=head1 NAME

Embperl::Intro - Introduction to Embperl

=head1 Content

=over 4

=item    What is Embperl?

=item    Embed Perl Code in HTML Documents

=item    Meta-Commands

=item    Dynamic Tables

=item    Form Processing

=item    Maintaining persistent (session) data

=item    Breaking up your code in components

=item    Debugging

=item    Database Access

=item    Security

=item    Escaping/Unescaping


=head1 What is Embperl?

Embperl has started as a Perl module for simply embedding Perl 
into HTML and has grown to
a full featured system to build dynamic content (not only) under 
mod_perl. The version 1.x focus on HTML documents, also it could be
used for any sort of ascii files, and brings a lot of features
especially useful in a web-environment. This features includes
handling of form data and dynamic HTML tables/lists, session management
and context sensitv escaping and unescaping. More over you can
break up your documents in small reusable components/objects and build
a object-oriented website out of such objects, by using inheritence and
specificly overriding parts of the page. Also Embperl can cope with pages
that are screw up by high-level HTML editors, so your designer can still
use there favorite tool.

Embperl 2.0, which is a complete rewrite of the Embperl core, is not
even much faster then 1.x, but adds new possibilities. You can extent
or define your own syntax, thus giving the chance to trigger actions
on certain tags or inventing your own tags (creating a taglib). 
It is much more modularized, so specific steps could be replaced by
custom processor and more then one processor can act on a document
before it goes to the browser (just like a Unix pipe). To enhances
performance 2.0 indrocuces caching of the output or intermediate steps.

Due to this modularization, it is now possible, to replace Embperl parser
by an XML parser and to do XML processing, for example by pluging in
an XSLT processer in the processing pipeline.
Embperl 2.0 can utilize libxml2 and libxslt for XML and XSLT processing.

All versions of Embperl can be used offline (as a normal CGI script or as a module
from other Perl code), but its real power comes when running under
mod_perl and Apache. It's directly integrated with Apache and
mod_perl to achieve the best performance by directly using Apache
functions and precompiling your code to avoid a recompile on every

=head2 How does it compare to other templating solutions ?

Embperl is not the only processor for embedded Perl code.
I guess every second webprogrammer builds his own templating
engine. Most of them are very similar and easy, but do a
good job in a certain environment. Often after a while these
programmer discover, they need more features and that other people
in the same situation has already build a soltuion for their problems.
At the moment there are five widely used Perl modules for generating
dynamic web content (Embperl, Apache::ASP, HTML::Mason,
Template::Toolkit and AxKit). All of these have their special strength.
So why to use Embperl? We believe that Embperl, especialy the 
version 2.0, covers all of the aspects of these modules and integrates them
in one module with addtionaly benefits that are unique to Embperl.
Addtionaly Embperl is the fastes of these solutions, because it's engine
is totaly written in C and is optimized for delivering dynamic content

A another competitor for Embperl is PHP.
PHP is developing a strong user base, because it is rumored to be easy
to learn, and was designed specifically for HTML. Also PHP is probably one
of the strongest open source alternatives to using Perl in your
HTML, it's target is very webcentric and you may discover at a certain
point that is has it's limitations when you try to realize great projects.
Also it's not true, like some anecdotal stories on the Web might want to make
you belive, that PHP is faster then Perl. Perl,
and therfore Embperl also, scales and performs very well for high end solution.

=head2 Focus of this document

This tries to be an introduction to the basics of Embperl. 
L<"perldoc IntroEmbperlObject"|"IntroEmbperlObject.pod"> gives you an
tutorial about how to build an object-oriented website.

=head1 How to Embed Perl Code in HTML Documents

Perl code can be embedded in three ways:

=head2 1.)    [- ... -]    Execute code

    [- $a = 5 -]  [- $b = 6 if ($a == 5) -]

The code between the [- and the -] is executed. No output will be
generated in the HTML. This is mainly for assignments, function calls,
database queries, etc.

=head2 2.)    [+ ... +]    Output the result

    [+ $a +]  [+ $array[$b] +] [+ "A is $a" +]

The code between the [+ and the +] is executed and the return
value (the value of the last expression evaluated) is output (sent
to the browser in the HTML stream).

=head2 3.)    [! ... !]    Execute code once

    [! sub foo { my ($a, $b) = @_ ; $a * $b + 7 } !]

Same as [- ... -], but the code is only executed for the first
request.  This is mainly for function definitions and one-time

=head2 Meta-Commands

Embperl support some meta commands to control the "program flow"
within the Embperl document. This can be compared to preprocessor
commands in C. The meta commands take the following form:

    [$ <cmd> <arg> $]

=over 8

=item if, elsif, else, endif

The if command is just the same as in Perl.  It is used to
conditionally output/process parts of the document.

 [$ if $ENV{REQUEST_METHOD} eq 'GET' $]
    This is a GET request
 [$ elsif $ENV{REQUEST_METHOD} eq 'POST' $]
    This is a POST request
 [$ else $]
    This is not GET and not POST
 [$ endif $]

This will output one of the three lines depending on the setting

=item while, endwhile

The while command can be used to create a loop in the HTML
document.  For example:

 [$ while ($k, $v) = each (%ENV) $]
    [+ $k +] = [+ $v +] <BR>
 [$ endwhile $]

The above example will display all environment variables, each
terminated with a line break.

=item do, until

The do until also create a loop, but with a condition at the end.
For example:

 [- @arr = (3, 5, 7); $i = 0 -]
 [$ do $]
    [+ $arr[ $i++ ] +]
 [$ until $i > $#arr $]

=item foreach, endforeach

Create a loop iterating over every element of an array/list.

 [$ foreach $v (1..10) $]
    [+ $v +]
 [$ endforeach $]

=item var <var1> <var2> ...

By default, you do not need to declare any variables you use within an
Embperl page. Embperl takes care of deleting them at the end of each
request. Sometimes, though, you want to declare them explicitly.  You
can do this by using var:

 [$ var $a @b %c $]

Has the same effect as the Perl code:

 use strict ;use vars qw {$a @b %c} ;

=item hidden

hidden is used for creating hidden form fields and is described in
the form field section below.


=head1 Dynamic Tables

A very powerful feature of Embperl is the processing of dynamic
tables.  This feature was designed mainly to display Perl arrays (one
or two dimensional, regular and irregular), but can also be used in
other ways.

=head2 Display a Perl Array

 [- @a = ( 'A', 'B', 'C') ; -]
        <TD> [+ $a[$row] +] </TD>

The above example simply displays a table with three rows
containing A, B and C.

The trick is done by using the magical variable $row which contains
the row count and is incremented for every row. The table ends if the
expression which contains $row returns <undef>.  The same can be done
with $col for columns and $cnt can be used if you need a table which
wraps after a certain number of elements.

This works with table/select/menu/ol/dl/dir

=head2 Simple DBI Example

Here is a simple DBI example that displays the result of a query
as a two dimension table, with field names as headings in the
first row:

 # connect to database
  $dbh = DBI->connect($DSN) ;

 # prepare the sql select
 $sth = $dbh -> prepare ("SELECT * from $table") ;

 # excute the query
 $sth -> execute ;

 # get the fieldnames for the heading in $head
 $head = $sth -> {NAME} ;

 #continues on the next page...
 # get the result in $dat 
 $dat = $sth -> fetchall_arrayref ;

    <tr><th>[+ $head->[$col] +]</th></tr>
    <tr><td>[+ $dat -> [$row][$col] +]</td></tr>

=head1 Form fields

=head2 Posted form data available in %fdat/@Z<>ffld

The hash %fdat contains all values of  form fields. The array
@Z<>ffld contains the names in the order in which they were

=head2 Input/Textarea/Select tags take values from %fdat

If you do not specify a default value for an input tag and a value for
that input tag is available in %fdat, Embperl will automatically
insert this value and send it to the browser. This is similar to the
behavior of CGI.pm.  This means that if you post a form to itself, the
browser will display the values you just entered.

=head2 [$ hidden $]

[$ hidden $] creates hidden form fields for all fields not in another
input field. This can be used to transport data through confirmation
forms.  (For example, a wizard.)

=head2 A simple Text input / Confirmation form

The following example shows many of the possibilities of Embperl.
It's a simple form where you can enter your name, your email address
and a message. If you hit the send button, you see the data you just
entered and can confirm the information by hitting the "send via mail"
button, or you can go back to the input form to change the data. If
you confirm your input, the data will be sent to a predefined e-mail
address. The example also shows how you can implement error
checking--if you miss your name or your e- mail address, you will get
a corresponding error message and the input form is shown again.

The first part is the error checking; the second part the confirmation
form; the third part sends the mail if the input was ok and is
confirmed; the last part is the input form itself.

Depending on the values of $fdat{check}, $fdat{send} and if
$fdat{name} and $fdat{email} contains data, the document decides which
part to show.

 [-  $MailTo = 'richter\@ecos.de' ;

  @errors = () ;
  if (defined($fdat{check}) || defined($fdat{send}))
    push @errors, "**Please enter your name" if (!$fdat{name}) ;
    push @errors, "**Please enter your e-mail address" if (!$fdat{email}) ;

 [$if (defined($fdat{check}) and $#errors == -1)$]
  delete $fdat{input} ;
  delete $fdat{check} ;
  delete $fdat{send}

 <hr><h3> You have entered the following data:</h3>
  <tr><td align="center" colspan="2">
     <form action="input.htm" method="GET">
       <input type="submit" name="send"
              value="Send to [+ $MailTo +]">
       <input type="submit" name="input" value="Change your data">

 [$elsif defined($fdat{send}) and $#errors == -1$]

 [- MailFormTo ($MailTo,'Formdata','email') -]
 <hr><h3>Your input has been sent</h3>


 <hr><h3>Please enter your data</h3>

 <form action="input.htm" method="GET">
    [$if $#errors != -1 $]
      <tr><td colspan="2">
    <tr><td><b>Name</b></td> <td><input type="text"
    <tr><td><b>E-Mail</b></td> <td><input type="text"
    <tr><td><b>Message</b></td> <td><input type="text"
    <tr><td colspan=2><input type="submit"
                             name="check" value="Send"></td></tr>  </table>


=head1 Maintaining persistent (session) data

 (Embperl 1.2 or above)

While hidden fields are useful when working with forms, it's often
necessary to B<store persistent data> in a more general way. Embperl
utilizes B<Apache::Session> to do this job. Apache::Session is caple
of storing persistent data in memory, in a textfile or in a database.
More storage methods may supported in the future. While you can simply
call Apache::Session from an Embperl page, Embperl can do it for
you. All you need to do is to put your data in the hash B<%udat>. The
next time the same user requests any Embperl page %udat will contain
the same data. You can simply use this to keep state information for
the user. Depending on your expire settings, the state can also kept
between mulitiple sessions. A second hash, B<%mdat>, can be used to
keep a state for one page, but for multiple users. A simple example
would be a page hit counter:

  The page is requested [+ $mdat{counter}++ +] times
  since [+ $mdat{date} ||= localtime +]

The above example counts the page hits and shows the date when the
page is first requested.  You don't need to worry about performance -
as long as you don't touch %udat or %mdat, no action is taken.

=head1 Breaking your code up into components

 (Embperl 1.2 or above)

=head2 Subroutines

It is better to write subroutines than to keep placing repetitive
pieces of code in your program many times. You can do this with
Embperl too.  As an example, if you have text input fields with
labels, this may work better for you:

 [$ sub textinput $]
    [- ($label, $name) = @_ -]
    [+ $label +]<input type=text name=[+ $name +]>
 [$ endsub $]

    [- textinput ('Last Name', 'lname')  -]<p>
    [- textinput ('First Name', 'fname') -]<p>

The B<sub> metacommand starts the subroutine and the parameters are
passed in the array C<@_>. You can do anything in the subroutine that
you would normally be able to do inside normal Embperl pages. Embperl
lets you call this subroutine just like any other Perl subroutine:
just write its name and, if necessary, the parameter list.

=head2 Execute

If you are working on an entire site rather than just a few pages, you
are well aware that there are always elements which occur in every
page or across many pages. Instead of copying the source code to every
page, you can include other Embperl pages in your page - so you have
to write the source only once.  Such an included page could be a
header, a footer, a navigation bar, and so on.  Embperl is not only
capable of including such partial pages, you can also pass arguments -
for example, to tell the navigation bar which of its own element to

 Example for a simple navigation bar

 [- @buttons = ('Index', 'Infos', 'Search') -]
     [$if $buttons[$col] eq $param[0]$] <bold> [$endif$]
     <a href="[+ $buttons[$col] +].html"> [+ $buttons[$col] +] </a>
     [$if $buttons[$col] eq $param[0]$] </bold> [$endif$]

Now if you are on the "Info" page you can include the navigation bar
this way:

 [- Execute ('navbar.html', 'Infos') -]

This will include the navigation bar, which is stored in the file
navbar.html, and pass as its first parameter the string 'Infos'. The
navigation bar module itself uses a dynamic table to display one
column - which contains the text and a link - for every item in the
array @buttons. The text which matches that which is passed as the
first parameter is displayed in bold. There is also a long form of the
Execute call, which allows you to control all of the details of how
the called page is executed.

=head2 Creating Component Libraries

Instead of creating a single file for every piece of HTML-code you
wish to include, you can pack them together in just one library. To do
this, split up every piece of code you want to include separately in
one Embperl subroutine (sub-metacommand). Now, you can use the import
parameter of the Execute function to import all of the subrountines
defined in one file, into the namespace of the current
page. Afterwards, you are able to call them just like any other Perl

Moreover, if you wish to have some systemwide Embperl subroutines, you
can put all the Embperl code in a normal Perl module (a foo.pm file),
install it into your Perl system (or a private library path), and use
it just like any other Perl module - just by saying

  use mymodule;

=head1 Debugging

=head2 Embperl log file

The log file is the main source for debugging. It shows you what
Embperl does while it processes your page. Depending on the debug flag
settings, Embperl logs the following things:

=over 4

=item    Source

=item    Parsing

=item    Compiling

=item    Environment

=item    Form data

=item    Evals (Source + Result)

=item    Table processing

=item    Input tag processing

=item    HTTP headers

=item    and more


Addtional you can write your own debug informtion to the Embperl
logfile by writing to the special filehandle C<LOG> which is
opend by Embperl.

=head1 Database access

=head2 Plain DBI

This is another example of using plain DBI within Embperl.  In
opposition to the L<example|"Simple DBI Example"> I gave in the
chapter about dynamic tables, this example works with explicit loops.

 # connect to database
 $dbh = DBI->connect($DSN) ;
 # prepare the sql select
 $sth = $dbh -> prepare ("SELECT * from $table") ;

 # excute the query
 $sth -> execute ;

 # get the fieldnames for the heading in $head
 $head = $sth -> {NAME} ;

    [$ foreach $h (@$head) $]
        <th>[+ $h +]</th>
    [$ endforeach $]
    [$ while $dat = $sth -> fetchrow_arrayref $]
            [$ foreach $v (@$dat) $]
                <td>[+ $v +]</td>
            [$ endforeach $]   
    [$ endwhile $]

=head2 DBIx::Recordset

DBIx::Recordset is a module for easy database access.

=head2 Search Example

 [-*set = DBIx::Recordset -> Search ({%fdat,
				     ('!DataSource'   => $DSN,
				      '!Table' => $table,
				      '$max'   => 5,)}) ; -]
    <td>[+ $set[$row]{id} +]</td>
    <td>[+ $set[$row]{name} +]</td>
 [+ $set -> PrevNextForm ('Previous Records',
			  'Next Records',
			  \%fdat) +]

=head2 Search sets up a Recordset object

Search will take the values from %fdat and use them to build a SQL
WHERE expression. This way, what you search for depends on what is
posted to the document.  For example, if you request the document with
http://host/mydoc.html?id=5 the above example will display all
database records where the field 'id' contains the value 5.

=head2 Data can accessed as array or via the current record

The result of the query can be accessed as an array (this does not
mean that the whole array is actually fetched from the database).
Alternative, you can directly access the current record just by
accessing the fields.

    set[5]{id}	 access the field 'id' of the sixth found record
    set{id}      access the field 'id' of the current record

=head2 Fields can be accessed by name

While normal DBI let you access your data by column numbers,
DBIx::Recordset uses the field names. This makes your program easier
to write, more verbose and independent of database changes.

=head2 PrevNextForm generates no/one/two buttons depending if
there are more records to display

The PrevNextButtons function can be used to generate button for
showing the previous record or the next records. PrevNextButton
generates a small form and includes all necessary data as hidden
fields. To get it to work, it's enough to feed this data to the next
request to Search.

=head2 As for Search there are methods for Insert/Update/Delete

Example for Insert

If %fdat contains the data for the new record, the following code will
insert a new record into the database.

 [-*set = DBIx::Recordset -> Insert ({%fdat,
				      ('!DataSource'   => $DSN,
				       '!Table' => $table)}) ; -]

=head2 Database table can also tied to a hash

DBIx::Recordset can also tie a database table to a hash. You need to
specify a primary key for the table, which is used as key in the hash.

    $set{5}{name}    access the name with the id=5
		     (id is primary key)

=head1 Security

When running under mod_perl, all Perl code shares the same
interpreter.  This means that every application can access data from
every other application. Embperl maintains a separate namespace for
every document, which is enough to avoid accidentally overwriting
other applications data, but there is no real security. You can access
any data from any other application that runs on the same server process
under mod_perl if you explicitly specify a package name.
This is not a problem of Embperl itself, but caused by the design of
Apache and mod_perl.

=head1 Escaping/Unescaping

=head2 Input: unescaping

Embperl is able to unescape the source it reads. That is usfull
when you use a high level HTML editor, which might add unwanted html tags
like <BR> into your Perl code.

This feature if off by default in Embperl 2.0 and can be turned on with the
configuration directive EMBPERL_INPUT_ESCMODE.

When turned on it does

=over 4

=item convert HTML escapes to characters (e.g. &lt; to <)

=item remove HTML tags from Perl code (e.g. <br> insert by high level


=head2 Output: escaping

It's very important to do a correct escing of your HTML output, to avoid 
security problems like cross-site-scripting. Therefor Embperl escapes all
output that comes from Perl. This escaping is context sensitv and uses
HTML or URL escaping, depending on the context. It's also possible to
use XML escaping.

The output escaping can be configured by the configuration directive 
C<EMBPERL_ESCMODE> or changed anytime inside any page by setting C<$escmode>

=head1 How to continue

There are two addtionaly introduction documents:

L<"perldoc IntroEmbperlObject"|"IntroEmbperlObject.pod"> gives you an
tutorial about how to build an object-oriented website.

L<"perldoc IntroEmbperl2"|"IntroEmbperl2.pod"> describes the advanced
features of Embperl 2

For a full documenation read L<"perldoc Embperl"|"Embperl.pod"> and
L<"perldoc Config"|"Config.pod">.

You can find additional information on http://perl.apache.org/embperl