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 Best Of Linux : Perl Embedding Engine PEE
 Thursday, September 28th 2000 EDT

Knit one, Perl two. Wouldn't it be nice if wrangling your all of your many Perl scripts were as nice and easy as managing your snippets of HTML?

Your wishes have been answered. Just sit right back, read today's Best of Linux column, and don't forget to take a PEE.

Ouch! Hey, stop throwing those rocks at me! PEE is short for Perl Embedding Engine, and can I help it if I couldn't pass up the sophomoric humor value inherent in that acronym? Us creative types are like that, sometimes. And if you did see the humor in that, bless your little like-minded heart. Now stop giggling and put on your serious face, because I've got some serious timesaving technology to talk about today.

The Web was quick to move from flat HTML files to database-generated dynamic content. I recall a friend going to work for a large Web publishing house, and marveling at some of their then-new technology used to serve up Web pages on the fly. Seems it had something to do with storing commonly used snippets of HTML in a database. Mix those snippets with the unique content of the page, and faster than you can say StoryServer, you have a finished piece ready for public consumption.

Those HTML snippets are better known as templates. The Perl Embedding Engine (PEE!) brings this functionality long reserved for HTML and related elements to your Perl scripts. It's actually two modules that work together to allow the use of Perl in those templates. Unlike its HTML-generating cousins, PEE is gloriously uncomplicated. All you need to know in order to start using this engine is three different tags. Compare that to other programs with their manuals the size of the Manhattan yellow pages.

At the core of the Perl Embedding Engine is its parser, which sucks content from your templates and compiles ordinary Perl code. That's it: it does nothing more than "assembling layout code with logic-handling code" as the developer's Web site says. Thanks to its Open Source heritage, PEE is quite affordable (how does free PEE sound?) -- not to mention customizable. If you want additional features or tags, feel free to implement your own custom build.

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