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Tuesday, 22 March 2005


Celestial Weasel

You should have a look at Ruby. It seems very close to God's Own Language (TM) to me.
When I have written my 'find the geekiest person on LJ' script, I will show it to you.
I am always nervous about actually summoning pages via code, so tend to write scripts that write batch files that call CURL or something.

James Shields

It may not be the most obvious choice, but I would probably use PHP. I've done a number of things which use the FILE command with a URL which simply returns the text of the page, and than use PERL style regular expressions to process the information I want. I'd then stick those pages in a database table and generate a web page with a list of links.


How suitable is PHP for client-side applications? I think I shall get myself down Chiswick High Road this afternoon and see if I can find anything on PHP or Ruby.

James Shields

PHP would certainly be more suitable for server-side stuff, though client-side scripting is possible. I find it handy because I have a web server I can throw quick applications up on. I've also done things using a local Apache server with PHP, but that might be a bit more trouble than you want to go to.

Celestial Weasel

Yay. Scripting language wars!

PHP is not without its charm, and it can be used for client side stuff, but Ruby is the scripting language for which I have found the MTTTHO (Mean time to tearing hair out) is the longest.

The definitive Ruby book is 'Programming Ruby by Dave Thomas' - you want the 2nd edition which (on the copy I have here anyway) says Second Edition, includes Ruby 1.8 on the bottom right of the front cover.


I went to the bookshop in Chiswick. They had nothing on Ruby, not a surprise, and several books on PHP. The only O'Reilly book they had was "Programming PHP", but it was for PHP 4, so I decided to pass on it. I shall go to town tomorrow and see if I can find copies of O'Reilly's "Learning PHP" (for PHP 5) and "Programming Ruby". I can also do a favour for a friend who wants me to look for a CD for his girlfriend's birthday. So, it's going to PHP v. Ruby, head-to-head in a scripting grudge match for me

Celestial Weasel

The O'Reilly 'Ruby in a Nutshell' book is crap, by the way. You will probably find that the PHP books are 99% oriented around writing websites.

Beyond that, I haven't really looked at PHP5, and don't really intend to!


Perl's the obvious choice as far as I'm concerned, and my gut feel is that beyond my personal preference/knowledge it's simply (currently) better suited to this sort of thing.

Ruby's nice & pretty, but I've never written anything non-tiny in it; I've never done anything client-side in PHP and wouldn't know where to start.

Personally, I'm pretty confident that between CPAN, Perl Monks, the Perl Cookbook, and Google, pretty much anything can be done in perl with relatively little grief.


Looks like it's turning into a three way tag contest. Any more contenders want to enter the rink? Python perhaps? Or C++?

Celestial Weasel

If only you were closer you could borrow (or possibly have) my collection of Perl books. I have tried to like it but there is just too much that revolts me about it.

Back in the day (TM), in the days of Perl 4 before the insane 'an object is a reference to a blessed thingy' object orientation, I did write some quite large Perl programs, but I did not grow to love it.

Actually, I have Python books too. I have nothing against Python per se, but there is something about it that seems to attract mad people.

... anyway ... presumably having written this fine script, you will be taking a print-out along and walk through the code on the first date.


Well, I'm hoping to use the script to identify an Extreme programmer so that we can pair off and spend the rest of our lives coding together.

John B

Dare I say it, but the urge to run Perl scripts on women may be the cause of your unsuccessful dating?


I am too big an individual to come back with the obvious rejoinder, but I don't want to take the risk of the losing the Love of My Life in the heaving, fetid pit of humanity that is the database of a dating agency. Also there are some women who think Perl programmers are sexy. Check out for (work-safe) pictures of cute girl geeks (

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