|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
sybperl @ 20by mpeppler (Vicar)
|on Sep 03, 2011 at 15:12 UTC||Need Help??|
It was twenty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught a band to play...
Actually, my name is Peppler, not Pepper, and I was never a Sgt... but what I did was to ask for beta testers for sybperl on September 3 1991 (http://www.peppler.org/clp.announce.txt) and I'm really amazed that I should still be involved with perl (even if only very peripherally) 20 years on....
I first came across perl at the SD90 conference in Oakland in late January or early February 1990. I had recently changed jobs, going from MSDOS to SunOS, and being rather confused by all the tools (sh, sed, awk, etc). At the conference a fellow called Rob Kolstad did a presentation on perl - and I was immediately hooked.
When I got back to the office I proceeded to download the package (no IP connectivity back then - I had email access via good old uucp, so I sent email requests to an automated mail server that could reply with the uuencoded package...) I immediately saw the interest in linking perl with the database back end (Sybase, in my case), and when Larry added the pipe() call soon afterwards I wrote a simple module that started an isql sub-process and wrote to it/read from it via a couple of pseudo-ttys.
Then in the summer of 1990 Larry released the usersub mechanism (we're still talking perl 3.x here), and it was obvious to me that you had to link the Sybase library directly. My first version had a single connection, would use your Unix log-in, and a null password. I also ran into a problem where the Sybase dbcmd() call wouldn't work, so I hacked a bit of code to simulate it.
About a year later I made sybperl public, and the dbcmd() issue was identified by Teemu Toorma as a conflict between DB-Library and perl, where both defined a function called safestr(). I fixed that by editing the uperl.o file to change _savestr to _psvestr.
A couple of years later there started to be some noise about having a standard API for database access layers - the initial folks that started that discussion were Buzz Moschetti (interperl), Kevin Stock (oraperl) and a few others (this is before perl 5). Tim Bunce came on the scene not long after that, and did most of the heavy lifting for what was initially called DBperl, but became DBI.
The rest, as they say, is history....
Up until the early 2000s I still did a lot of perl work, but for the last 5/6 years it's been mostly SQL and lately a bit of java. It's been increasingly difficult to sit down and delve into the DBD::Sybase or Sybase::CTlib, which is a bit unfortunate, even though these modules are for the most part mature and don't require much work. If you're reading this and you think that you'd like to maybe take over one or more of the CPAN modules that I "own" then feel free to contact me...
Anyway - it's been twenty years, and I thought that was worth a meditation (at least :-)