My first contributions to CPAN

I have been using Perl for many years, but I had never uploaded anything to CPAN. That’s unfortunate, because I’ve probably written several programs or modules that could have been useful for other people. The point is, now I have. Not only that, but it was code I wrote at work, so if I’m not mistaken these are my first contributions to free software from Opera. Yay me!

The two modules I’ve released so far are:

As I feel that Migraine could be useful to a lot of people, but it’s easy to misunderstand what it really does (unless you already know Rails migrations of course), I’ll elaborate a bit. Imagine that you are developing some application that uses a database. You design the schema, write some SQL file with it, and everybody creates their own databases from that file. Now, as your application evolves, your schema will evolve too. What do you do now to update all databases (every developer installation, testing installations, and don’t forget the production database)? One painful way to do it could be documenting which SQL statements you have to execute in order to have the latest version of the schema, and expect people to apply copying-and-pasting from the documentation. However, it’s messy, confusing, and it needs someone to know both which databases to update and when.

Migraine offers a simpler, more reliable way to keep all your databases up to date. Basically, you write all your changes (“migrations”) in some files in a directory, following a simple version number naming convention (e.g. 001-add_users_table.sql, 002-change_passwd_field_type.sql), and migraine will allow you to keep your databases up to date. In the simplest, most common case, you call migraine with a configuration file specifying which database to upgrade, and it will figure out which migrations are pending to apply, if any, and apply them. The system currently only supports raw SQL, but it should be easy to extend with other types.

In principle, you shouldn’t need to write any Perl code to use migraine (it has a Perl module that you can use to integrate with your Perl programs if you like, but also a command-line tool), so you can use it even in non-Perl projects. Of course, some modern ORMs have their own database migration system, but very often you have to maintain legacy code that doesn’t use any fancy ORM, or you don’t like the migration system provided by the ORM, or you prefer keeping a single system for schema and data migrations… I think in those cases Migraine can help a lot reducing chaos and keeping things under control. Try it out and tell me what you think :-)

In a couple of days I’ll blog again about other contributions to free software I’ve made lately, but this time in the form of Opera widgets…