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Shlomi Fish (918)

Shlomi Fish
  shlomif@iglu.org.il
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I'm a hacker of Perl, C, Shell, and occasionally other languages. Perl is my favourite language by far. I'm a member of the Israeli Perl Mongers, and contribute to and advocate open-source technologies. Technorati Profile [technorati.com]

Journal of Shlomi Fish (918)

Wednesday May 16, 2007
02:39 PM

The Tale of XML-Grammar-Screenplay

[ #33293 ]

Being a creative writer, I recently started working on a screenplay titled "Star Trek: We the Living Dead". I wrote it in a certain well-formed text, using vim, and planned on creating a way to translate it into HTML. Eventually it resulted in the newly released XML-Grammar-Screenplay distribution on CPAN. Here's how I got it.

I decided that I first translate the well-formed text into a custom XML format, and from that into DocBook/XML and in the future possibly other formats. The well-formed text had XML-style tags, descriptions ([David walks to Goliath.]), paragraphs and other elements, and so I looked at Damian's Parse-RecDescent for help in parsing it. Working with P::RD on something so complex proved to be very time-consuming. I was again bitten by the fact P::RD skipped various stuff based on $Parse::RecDescent::skip, and had to assign a "" to it. (After banging my hand for several hours.)

I also found out it only reported that it failed to parse, and not why exactly, at least with the rudimentary logic that I built for it. While at first, I tried to use the $::RD_TRACE display, I eventually found it that it is often more effective to binarily isolate the offending text until one finds the problem. Sometimes I found I had a syntax error. And in other cases, I found out that the grammar I defined for P::RD was lacking, including in many regular expression problems.

After a lot of trying, I could get the parser to work. Then I wrote an XSLT stylesheet to translate the resultant XML to DocBook/XML. That was very easy considering, but I got stomped on doing <xsl-apply-templates match="*" /> instead of "xsl:apply-templates" without any arguments, which caused the textnodes not to render. Having solved that, everything worked fine.

As a bit of sugar, I created two XML::Grammar::Screenplay::App:: modules that can be used by perl -M and then -e 'run()' -- [ARGS] to process files from the command line.

I already discovered one :utf8 bug in it since I uploaded it, which I fixed in the trunk.

On other news, I've received and cashed in my cheque for the XML::RSS grant. I'm planning to spend some of the money on extending the Web-CPAN T-shirts offer to have one T-shirt of choice from "Think Geek" as well as the "Ozy&Millie" T-shirt. And I also spent quite a lot of time working on Test::Run.

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