27 July 2006

OSCON day 4

One of this morning's keynote speaker was a fellow named Jason Scott. He made a documentary about the online bulletin board systems of the 1980s. His Web site is www.textfiles.com.

Some pretty cool sessions today. The first was "Subversion Best Practices" by Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick (both from google). A lot of what they said I'd gotten from the documentation. But they talked about a couple of features I hadn't heard of: autoversioning and autoprops. And they described a neat trick involving making the document root of a Web site be a working copy of a project, with a hook such that the working copy is updated whenever there's a change in the repository.

Next was "Low-Maintenance Perl" by Perrin Harkins. Most of his talk was along the lines of "don't do this in your code". Most of the things he discouraged were things I hadn't heard of or knew to be generally 'bad'. So that was somewhat encouraging. Damian Conway and Larry Wall were both in the audience--if this made the speaker nervous, he didn't show it.

After lunch (which was provided by OSCON [Aramark]), I went to "SQL Outer Joins for Fun and Profit" by Bill Karwin. He solved several interesting problems with outer joins. He used a syntax that I hadn't really seen before: he put row-elimination statements in the ON clause, stuff I'd only ever seen in WHERE clauses. He pointed out that the WHERE clause isn't evaluated until after the join, so it's often quite beneficial to eliminate rows in the ON clause (fewer Cartesian products that way).

Next was "Writing Maintainable Code with PHP" by Laura Thomson from OmniTI. I actually found her point of view a little puzzling. She said that, in general, she doesn't like frameworks, database abstraction layers, or templating engines. As I've come to rely pretty heavily on the latter two and am interested in starting to use the former (I have yet to find a PHP framework that I don't hate), I have trouble understanding how code which doesn't use any of those components is more maintainable than code which does delegate those tasks. But overall I thought it was a good talk, and she made lots of good arguments for creating a set of coding guidelines for your organization (how variables are named, how code is indented, documentation templates, lots of other stuff).

Then there was "Understanding ZFramework" by John Coggeshall. I confess that I sort of zoned out after I learned that the Zend Framework requires PHP 5 (I'm kind of stuck with PHP 4). However, it looks like ZF has a nice input validation component written by Chris Schiflett.

Finally, I went to "The Conway Channel 2006" with Damian Conway. He talked about a couple of modules he's been working on: List::Maker and Contextual::Return. C::R looks particularly cool. It does what wantarray() does, but also distinguishes between the different possibilities in scalar context (a string, a number, a hashref, an undef, etc). The module has lots of neat features and is very flexible.

Powell's bookstore was one of the exhibitors/vendors, and they were offering a 35% discount. So I bought a copy of Perl Testing: A Developer's Notebook. It's ordinarily around $30, and I got it for around $20.

And I talked to my high school buddy for around an hour. Sure enough, he's getting married. It was really good talking to him. I hope I'll be able to go to the wedding.

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