request_uri([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "request uri" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is a string such as ["/", "/one/two.html", "/cgi/getit.pl/five", "/cgi/getit.pl?six=seven"] and refers to the name of the resource on the server that the client wants returned. It would be provided as the second word of the first line of the HTTP request headers. Under an ordinary web file server such as Apache, the "request path" would be split into 3 main pieces with names like: "script name" ("/" or "/cgi/getit.pl"), "path info" ("/five"), "query string" ("six=seven").

request_protocol([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "request protocol" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is a string like ["HTTP/1.0", "HTTP/1.1"] and refers to the set of protocols that the client would like to use during this session. It would be provided as the third word of the first line of the HTTP request headers.

get_request_headers_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "http request headers" hash property of this object, a reference to which it returns. HTTP headers constitute the first of two main parts of an HTTP request, and say things like the expected server host domain (where multiple domains share an ip), the query string, returned cookies, what human language or text encoding the browser expects, and more. Copies of some of these are parsed and also available under METHODS FOR USER INPUT. Each key/value pair in the hash would come from a header line like "Key: value". Header names are case-sensitive and have capitalized format, with dashes to separate multple words in the name; an example is "Header-Name: value". This is different from the CGI environment, which translates the headers to all-uppercase with underscores replaing the dashes.

get_request_headers([ KEY ])

This method allows you to get the "http request headers" hash property of this object. If KEY is defined then it is taken as a key in the hash and the associated value is returned. If KEY is not defined then the entire hash is returned as a list; in scalar context this list is in a new hash ref.

set_request_headers( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to set the "http request headers" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then all the existing headers information is replaced with the new hash keys and values. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

add_request_headers( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to add key/value pairs to the "http request headers" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then the keys and values it contains are inserted into the existing hash property; any like-named keys will overwrite existing ones, but different-named ones will coexist. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

request_body([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "http request body" scalar property of this object, which it returns. This contitutes the second of two main parts of an HTTP request, and contains the actual document/file or url-encoded form field data that the client/user has sent to the server over the http protocol. By definition, this property is only defined with a POST request, and does not have a value with a GET or HEAD request. This property defaults to undefined.

referer([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the "Referer" key in the "request headers" hash. The associated value is returned, and a defined VALUE will set it. This header refers to the complete url of the web page that the user was viewing before coming to the current url; most likely, said "referer" page contains a hyperlink leading to the current request url.

user_agent([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the "User-Agent" key in the "request headers" hash. The associated value is returned, and a defined VALUE will set it. This header refers to the name that the client user's "agent" or "web browser" or robot identifies itself to the server as; this identifier tends to include the agent's brand, version, and o/s platform. An example is "Mozilla/4.08 (Macintosh; U; PPC, Nav)".

METHODS FOR USER INPUT ^

These methods are accessors for the "user input" properties of this object, which include: "user path", "user query", "user post", and "user cookies". See the DESCRIPTION for more details.

get_user_path_ref()

This method returns a reference to the user path object which you can then manipulate directly with File::VirtualPath methods.

user_path([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the user path, which it returns as an array ref. If VALUE is defined then this property is set to it; it can be an array of path levels or a string representation.

user_path_string([ TRAILER ])

This method returns a string representation of the user path. If the optional argument TRAILER is true, then a "/" is appended.

user_path_element( INDEX[, NEW_VALUE] )

This method is an accessor for individual segments of the "user path" property of this object, and it returns the one at INDEX. If NEW_VALUE is defined then the segment at INDEX is set to it. This method is useful if you want to examine user path segments one at a time. INDEX defaults to 0, meaning you are looking at the first segment, which happens to always be empty. That said, this method will let you change this condition if you want to.

current_user_path_level([ NEW_VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the number "current path level" property of the user input, which it returns. If NEW_VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. If you want to examine the user path segments sequentially then this property tracks the index of the segment you are currently viewing. This property defaults to 0, the first segment, which always happens to be an empty string.

inc_user_path_level()

This method will increment the "current path level" property by 1 so you can view the next path segment. The new current value is returned.

dec_user_path_level()

This method will decrement the "current path level" property by 1 so you can view the previous path segment. The new current value is returned.

current_user_path_element([ NEW_VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for individual segments of the "user path" property of this object, the current one of which it returns. If NEW_VALUE is defined then the current segment is set to it. This method is useful if you want to examine user path segments one at a time in sequence. The segment you are looking at now is determined by the current_user_path_level() method; by default you are looking at the first segment, which is always an empty string. That said, this method will let you change this condition if you want to.

get_user_query_ref()

This method returns a reference to the user query object which you can then manipulate directly with CGI::MultiValuedHash methods.

user_query([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the user query, which it returns as a cloned CGI::MultiValuedHash object. If VALUE is defined then it is used to initialize a new user query.

user_query_string()

This method url-encodes the user query and returns it as a string.

user_query_param( KEY[, VALUES] )

This method is an accessor for individual user query parameters. If there are any VALUES then this method stores them in the query under the name KEY and returns a count of values now associated with KEY. VALUES can be either an array ref or a literal list and will be handled correctly. If there are no VALUES then the current value(s) associated with KEY are returned instead. If this method is called in list context then all of the values are returned as a literal list; in scalar context, this method returns only the first value. The 3 cases that this method handles are implemented with the query object's [store( KEY, *), fetch( KEY ), fetch_value( KEY )] methods, respectively. (This method is designed to work like CGI.pm's param() method, if you like that sort of thing.)

get_user_post_ref()

This method returns a reference to the user post object which you can then manipulate directly with CGI::MultiValuedHash methods.

user_post([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the user post, which it returns as a cloned CGI::MultiValuedHash object. If VALUE is defined then it is used to initialize a new user post.

user_post_string()

This method url-encodes the user post and returns it as a string.

user_post_param( KEY[, VALUES] )

This method is an accessor for individual user post parameters. If there are any VALUES then this method stores them in the post under the name KEY and returns a count of values now associated with KEY. VALUES can be either an array ref or a literal list and will be handled correctly. If there are no VALUES then the current value(s) associated with KEY are returned instead. If this method is called in list context then all of the values are returned as a literal list; in scalar context, this method returns only the first value. The 3 cases that this method handles are implemented with the post object's [store( KEY, *), fetch( KEY ), fetch_value( KEY )] methods, respectively. (This method is designed to work like CGI.pm's param() method, if you like that sort of thing.)

get_user_cookies_ref()

This method returns a reference to the user cookies object which you can then manipulate directly with CGI::MultiValuedHash methods.

user_cookies([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the user cookies, which it returns as a cloned CGI::MultiValuedHash object. If VALUE is defined then it is used to initialize a new user query.

user_cookies_string()

This method cookie-url-encodes the user cookies and returns them as a string.

user_cookie( NAME[, VALUES] )

This method is an accessor for individual user cookies. If there are any VALUES then this method stores them in the cookie with the name NAME and returns a count of values now associated with NAME. VALUES can be either an array ref or a literal list and will be handled correctly. If there are no VALUES then the current value(s) associated with NAME are returned instead. If this method is called in list context then all of the values are returned as a literal list; in scalar context, this method returns only the first value. The 3 cases that this method handles are implemented with the query object's [store( NAME, *), fetch( NAME ), fetch_value( NAME )] methods, respectively. (This method is designed to work like CGI.pm's param() method, if you like that sort of thing.)

METHODS FOR MAKING NEW SELF-REFERENCING URLS ^

These methods are accessors for the "url constructor" properties of this object, which are designed to store components of the various information needed to make new urls that call this script back in order to change from one interface screen to another. When the program is reinvoked with one of these urls, this information becomes part of the user input, particularly the "user path" and "user query". You normally use the url_as_string() method to do the actual assembly of these components, but the various "recall" methods also pay attention to them.

url_base([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "url base" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. When new urls are made, the "url base" is used unchanged as its left end. Normally it would consist of a protocol, host domain, port (optional), script name, and would look like "protocol://host[:port][script]". For example, "http://aardvark.net/main.pl" or "http://aardvark.net:450/main.pl". This property defaults to "http://localhost/".

get_url_path_ref()

This method returns a reference to the url path object which you can then manipulate directly with File::VirtualPath methods.

url_path([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the url path, which it returns as an array ref. If VALUE is defined then this property is set to it; it can be an array of path levels or a string representation.

url_path_string([ TRAILER ])

This method returns a string representation of the url path. If the optional argument TRAILER is true, then a "/" is appended.

navigate_url_path( CHANGE_VECTOR )

This method updates the url path by taking the current one and applying CHANGE_VECTOR to it using the FVP's chdir() method. This method returns an array ref having the changed url path.

child_url_path_string( CHANGE_VECTOR[, WANT_TRAILER] )

This method uses CHANGE_VECTOR to derive a new url path relative to the current one and returns it as a string. If WANT_TRAILER is true then the string has a path delimiter appended; otherwise, there is none.

get_url_query_ref()

This method returns a reference to the "url query" object which you can then manipulate directly with CGI::MultiValuedHash methods.

url_query([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor to the "url query", which it returns as a cloned CGI::MultiValuedHash object. If VALUE is defined then it is used to initialize a new user query.

url_query_string()

This method url-encodes the url query and returns it as a string.

url_query_param( KEY[, VALUES] )

This method is an accessor for individual url query parameters. If there are any VALUES then this method stores them in the query under the name KEY and returns a count of values now associated with KEY. VALUES can be either an array ref or a literal list and will be handled correctly. If there are no VALUES then the current value(s) associated with KEY are returned instead. If this method is called in list context then all of the values are returned as a literal list; in scalar context, this method returns only the first value. The 3 cases that this method handles are implemented with the query object's [store( KEY, *), fetch( KEY ), fetch_value( KEY )] methods, respectively. (This method is designed to work like CGI.pm's param() method, if you like that sort of thing.)

url_as_string([ CHANGE_VECTOR ])

This method assembles the various "url *" properties of this object into a complete HTTP url and returns it as a string. That is, it returns the cumulative string representation of those properties. This consists of a url_base(), "path info", "query string", and would look like "base[info][?query]". For example, "http://aardvark.net/main.pl/lookup/title?name=plant&cost=low". As of release 0-45, the url path is always in the path_info; previous to that release, it could optionally have been in the query_string instead. If the optional argument CHANGE_VECTOR is true then the result of applying it to the url path is used for the url path.

METHODS FOR MAKING RECALL URLS ^

These methods are designed to make HTML for the user to reinvoke this program with their input intact. They pay attention to both the current user input and the current url constructor properties. Specifically, these methods act like url_as_string() in the way they use most url constructor properties, but they use the user path and user query instead of the url path and url query.

recall_url()

This method creates a callback url that can be used to recall this program with all query information intact. It is intended for use as the "action" argument in forms, or as the url for "try again" hyperlinks on error pages. The format of this url is determined partially by the "url *" properties, including url_base() and anything describing where the "path" goes, if you use it. Post data is not replicated here; see the recall_button() method.

recall_hyperlink([ LABEL ])

This method creates an HTML hyperlink that can be used to recall this program with all query information intact. The optional scalar argument LABEL defines the text that the hyperlink surrounds, which is the blue text the user will see. LABEL defaults to "here" if not defined. Post data is not replicated. The url in the hyperlink is produced by recall_url().

recall_button([ LABEL ])

This method creates an HTML form out of a button and some hidden fields which can be used to recall this program with all query and post information intact. The optional scalar argument LABEL defines the button label that the user sees. LABEL defaults to "here" if not defined. This form submits with "post". Query and path information is replicated in the "action" url, produced by recall_url(), and the post information is replicated in the hidden fields.

recall_html([ LABEL ])

This method selectively calls recall_button() or recall_hyperlink() depending on whether there is any post information in the user input. This is useful when you want to use the least intensive option required to preserve your user input and you don't want to figure out the when yourself.

METHODS FOR MAKING NEW HTTP RESPONSES ^

These methods are designed to accumulate and assemble the components of an HTTP response, complete with status code, content type, other headers, and a body. See the DESCRIPTION for more details.

http_status_code([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "status code" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is used in a new HTTP header to give the result status of the HTTP request that this program is serving. It defaults to "200 OK" which means success and that the HTTP body contains the document they requested. Unlike other HTTP header content, this property is special and must be the very first thing that the HTTP server returns, on a line like "HTTP/1.0 200 OK". However, the property also may appear elsewhere in the header, on a line like "Status: 200 OK".

http_window_target([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "window target" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is used in a new HTTP header to indicate which browser window or frame that this this HTTP response should be loaded into. It defaults to the undefined value, meaning this response ends up in the same window/frame as the page that called it. This property would be used in a line like "Window-Target: leftmenu".

http_content_type([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "content type" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is used in a new HTTP header to indicate the document type that the HTTP body is, such as text or image. It defaults to "text/html" which means we are returning an HTML page. This property would be used in a line like "Content-Type: text/html".

http_redirect_url([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "redirect url" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is used in a new HTTP header to indicate that we don't have the document that the user wants, but we do know where they can get it. If this property is defined then it contains the url we redirect to. This property would be used in a line like "Location: http://www.cpan.org".

get_http_cookies_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "http cookies" array property of this object, a reference to which it returns. Cookies are used for simple data persistance on the client side, and are passed back and forth in the HTTP headers. If this property is defined, then a "Set-Cookie" HTTP header would be made for each list element. Each array element is treated like a scalar internally as this class assumes you will encode each cookie prior to insertion.

get_http_cookies()

This method returns a list containing "http cookies" list elements. This list is returned literally in list context and as an array ref in scalar context.

set_http_cookies( VALUE )

This method allows you to set or replace the current "http cookies" list with a new one. The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

add_http_cookies( VALUES )

This method will take a list of encoded cookies in the argument VALUES and append them to the internal "http cookies" list property. VALUES can be either an array ref or a literal list.

get_http_headers_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "misc http headers" hash property of this object, a reference to which it returns. HTTP headers constitute the first of two main parts of an HTTP response, and says things like the current date, server type, content type of the document, cookies to set, and more. Some of these have their own methods, above, if you wish to use them. Each key/value pair in the hash would be used in a line like "Key: value".

get_http_headers([ KEY ])

This method allows you to get the "misc http headers" hash property of this object. If KEY is defined then it is taken as a key in the hash and the associated value is returned. If KEY is not defined then the entire hash is returned as a list; in scalar context this list is in a new hash ref.

set_http_headers( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to set the "misc http headers" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then all the existing headers information is replaced with the new hash keys and values. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

add_http_headers( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to add key/value pairs to the "misc http headers" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then the keys and values it contains are inserted into the existing hash property; any like-named keys will overwrite existing ones, but different-named ones will coexist. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

http_body([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "http body" scalar property of this object, which it returns. This contitutes the second of two main parts of an HTTP response, and contains the actual document that the user will view and/or can save to disk. If this property is defined, then it will be used literally as the HTTP body part of the output. If this property is not defined then a new HTTP body of type text/html will be assembled out of the various "page *" properties instead. This property defaults to undefined.

http_body_is_binary([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "http body is binary" boolean property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. If this property is true then it indicates that the HTTP body is binary and should be output with binmode on. It defaults to false.

METHODS FOR MAKING NEW HTML PAGES ^

These methods are designed to accumulate and assemble the components of a new HTML page, complete with body, title, meta tags, and cascading style sheets. See the DESCRIPTION for more details.

page_prologue([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "page prologue" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is used as the very first thing in a new HTML page, appearing above the opening <HTML> tag. The property starts out undefined, and unless you set it then the default proglogue tag defined by HTML::EasyTags is used instead. This property doesn't have any effect unless your HTML::EasyTags is v1-06 or later.

page_title([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "page title" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is used in the header of a new HTML document to define its title. Specifically, it goes between a <TITLE></TITLE> tag pair.

page_author([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "page author" scalar property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property is used in the header of a new HTML document to define its author. Specifically, it is used in a new '<LINK REV="made">' tag if defined.

get_page_meta_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "page meta" hash property of this object, a reference to which it returns. Meta information is used in the header of a new HTML document to say things like what the best keywords are for a search engine to index this page under. Each key/value pair in the hash would have a '<META NAME="k" VALUE="v">' tag made out of it.

get_page_meta([ KEY ])

This method allows you to get the "page meta" hash property of this object. If KEY is defined then it is taken as a key in the hash and the associated value is returned. If KEY is not defined then the entire hash is returned as a list; in scalar context this list is in a new hash ref.

set_page_meta( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to set the "page meta" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then all the existing meta information is replaced with the new hash keys and values. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

add_page_meta( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to add key/value pairs to the "page meta" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then the keys and values it contains are inserted into the existing hash property; any like-named keys will overwrite existing ones, but different-named ones will coexist. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

get_page_style_sources_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "page style sources" array property of this object, a reference to which it returns. Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) definitions are used in the header of a new HTML document to allow precise control over the appearance of of page elements, something that HTML itself was not designed for. This property stores urls for external documents having stylesheet definitions that you want linked to the current document. If this property is defined, then a '<LINK REL="stylesheet" SRC="url">' tag would be made for each list element.

get_page_style_sources()

This method returns a list containing "page style sources" list elements. This list is returned literally in list context and as an array ref in scalar context.

set_page_style_sources( VALUE )

This method allows you to set or replace the current "page style sources" definitions. The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or literal list.

add_page_style_sources( VALUES )

This method will take a list of "page style sources" definitions and add them to the internally stored list of the same. VALUES can be either an array ref or a literal list.

get_page_style_code_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "page style code" array property of this object, a reference to which it returns. Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) definitions are used in the header of a new HTML document to allow precise control over the appearance of of page elements, something that HTML itself was not designed for. This property stores CSS definitions that you want embedded in the HTML document itself. If this property is defined, then a "<STYLE><!-- code --></STYLE>" multi-line tag is made for them.

get_page_style_code()

This method returns a list containing "page style code" list elements. This list is returned literally in list context and as an array ref in scalar context.

set_page_style_code( VALUE )

This method allows you to set or replace the current "page style code" definitions. The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or literal list.

add_page_style_code( VALUES )

This method will take a list of "page style code" definitions and add them to the internally stored list of the same. VALUES can be either an array ref or a literal list.

get_page_head_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "page head" array property of this object, a reference to which it returns. While this property actually represents a scalar value, it is stored as an array for possible efficiency, considering that new portions may be appended or prepended to it as the program runs. This property is inserted between the "<HEAD></HEAD>" tags of a new HTML page, following any other properties that go in that section.

get_page_head()

This method returns a string of the "page body" joined together.

set_page_head( VALUE )

This method allows you to set or replace the current "page head" with a new one. The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

append_page_head( VALUE )

This method allows you to append content to the current "page head". The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

prepend_page_head( VALUE )

This method allows you to prepend content to the current "page head". The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

get_page_frameset_attributes_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "page frameset attributes" hash property of this object, a reference to which it returns. Each key/value pair in the hash would become an attribute key/value of the opening <FRAMESET> tag of a new HTML document. At least it would if this was a frameset document, which it isn't by default. If there are multiple frames, then this property says how the browser window is partitioned into a grid with one or more rows and one or more columns of frames. Valid attributes include 'rows => "*,*,..."', 'cols => "*,*,..."', and 'border => nn'. See also the http_window_target() method.

get_page_frameset_attributes([ KEY ])

This method allows you to get the "page frameset attributes" hash property of this object. If KEY is defined then it is taken as a key in the hash and the associated value is returned. If KEY is not defined then the entire hash is returned as a list; in scalar context this list is in a new hash ref.

set_page_frameset_attributes( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to set the "page frameset attributes" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then all the existing attrib information is replaced with the new hash keys and values. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

add_page_frameset_attributes( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to add key/value pairs to the "page frameset attributes" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then the keys and values it contains are inserted into the existing hash property; any like-named keys will overwrite existing ones, but different-named ones will coexist. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

get_page_frameset_refs()

This method is an accessor for the "page frameset" array property of this object, a list of references to whose elements it returns. Each property element is a hash ref which contains attributes for a new <FRAME> tag. This property is inserted between the "<FRAMESET></FRAMESET>" tags of a new HTML page.

get_page_frameset()

This method returns a list of frame descriptors from the "page frameset" property.

set_page_frameset( VALUE )

This method allows you to set or replace the current "page frameset" list with a new one. The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

append_page_frameset( VALUE )

This method allows you to append frame descriptors to the current "page frames". The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

prepend_page_frameset( VALUE )

This method allows you to prepend frame descriptors to the current "page frames". The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

get_page_body_attributes_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "page body attributes" hash property of this object, a reference to which it returns. Each key/value pair in the hash would become an attribute key/value of the opening <BODY> tag of a new HTML document. With the advent of CSS there wasn't much need to have the BODY tag attributes, but you may wish to do this for older browsers. In the latter case you could use body attributes to define things like the page background color or picture.

get_page_body_attributes([ KEY ])

This method allows you to get the "page body attributes" hash property of this object. If KEY is defined then it is taken as a key in the hash and the associated value is returned. If KEY is not defined then the entire hash is returned as a list; in scalar context this list is in a new hash ref.

set_page_body_attributes( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to set the "page body attributes" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then all the existing attrib information is replaced with the new hash keys and values. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

add_page_body_attributes( KEY[, VALUE] )

This method allows you to add key/value pairs to the "page body attributes" hash property of this object. If KEY is a valid HASH ref then the keys and values it contains are inserted into the existing hash property; any like-named keys will overwrite existing ones, but different-named ones will coexist. If KEY is defined but it is not a Hash ref, then KEY and VALUE are inserted together into the existing hash.

get_page_body_ref()

This method is an accessor for the "page body" array property of this object, a reference to which it returns. While this property actually represents a scalar value, it is stored as an array for possible efficiency, considering that new portions may be appended or prepended to it as the program runs. This property is inserted between the "<BODY></BODY>" tags of a new HTML page.

get_page_body()

This method returns a string of the "page body" joined together.

set_page_body( VALUE )

This method allows you to set or replace the current "page body" with a new one. The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

append_page_body( VALUE )

This method allows you to append content to the current "page body". The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

prepend_page_body( VALUE )

This method allows you to prepend content to the current "page body". The argument VALUE can be either an array ref or scalar or literal list.

page_search_and_replace( DO_THIS )

This method performs a customizable search-and-replace of this object's "page *" properties. The argument DO_THIS is a hash ref whose keys are tokens to look for and the corresponding values are what to replace the tokens with. Tokens can be any Perl 5 regular expression and they are applied using "s/[find]/[replace]/g". Perl will automatically throw an exception if your regular expressions don't compile, so you should check them for validity before use. If DO_THIS is not a valid hash ref then this method returns without changing anything. Currently, this method only affects the "page body" property, which is the most common activity, but in subsequent releases it may process more properties.

page_as_string()

This method assembles the various "page *" properties of this object into a complete HTML page and returns it as a string. That is, it returns the cumulative string representation of those properties. This consists of a prologue tag, a pair of "html" tags, and everything in between. This method requires HTML::EasyTags to do the actual page assembly, and so the results are consistant with its abilities.

METHODS FOR DEBUGGING ^

is_debug([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "is debug" boolean property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. If this property is true then it indicates that the program is currently being debugged by the owner/maintainer; if it is false then the program is being run by a normal user. How or whether the program reacts to this fact is quite arbitrary. For example, it may just keep a separate set of usage logs or append "debug" messages to email or web pages it makes.

METHODS FOR SEARCH AND REPLACE ^

This method supplements the page_search_and_replace() 'Response' method with a more proprietary solution.

search_and_replace_url_path_tokens([ TOKEN ])

This method performs a specialized search-and-replace of this object's "page body" property. The nature of this search and replace allows you to to embed "url paths" in static portions of your application, such as data files, and then replace them with complete self-referencing urls that go to the application screen that each url path corresponds to. How it works is that your data files are formatted like '<a href="__url_path__=/pics/green">green pics</a>' or '<a href="__url_path__=../texts">texts page</a>' or '<a href="__url_path__=/jump&url=http://www.cpan.org">CPAN</a>' and the scalar argument TOKEN is equal to '__url_path__' (that is its default value also). This method will search for text like in the above formats, specifically the parts between the double-quotes, and substitute in self-referencing urls like '<a href="http://www.aardvark.net/it.pl/pics/green">green pics</a>' or '<a href="http://www.aardvark.net/it.pl/jump?url=http://www.cpan.org">CPAN</a>'. New urls are constructed in a similar fashion to what url_as_string() makes, and incorporates your existing url base, query string, and so on. Any query string you provide in the source text is added to the url query in the output. This specialized search and replace can not be done with page_search_and_replace() since that would only replace the '__url_path__' part and leave the rest. The regular expression that is searched for looks sort of like /"TOKEN=([^&^"]*)&?(.*?)"/.

METHODS FOR GLOBAL PREFERENCES ^

These methods are designed to be accessors for a few "special" preferences that are global in the sense that they are stored separately from normal preferences and they only have to be set once in a parent context to be available to all child contexts and the application components that use them. Each one has its own accessor method. The information stored here is of the generic variety that could be used all over the application, such as the name of the application instance or the maintainer's name and email address, which can be used with error messages or other places where the maintainer would be contacted.

default_application_title([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "app instance title" string property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property can be used on about/error screens or email messages to indicate the title of this application instance. You can call url_base() or recall_url() to provide an accompanying url in the emails if you wish. This property defaults to "Untitled Application".

default_maintainer_name([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "maintainer name" string property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property can be used on about/error screens or email messages to indicate the name of the maintainer for this application instance, should you need to credit them or know who to contact. This property defaults to "Webmaster".

default_maintainer_email_address([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "maintainer email" string property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property can be used on about/error screens or email messages to indicate the email address of the maintainer for this application instance, should you need to contact them or should this application need to send them an email. This property defaults to "webmaster@localhost".

default_maintainer_email_screen_url_path([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "maintainer screen" string property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property can be used on about/error pages as an "url path" that goes to the screen of your application giving information on how to contact the maintainer. This property defaults to undefined, which means there is no screen in your app for this purpose; calling code that wants to use this would probably substitute the literal email address instead.

default_smtp_host([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "smtp host" string property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property can be used by your application as a default web domain or ip for the smtp server that it should use to send email with. This property defaults to "localhost".

default_smtp_timeout([ VALUE ])

This method is an accessor for the "smtp timeout" number property of this object, which it returns. If VALUE is defined, this property is set to it. This property can be used by your application when contacting an smtp server to say how many seconds it should wait before timing out. This property defaults to 30.

maintainer_email_html([ LABEL ])

This method will selectively make a hyperlink that can be used by your users to contact the maintainer of this application. If the "maintainer screen" property is defined then this method will make a hyperlink to that screen. Otherwise, it makes an "mailto" hyperlink using the "maintainer email" address.

METHODS FOR MISCELLANEOUS OBJECT SERVICES ^

get_misc_objects_ref()

This method returns a reference to this object's "misc objects" hash property. This hash stores references to any objects you want to pass between program components with services that are beyond the scope of this class, such as persistent database handles. This hash ref is static across all objects of this class that are derived from one another.

replace_misc_objects( HASH_REF )

This method lets this object have a "misc objects" property in common with another object that it doesn't already. If the argument HASH_REF is a hash ref, then this property is set to it.

separate_misc_objects()

This method lets this object stop having a "misc objects" property in common with another, by replacing that property with a new empty hash ref.

AUTHOR ^

Copyright (c) 1999-2004, Darren R. Duncan. All rights reserved. This module is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself. However, I do request that this copyright information and credits remain attached to the file. If you modify this module and redistribute a changed version then please attach a note listing the modifications. This module is available "as-is" and the author can not be held accountable for any problems resulting from its use.

I am always interested in knowing how my work helps others, so if you put this module to use in any of your own products or services then I would appreciate (but not require) it if you send me the website url for said product or service, so I know who you are. Also, if you make non-proprietary changes to the module because it doesn't work the way you need, and you are willing to make these freely available, then please send me a copy so that I can roll desirable changes into the main release.

Address comments, suggestions, and bug reports to perl@DarrenDuncan.net.

SEE ALSO ^

perl(1), File::VirtualPath, CGI::MultiValuedHash, HTML::EasyTags, CGI::Portable::*, mod_perl, Apache, Demo*, HTML::FormTemplate, CGI, CGI::Screen, CGI::MxScreen, CGI::Application, CGI::BuildPage, CGI::Response, HTML::Mason.

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