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drhyde (1683)

drhyde
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http://www.cantrell.org.uk/david

Journal of drhyde (1683)

Friday December 30, 2005
04:34 PM

Webby applications

[ #28178 ]
There are, apparently, lots of good webby applications. Many of them do things that I want to do. So why do I not use them?

Simple. They all insist on their own particular brand of weirdness embedded in Apache. Whether it be loading a humungous module like mod_perl or mom_php; twiddling all kinds of security settings; or even just setting up a few virtual directories - all these fail because I am lazy. I prefer simple self-contained applications like the Prayer webmail system. I like it because it doesn't require any effort to get running. It just works. And it is independent of my Apache installation. That it happens to be written in C and so is bastard fast and consumes half of fuck-all memory is also nice, but I could live with something similar in less efficient languages like perl, python or even java.

However you do it, either having one ginormous Apache instance for everything, or lots of different instances with different configurations, there are big downsides - either you run out of memory immediately, or you have administrative headaches.

It seems to me that web applications written in perl are particularly bad offenders in this respect - almost all either require mod_perl or are horribly crippled when run as CGIs with virtually no documentation for this configuration. It can't be hard for application writers to fix this.

  • Write better documentation;
  • Make most of your application into a long-lived daemon which a tiny CGI talks to;
  • and make using HTTP::Server::Simple an option so that neither you nor I need to care about what web sewer I use.
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  • This is one reason why the Rails people have been so keen on FastCGI as far as I can see...

    -Dom

  • ... is that Engine abstraction is SUCH an enormous bitch to make work.

    Catalyst is damn close to doing this right now. Isotope should democratise the concept if it doesn't get screwed up.

    I think 2006 is the year that Perl web apps are going to finally get flexibly deployable.

    It feels like we are _this_ close...