Jifty::Manual::Tutorial - Zero to Jifty in a Jiffy


This tutorial should give you everything you need to build your first application with Jifty.


The requirements

Here's what you need to have installed -- at least when we write it.

Installing Jifty

No bones about it. We believe pretty strongly in the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) principle. That's one of the big reasons we love Perl and CPAN. Jifty makes use of lots of amazing code from CPAN. At last count, it directly depended on 60 packages from CPAN. Most of these libraries are cross-platform pure-Perl packages and should run great out of the box on any platform you can get Perl onto.

We've gone to lengths to make sure you don't spend your day downloading library after library by bundling everything we can inside the Jifty package. With luck, all you'll need to install is a few tricky libraries that actually need to be compiled for your operating system. (Little things like Perl's database interface and the embedded SQLite that Jifty defaults to.)

You can either grab a complete Jifty package from or install from CPAN. If you get the slim version from CPAN, you'll have to install Jifty's dependencies yourself. (Though we help out with that where we can.) If you want to get up and running quickly, grab the latest version from:

Either way, the installation process is the same:

  # tar xzvf jifty-<version>.tgz
  # cd jifty-<version>
  # perl Makefile.PL
  # make
  # make test
  # make install

If the tests don't pass, we want to hear about it. Please join us on and report the failure. (See "GETTING HELP" below for info on how to join the list.)

Setting up the Scaffolding

Once you have Jifty happily installed, you're ready to create your first application.

Jifty is intentionally a bit minimalist. All you really need to make an application go is a copy of the jifty commandline tool (inside your new application's bin/ directory.

Of course, it's often helpful to have a bit more structure around to help guide your work. Jifty comes with tools to build that structure for you.

Change directory to some place it will be safe to create a new Jifty application. (Jifty will create a subdirectory for you).

  # jifty app --name MyWeblog
  Can't guess application root from current path (/your/current/directory) or bin path (/usr/bin)
  Creating new application MyWeblog
  Creating directory lib
  Creating directory lib/MyWeblog
  Creating directory bin
  Creating directory etc
  Creating directory doc
  Creating directory log
  Creating directory web
  Creating directory web/templates
  Creating directory web/static
  Creating directory lib/MyWeblog/Model
  Creating directory lib/MyWeblog/Action
  Creating directory t
  Creating configuration file MyWeblog/etc/config.yml

Let's take those one by one.


Inside bin/ is jifty, the Jifty command dispatcher. Some of the most important commands are schema, which sets up or updates your database schema and server, which starts a standalone webserver. To find out what commands your jifty comes with, run:

    jifty help

Configuration files live in etc/, though if you don't have a config file, Jifty will supply some sane defaults.


Jifty won't magically write your documentation for you, but when you write your docs, put them in doc/.


Jifty uses Log::Log4perl to configure its logging. By default, it dumps logs named server.log and error.log into the log directory.


Jifty uses HTML::Mason as its primary templating system. Put your application's templates into web/templates/. Out of the box, Jifty comes with an application skeleton that it installs in share/web/templates/. This default application is a convenient way to get a basic application up and running quickly, but probably needs some customization as you build a more advanced application.

You can find where Perl stuck Jifty's default templates with:

  perl -MJifty::Util -e 'print Jifty::Util->share_root'

Some nontrivial percentage of the stuff your web application serves out doesn't need to (or shouldn't) pass through your templating engine.

Just drop your static files into web/static/ and Jifty will serve them out if it can't find a template with the right name.

Out of the box, Jifty comes with a CSS style, Javascript libraries and a Pony. Look in /usr/local/share/jifty/web/static.


For a full treatment of the Jifty object model see Jifty::Manual::ObjectModel.

To build a basic Jifty application, you only need to worry about two sorts of classes, Models and Actions.


The real base of your application lives in lib/ApplicationName/Model. Classes here define your application's data structures and how they relate to each other. Jifty will use your model classes to set up and upgrade your database's schema when it needs to.


When we said you only need to worry about Models and Actions, we weren't telling the whole truth. Jifty will take care of basic database-interaction (CREATE, READ, UPDATE, DELETE) Actions for your Models, but they're there if you want to change anything.


Jifty starts off your application with a basic harness, but can't yet write all your tests for you. (It does, however, build simple tests for model classes you generate.)

Building your data model

As you might imagine by the fact that this tutorial application is named MyWeblog, the example here is a simple weblog application. Future tutorials will add authentication, comments, and RSS and Atom feeds.


Weblogs tend to center around posts, so it's no surprise that the first model to create is the post:

  # cd MyWeblog
  # jifty model --name Post
  Writing file /tmp/MyWeblog/t/00-model-Post.t
  Writing file /tmp/MyWeblog/lib/MyWeblog/Model/

Great! Now you have a Post model (not that it models anything yet).

Open lib/MyWeblog/Model/ in your favorite text editor.

You should see something like this:

  package MyWeblog::Model::Post::Schema;
  use Jifty::DBI::Schema;

  # Your column definitions go here.  See Jifty::DBI::Schema for
  # documentation about how to write column definitions.

  package MyWeblog::Model::Post;
  use base qw/MyWeblog::Record/;

  # Your model-specific methods go here.


Now it's time to tell the model class about posts. Start by giving our post a body and a title. (In a future tutorial, the application will become fully folksonomy-compliant by adding a category and upgrading that category to a tags table.)

Position your cursor right after:

  # Your column definitions go here.  See L<Jifty::DBI::Schema> for
  # documentation about how to write column definitions.

Add the lines:

  column title =>
        type is 'text',
        label is 'Title',
        default is 'Untitled post';

  column body => 
        type is 'text',
        label is 'Content',
        render_as 'Textarea';

Save your model class.

Setting up the database

Ok. It's time to initialize MyWeblog's database. By default, Jifty sets up your application with the SQLite database engine. If you'd rather use PostgreSQL or MySQL, you need to add some content to etc/jifty.yml. (See Jifty::Config for a bit more information).

  # jifty schema --setup
  INFO - Generating SQL for application MyWeblog...
  INFO - Using MyWeblog::Model::Post
  INFO - Using Jifty::Model::Session
  INFO - Using Jifty::Model::Metadata
  INFO - Set up version v0.0.1, jifty version 0.605070

Starting the Jifty application server

Ok. You have a working, if simplistic, application. Start up a webserver and have a look around. Be sure to check out the AJAX-enabled administrative UI, the online documentation browser, and the Pony.

  # ./bin/jifty server
  INFO - You can connect to your server at http://localhost:8888/

Building a user interface

The administrative web does give you everything you need to work with your application's data, but it's not much of a weblog.


Create a page to post a new weblog entry:

  # cd share/web/templates/

Open a new file called post in your text editor. Make it look like this:

  my $action = Jifty->web->new_action(class =>'CreatePost');

  <&|/_elements/wrapper, title => "Post to your weblog" &>
  <% Jifty->web->form->start() %>
  <% Jifty->web->form->next_page( url => '/') %>
  <% $action->form_field('title') %>
  <% $action->form_field('body') %>
  <% Jifty->web->form->submit( label => 'Post' ) %>
  <% Jifty->web->form->end() %>


It's really easy to get a basic listing of entries and a little bit more complex to get a pretty AJAXified paged list. Here's how to do both; you can decide which one works best for you.

(If you cut and paste the code in the examples below, make sure it's lined up in column 1, or it won't work.)

The quick and dirty way

Open a new file called index.html in the web/templates directory in your text editor. (Your webserver will treat the URL /index.html as the default page for your site). Make it look like this:

  my $posts = MyWeblog::Model::PostCollection->new();

  <&|/_elements/wrapper, title => Jifty->config->framework('ApplicationName') &>
  % while (my $post = $posts->next) {
  % }

The complex way that gets you lots of cool toys

The complex way involves using one of Jifty's advanced features: Page regions. These regions let your application reload page sections independently, either using AJAX on modern high-end browsers or regular GET requests with downlevel browsers such as lynx, w3m, or the browser on your mobile phone.

The downside of this approach is that each separate region needs to live in its own fragment file.

The complex way starts off about the same as the easy way. Open a new file called share/web/templates/index.html in your text editor. Fill it with this:

  <&|/_elements/wrapper, title => Jifty->config->framework('ApplicationName') &>

  <% Jifty->web->region(name => "myweblog-posts",
                        path => "/fragments/page_of_posts") %>

If you're on the ball, you've probably already guessed that you need to create a file called share/web/templates/fragments/page_of_posts containing:

  $page => 1
  my $posts = MyWeblog::Model::PostCollection->new();
  $posts->set_page_info( current_page => $page,
                         per_page     => 25
  $m->out("No items found.") if ($posts->pager->total_entries == 0);

  % if ($posts->pager->last_page > 1) {
     Page <% $page %> of <% $posts->pager->last_page %>
  % }
  <dl class="list">
  % while (my $post = $posts->next) {
  % }

  % if ($posts->pager->previous_page) {
    <% Jifty->web->link( label => "Previous Page", onclick => { args => { page => $posts->pager->previous_page } } ) %>
  % }
  % if ($posts->pager->next_page) {
    <% Jifty->web->link( label => "Next Page", onclick => { args => { page => $posts->pager->next_page } } ) %>
  % }

Now fire up your Jifty webserver again. Go create a post by browsing /post on your webserver.

Hey, where'd that class come from?

If you're paying attention, you may have wondered about MyWeblog::Model::PostCollection, since there's no file called By default, Jifty uses Jifty::ClassLoader to auto-generate a bunch of classes for you. Of course, you can override these definitions if you like. See Jifty::ClassLoader for more details.

Of course, having to remember the URL to get to the posting page is a bit annoying. To get a Post button in the menu, you need to override the default menus.

Jifty's default menus live in _elements/nav in the default application template (along with the Pony). For now, override _elements/nav. (We're working on ways to make this better.)

Inside your applications share/web/templates directory, create a directory called _elements.

  mkdir share/web/templates/_elements

You may want to start with the stock jifty template, in which case you only need to add the $top->child( Post... part

  cat $(perl -MJifty::Util -e 'print Jifty::Util->share_root' \
    )/share/web/templates/_elements/nav > share/web/templates/_elements/nav

Otherwise, inside _elements, open up a new file called nav in your text editor and insert:

  my $top = Jifty->web->navigation;
  $top->child( Home => url => "/");
  $top->child( Post => url => "/post", 
                       label => "Post Article");

For more information about the menu system, see the documentation in Jifty::Web::Menu.

That's it!

That's just about everything you need to get started building Jifty applications. We're working hard to make Jifty even easier to use and to obsolete the hard bits of this tutorial as quickly as we can.

Please join us on the jifty-devel mailing list to talk about how you're using Jifty or what you find difficult or hard to use about it.


Online Help

The jifty command-line application comes with builtin help.

  jifty help

  jifty help <command>

If your server is running with administration mode enabled (the configuration file AdminMode setting is missing or non-zero), you can click the "Online Docs" link in your browser for an extensive list of per-module Jifty documentation.

Joining the mailing list is where we discuss how we're building Jifty, what we're having trouble with and so on.

To join the list, send mail to

Browsing the wiki

We have a wiki! (Actually, the wiki is Jifty's primary website)

Please visit, browse and contribute.

The wiki is powered by Wifty, a Wiki built on Jifty. Its code is freely available from the jifty subversion repository.


At this incredibly early stage in its life, please report bugs in Jifty to


Future tutorials include:

  • Access Control and Security

  • Upgrading your application's data model

  • The dispatcher in depth

  • Deploying your application in production

  • Web Services

  • Continuations in depth