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Platforms for testing and publishing

Jan 05, 20044 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsPHP

Sometimes you just need a simple test platform to check out Perl or PHP applications as either stand-alone apps and Web scripts. IndigoPerl offers exactly that.

Sometimes you just need a simple test platform to check out Perl or PHP applications as either stand-alone apps and Web scripts. We just discovered a cool open-source system that offers exactly that: IndigoPerl from IndigoStar Software (see details here ).

IndigoPerl (released under the Gnu Public License, GPL) consists of the Apache Web server, Perl and PHP, along with an installer and supporting scripts, all designed to run under 32-bit versions of Windows, including Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP. In operation, the system is not too heavy on memory.

As the publishers point out, “You can easily customize or repackage [IndigoPerl] for redistribution with additional modules. . . . It comes without a restrictive license – you can do whatever you want to do with it . . . Does not install files in Windows directories . . . Does not keep data in registry, except for Apache service information . . . Uses text files to keep configuration information . . . Multiple versions can be kept on the same PC [and] can be installed on multiple computers with a simple copy.”

The Perl subsystem comes with some of the most popular Perl modules prepackaged, including Archive-Tar, Compress-Zlib, DBD-mysqlPP, DBI and HTML-Parser. There also is a browser-based management interface called Perl Console, which provides browser access to the Perl help files, the documentation search interface and the GUI Package Manager.

GUI Package Manager is a great feature. It downloads a list of Perl modules from an archive on Indigo’s site and presents them along with a list of all your installed modules. You can add modules from the online archive or remove local modules. There also is a command-line version of the tool.

Apache server is pre-configured for running Perl and PHP Common Gateway Interface scripts and comes with Mod_perl (which provides a persistent Perl interpreter in the Web server) pre-installed.

Installation is painless – unpack the archive and run the installer. Then fire up your Web browser, point it at http://localhost/ and you should see the home page with test scripts. But how about all those applications that need a database? How are you going to test them without one? Why don’t we go for, say, MySQL?

Go here and grab the Windows version. Installation for MySQL is a little more complex, but with a little help from the manual you should be able to get it up and running.

Now go back to the Indigo installation home and click on the MySQL “Pest script” link (yes, that should be “Test script” but hey, it’s free). Voilà! You now have a complete Web/Perl/PHP/MySQL test platform.

But wait! Here’s another combination platform. This one leaves out Perl (it would be easy to add) and it focuses on content management. The platform is called eZ publish 3 from eZ Systems (see details here). It’s not only a content management system, but it’s also an application server.

EZ publish 3 is amazing. For Unix systems (including Linux, Solaris, HP-UX and FreeBSD), Win32 systems (eZ Systems cites Windows 98, NT and 2000, but XP also works fine), and Mac OS X, eZ publish 3 can be installed with all its support subsystems (Apache, PHP, MySQL) or added to an existing installation with those services.

Among the basic features are browser-based publishing, role-based user permission system, content version control, multilingual content support, multimedia and image handling and localization support. The system also includes e-commerce features such as product catalogs, order management support, credit card integration interface and tax calculation support.

There is a software development kit with full API documentation with Unified Modeling Language diagrams, tutorials, template code documentation and all you need to extend eZ Publish with wild abandon.

The product can support multiple sites, includes templates for seven different site content models, and has a great management interface. We’ve only just started to come to grips with the product but we’re already wildly impressed.

EZ Publish is dual licensed, allowing its use under the GPL, which means it’s free, or under the eZ Publish Professional Licence, which lets you make derivative commercial products based on eZ publish. The latter costs $3,900 for the first developer and $1,950 for each additional developer.

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Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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