[Catalyst] Developing a Quickbase look-alike

Drew Taylor taylor.andrew.j at gmail.com
Fri May 26 00:09:58 CEST 2006

Hi everyone,
My boss at $work today asked me to setup an environment for developing
something like Quickbase for our internal use due to very sensitive data. He
initially suggested Rails, but I've convinced him to give Catalyst a shot
since we're already a perl shop. :-) Authentication and ACL controls are
VERY important, to which I responded "We've got prebuilt plugins for that."
:-) So now the hard part is figuring out how to replicate the ease-of-use of
Quickbase, but with the goodness of Catalyst & perl.

I think I'm going to use Mason since we already use it all over the place
(interestingly enough we use Mason as a front end to HTML::Template). But
I'm less sure how to go about the DB side of things. One of the killer
features of QB is that it's dead easy to change schemas. That functionality
won't necessarily be needed initially, but it sure is a cool feature. Some
sort of a DBMS is obviously required, but if I use mysql how do I go about
the schema changes, and more importantly how do I keep the model definitions
up to date? Performance is not a real issue since it will be for small-scale
internal use (famous last words I know...), so perhaps DBD or some other
"flat file" DB would be appropriate? The alternative is mysql with either
DBIx::Class or Rose. Schema altering functionality will be locked down very
tight, so I'm less concerned about allowing schema alterations through the
web UI than I normally would be.

Ultimately the biggest challenge is allowing schema definition changes. I
suppose the alternative is using custom field definitions is a separate
table and doing joins to get the data, but that is not very appealing to me.
Anyone done this type of thing before?

Drew Taylor                 *  Web development & consulting
Email: drew at drewtaylor.com  *  Site implementation & hosting
Web  : www.drewtaylor.com   *  perl/mod_perl/DBI/mysql/postgres
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