Web Development Tools for the Well-Rounded Technologist

I’m a big fan of the Perl programming language.  A very long time ago, before computers became ubiquitous, I had a technical job which depended on computers.  Back then, computers typically were housed on a raised floor behind glass walls, and only the anointed elite actually worked ON the computers. But in my job, we had access to an AT&T 3B20 computer running UNIX. Our System Administrator was a pretty switched on guy and when I ask him to help me learn UNIX he was excited to have a pupil. I was totally jazzed to have a teacher.

The work environment was a Network Operations Center (NOC) for the telephone company. We monitoring telephone switches, which allowed us to experiment and play around to automate small tasks.  Our NOC monitored dozens of telephone switches, all of them writing their log messages into the 3B20.  Parsing those log files and creating reports was how I first learned to program using the Bourne Shell, sh.

Perl Arrives

A few years later, in a different job doing almost the same things, someone introduced me to a new programming language called Perl.  I found the language baffling at first. But it was really good at processing text.  Perl could also be run on Windows computers, so I downloaded a copy and began fooling around with it.

In 1995 the World Wide Web became a thing and many people were building CGI applications using Perl scripts.  I tried and found it both incredibly easy and pretty fun creating CGI programs with Perl and the Apache Web server.

mod_perl arrives

Around 1998 or 1999 a developer named Doug MacEachern released code that embedded the Perl interpreter right inside the Apache process space.  He called it mod_perl and it married all the power of Perl to the flexibility and extensibility of the Apache API.  mod_perl was and is a tremendous way to not only speed up web applications but also provide very powerful access to the Apache internals.  I’ve been a fan ever since.  mod_perl is now on version 2.10 and it works with the current version of the Apache web server.

I admit, in 2017 for those who mind such things, Perl isn’t quite the sexy programming language it once was.  But it remains a fabulous way to get things done.

Web Development to Advance Your  Career

I know we are not all Web Developers.  But as technologists, we need to be familiar with as many aspects of modern technology as possible.  If we can use those technologies to better do our jobs, more’s the better.  Web applications are everywhere around us.  Having more than a passing understanding makes you a better resource, which means better jobs and better salaries.

This is my first post about the software development environment which I prefer.  I plan to write more about the architecture and software I use for web programming and show some of the apps I’ve developed. I hope by sharing this information you’ll help me to become a better developer.  Maybe together we can have a little fun, too.

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