For the first time in many years, I have a new web project to work on
(and perhaps it goes without saying that I need to finish it quickly).
Much has changed in the world of web development with Perl since I was
last seriously involved, and it took me a while to find my bearings.
When I last worked on a major new web project, none of today's popular
web development frameworks existed. Tangram was the shiny new ORM (but I
can't remember hearing either "ORM" or "CRUD" back then), and ePerl was
my favourite out of perhaps half a dozen templating modules on CPAN.
Both have long since been forgotten, and I set out to find something to
replace them. I had a few very specific ideas about what functionality I
wanted, but I suppressed my "not invented here" tendencies and decided
to accept any reasonable way to implement them.
The first thing I tried was Jifty, whose
basic premise I liked and whose developers I respect. I'd played with it
when it was first released, and although I knew there were some things
about it that I didn't like, I expected to get along with it well enough
to use it in a few projects. I waited while its myriad dependencies were
resolved, fixed a couple of dependency-version-related problems, and set
out to build a prototype.
Unfortunately, I found Jifty too big to wrap my head around in the time
I had, and there just wasn't enough documentation to help me. I know it
is actively developed and in use at BestPractical, but I was discouraged
by the broken image links on the wiki (no diagrams that may have helped
me make sense of things) and the mostly idle IRC channel. Many of the
tutorials were either fairly trivial or out of date; and
most detailed one was for a non-trivial project that had later
switched to Catalyst. Still, I stuck with it for several days before
reluctantly deciding to move on when I couldn't figure out how to
implement features I needed and solve problems I encountered along the
I knew a number of people who were happy with
Catalyst, so I tried that
next. It brought with it another set of dependencies, and a lot more
documentation. I learned enough about the Catalyst core to decide on a
sensible structure for my second prototype, but I found myself lost in a
maze of plugins when it came to implementation details. I could never be
certain which of the dozen wildly different ways to do any given thing
was most appropriate; and once again, features I wanted turned out to be
hard to achieve with the most commonly-used and best-maintained plugins.
I gave up when I found myself implementing most of the CRUD handling
code I needed from scratch. (I also found that I liked DBIx::Class no
more than I'd liked Jifty's DBIx::SearchBuilder, which wasn't very much
By now thoroughly disappointed, I looked for other alternatives and
stumbled across Mojolicious and
Dancer, two superficially very
similar projects that provided only convenient request and response
handling in a neat little package. I played with both, and read Adam
of the two. I started with Dancer, but ended up choosing Mojolicious
for various reasons. First, it had no dependencies other than core Perl
(which was an attractive proposition after hours spent installing Jifty
and Catalyst). Second, it provided single-file Dancer-like syntax sugar
in Mojolicious::Lite, but also offered a way to move beyond that and
write a more structured app. I also liked its default templating system
(whereas I'd never really liked Template Toolkit, which Dancer prefers).
Despite some initial misgivings, once I started using it, I kept finding
little reasons to like it.
I'm using Mojolicious (not ::Lite) for my project, and I'm happy so far.