Sebastopol, CA--Mason doesn't aim to be the one true Perl-based templating system for building web sites, but it's led many programmers to abandon their custom solutions when they've seen how much easier using Mason can be. It's a powerful, open source, Perl-based web site development and delivery engine, with features that make it an ideal backend for high load sites serving dynamic content. Mason uses a concept called components: a mix of HTML, Perl, and special Mason commands. These components can be entire web pages, or bits of HTML that can be embedded in top-level components. Shared and reusable, these components greatly simplify site maintenance: when a shared component is changed, all the pages that refer to it are changed, too. The catch is, that while using Mason isn't difficult, creating a Mason-based site can be tricky. Written by David Rolsky and Ken Williams, members of Mason's core development team, Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason (O'Reilly, US $34.95) shows readers how to take advantage of Mason's strengths while avoiding the obstacles that inexperienced users may encounter.
"Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason" shows how to create large, complex, dynamically driven web sites that are remarkably simple to maintain. The authors demonstrate how to set up a Mason site and configure it properly. They explain the design of Mason, the Mason API, and how to use Mason with CGI or mod_perl. The book also includes a chapter of Mason-based "recipes" with real-world examples of how things are done.
To use Mason effectively takes some planning. Hence the name "Mason" because the components are like building blocks, and as in masonry, there is an art to knowing how to put them together to create a stable web site. As Williams explains, "Mason has some unique features that, when used properly, can really streamline the design of a site or web app. But it takes some experience to understand how those features can be used. We cover these features, such as autohandlers and dhandlers from several angles in our book, and both features are used in our sample site which is covered in one of the chapters."
"Mason is becoming more and more popular as a tool for building web sites and managing other dynamic collections," adds Rolsky. "Some sophisticated products are being built on top of Mason, including the release tracker RT and the content management system Bricolage. Mason itself is about to emerge from its first major overhaul, and this book details the result of that overhaul."
The book covers the latest release of Mason 1.12, which has many new features, including line number reporting based on source files, sub-requests, and easier use as a CGI. The only book to cover this important tool, "Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason" will be valuable to any Perl programmer who wants to simplify web site design.
Chapter 5, Advanced Features is available free online
Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason
Dave Rolsky and Ken Williams
ISBN 0-596-00225-4, 297 pages, $34.95 (US), $54.95 (CAN)
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