Data::Display - Perl extension for formating and displaying array.

      use Data::Display;

      $dsp = Data::Display->new($drf, $crf, $ech, %arg);
      $dsp->skip_first_row;           # i,e. 1st row contains col names
      $dsp->set_skip_first_row(1);    # is the same as the above       
      $dsp->set_field_sep($ech);      # default is a space
      $dsp->set_data_ref($drf);       # ref to an array containing data
      $dsp->set_cols_ref($crf);       # ref to an array containing col defs
      $dsp->add_col_def($col,'typ:max:min:dec:dft:req');     # append
      $dsp->add_col_def($idx,'col:typ:max:min:dec:dft:req'); # isert

      $rc      = $dsp->get_skip_first_row;
      $rc      = $dsp->get_first_row; # the same as the above

      $ary_ref = $dsp->get_column_defs_arrayref($drf,$ech);
      @ary     = $dsp->get_column_defs(\@ary,$ech);  # $yn: display? 

      $str     = $dsp->get_col_width();              # get format string
      @ary     = $dsp->get_col_width($fld,$col,...); # a list of width
      ($cfs, $dfs) = $dsp->get_col_width();   
      ($cfs, $dfs) = $dsp->get_format_string($crf,$sep,$ech);

      $str     = $dsp->get_content($drf,$crf,$typ,$ech); 
      $str     = $dsp->get_content($typ,$ech);       # use ary refs 

      $rv      = $dsp->get_no_of_fields;
      $rv      = $dsp->get_no_of_columns;
      $rv      = $dsp->get_no_of_rows;
      $rv      = $dsp->get_no_of_records;
      ($rows, $cols) = $dsp->get_dimension($drf); 
      ($rows, $cols) = $dsp->get_dimension; 

    Notation and Conventions

       $dsp    a display object
       $drf    data array reference
       $crf    column definition array reference
       $ech    whether to echo messages or contents
       $cfs    column heading format string 
       $dfs    data content format string
       $sep    field separator character
       $typ    output type, text, html, etc.

       $drh    Driver handle object (rarely seen or used in applications)
       $h      Any of the $??h handle types above
       $rc     General Return Code  (boolean: true=ok, false=error)
       $rv     General Return Value (typically an integer)
       @ary    List of values returned from the database, typically a row 
               of data
       $rows   Number of rows processed (if available, else -1)
       $fh     A filehandle
       undef   NULL values are represented by undefined values in perl
       \%attr  Reference to a hash of attribute values passed to methods

    This is my first object-oriented Perl program. The Display module will
    scan through each records and fields in the array to collect information
    about the content in the array. It creates a column definition array,
    builds formating strings, and display the contents nicely.

    The column definition array built by the module is actually an array
    with hash members. It contains these hash elements ('col', 'typ', 'max',
    'min', 'dec', 'req' and 'dsp') for each column. The subscripts in the
    array are in the format of $ary[$col_seq]{$hash_ele}. The hash elements
    are: col - column name typ - column type, 'N' for numeric, 'C' for
    characters, and 'D' for date max - maximum length of the records in the
    column (could use 'wid' to record the max length of the records.) min -
    minimum length of the record in the column (When 'wid' is used, no 'min'
    is needed.) dft - date format such as YYYY/MM/DD, MON/DD/YYYY, etc. dec
    - maximun decimal length of the record in the column req - whether there
    is null or zero length records in the column only 'NOT NULL is shown dsp
    - description of the columns

    The array passed to the module can have the first row containing column
    names or have a separate array containing column definitions. It has to
    be in the same format of the array that we describe in the above if it
    is referenced to a out side array.

    It also creates and tracks a format information. The format information
    contains in a separate array, which has exactly the same element as the
    column definition array.

    It has many "set" and "get" methods to assign and to query data
    contained in the object. Here is the list of methods:

    the constructor new($drf, $crf, $ech, %arg)
        Without any input, i.e., new(), the constructor generates an empty
        object. If any argument is provided, the constructor expects them in
        the right order.

        This method indicates that the first row in the array contains
        column names. The default is false.

        This method checks the indicator for the first row data, i.e.,
        whether it contains column names.

        This method sets/gets output field separator. The default separator
        is a space(" ").

        This method sets/gets data array reference. The records in the array
        that the ref points to are used to determine column definitions and
        to be displayed.

        This method sets/gets column array reference. The array contains
        column name, column type, column max length, column min length,
        column decimal length, and column constraints.

    get_column_defs_arrayref($drf, $ech)
        This method gets the reference pointing to the column definition
        array. If new data array reference is specified, it gets the
        definition for the data array. It does not change the internal
        attributes defined for the object, so you can pass any data array
        reference to this method without touching the internal attributes in
        the object. Actually, all the *get* methods do not change anything
        in the object.

    get_column_defs($drf, $ech)
        This method get the contents in the column definition array. If no
        input column array ref and no column names in the first row, it
        generates sequential column names such as "FLD001", "FLD002, etc. If
        $ech is specified, it will display the content of the column
        definition array.

        This method displays the content of column definition array in a
        nice format.

        This method sets/gets the max length of columns based on column
        position ($cp) or column names ($cn). The column position is zero
        based. The default is the same as the column definition array. The
        get method without any argument returns the Perl format string based
        on modified column max width. If no modification, the returned
        format string is the same as that from *get_format_ string*.

        This method gets the Perl format string. It is created based on the
        column format array.

        This method gets the formated contents from the data array. It uses
        the separator to divide fields. If $drf and $crf are not provided,
        this method will get them from the attributes in the object. The
        $typ sepcifies what type of output format will be, currently only
        "text" is available. If $ech is specified, the content will also be

        This method gets number of fields (columns) in the data array.

        This method gets number of rows (records) in the data array.

        This method gets number of rows and columns in the data array or the
        array ref passed to this method.

    add_col_def($fld, $col_def)
        This method add or construct column definition array. You can either
        append to the end of the column def array or insert into the
        position that you specified. It takes two inputs: column name or
        index and column definitions. If column name is specified in the
        first input, it will try to append the column and its defintion to
        the end of the array. If the first input is the column position,
        then it inserts the definiton after the position specified. You can
        use two format to define column, i.e., camma delimited values or
        comma delimited hash assignment. In camma delimited value format,
        the vlaues have to be in the exact order in
        'col:typ:max:min:dec:dft:req'. In hash assignment format, order is
        not an issue. For instance, 'max=>5:typ=D:dft=>YYYY/MM/DD'. The
        column name or column index are checked before any insertion is
        commited. You can add as many columns as you like in one run, just
        be cautious when you insert columns. You may not get the position
        that you desire since array's index changes once you have inserted
        column definiton in it.

    mod_col_def($fld, $col_def)
        This method modifies the existing column definitons in the column
        definiton array. You can use the same ways and formats described in
        the *add_col_def* method.

  How to create a display object?

    If you have an array @ary and column array @C, you can create a display
    object as the following:

      $dsp = Data::Display->new(\@ary,\@C); 

    This is equivalent to

      $dsp = Data::Display->new();

    If you do not have column array, you can generate it as the following:

      $col_ref = $dsp->get_column_defs_arrayref(\@ary); 

    You can set a hash to define your object attributes and create it as the

      %attr = (
        'field_sep'       => ':',    # output field separator
         'skip_first_row' => 1,      # 1st row has col names
         'data_ref'       => \@ary,  # array_ref for data
         'cols_ref'       => \@C,    # array_ref for col defs
      $dsp = Data::Display->new(%attr);

  How is the column definition generated?

    If the first row in the data array contains column names, it uses the
    column names in the row to define the column definition array. The
    column type is determined by searching all the records in the data
    array. If all the records in the column only do not contain non-digits,
    i.e., only [0-9.], the column is defined as numeric ('N'); otherwise, it
    is defined as character ('C'). No other data types such as date are
    searched currently.

    If the first row does not contain column names and no column definition
    array is provided, the *get_column_defs* or *get_column_defs_arrayref*
    will generate field names as "FLD###". The "###" is a sequential number
    starting with 1. If the minimum length of a column is zero, then the
    value in the column can be null; if the minimum length is greater than
    zero, then it is a required column.

    The default indicator for the first row is false, i.e., the first row
    does not contain column names. You can indicate whether the first row in
    the data array is column names by using *skip_first_row* or
    *set_skip_first_row* to set it.

      $dsp->set_skip_first_row(1);    # the same as the above
      $dsp->set_first_row(1);         # the same as the above
      $dsp->set_skip_first_row('Y');  # the same effect 
      $dsp->set_first_row('Y');       # the same as the above

    To reverse it, here is how to

      $dsp->set_skip_first_row(0);    # no column in the first row
      $dsp->set_first_row(0);         # the same as the above
      $dsp->set_skip_first_row('');   # the same effect 
      $dsp->set_first_row('');        # the same as the above

  How to change the array references in the display object

    You can pass data and column definition array references to display
    objects using the object constructor *new* or using the *set* methods:

      $dsp = Data::Display->new($arf, $crf); 

  How to access the object?

    You can get the information from the object through all the *get*
    methods described above.

  How to add column definitons?

    You can add column definitions to the existing definition array using
    method *add_col_def* through two ways: append or insert.

      $dsp = Data::Display->new($arf, $crf); 
      $dsp->add_col_def('ColX','D:18:10::YYYY/MM/DD:NOT NULL');  # append 
      $dsp->add_col_def(2,'max=>18:col=>ColX:typ=>D');           # insert

    You can use two formats as you already see from the above examples: list
    or hash. In the value list format, you must follow the order of
    'col:typ:max:min:dec:dft:req'. You can add multiple columns at once. You
    can pre-create an array and pass the whole array to the method. Here is
    an example:

      @cols = ( 'ColX', 'D:18:10::YYYY/MM/DD:NOT NULL',
                 '2',   'max=>18:col=>ColX:typ=>D',
                'ColY', 'max=>15:typ=>N:dec=>2',
                 '4',   'C:20:0::::'

    The column name and position will be checked before inserting new
    columns. If the column name exist or the position is out of the range of
    the existing column definition array, the insertion for the column will
    be ignored. Please also note that positions are changed based on
    previous insertions.

  How to modify column definitons?

    You can modify the existing column definitions using method
    *add_col_def* through two ways (append and insert) and two formats (list
    and hash) just as described in the adding column definitons section.

  Future Implementation

    Although it seems a simple task, it requires a lot of thinking to get it
    working in an object-oriented frame. Intented future implementation

    * add more output type such as HTML table.
    * a *sync* method
        This method will be used to syncronize the data, definition and
        format array references.

    * a debugger option
        A method can also be implemented to turn on/off the debugger.

    * a logger option
        This option will allow output and/or debbuging information to be

    Hanming Tu,

    * Version 0.02: 12/14/2000 - First enhancement
          1) added date datatype; 
          2) added add_col_def method;
          3) added mod_col_def method; 
          4) added disp_col_defs method.

    * Version 0.01: 05/10/2000 - Initial coding
SEE ALSO (some of docs that I check often)
    perltoot(1), perlobj(1), perlbot(1), perlsub(1), perldata(1),
    perlsub(1), perlmod(1), perlmodlib(1), perlref(1), perlreftut(1).