I was once told, “Look to your hobbies to start a business.” About three years ago, I thought about starting a company that combined my hobbies: Perl and the Internet. I found a store in Delaware that sold thousands of hot sauces, another of my passions, and an idea came to me—I could sell the hot sauces for the store online. I would put the product data into a database and take orders over the Web, using Perl to generate the HTML and keep track of sales.
One part was missing. How would I connect to a database? Outside of work, I had access only to a Win95 machine. It ran Perl for Win32 from ActiveState. OraPerl and DBI hadn’t yet been ported to the Win32 platform. For a long time I was stuck.
What I really wanted was an ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) solution. ODBC is Microsoft’s attempt to standardize database access. If a program needs to connect to an Oracle database, an Informix database, and an Access database, it needs three different versions of the database code for each, because each of those databases has its own proprietary access scheme. With ODBC, you simply write your program to conform to the ODBC API and let the ODBC Manager and Driver take care of the database language specifics. Initially just a Windows solution, ODBC is now finding its way onto many Unix boxes.
Along came Dave Roth’s Win32::ODBC module. Dave married the ODBC toolkit with Perl, giving me (and countless others) access to databases from Perl on Windows. I began ...