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A.12. Singleton Database Handles

Let's say we have an object we want to be able to access anywhere in the code, without making it a global variable or passing it as an argument to functions. The singleton design pattern helps here. Rather than implementing this pattern from scratch, we will use Class::Singleton.

For example, if we have a class Book::DBIHandle that returns an instance of the opened database connection handle, we can use it in the TransHandler phase's handler (see Example A-6).

Example A-6. Book/

package Book::TransHandler;

use Book::DBIHandle;
use Apache::Constants qw(:common);

sub handler {
    my $r = shift;
    my $dbh = Book::DBIHandle->instance->dbh;
    $dbh->do("show tables");
    # ...
    return OK;

We can then use the same database handle in the content-generation phase (see Example A-7).

Example A-7. Book/

package Book::ContentHandler;

use Book::DBIHandle;
use Apache::Constants qw(:common);

sub handler {
    my $r = shift;
    my $dbh = Book::DBIHandle->instance->dbh;
    $dbh->do("select from foo...");
    # ...
    return OK;

In httpd.conf, use the following setup for the TransHandler and content-generation phases:

PerlTransHandler +Book::TransHandler
<Location /dbihandle>
    SetHandler perl-script
    PerlHandler +Book::ContentHandler

This specifies that Book::TransHandlershould be used as the PerlTransHandler, and Book::ContentHandlershould be used as a content-generation handler. We use the + prefix to preload both modules at server startup, in order to improve memory sharing between the processes (as explained in Chapter 10).

Book::DBIHandle, shown in Example A-8, is a simple subclass of Class::Singleton that is used by both handlers.

Example A-8. Book/

package Book::DBIHandle;

use strict;
use warnings;

use DBI;

use Class::Singleton;
@Book::DBIHandle::ISA = qw(Class::Singleton);

sub _new_instance {
    my($class, $args) = @_;

    my $self = DBI->connect($args->{dsn},    $args->{user},
                            $args->{passwd}, $args->{options})
        or die "Cannot connect to database: $DBI::errstr";

    return bless $self, $class;

sub dbh {
   my $self = shift;
   return $$self;

Book::DBIHandle inherits the instance( ) method from Class::Singleton and overrides its _new_instance( ) method. _new_instance( ) accepts the connect( ) arguments and opens the connection using these arguments. The _new_instance( ) method will be called only the first time the instance( ) method is called.

We have used a reference to a scalar ($dbh) for the Book::DBIHandle objects. Therefore, we need to dereference the objects when we want to access the database handle in the code. The dbh( ) method does this for us.

Since each child process must have a unique database connection, we initialize the database handle during the PerlChildInit phase, similar to DBI::connect_on_init( ). See Example A-9.

Example A-9. Book/

package Book::ChildInitHandler;

use strict;
use Book::DBIHandle;
use Apache;

sub handler {
    my $s = Apache->server;

    my $dbh = Book::DBIHandle->instance(
        { dsn     => $s->dir_config('DATABASE_DSN'),
          user    => $s->dir_config('DATABASE_USER'),
          passwd  => $s->dir_config('DATABASE_PASSWD'),
          options => {
              AutoCommit => 0,
              RaiseError => 1,
              PrintError => 0,
              ChopBlanks => 1,

    $s->log_error("$$: Book::DBIHandle object allocated, handle=$dbh");

Here, the instance( ) method is called for the first time, so its arguments are passed to the new _new_instance( ) method. _new_instance( ) initializes the database connection.

httpd.conf needs to be adjusted to enable the new ChildInitHandler:

PerlSetVar DATABASE_DSN    "DBI:mysql:test::localhost"
PerlSetVar DATABASE_USER   "foo"

PerlChildInitHandler +Book::ChildInitHandler

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