Author image Adam Kennedy
and 1 contributors


Digest::TransformPath - Implements the TransformPath concept


A big thank you goes out to "coraline" (Richard Soderburg) for bringing the caching mechanism of ccache to my attention, which sparked the idea, and upon which this module is loosely (very) and conceptually (just barely) based.


  # Pull the original image from the database
  my $Image = Database->get('Image', 423);
  my $Path  = Digest::TransformPath->new('Image.423');
  # Resize the image if bigger than 800x600
  Image::Munge->constrain( $Image, 800, 600 );
  # Save the file
  my $filename = File::Spec->catfile( 'cropped', $Path->digest(15), $Image->type );
  File::Slurp::write_file( $filename, $Image->data );


A TransformPath is a complex higher-order key that is designed for use with chains of functions that sequentially transform a piece of data.

The concept starts with a sizable chunk of data, for example an image, for which we can determine a unique identifier, and for which we can cheaply determine if and when the source material has changed.

A series of resource-intensive transforms might be applied to this original data to produce another piece of data. In the image example, we might auto-level, crop, scale, rotate, colour-balance and then thumbnail the image. This transformed data would be put into a cache.

If at some future point we wish to obtain the same image, but would preferably like to use the cached version, we would have to take the original image, reapply the transforms, and then compare to the result the first time around.

Alternatives to this general checking mechanism revolve around storing the identifier in parellel to the data file, in a database or data file, or similar schemes the involve similar amounts of complexity.

In the TransformPath concept, a structure is created which contains the original source identifier, and a short, ordered and unique description of all of the transformations in the sequence.

This description structure is then serialised and hashed to get a unique and generally cryptographically secure identifier for the transformed image. This identifier would typically be used as part of the file name/path for the transformed image.

To check that the file is unchanged, we merely confirm that the original has not changed, and then rebuilt the TransformPath digest. If the TransformPath digest is unchanged, then the transformed image is unchanged, and we can use the version in the cache, saving ourselves the high expense of running the transforms again.

If we cannot cheaply tell that the source image has changed, there is a clean fallback position. By including a digest of the original data inside the TransformPath object, the final digest changes automatically whenever the data inside the source file changes.

While this still costs us a digest run each time, this is relatively affordable compared to doing the transforms as well.

This can be done by either using the initial digest as the source id, or by adding it as the first transform step. The latter is recommended for most situations, as this ensures that the source id is static, and won't change.

In many uses of Digest::TransformPath, this is likely to be highly preferable.


new $id [, $string, ... ]

The new constructor creates a new Digest::TransformPath object.

Returns a new Digest::TransformPath object, or undef if not given a plain string for the identifier.

add $string

The add method adds a transform description, in the form of a string, to the TransformPath object.

Returns true, or undef if not passed a string.


Returns the original source identifier

digest [ $chars ]

The digest method generates an MD5 digest for the object. If passed the optional $chars integer value, it will trim the 32 byte digest (it uses hex) down to a shorter length.


All bugs should be filed via the bug tracker at

For other issues, or commercial enhancement or support, contact the author.


Adam Kennedy <>,

Thank you to Phase N ( for permitting the open sourcing and release of this distribution.


Copyright (c) 2004 Adam Kennedy. All rights reserved. This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

The full text of the license can be found in the LICENSE file included with this module.