Sometimes, It's the Little Things

February 17th, 2015

Sometimes, a technological revolution produces a quantum leap in productivity.

Sometimes, it’s a more modest gain. It’s the proverbial drop of oil that makes the door swing a little easier, but mostly rid us of that horrible, horrible screechy noise its hinges make.

Serialization of Perl structures to files, I do it all the time for a number of different applications. When I play with configuration files, use YAML

use YAML;

my $data = YAML::LoadFile('config.yml');

When I wear my web hat, I use JSON.

use Path::Tiny;
use JSON::MaybeXS qw/ to_json /;

path('stuff.json')->spew( to_json $data ); 

When I feel funky, I use TOML.

use Path::Tiny;
use TOML;

my $data = from_toml path('config.toml')->slurp;

It’s all fairly short to type, all mostly painless.


Except that I have to remember which modules are the darlings of the moment. For JSON, are we using JSON, or JSON::XS? Ah, no, JSON::MaybeXS is the one we use these days.

Except that they almost accept the same configurations options (pretty-print, canonical order), but since it’s almost, I always have to check the POD anyway.

Except that if I began to use JSON, and decide later on that I would rather use YAML, I have to go back and tweak the code.

So yeah, it’s short, it’s not that painful. But it’s boring and repetitive. And I ain’t got the time for that.

Hence File::Serialize. The module exports two functions: serialize_file and deserialize_file. Want to serialize something to a file?

use File::Serialize;

serialize_file 'foo.json' => $data;

Want to deserialize?

my $data = deserialize_file 'foo.yml';

Want to set up default behaviors?

use File::Serialize {
    pretty    => 1,
    canonical => 1,

serialize_file 'foo.json' => $data;  # will be pretty and canon

serialize_file 'foo.yaml' => $data;  # won't, 'cause honey-yaml don't care

Behind the curtain, nothing immensely fancy. Just guessing the serializing format from the file extension, using the right serializing modules, and the mapping of the usual parameters. Nothing fancy. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing quantum leapy at all.

But, by Joves, that’s one less screech I have to grind my teeth at.