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code review? bibliographic software script

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ERIC Lawson - x52010
March 28, 2002 14:52
code review? bibliographic software script
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I've made a perl script available for downloading, and would appreciate
any code review from anyone so inclined.  The script emulates a legacy C
program (1982, named biblio), and is a command-line driven personal
bibliographic manager.  Perhaps needless to say, the functions are
anacronistic, and the design goal was simple: make the perl script
function as the C program did.  This involved satisfying existing users
who have twenty years of experience with the legacy C program.  Thus far,
there've been no complaints from the existing users, although some
departures from exact replication of the C program's look-and-feel are
conspicuous.  Notable among the departures, the boolean selection
mechanism is much slower.  I would especially appreciate advice on how to
speed up that mechanism.  Note, however, that system conditions here,
where the script is in use, militate against my using any other than
modules distributed with a standard, minimal perl distribution, and any
suggestion that I should use such modules will be cheerfully ignored.

Some commands that will be available through the pbib interface are not
yet fully implemented.  I'm waiting to see what, if any, improvements
might be generated by a code review before completing all commands, with
the hope that the remainder of the scripting task will be simplified.  
The script is, however, functioning, and in as extensive use as the legacy
C program ever was.  An accompanying manual page provides more information
about how to use the script and what to expect from it in terms of

The script and associated files (a manual page in groff, postscript, and
pdf; a manifest and a GPL license file; a small sample database file for
testing purposes) are available via http download, in the form of a
tarred and compressed (gnu compress) file (named pbib-0.1.tgz), from

under either "Contents" or "Projects in Progress".  In addition, the same
file is available via anonymous ftp from, in the
pub/DOC subdirectory.

I'm sure the script is a mess.  I wrote it while in the process of
relearning perl, which I had some vague acquaintance with in one of its
earlier incarnations.  Any and all comments, including, especially,
egregiously abusive ones, will be cheerfully received, although of course
I reserve my right not to reply to what I consider egregious abuse unless
I also find the abuse to have been useful.  In the latter case, supposing
a reply from me is appropriate, I will reply as if I didn't notice the
abuse, but instead noticed the usefulness of the comments.

Eric Lawson


James Eric Lawson
Research Publications Editor
National Simulation Resource

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