=head1 NAME

HTML::Mason::Subclassing - Documentation on Subclassing Internal Mason classes


This is the deep voodoo guide, for folks who want to create their own
custom subclasses for parts of Mason, such as the Request or Interp

=head1 Class::Container

A number of modules in Mason are subclasses of C<Class::Container>.
This module was originally part of the Mason core as
C<HTML::Mason::Container>, but Ken Williams decided to release it separately on CPAN.

It was created to encapsulate some common behaviors for Mason objects
such as parameter validation and the creation of "contained" objects.

Basically, any Mason object which takes parameters to its constructor
B<must> inherit from this module.  Of course, since all of the classes
that you might consider subclassing already inherit from
C<Class::Container>, you won't need to inherit from it directly.
However, you may need to use some of its methods.

So before you go further we highly recommend familiarizing yourself
with C<Class::Container> and its methods.  Also feel free to look at
some of the Mason core modules to see how C<Class::Container> is used
within Mason itself.


The following classes have been designed with subclassing in mind:

=over 4

=item * HTML::Mason::Request

This object is your old friend C<$m>.  The request contains
information about the current request context, and provides methods
for calling other components.

=item * HTML::Mason::Resolver

The resolver's job is to translate a component paths into an actual
component.  Mason comes with a single Resolver subclass,
C<HTML::Mason::Resolver::File>, which is used to translate component
paths into filesystem paths.

=item * HTML::Mason::ComponentSource

An object of this class represents a component's source.  These
objects are instantiated by the resolver when it finds a component
matching a given path.

=item * HTML::Mason::Lexer

The lexer is responsible for parsing a component.  Creating a new
lexer would allow you to change Mason's component syntax.

=item * HTML::Mason::Compiler

The compiler takes the parsed chunks from the lexer and gives them
meaning.  The default compiler, C<HTML::Mason::Compiler::ToObject>,
turns a Mason component into a Mason "object file", which contains
actual Perl code.

=item * HTML::Mason::ApacheHandler

The ApacheHandler class is the bridge between the mod_perl world and
Mason, primarily Mason's Interp class.

It also provides its own C<HTML::Mason::Request> and
C<HTML::Resolver::File> subclasses which implement some mod_perl
specific behaviors and features.

=item * HTML::Mason::Interp

The Interp is the core of Mason, and is primarily responsible for
making all the other objects do their jobs.



If you choose to override the constructor, which is always C<new> with
Mason objects, that you make sure to call the superclass's constructor
and that you use the object returned by it.  A good boilerplate for an
overridden constructor looks something like this:

  sub new
      my $class = shift;

      my $self = $class->SUPER::new(@_);


      return $self;

=head1 Request

=head2 What to Subclass?

One important thing to know about this class is that it is actually
several classes.  The first, C<HTML::Mason::Request>, is used when
ApacheHandler is not loaded.  The other,
C<HTML::Mason::Request::ApacheHandler>, is loaded by ApacheHandler and
used to provide some mod_perl specific features.  Similar, the
CGIHandler class provides its own request subclass,

It is impossible to know which one of these to subclass at compile
time, since it is possible that your subclass will be loaded before
either ApacheHandler or CGIHandler.

To handle this, simply call the C<alter_superclass()> method in your
constructor, like this:

  sub new
      my $class = shift;

      $class->alter_superclass( $HTML::Mason::ApacheHandler::VERSION ?
                                'HTML::Mason::Request::ApacheHandler' :
                                $HTML::Mason::CGIHandler::VERSION ?
                                'HTML::Mason::Request::CGI' :
                                'HTML::Mason::Request' );

      my $self = $class->SUPER::new(@_);


      return $self;

It is quite important that you do this as these handler-specific
subclasses provide important functionality.  The C<alter_superclass()>
method is implemented in the
L<C<HTML::Mason::Request>|HTML::Mason::Request> base class, and will
do the right thing even in cases of multiple inheritance.  It also
cooperates with C<Class::Container> to make sure that it sees changes
to the inheritance hierarchy.

=head2 The exec() method

The C<exec> method is called in order to execute a request, and is the
method that you are most likely to want to override.

However, if you do override it we suggest that you make sure to call
the parent class's C<exec> method to implement the actual component
execution and there is no need for you to re-implement them.

Since the C<exec()> method is scalar/list context-sensitive, your
C<exec> method will need to preserve that.  Here is a boilerplate:

  sub exec
      my $self = shift;

      ... # do something cool

      my @r;
      if (wantarray)
          @r = $self->SUPER::exec(@_);
          $r[0] = $self->SUPER::exec(@_);

      ... # maybe do some cleanup

      return wantarray ? @r : $r[0];

=head2 Subrequests

Your custom request class will also be used to implement subrequests,
which are implemented by calling C<exec> just like any other method.
If you only want to do certain things in C<exec> for the first
request, you can simply check the value of C<< $self->is_subrequest >>.

=head2 Examples

See the C<MasonX::Request::WithApacheSession> module on CPAN.

=head1 Resolver and ComponentSource

The resolver takes a component path and figures out what component
that path corresponds to.

All resolver classes must implement two methods, C<get_info> and
C<glob_path>.  The first takes a component path and returns a new
C<HTML::Mason::ComponentSource> object.  This object contains
information about the component, such as its last modified time and
its source.  See the
documentation for more details.

You may choose to provide your own ComponentSource subclass as well,
if your resolver implementation can take advantage of it.

The C<glob_path> method is responsible for translating a component
path like F</foo/*/bar> into a list of component paths that match that
glob pattern.

=head1 Lexer

The rationale for providing your own lexer would be to extend or
replace Mason's syntax.

The lexer is called by the compiler via its C<lex> method.  The
arguments it receives are the component name, source, and the compiler
object.  See the L<Compiler class|HTML::Mason::Compiler> documentation
for details on what methods the lexer can call.

=head1 Compiler

See the L<Compiler class|HTML::Mason::Compiler> documentation for
details on what methods a subclass of this class needs to provide.

If you simply want to tweak Mason's existing behavior, you will
probably want to subclass C<HTML::Mason::Compiler::ToObject>, which is
the default Compiler class.  For example, if you wanted to do
something like make attributes dynamic, you could override the
C<_flags_or_attr()> method in ToObject.

If you want to drastically change the behavior, you can subclass
C<HTML::Mason::Compiler> instead.  An example of this would be
creating a compiler that generates C<EmbPerl> or C<Apache::ASP> as

=head1 ApacheHandler

The methods that you are most likely to want to subclass are
documented in the L<C<ApacheHandler class>|HTML::Mason::ApacheHandler>

Providing an ApacheHandler subclass gives you a chance to do your own
client parameter parsing, as well as the capability of providing a
different way of handling requests.

=head1 CGIHandler

Like the ApacheHandler, you could subclass this module in order to
provide your own argument processing or to step in and provide a
different way to handle requests.


When using your custom subclasses, we recommend that you take
advantage of Mason's ability to construct subclassed object on the

For example, if you're subclassed the Interp object, you can still let
the ApacheHandler object create the Interp object for you, as long as
you give it the appropriate L<interp_class|HTML::Mason::Params/interp_class> parameter.  This is
important because Mason may internally set up certain defaults for
contained objects.  For example, the ApacheHandler, by default, will
tell the Interp object to use the
C<HTML::Mason::Request::ApacheHandler> Request subclass.  If you
create an Interp object manually and you want to use that Interp
object with ApacheHandler, you'll have to specify the same Request

For example:

  my $interp =
          ( request_class  => 'HTML::Mason::Request::ApacheHandler',
            my_new_interp_param => 42,

  my $ah = HTML::Mason::ApacheHandler->new( interp => $interp );

It is far easier to simply do this:

  my $ah =
          ( interp_class => 'My::Interp',
            my_new_interp_param => 42,

Your new parameter, C<my_new_interp_param>, will still be passed to
the C<My::Interp> constructor, but this also gives ApacheHandler a
chance to set various parameters for the Interp object.  Of course,
you can still override these defaults explicitly:

  my $ah =
          ( interp_class => 'My::Interp',
            resolver_class => 'My::Resolver'.
            my_new_interp_param => 42,

If you need access to the interp object's methods directly, it will be
always be available via C<< $ah->interp >>.