Some tools work better than others.

A few years back I coded a website called HyperDictionary. It went through several life cycles of re-writes, moving from SQL database driven perl script to Dict client mod_perl module; bugt all the incarnations did basically the same thing: fetch dictionary definitions and then turn every word in the definition into a link to the definition for that word. I did it as an experiment while learning regex and mod_perl, but it ‘escaped’ into the wild thanks to web crawlers and became quite popular. The experiment ended when I needed to make a mortgage payment and I sold the site.

Not too long ago I was playing with the preg_ functions in PHP, and I decided to try to recreate the functionality of HyperDictionary with PHP. Now, I haven’t seen the HyperDictionary code in years, as deleting my local copies was part of the sales terms. I do remember the mod_perl module being fairly long and complex, even if I don’t remember how many lines of code it was. The trial version that I wacked together in PHP is essentially four lines of code. That’s a hell of an improvement over the original, though I am sure it will grow a little once I add search capability and word-of-the-day tracking. Still, the right tool can make a hell of a difference:

SubDomain Dictionary



One Reply to “Some tools work better than others.”

  1. I’m frequently amazed by Ruby under similar circumstances. It’s often about as few lines as Perl to do useful things. But, y’know, readable 🙂

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