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NAME ^

Catalyst::Manual::Tutorial::BasicCRUD - Catalyst Tutorial - Chapter 4: Basic CRUD

OVERVIEW ^

This is Chapter 4 of 10 for the Catalyst tutorial.

Tutorial Overview

  1. Introduction
  2. Catalyst Basics
  3. More Catalyst Basics
  4. Basic CRUD
  5. Authentication
  6. Authorization
  7. Debugging
  8. Testing
  9. Advanced CRUD
  10. Appendices

DESCRIPTION ^

This chapter of the tutorial builds on the fairly primitive application created in Chapter 3 to add basic support for Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD) of Book objects. Note that the 'list' function in Chapter 2 already implements the Read portion of CRUD (although Read normally refers to reading a single object; you could implement full Read functionality using the techniques introduced below). This section will focus on the Create and Delete aspects of CRUD. More advanced capabilities, including full Update functionality, will be addressed in Chapter 9.

Although this chapter of the tutorial will show you how to build CRUD functionality yourself, another option is to use a "CRUD builder" type of tool to automate the process. You get less control, but it's quick and easy. For example, see CatalystX::ListFramework::Builder, CatalystX::CRUD, and CatalystX::CRUD::YUI.

You can check out the source code for this example from the Catalyst Subversion repository as per the instructions in Catalyst::Manual::Tutorial::Intro.

FORMLESS SUBMISSION ^

Our initial attempt at object creation will utilize the "URL arguments" feature of Catalyst (we will employ the more common form- based submission in the sections that follow).

Include a Create Action in the Books Controller

Edit lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and enter the following method:

    =head2 url_create

    Create a book with the supplied title, rating, and author

    =cut

    sub url_create : Local {
        # In addition to self & context, get the title, rating, &
        # author_id args from the URL.  Note that Catalyst automatically
        # puts extra information after the "/<controller_name>/<action_name/"
        # into @_
        my ($self, $c, $title, $rating, $author_id) = @_;

        # Call create() on the book model object. Pass the table
        # columns/field values we want to set as hash values
        my $book = $c->model('DB::Books')->create({
                title  => $title,
                rating => $rating
            });

        # Add a record to the join table for this book, mapping to
        # appropriate author
        $book->add_to_book_authors({author_id => $author_id});
        # Note: Above is a shortcut for this:
        # $book->create_related('book_authors', {author_id => $author_id});

        # Assign the Book object to the stash for display in the view
        $c->stash->{book} = $book;

        # Set the TT template to use
        $c->stash->{template} = 'books/create_done.tt2';
    }

Notice that Catalyst takes "extra slash-separated information" from the URL and passes it as arguments in @_. The url_create action then uses a simple call to the DBIC create method to add the requested information to the database (with a separate call to add_to_book_authors to update the join table). As do virtually all controller methods (at least the ones that directly handle user input), it then sets the template that should handle this request.

Include a Template for the 'url_create' Action:

Edit root/src/books/create_done.tt2 and then enter:

    [% # Use the TT Dumper plugin to Data::Dumper variables to the browser   -%]
    [% # Not a good idea for production use, though. :-)  'Indent=1' is      -%]
    [% # optional, but prevents "massive indenting" of deeply nested objects -%]
    [% USE Dumper(Indent=1) -%]

    [% # Set the page title.  META can 'go back' and set values in templates -%]
    [% # that have been processed 'before' this template (here it's for      -%]
    [% # root/lib/site/html and root/lib/site/header).  Note that META only  -%]
    [% # works on simple/static strings (i.e. there is no variable           -%]
    [% # interpolation).                                                     -%]
    [% META title = 'Book Created' %]

    [% # Output information about the record that was added.  First title.       -%]
    <p>Added book '[% book.title %]'

    [% # Output the last name of the first author.  This is complicated by an    -%]
    [% # issue in TT 2.15 where blessed hash objects are not handled right.      -%]
    [% # First, fetch 'book.authors' from the DB once.                           -%]
    [% authors = book.authors %]
    [% # Now use IF statements to test if 'authors.first' is "working". If so,   -%]
    [% # we use it.  Otherwise we use a hack that seems to keep TT 2.15 happy.   -%]
    by '[% authors.first.last_name IF authors.first;
           authors.list.first.value.last_name IF ! authors.first %]'

    [% # Output the rating for the book that was added -%]
    with a rating of [% book.rating %].</p>

    [% # Provide a link back to the list page                                    -%]
    [% # 'uri_for()' builds a full URI; e.g., 'http://localhost:3000/books/list' -%]
    <p><a href="[% c.uri_for('/books/list') %]">Return to list</a></p>

    [% # Try out the TT Dumper (for development only!) -%]
    <pre>
    Dump of the 'book' variable:
    [% Dumper.dump(book) %]
    </pre>

The TT USE directive allows access to a variety of plugin modules (TT plugins, that is, not Catalyst plugins) to add extra functionality to the base TT capabilities. Here, the plugin allows Data::Dumper "pretty printing" of objects and variables. Other than that, the rest of the code should be familiar from the examples in Chapter 3.

Try the 'url_create' Feature

If the application is still running from before, use Ctrl-C to kill it. Then restart the server:

    $ DBIC_TRACE=1 script/myapp_server.pl

Note that new path for /books/url_create appears in the startup debug output.

TIP: You can use script/myapp_server.pl -r to have the development server auto-detect changed files and reload itself (if your browser acts odd, you should also try throwing in a -k). If you make changes to the TT templates only, you do not need to reload the development server (only changes to "compiled code" such as Controller and Model .pm files require a reload).

Next, use your browser to enter the following URL:

    http://localhost:3000/books/url_create/TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2/5/4

Your browser should display "Added book 'TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2' by 'Stevens' with a rating of 5." along with a dump of the new book model object as it was returned by DBIC. You should also see the following DBIC debug messages displayed in the development server log messages if you have DBIC_TRACE set:

    INSERT INTO books (rating, title) VALUES (?, ?): `5', `TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2'
    INSERT INTO book_authors (author_id, book_id) VALUES (?, ?): `4', `6'
    SELECT author.id, author.first_name, author.last_name
        FROM book_authors me  JOIN authors author
        ON ( author.id = me.author_id ) WHERE ( me.book_id = ? ): '6'

The INSERT statements are obviously adding the book and linking it to the existing record for Richard Stevens. The SELECT statement results from DBIC automatically fetching the book for the Dumper.dump(book).

If you then click the "Return to list" link, you should find that there are now six books shown (if necessary, Shift+Reload or Ctrl+Reload your browser at the /books/list page).

CONVERT TO A CHAINED ACTION ^

Although the example above uses the same Local action type for the method that we saw in the previous chapter of the tutorial, there is an alternate approach that allows us to be more specific while also paving the way for more advanced capabilities. Change the method declaration for url_create in lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm you entered above to match the following:

    sub url_create :Chained('/') :PathPart('books/url_create') :Args(3) {

This converts the method to take advantage of the Chained action/dispatch type. Chaining lets you have a single URL automatically dispatch to several controller methods, each of which can have precise control over the number of arguments that it will receive. A chain can essentially be thought of having three parts -- a beginning, a middle, and an end. The bullets below summarize the key points behind each of these parts of a chain:

In our url_create method above, we have combined all three parts into a single method: :Chained('/') to start the chain, :PathPart('books/url_create') to specify the base URL to match, and :Args(3) to capture exactly three arguments and to end the chain.

As we will see shortly, a chain can consist of as many "links" as you wish, with each part capturing some arguments and doing some work along the way. We will continue to use the Chained action type in this chapter of the tutorial and explore slightly more advanced capabilities with the base method and delete feature below. But Chained dispatch is capable of far more. For additional information, see "Action types" in Catalyst::Manual::Intro, Catalyst::DispatchType::Chained, and the 2006 Advent calendar entry on the subject: http://www.catalystframework.org/calendar/2006/10.

Try the Chained Action

If you look back at the development server startup logs from your initial version of the url_create method (the one using the :Local attribute), you will notice that it produced output similar to the following:

    [debug] Loaded Path actions:
    .-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------.
    | Path                                | Private                              |
    +-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
    | /                                   | /default                             |
    | /                                   | /index                               |
    | /books                              | /books/index                         |
    | /books/list                         | /books/list                          |
    | /books/url_create                   | /books/url_create                    |
    '-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------'

Now start the development server with our basic chained method in place and the startup debug output should change to something along the lines of the following:

    [debug] Loaded Path actions:
    .-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------.
    | Path                                | Private                              |
    +-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
    | /                                   | /default                             |
    | /                                   | /index                               |
    | /books                              | /books/index                         |
    | /books/list                         | /books/list                          |
    '-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------'

    [debug] Loaded Chained actions:
    .-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------.
    | Path Spec                           | Private                              |
    +-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
    | /books/url_create/*/*/*             | /books/url_create                    |
    '-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------'

url_create has disappeared form the "Loaded Path actions" section but it now shows up under the newly created "Loaded Chained actions" section. And the "/*/*/*" portion clearly shows our requirement for three arguments.

As with our non-chained version of url_create, use your browser to enter the following URL:

    http://localhost:3000/books/url_create/TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2/5/4

You should see the same "Added book 'TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2' by 'Stevens' with a rating of 5." along with a dump of the new book model object. Click the "Return to list" link, and you should find that there are now seven books shown (two copies of TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2).

Refactor to Use a 'base' Method to Start the Chains

Let's make a quick update to our initial Chained action to show a little more of the power of chaining. First, open lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm in your editor and add the following method:

    =head2 base

    Can place common logic to start chained dispatch here

    =cut

    sub base :Chained('/') :PathPart('books') :CaptureArgs(0) {
        my ($self, $c) = @_;

        # Store the ResultSet in stash so it's available for other methods
        $c->stash->{resultset} = $c->model('DB::Books');

        # Print a message to the debug log
        $c->log->debug('*** INSIDE BASE METHOD ***');
    }

Here we print a log message and store the DBIC ResultSet in $c->stash->{resultset} so that it's automatically available for other actions that chain off base. If your controller always needs a book ID as its first argument, you could have the base method capture that argument (with :CaptureArgs(1)) and use it to pull the book object with ->find($id) and leave it in the stash for later parts of your chains to then act upon. Because we have several actions that don't need to retrieve a book (such as the url_create we are working with now), we will instead add that functionality to a common object action shortly.

As for url_create, let's modify it to first dispatch to base. Open up lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and edit the declaration for url_create to match the following:

    sub url_create :Chained('base') :PathPart('url_create') :Args(3) {

Next, try out the refactored chain by restarting the development server. Notice that our "Loaded Chained actions" section has changed slightly:

    [debug] Loaded Chained actions:
    .-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------.
    | Path Spec                           | Private                              |
    +-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
    | /books/url_create/*/*/*             | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | => /books/url_create                 |
    '-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------'

The "Path Spec" is the same, but now it maps to two Private actions as we would expect.

Once again, enter the following URL into your browser:

    http://localhost:3000/books/url_create/TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2/5/4

The same "Added book 'TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2' by 'Stevens' with a rating of 5." message and a dump of the new book object should appear. Also notice the extra debug message in the development server output from the base method. Click the "Return to list" link, and you should find that there are now eight books shown.

MANUALLY BUILDING A CREATE FORM ^

Although the url_create action in the previous step does begin to reveal the power and flexibility of both Catalyst and DBIC, it's obviously not a very realistic example of how users should be expected to enter data. This section begins to address that concern.

Add Method to Display The Form

Edit lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and add the following method:

    =head2 form_create

    Display form to collect information for book to create

    =cut

    sub form_create :Chained('base') :PathPart('form_create') :Args(0) {
        my ($self, $c) = @_;

        # Set the TT template to use
        $c->stash->{template} = 'books/form_create.tt2';
    }

This action simply invokes a view containing a form to create a book.

Add a Template for the Form

Open root/src/books/form_create.tt2 in your editor and enter:

    [% META title = 'Manual Form Book Create' -%]

    <form method="post" action="[% c.uri_for('form_create_do') %]">
    <table>
      <tr><td>Title:</td><td><input type="text" name="title"></td></tr>
      <tr><td>Rating:</td><td><input type="text" name="rating"></td></tr>
      <tr><td>Author ID:</td><td><input type="text" name="author_id"></td></tr>
    </table>
    <input type="submit" name="Submit" value="Submit">
    </form>

Note that we have specified the target of the form data as form_create_do, the method created in the section that follows.

Add a Method to Process Form Values and Update Database

Edit lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and add the following method to save the form information to the database:

    =head2 form_create_do

    Take information from form and add to database

    =cut

    sub form_create_do :Chained('base') :PathPart('form_create_do') :Args(0) {
        my ($self, $c) = @_;

        # Retrieve the values from the form
        my $title     = $c->request->params->{title}     || 'N/A';
        my $rating    = $c->request->params->{rating}    || 'N/A';
        my $author_id = $c->request->params->{author_id} || '1';

        # Create the book
        my $book = $c->model('DB::Books')->create({
                title   => $title,
                rating  => $rating,
            });
        # Handle relationship with author
        $book->add_to_book_authors({author_id => $author_id});

        # Store new model object in stash
        $c->stash->{book} = $book;

        # Avoid Data::Dumper issue mentioned earlier
        # You can probably omit this
        $Data::Dumper::Useperl = 1;

        # Set the TT template to use
        $c->stash->{template} = 'books/create_done.tt2';
    }

Test Out The Form

If the application is still running from before, use Ctrl-C to kill it. Then restart the server:

    $ script/myapp_server.pl

Notice that the server startup log reflects the two new chained methods that we added:

    [debug] Loaded Chained actions:
    .-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------.
    | Path Spec                           | Private                              |
    +-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
    | /books/form_create                  | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | => /books/form_create                |
    | /books/form_create_do               | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | => /books/form_create_do             |
    | /books/url_create/*/*/*             | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | => /books/url_create                 |
    '-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------'

Point your browser to http://localhost:3000/books/form_create and enter "TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol 3" for the title, a rating of 5, and an author ID of 4. You should then see the output of the same create_done.tt2 template seen in earlier examples. Finally, click "Return to list" to view the full list of books.

Note: Having the user enter the primary key ID for the author is obviously crude; we will address this concern with a drop-down list in Chapter 9.

A SIMPLE DELETE FEATURE ^

Turning our attention to the Delete portion of CRUD, this section illustrates some basic techniques that can be used to remove information from the database.

Include a Delete Link in the List

Edit root/src/books/list.tt2 and update it to match the following (two sections have changed: 1) the additional '<th>Links</th>' table header, and 2) the four lines for the Delete link near the bottom):

    [% # This is a TT comment.  The '-' at the end "chomps" the newline.  You won't -%]
    [% # see this "chomping" in your browser because HTML ignores blank lines, but  -%]
    [% # it WILL eliminate a blank line if you view the HTML source.  It's purely   -%]
    [%- # optional, but both the beginning and the ending TT tags support chomping. -%]

    [% # Provide a title to root/lib/site/header -%]
    [% META title = 'Book List' -%]

    <table>
    <tr><th>Title</th><th>Rating</th><th>Author(s)</th><th>Links</th></tr>
    [% # Display each book in a table row %]
    [% FOREACH book IN books -%]
      <tr>
        <td>[% book.title %]</td>
        <td>[% book.rating %]</td>
        <td>
          [% # First initialize a TT variable to hold a list.  Then use a TT FOREACH -%]
          [% # loop in 'side effect notation' to load just the last names of the     -%]
          [% # authors into the list. Note that the 'push' TT vmethod doesn't return -%]
          [% # a value, so nothing will be printed here.  But, if you have something -%]
          [% # in TT that does return a value and you don't want it printed, you can -%]
          [% # 1) assign it to a bogus value, or                                     -%]
          [% # 2) use the CALL keyword to call it and discard the return value.      -%]
          [% tt_authors = [ ];
             tt_authors.push(author.last_name) FOREACH author = book.authors %]
          [% # Now use a TT 'virtual method' to display the author count in parens   -%]
          ([% tt_authors.size %])
          [% # Use another TT vmethod to join & print the names & comma separators   -%]
          [% tt_authors.join(', ') %]
        </td>
        <td>
          [% # Add a link to delete a book %]
          <a href="[% c.uri_for(c.controller.action_for('delete'), [book.id]) %]">Delete</a>
        </td>
      </tr>
    [% END -%]
    </table>

The additional code is obviously designed to add a new column to the right side of the table with a Delete "button" (for simplicity, links will be used instead of full HTML buttons; in practice, anything that modifies data should be handled with a form sending a PUT request).

Also notice that we are using a more advanced form of uri_for than we have seen before. Here we use $c->controller->action_for to automatically generate a URI appropriate for that action based on the method we want to link to while inserting the book.id value into the appropriate place. Now, if you ever change :PathPart('delete') in your controller method to :PathPart('kill'), then your links will automatically update without any changes to your .tt2 template file. As long as the name of your method does not change (here, "delete"), then your links will still be correct. There are a few shortcuts and options when using action_for():

Note: In practice you should never use a GET request to delete a record -- always use POST for actions that will modify data. We are doing it here for illustrative and simplicity purposes only.

Add a Common Method to Retrieve a Book for the Chain

As mentioned earlier, since we have a mixture of actions that operate on a single book ID and others that do not, we should not have base capture the book ID, find the corresponding book in the database and save it in the stash for later links in the chain. However, just because that logic does not belong in base doesn't mean that we can't create another location to centralize the book lookup code. In our case, we will create a method called object that will store the specific book in the stash. Chains that always operate on a single existing book can chain off this method, but methods such as url_create that don't operate on an existing book can chain directly off base.

To add the object method, edit lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and add the following code:

    =head2 object

    Fetch the specified book object based on the book ID and store
    it in the stash

    =cut

    sub object :Chained('base') :PathPart('id') :CaptureArgs(1) {
        # $id = primary key of book to delete
        my ($self, $c, $id) = @_;

        # Find the book object and store it in the stash
        $c->stash(object => $c->stash->{resultset}->find($id));

        # Make sure the lookup was successful.  You would probably
        # want to do something like this in a real app:
        #   $c->detach('/error_404') if !$c->stash->{object};
        die "Book $id not found!" if !$c->stash->{object};
    }

Now, any other method that chains off object will automatically have the appropriate book waiting for it in $c->stash->{object}.

Also note that we are using a different technique for setting $c->stash. The advantage of this style is that it lets you set multiple stash variables at a time. For example:

    $c->stash(object => $c->stash->{resultset}->find($id),
              another_thing => 1);

or as a hashref:

    $c->stash({object => $c->stash->{resultset}->find($id),
              another_thing => 1});

Either format works, but the $c->stash(name => value); style is growing in popularity -- you may wish to use it all the time (even when you are only setting a single value).

Add a Delete Action to the Controller

Open lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm in your editor and add the following method:

    =head2 delete

    Delete a book

    =cut

    sub delete :Chained('object') :PathPart('delete') :Args(0) {
        my ($self, $c) = @_;

        # Use the book object saved by 'object' and delete it along
        # with related 'book_authors' entries
        $c->stash->{object}->delete;

        # Set a status message to be displayed at the top of the view
        $c->stash->{status_msg} = "Book deleted.";

        # Forward to the list action/method in this controller
        $c->forward('list');
    }

This method first deletes the book object saved by the object method. However, it also removes the corresponding entry from the book_authors table with a cascading delete.

Then, rather than forwarding to a "delete done" page as we did with the earlier create example, it simply sets the status_msg to display a notification to the user as the normal list view is rendered.

The delete action uses the context forward method to return the user to the book list. The detach method could have also been used. Whereas forward returns to the original action once it is completed, detach does not return. Other than that, the two are equivalent.

Try the Delete Feature

If the application is still running from before, use Ctrl-C to kill it. Then restart the server:

    $ DBIC_TRACE=1 script/myapp_server.pl

The delete method now appears in the "Loaded Chained actions" section of the startup debug output:

    [debug] Loaded Chained actions:
    .-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------.
    | Path Spec                           | Private                              |
    +-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
    | /books/id/*/delete                  | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | -> /books/object (1)                 |
    |                                     | => /books/delete                     |
    | /books/form_create                  | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | => /books/form_create                |
    | /books/form_create_do               | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | => /books/form_create_do             |
    | /books/url_create/*/*/*             | /books/base (0)                      |
    |                                     | => /books/url_create                 |
    '-------------------------------------+--------------------------------------'

Then point your browser to http://localhost:3000/books/list and click the "Delete" link next to the first "TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2". A green "Book deleted" status message should display at the top of the page, along with a list of the eight remaining books. You will also see the cascading delete operation via the DBIC_TRACE output:

    SELECT me.id, me.title, me.rating FROM books me WHERE ( ( me.id = ? ) ): '6'
    DELETE FROM books WHERE ( id = ? ): '6'
    SELECT me.book_id, me.author_id FROM book_authors me WHERE ( me.book_id = ? ): '6'
    DELETE FROM book_authors WHERE ( author_id = ? AND book_id = ? ): '4', '6'

Fixing a Dangerous URL

Note the URL in your browser once you have performed the deletion in the prior step -- it is still referencing the delete action:

    http://localhost:3000/books/id/6/delete

What if the user were to press reload with this URL still active? In this case the redundant delete is harmless (although it does generate an exception screen, it doesn't perform any undesirable actions on the application or database), but in other cases this could clearly be extremely dangerous.

We can improve the logic by converting to a redirect. Unlike $c->forward('list')) or $c->detach('list')) that perform a server-side alteration in the flow of processing, a redirect is a client-side mechanism that causes the browser to issue an entirely new request. As a result, the URL in the browser is updated to match the destination of the redirection URL.

To convert the forward used in the previous section to a redirect, open lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and edit the existing sub delete method to match:

    =head2 delete

    Delete a book

    =cut

    sub delete :Chained('object') :PathPart('delete') :Args(0) {
        my ($self, $c) = @_;

        # Use the book object saved by 'object' and delete it along
        # with related 'book_authors' entries
        $c->stash->{object}->delete;

        # Set a status message to be displayed at the top of the view
        $c->stash->{status_msg} = "Book deleted.";

        # Redirect the user back to the list page.  Note the use
        # of $self->action_for as earlier in this section (BasicCRUD)
        $c->response->redirect($c->uri_for($self->action_for('list')));
    }

Try the Delete and Redirect Logic

Restart the development server and point your browser to http://localhost:3000/books/list (don't just hit "Refresh" in your browser since we left the URL in an invalid state in the previous section!) and delete the first copy of the remaining two "TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2" books. The URL in your browser should return to the http://localhost:3000/books/list URL, so that is an improvement, but notice that no green "Book deleted" status message is displayed. Because the stash is reset on every request (and a redirect involves a second request), the status_msg is cleared before it can be displayed.

Using 'uri_for' to Pass Query Parameters

There are several ways to pass information across a redirect. One option is to use the flash technique that we will see in Chapter 5 of this tutorial; however, here we will pass the information via query parameters on the redirect itself. Open lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and update the existing sub delete method to match the following:

    =head2 delete

    Delete a book

    =cut

    sub delete :Chained('object') :PathPart('delete') :Args(0) {
        my ($self, $c) = @_;

        # Use the book object saved by 'object' and delete it along
        # with related 'book_authors' entries
        $c->stash->{object}->delete;

        # Redirect the user back to the list page with status msg as an arg
        $c->response->redirect($c->uri_for($self->action_for('list'),
            {status_msg => "Book deleted."}));
    }

This modification simply leverages the ability of uri_for to include an arbitrary number of name/value pairs in a hash reference. Next, we need to update root/src/wrapper.tt2 to handle status_msg as a query parameter:

    ...
    <div id="content">
        [%# Status and error messages %]
        <span class="message">[% status_msg || c.request.params.status_msg %]</span>
        <span class="error">[% error_msg %]</span>
        [%# This is where TT will stick all of your template's contents. -%]
        [% content %]
    </div><!-- end content -->
    ...

Although the sample above only shows the content div, leave the rest of the file intact -- the only change we made to the wrapper.tt2 was to add "|| c.request.params.status_msg" to the <span class="message"> line.

Try the Delete and Redirect With Query Param Logic

Restart the development server and point your browser to http://localhost:3000/books/list (you should now be able to safely hit "refresh" in your browser). Then delete the remaining copy of "TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2". The green "Book deleted" status message should return.

NOTE: Another popular method for maintaining server-side information across a redirect is to use the flash technique we discuss in the next chapter of the tutorial, Authentication. While flash is a "slicker" mechanism in that it's all handled by the server and doesn't "pollute" your URLs, it is important to note that flash can lead to situations where the wrong information shows up in the wrong browser window if the user has multiple windows or browser tabs open. For example, Window A causes something to be placed in the stash, but before that window performs a redirect, Window B makes a request to the server and gets the status information that should really go to Window A. For this reason, you may wish to use the "query param" technique shown here in your applications.

EXPLORING THE POWER OF DBIC ^

In this section we will explore some additional capabilities offered by DBIx::Class. Although these features have relatively little to do with Catalyst per se, you will almost certainly want to take advantage of them in your applications.

Add Datetime Columns to Our Existing Books Table

Let's add two columns to our existing books table to track when each book was added and when each book is updated:

    $ sqlite3 myapp.db
    sqlite> ALTER TABLE books ADD created INTEGER;
    sqlite> ALTER TABLE books ADD updated INTEGER;
    sqlite> UPDATE books SET created = DATETIME('NOW'), updated = DATETIME('NOW');
    sqlite> SELECT * FROM books;
    1|CCSP SNRS Exam Certification Guide|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    2|TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    3|Internetworking with TCP/IP Vol.1|4|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    4|Perl Cookbook|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    5|Designing with Web Standards|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    9|TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol 3|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    sqlite> .quit
    $

This will modify the books table to include the two new fields and populate those fields with the current time.

Update DBIx::Class to Automatically Handle the Datetime Columns

Next, we should re-run the DBIC helper to update the Result Classes with the new fields:

    $ script/myapp_create.pl model DB DBIC::Schema MyApp::Schema \
        create=static components=TimeStamp dbi:SQLite:myapp.db
     exists "/root/dev/MyApp/script/../lib/MyApp/Model"
     exists "/root/dev/MyApp/script/../t"
    Dumping manual schema for MyApp::Schema to directory /root/dev/MyApp/script/../lib ...
    Schema dump completed.
     exists "/root/dev/MyApp/script/../lib/MyApp/Model/DB.pm"

Notice that we modified our use of the helper slightly: we told it to include the DBIx::Class::TimeStamp in the load_components line of the Result Classes.

If you open lib/MyApp/Schema/Result/Books.pm in your editor you should see that the created and updated fields are now included in the call to add_columns(), but our relationship information below the "# DO NOT MODIFY..." line was automatically preserved.

While we have this file open, let's update it with some additional information to have DBIC automatically handle the updating of these two fields for us. Insert the following code at the bottom of the file (it must be below the "# DO NOT MODIFY..." line and above the 1; on the last line):

    #
    # Enable automatic date handling
    #
    __PACKAGE__->add_columns(
        "created",
        { data_type => 'datetime', set_on_create => 1 },
        "updated",
        { data_type => 'datetime', set_on_create => 1, set_on_update => 1 },
    );

This will override the definition for these fields that Schema::Loader placed at the top of the file. The set_on_create and set_on_update options will cause DBIx::Class to automatically update the timestamps in these columns whenever a row is created or modified.

To test this out, restart the development server using the DBIC_TRACE=1 option:

    DBIC_TRACE=1 script/myapp_server.pl

Then enter the following URL into your web browser:

    http://localhost:3000/books/url_create/TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2/5/4

You should get the same "Book Created" screen we saw above. However, if you now use the sqlite3 command-line tool to dump the books table, you will see that the new book we added has an appropriate date and time entered for it (see the last line in the listing below):

    sqlite3 myapp.db "select * from books"
    1|CCSP SNRS Exam Certification Guide|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    2|TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    3|Internetworking with TCP/IP Vol.1|4|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    4|Perl Cookbook|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    5|Designing with Web Standards|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    9|TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol 3|5|2009-03-08 16:26:35|2009-03-08 16:26:35
    10|TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2|5|2009-03-08 16:29:08|2009-03-08 16:29:08

Notice in the debug log that the SQL DBIC generated has changed to incorporate the datetime logic:

    INSERT INTO books (created, rating, title, updated) VALUES (?, ?, ?, ?):
    '2009-03-08 16:29:08', '5', 'TCPIP_Illustrated_Vol-2', '2009-03-08 16:29:08'
    INSERT INTO book_authors (author_id, book_id) VALUES (?, ?): '4', '10'

Create a ResultSet Class

An often overlooked but extremely powerful features of DBIC is that it allows you to supply your own subclasses of DBIx::Class::ResultSet. It allows you to pull complex and unsightly "query code" out of your controllers and encapsulate it in a method of your ResultSet Class. These "canned queries" in your ResultSet Class can then be invoked via a single call, resulting in much cleaner and easier to read controller code.

To illustrate the concept with a fairly simple example, let's create a method that returns books added in the last 10 minutes. Start by making a directory where DBIx::Class will look for our ResultSet Class:

    mkdir lib/MyApp/Schema/ResultSet

Then open lib/MyApp/Schema/ResultSet/Books.pm and enter the following:

    package MyApp::Schema::ResultSet::Books;

    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use base 'DBIx::Class::ResultSet';

    =head2 created_after

    A predefined search for recently added books

    =cut

    sub created_after {
        my ($self, $datetime) = @_;

        my $date_str = $self->_source_handle->schema->storage
                              ->datetime_parser->format_datetime($datetime);

        return $self->search({
            created => { '>' => $date_str }
        });
    }

    1;

Then we need to tell the Result Class to to treat this as a ResultSet Class. Open lib/MyApp/Schema/Result/Books.pm and add the following above the "1;" at the bottom of the file:

    #
    # Set ResultSet Class
    #
    __PACKAGE__->resultset_class('MyApp::Schema::ResultSet::Books');

Then add the following method to the lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm:

    =head2 list_recent

    List recently created books

    =cut

    sub list_recent :Chained('base') :PathPart('list_recent') :Args(1) {
        my ($self, $c, $mins) = @_;

        # Retrieve all of the book records as book model objects and store in the
        # stash where they can be accessed by the TT template, but only
        # retrieve books created within the last $min number of minutes
        $c->stash->{books} = [$c->model('DB::Books')
                                ->created_after(DateTime->now->subtract(minutes => $mins))];

        # Set the TT template to use.  You will almost always want to do this
        # in your action methods (action methods respond to user input in
        # your controllers).
        $c->stash->{template} = 'books/list.tt2';
    }

Now start the development server with DBIC_TRACE=1 and try different values for the minutes argument (the final number value) for the URL http://localhost:3000/books/list_recent/10. For example, this would list all books added in the last fifteen minutes:

    http://localhost:3000/books/list_recent/15

Depending on how recently you added books, you might want to try a higher or lower value.

Chaining ResultSets

One of the most helpful and powerful features in DBIx::Class is that it allows you to "chain together" a series of queries (note that this has nothing to do with the "Chained Dispatch" for Catalyst that we were discussing above). Because each ResultSet returns another ResultSet, you can take an initial query and immediately feed that into a second query (and so on for as many queries you need). Note that no matter how many ResultSets you chain together, the database itself will not be hit until you use a method that attempts to access the data. And, because this technique carries over to the ResultSet Class feature we implemented in the previous section for our "canned search", we can combine the two capabilities. For example, let's add an action to our Books controller that lists books that are both recent and have "TCP" in the title. Open up lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm and add the following method:

    =head2 list_recent_tcp

    List recently created books

    =cut

    sub list_recent_tcp :Chained('base') :PathPart('list_recent_tcp') :Args(1) {
        my ($self, $c, $mins) = @_;

        # Retrieve all of the book records as book model objects and store in the
        # stash where they can be accessed by the TT template, but only
        # retrieve books created within the last $min number of minutes
        # AND that have 'TCP' in the title
        $c->stash->{books} = [$c->model('DB::Books')
                                ->created_after(DateTime->now->subtract(minutes => $mins))
                                ->search({title => {'like', '%TCP%'}})
                             ];

        # Set the TT template to use.  You will almost always want to do this
        # in your action methods (action methods respond to user input in
        # your controllers).
        $c->stash->{template} = 'books/list.tt2';
    }

To try this out, restart the development server with:

    DBIC_TRACE=1 script/myapp_server.pl

And enter the following URL into your browser:

    http://localhost:3000/books/list_recent_tcp/100

And you should get a list of books added in the last 100 minutes that contain the string "TCP" in the title. However, if you look at all books within the last 100 minutes, you should get a longer list (again, you might have to adjust the number of minutes depending on how recently you added books to your database):

    http://localhost:3000/books/list_recent/100

Take a look at the DBIC_TRACE output in the development server log for the first URL and you should see something similar to the following:

    SELECT me.id, me.title, me.rating, me.created, me.updated FROM books me
    WHERE ( ( ( title LIKE ? ) AND ( created > ? ) ) ): '%TCP%', '2009-03-08 14:52:54'

However, let's not pollute our controller code with this raw "TCP" query -- it would be cleaner to encapsulate that code in a method on our ResultSet Class. To do this, open lib/MyApp/Schema/ResultSet/Books.pm and add the following method:

    =head2 title_like

    A predefined search for books with a 'LIKE' search in the string

    =cut

    sub title_like {
        my ($self, $title_str) = @_;

        return $self->search({
            title => { 'like' => "%$title_str%" }
        });
    }

We defined the search string as $title_str to make the method more flexible. Now update the list_recent_tcp method in lib/MyApp/Controller/Books.pm to match the following (we have replaced the ->search line with the ->title_like line shown here -- the rest of the method should be the same):

    =head2 list_recent_tcp

    List recently created books

    =cut

    sub list_recent_tcp :Chained('base') :PathPart('list_recent_tcp') :Args(1) {
        my ($self, $c, $mins) = @_;

        # Retrieve all of the book records as book model objects and store in the
        # stash where they can be accessed by the TT template, but only
        # retrieve books created within the last $min number of minutes
        # AND that have 'TCP' in the title
        $c->stash->{books} = [$c->model('DB::Books')
                                ->created_after(DateTime->now->subtract(minutes => $mins))
                                ->title_like('TCP')
                             ];

        # Set the TT template to use.  You will almost always want to do this
        # in your action methods (action methods respond to user input in
        # your controllers).
        $c->stash->{template} = 'books/list.tt2';
    }

Then restart the development server and try out the list_recent_tcp and list_recent URL as we did above. It should work just the same, but our code is obviously cleaner and more modular, while also being more flexible at the same time.

Adding Methods to Result Classes

In the previous two sections we saw a good example of how we could use DBIx::Class ResultSet Classes to clean up our code for an entire query (for example, our "canned searches" that filtered the entire query). We can do a similar improvement when working with individual rows as well. Whereas the ResultSet construct is used in DBIC to correspond to an entire query, the Result Class construct is used to represent a row. Therefore, we can add row-specific "helper methods" to our Result Classes stored in lib/MyApp/Schema/Result/. For example, open lib/MyApp/Schema/Result/Authors.pm and add the following method (as always, it must be above the closing "1;"):

    #
    # Helper methods
    #
    sub full_name {
        my ($self) = @_;

        return $self->first_name . ' ' . $self->last_name;
    }

This will allow us to conveniently retrieve both the first and last name for an author in one shot. Now open root/src/books/list.tt2 and change the definition of tt_authors from this:

    ...
      [% tt_authors = [ ];
         tt_authors.push(author.last_name) FOREACH author = book.authors %]
    ...

to:

    ...
      [% tt_authors = [ ];
         tt_authors.push(author.full_name) FOREACH author = book.authors %]
    ...

(Only author.last_name was changed to author.full_name -- the rest of the file should remain the same.)

Now restart the development server and go to the standard book list URL:

    http://localhost:3000/books/list

The "Author(s)" column will now contain both the first and last name. And, because the concatenation logic was encapsulated inside our Result Class, it keeps the code inside our .tt template nice and clean (remember, we want the templates to be as close to pure HTML markup as possible). Obviously, this capability becomes even more useful as you use to to remove even more complicated row-specific logic from your templates!

AUTHOR ^

Kennedy Clark, hkclark@gmail.com

Please report any errors, issues or suggestions to the author. The most recent version of the Catalyst Tutorial can be found at http://dev.catalyst.perl.org/repos/Catalyst/Catalyst-Manual/5.70/trunk/lib/Catalyst/Manual/Tutorial/.

Copyright 2006-2008, Kennedy Clark, under Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/).

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