NAME

Catalyst::Manual::Tutorial - Getting started with Catalyst

DESCRIPTION

This document aims to get you up and running with Catalyst.

NOTE: THIS DOCUMENT IS STILL VERY MUCH IN AN EARLY DRAFT STATE. SEE THE NOTES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE DOCUMENT.

Installation

The first step is to install Catalyst, and the simplest way to do this is to install the Catalyst bundle from CPAN:

    $ perl -MCPAN -e 'install Bundle::Catalyst'

This will retrieve Catalyst and a number of useful extensions and install them for you.

Setting up your application

Catalyst includes a helper script, catalyst.pl, that will set up a skeleton application for you:

    $ catalyst.pl My::App
    created "My-App"
    created "My-App/script"
    created "My-App/lib"
    created "My-App/root"
    created "My-App/t"
    created "My-App/t/m"
    created "My-App/t/v"
    created "My-App/t/c"
    created "My-App/lib/My/App"
    created "My-App/lib/My/App/M"
    created "My-App/lib/My/App/V"
    created "My-App/lib/My/App/C"
    created "My-App/lib/My/App.pm"
    created "My-App/Makefile.PL"
    created "My-App/README"
    created "My-App/Changes"
    created "My-App/t/01app.t"
    created "My-App/t/02podcoverage.t"
    created "My-App/script/cgi.pl"
    created "My-App/script/nph-cgi.pl"
    created "My-App/script/fcgi.pl"
    created "My-App/script/server.pl"
    created "My-App/script/test.pl"
    created "My-App/script/create.pl"

This creates the directory structure shown, populated with skeleton files.

Testing out the sample application

You can test out your new application by running the server script that Catalyst provides:

    $ cd My-App
    $ script/server.pl 
    [...] [catalyst] [debug] Debug messages enabled
    [...] [catalyst] [debug] Loaded engine "Catalyst::Engine::HTTP"
    [...] [catalyst] [debug] Loaded private actions
    .=----------------------+----------------------+---------------=.
    | Private               | Class                | Code           |
    |=----------------------+----------------------+---------------=|
    | /default              | MyApp                | CODE(0x86f08ac)|
    '=----------------------+----------------------+---------------='
     "My::App" defined "!default" as "CODE(0x83fd570)"
    [...] [catalyst] [info] My::App powered by Catalyst 5.00
    You can connect to your server at http://localhost:3000

(Note that each line logged by Catalyst includes a timestamp, which has been replaced here with "..." so that the text fits onto the lines.)

The server is now waiting for you to make requests of it. Try using telnet to manually make a simple GET request of the server (when telnet responds with "Escape character is '^]'.", type "GET / HTTP/1.0" and hit return twice):

    $ telnet localhost 3000
    Trying 127.0.0.1...
    Connected to localhost.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    GET / HTTP/1.0
    
    HTTP/1.0 200
    Server: Catalyst/5.00
    Status: 200
    Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 12:31:55 GMT
    X-catalyst: 5.00
    Content-length: 40
    Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1

    Congratulations, My::App is on Catalyst!
    Connection closed by foreign host.
    $

More trace messages will appear in the original terminal window:

    [...] [catalyst] [debug] ********************************
    [...] [catalyst] [debug] * Request 1 (0.027/s) [9818]
    [...] [catalyst] [debug] ********************************
    [...] [catalyst] [debug] "GET" request for "" from localhost
    [...] [catalyst] [info] Request took 0.051399s (19.456/s)
    .=--------------------------------------------------+----------=.
    | Action                                            | Time      |
    |=--------------------------------------------------+----------=|
    | /default                                          | 0.000026s |
    '=--------------------------------------------------+----------='

The server will continue running until you interrupt it.

The application can also be tested from the command line using the generated helper script, script/test.pl.

Getting your application invoked

Catalyst applications are usually run from mod_perl, but can also be run as CGI or FastCGI scripts. Running under mod_perl gives better performance, but for development purposes you may want to run your application as a CGI script, especially as changes to your application code take effect under CGI without having to restart the web server.

To run from mod_perl you need to add something like this to your Apache configuration file:

    <Location /my-app>
        SetHandler  perl-script
        PerlHandler My::App
    </Location>

To run as a CGI script you need a wrapper script like:

    #!/usr/bin/perl -w

    use strict;
    use lib '/path/to/My/App/lib';
    use My::App;

    My::App->run;

Examining the generated code

The generated application code is quite simple and looks something like this:

    package My::App;

    use strict;
    use Catalyst qw/-Debug/;

    our $VERSION = '0.01';

    My::App->config(
    name => 'My::App',
    root => '/home/andrew/My-App/root',
    );

    __PACKAGE__->setup();

    sub default : Private {
      my ( $self, $c ) = @_;
      $c->res->output('Congratulations, My::App is on Catalyst!');
    }

    1;

When the Catalyst module is imported by the application code, Catalyst performs the first stage of its initialization. This includes loading the appropriate Engine module for the environment in which the application is running, loading any plugins and ensuring that the calling module (the application module) inherits from Catalyst (which makes the Catalyst methods config and setup available to the application module).

The call to config sets up configuration data for the application. The name and root items are the minimum required, and specify the name of the application and the path to the root directory where documents, images, and templates can be found.

Catalyst associates actions with URLs and on receiving a request dispatches to the action that matches to request URL. The call to setup in the code above registers a default action. With just this action registered the application will respond to all requests with the same message "Congratulations, My::App is on Catalyst!".

As you see, the default action is defined as a Private action. Most private actions are not directly available from a web url. This also includes the built-in actions, 'default','begin','end', and 'auto', although they will be called as part of some chains. The rest can only be reached by using forward.

The call to the setup method also triggers the second stage of Catalyst's initialization process. In this phase Catalyst searches for any component modules, locating and registering any actions it finds in those modules.

Component modules have names prefixed with the application module name, followed by Model, View or Controller (or the default short forms: M, V or C) followed by the component name, for example:

    My::App::Controller::ShoppingCart  # long version
    My::App::C::ShoppingCart           # short version 

Extending the generated code

You can start extending the application by adding new actions:

    sub test1 : Global {
      my ( $self, $c ) = @_;
      $c->res->output('In a new test action #1');
    }
    sub default : Private {
      my ( $self, $c ) = @_;
      $c->res->output('Congratulations, My::App is on Catalyst!');
    }

TODO: explain briefly about plugins, actions, and components

regex actions passed subexpression matches in $c->req->snippets (array ref).

Hooking in to Template Toolkit

One of the first things you will probably want to add to your application is a templating system for generating your output. Catalyst works well with Template Toolkit. If you are unfamiliar with Template Toolkit then I suggest you look at http://tt2.org, install Template, read the documentation and play around with it, and have a look at the Badger Book (Template Toolkit by Darren Chamberlain, Dave Cross, and Andy Wardley, O'Reilly & Associates, 2004).

You can create a stub Template Toolkit view component using the create script that Catalyst set up as part of the skeleton application:

    $ script/create.pl view TT TT

this generates a view component named My::App::V::TT, which you might use by forwarding from your end action:

    # In My::App or My::App::Controller::SomeController

    sub end : Private {
        my($self, $c) = @_;
        $c->forward('My::App::V::TT');
    }

The generated TT view component simply subclasses the Catalyst::View::TT class. It looks like this (with the POD stripped out):

    package My::App::V::TT;

    use strict;
    use base 'Catalyst::View::TT';

    1;

Catalyst::View::TT initializes a Template Toolkit object with an options hash initialized with built-in default settings followed by the contents of the hash <%{__PACKAGE__-config()}>>. You can configure TT more to your needs by adding a new method to the generated TT component:

    sub new {
      my $self = shift;
      $self->config->{PRE_PROCESS} = 'config/main';
      $self->config->{WRAPPER}     = 'site/wrapper';
      return $self->SUPER::new(@_);
    }

AUTHOR

Andrew Ford, A.Ford@ford-mason.co.uk Marcus Ramberg, mramberg@cpan.org

As noted above, this document is at an alpha stage. My plan for this document is as follows:

  1. Expand this document fairly rapidly to cover topics relevant to a newcomer to Catalyst, in an order that can be read sequentially

  2. Incorporate feedback

  3. Revise the text

Placeholders are indicated by the words: TODO or CHECK

Please send comments, corrections and suggestions for improvements to A.Ford@ford-mason.co.uk

COPYRIGHT

This program is free software, you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.