Database Programming with Perl – What needs to be Taken Care of?

Despite being an interpreted language, Perl is hugely popular among programmers as a high-level, dynamic and general-purpose programming language. The text-handling capabilities of Perl make it easier for developers to generate SQL queries. But Perl5 uses Perl Database Interface (DBI) modules to implement database interfaces. The set of functions, conventions and variables defined by Perl DBI API specification provide a database-independent interface to the applications. Despite being independent of the original database used by the application, the interface is consistent and efficient. However, the programmers must consider common aspects of database programming with Perl.

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Common Issues Associated with Database Programming with Perl

Client/Server Protocol
Each database is designed with features to support client/server protocols. The structure of Perl DBI is designed based on this principle. Normally, the database server waits for a request that can be made through a network, an internet socket or a file. While a request is being prepared, the DBI optimized it by checking its accuracy. Further, a single request can be reused wither with the same or different parameters. In case the database used by an application does not support the method of preparation, DBI simulates the process. Once the request is prepared successfully, client will ask the server for its execution. However, the server will not assume or identify the intentions of the end users. The server must be asked to execute the request and deliver the results.

Handles to Interact with Databases
DBI requires applications to interact with databases through three distinct object types or handles. The programmers have option to use database handles, driver handles and statement handles. The DBI creates handles for database connection by using the driver handles. The database handles can in turn be used to create handles for statements or individual database commands. Thus, the three distinct types of handles are related and inter-dependent. So the Perl programmers have to use the handles in the most appropriate order to interact and manipulate the databases.

SQL Dialects
While learning practical SQL, the learner has to associate it with a specific database. But the programmers rarely implement the database specific dialect while creating Perl applications. So the developers familiar with a specific SQL dialect often find it challenging to adopt a different database application. They, however, have option to address these common issues through standard ANSI SQL. But it is important for Perl programmers to understand the specific parts of SQL that need to be implemented to solve common problems related to database programming.

Wrapper Modules
Despite being the official interface between Perl and databases, DBI require programmers to clearly define the requirements and know the design of the underlying database. So developers need to understand and use certain modules to avoid writing additional code. However, they can simplify complex database schemas by using DBI wrapper. Along with understanding various aspects of DBI wrapper clearly, the programmers need to learn how to overcome the limited commands supported by it.

Identifying the Client
Nowadays, users have option to access a web application on different devices. So the client/server applications have to deal differently with a web server and a database server. For the web server, the ultimate client is the person accessing the web application. But the web server process is always the client for the database server. The web server client is further required to provide the right username and password to access the password. Thus, the database server does not have any link with the end user or the device being used by him. So the Perl programmers have to write additional code to deliver the most relevant information to the end user.

While using Perl to develop web applications, programmers have option to use object-relational mappers to implement the DBI module. Some of these mappers can further generate SQL queries and handle data in a more transparent way.

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What is the Future of Java Web Development?

As a concurrent and powerful programming language, Java enables developers to run their code on multiple platforms without recompilation. Java is currently reported to be used by over nine million developers to client-server web application development. While releasing Java 8 officially, Oracle called it as “the Most Significant Upgrade to the Java Programming Model Ever.” Oracle even delayed the release of the most anticipated version of the programming language to make it meet the ongoing and upcoming trends in web application development. The new features will definitely contribute towards increasing the increasing the popularity and market share of Java in the future.

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Key Java 8 Features Web Developers were Looking for

Lambdas or closures are the most prominent feature of Java 8. The programmers can use lambdas to treat functionality as a method argument, treat code as data, and accomplish certain task by using concepts they are familiar with. Oracle has further designed lambdas after detailed discussion with the community of developers. Lambdas can be simply represented as a list of parameter separated using commas. However, developers have emerged the concept of functional interface by making existing functionality of the programming language lambda-friendly.

Extended Interface Declarations
The updates version of Java further uses default and static methods to extend the interface declarations. Despite making interfaces similar to traits, default method helps developers in accomplishing a different goal. They can use the method to add new methods to an existing interface without affecting the code’s binary compatibility with over versions of the interface. On the other hand, the abstract method can be user to accomplish these tasks without being implemented. As the default implementation needs to be provided by each interface, the implementers can inherit it by default.

Often developers find it daunting to write multi-threaded code. They also have to use complex idioms to the core Java libraries to access the required resources by reducing the thread wait. Java 8 comes with StampedLock, a new and improved ReadWriteLock that works more quickly. However, the new ReadWriteLock is complex, and the programmers have to put some efforts to implement the concept properly.

Process Termination
When a web application has to launch an external process, its performance will be affected hugely when the process hangs, crashes or consumes 100% CPU. The developers have to debug the web application again to make it run smoothly. But Java 8 comes with the Process class that allows developers to manage these unruly processes smoothly by using the isAlive() and destroyForcibly() methods. The isAlive() method can be used to check if the external process is still alive, whereas the destroyForcibly() method will kill the timed-out process forcibly.

Controlling OS Processes
The JNI calls make it easier for developers to launch OS process from within the code. But there are always chances that the OS process may fetch unexpected results or affect the functionality of the internet application. Once a process is launched within the Java code, it tends to dangle. Java 8 enables developers to control the OS processes launched within the code efficiently by using three new methods. Along with checking if the process is alive and killing a process forcibly, the programmers can further use the method to specific amount of time they want the web application to wait for the process to be completed.

Repeating Annotations
Java 8 allows programmers to use annotation in any context. Now they have option to use annotations for almost everything in their code including generic types, local variables, super classes, interface implementation, parameter declaration, and declaration of method’s exceptions. The extended usage of annotation makes Java 8 friendlier for instrumentation tools and static analysis. However, the programmers have to decide when to use annotations according to the nature and needs of the code.

There are also a number of features that make Java 8 a powerful programming language for web application development. Some of these Java 8 features will further make it easier for developers to build large and complex internet applications within a stipulated time frame.

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