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Hi jimt, i liked your article, i'm just another guy who wrote his own template system.
I have to say that in the process i experienced many of the same problems than you. It has been very enrichment to read the mental chewing behind the scenes.
Sadly i also believe that "there's more than one way to do it" is a bare and a bone, i can't complaint about it, because i did it (i built my own template system).
What's good: "There are many ways to do it”.
What's Wrong: "There are many ways to do it”:
It's similar to what happens with people trying to get into Linux, the first “and complex” question they face is: ¿ What distro to use ?
People new to Develop Web Applications with Perl get confused on the large number of tools at different levels available.
I don't pretend to criticize Perl Tools Developers, what i mention here is a real fact that probably don't have any solution.