Category Archives: Template::toolkit

New York City Household Furniture Moving Travel Time Calculator

My next project is to create a travel time calculator application using Dancer2. Hopefully, this would be useful to any household furniture moving company operating in New York City.
When charging for the travel time between two locations, many New York City Moving companies use the following DOT guidelines.

  1. 1/2 an hour within any borough.
  2. 3/4 an hour from one borough to another.
  3. 1 hour for the first 20 miles between locations that either start or end within New York City
  4. 1 hour for each 40 miles after the first 20 miles, which is equivalent to 15 minutes for each 10 miles.

Most of the information that I need to get the distances between locations is freely available from Google’s Distance Matrix API. I checked out CPAN to see if there was a suitable module available to access this API. There were some that partially did what I required, but not all of what I required.
I decided to write my own, which you can read about here.


Form To Input Addresses

There are two methods of User Input that I wanted to experiment with. The first is by means of a form where you would enter the exact origin and destination addresses. I describe this in detail here.
The second method, using jQuery autocomplete, I discuss here.

Dancer2 Application TravelTime

The Perl App that implements the Travel Time Calculator

I used the Perl Dancer2 framework for building this application. Dancer2 bills itself as a “Lightweight yet powerful web application framework”, which I guess is true. It works well for me and is not too complex. I did run into a few bugs which seem to have been ironed out in the very latest version. So, it does have an active group of developers who are maintaining and upgrading this software. Thank you for that.
Here is an excerpt from this module, showing one particular route handler. This particular one handles an Ajax call to provide a list of cities that match a specific search criteria. The Dancer2::Plugin::Ajax helps out with this method. The caller in this case is a JavaScript program that I use to implement a jQuery autocomplete input field. You can read about this here

#    Get a list of city, states and counties.
ajax '/city_states' => sub {
    #------ Trim  whitespace from lhs and append the '%' SQL match char.
    #       This will handle searches like 'Sunn,      New York' (Sunnyside, New York)
    #       or                             'Kew Gar,      New York' (Kew Gardens,  New York)
    #       or                             'Kew,New York'
    my @find_params =
      map { $_ =~ s/^\s+//; s/\s+\z//; $_ . '%' }
      split( ',', params->{find} );
    debug 'The find params array now contains : ' . dump @find_params;

    my $csc_arr;

    #------ Allow some short cuts for the Big Apple
    if ( $find_params[0] =~ /^(nyc|manhattan|base)%\z/i ) {
        $csc_arr->[0] = [ 'New York City', 'New York', 'New York County' ];
    else {

        #----- Search DB for City and Counties matching the search params.
        connect_to_cities() unless $DBH;
        process_error( { Error => 'Unable to connect to the City, State,
                county database! Please try later!', } ) unless $DBH;
        $csc_arr = select_city_state_cty( $DBH, \@find_params );

    #------ Returns sorted list of Cities, States and Counties to
    #       city-states.js
    { city_states => $csc_arr };

Have a look at the entire Application code on GitHub.
For a live demo, here is the Moving Truck Travel Time Calculator application running on the dotCloud hosting service.
This is how I deployed my Dancer2 Application to dotCloud.

Creating a Repeatable Address Form with HTML::FormHandler

This is a summary of how I created a repeatable Address Form Module, Mover::Form::Travel::Matrix, using HTML::FormHandler.

As part of my TravelTime Application project I needed to create a form to enter multiple location addresses. I could construct the form manually using Template Toolkit, but I would still need to write my own validation and JavaScript to implement the multiple form requirement.
I could have used HTML::FormFU I have used this previously(much to my regret) to build more complex forms. Not that HTML::FormFu isn’t useful. Once it is mastered it can be a great tool for building many types of complex forms. For me, I found that the learning curve was much too steep and the documentation was dispersed widely amongst many modules. I am sure that this has been improved in recent times, but I really don’t want to go back to pouring through reams of docs for this project.
So I continued on my quest to use another behemoth of CPAN complexity just to make my life more difficult. I had wanted an excuse to experiment with HTML::Formhandler and this seemed like a good time to do this. The documentation for this makes War And Peace seem like a side note on a shopping list. It must have taken longer to create than the Bible and hopefully will be less contentious. Seemingly it is the work of one developer by the name of Gerda Shank who must have locked herself away in a cave for a millennium to give the Pearl world this form framework.
What I like about HTML::FormHandler is that it seems much more Moose Like and intuitive to anybody who has worked with Moose. It seems very simple at first, however to get the best out of this, the learning curve is steep and requires time. So, say goodbye to family and social life while you get familiar with HTML::FormHandler.

FormHandler Forms


Before I make my repeatable address form, I created a form element for any US address using a FormHandler Moose Role. This is one of the many useful things about HTML::Formhandler. You can create many building blocks which can be used again and again. Here is the module on github Mover::Form::Field::Address


use HTML::FormHandler::Types qw/Zip Trim Collapse/;

has_field 'address_1' => (
    is      => 'rw', 
    isa     => Collapse, 
    required => 0,
    message  => {
        required => 'You must enter a street address!'
has_field 'address_2' => (is => 'rw', isa => Collapse);
has_field 'city' => (is => 'rw', isa => Collapse);
has_field 'state' => ( type => 'Select', options_method => \&_options_state );
has_field 'country' => (is => 'rw', isa => Collapse);
#------ Create Zip Field Type
has_field 'zip' => ( is => 'rw',  isa => Zip);
=head2 options_state
  Builds the Options for US states. (NY New York,  AL Alabama etc).
  Note: It does not include "DC". I may add DC later just as an alternative.

sub _options_state {

    return (
        'AL' => 'Alabama',
        'AK' => 'Alaska',
        'AZ' => 'Arizona',
        'WY' => 'Wyoming',


no HTML::FormHandler::Moose::Role;

When I initially created this Role, I had intended to manually validate the Zip Code field using Regexp::Common. I then found that FormHandler has a types Module with some useful stuff in there, including a zip code. I will try this out instead. It also has types to trim off extra white space. How convenient.


This is the actual HTML::FormHandler form, which has repeatable Address elements. I also opted to include some of the convenient FormHandler Widgets that were created to make use of the Twitter Bootstrap CSS framework. There’s lots of stuff available with HTML::FormHandler.
This module is available here on GitHub Mover::Form::Travel::Matrix

has '+field_name_space' => ( default => 'Mover::Form::Field' );
has '+name'        => ( default => $form_name );
has '+html_prefix' => ( default => 1 );
has '+is_html5'    => ( default => 1 );
has '+http_method' => ( default => $http_method );
has '+action'      => ( default => $form_action );

#----- Mover::Form::Field::Address that is Repeatable
has_field 'addresses' => (
    type         => 'Repeatable',
    setup_for_js => 1,
    do_wrapper   => 1,
    tags         => { controls_div => 1 },
    auto_id      => 1,

has_field 'addresses.contains' => ( type => 'Address', );
has_field 'submit' => (
    type         => 'Submit',
    widget       => 'ButtonTag',
    element_attr => { class => [ 'btn', $button_class, $button_size ] },
    do_wrapper   => 0,
    value        => 'Get Travel Time'
has '+info_message'    => ( default => 'Starting point.' );
has '+success_message' => ( default => 'Form successfully submitted' );

has '+error_message'   => ( default => 'Please fix the errors on this form!' );

Now, we have a form with a repeatable address field and some fancy Bootstrap CSS, Yippee!
Next up is to create some templates to render the form pages. So, I will use the now familiar Template Toolkit to do this.

The Address Form Template

<!-- Travel Matrix Form -->
<form name="[% %]" id="[% %]"
  action="[% tm_form.action %]" method="[% tm_form.http_method %]"
  class="form-vertical" >

<fieldset >
      <p class="lead">
             || 'Calculate Moving Truck Travel Time'

<!--  Start messages -->
    <div id="messages">
    <p class="text-success">[%- success_message -%]</p>
    <p class="text-error">[%- error_message -%]</p>
    <p class="text-warning">[%- warning_message -%]</p>
    <p class="text-info">[%- info_message  -%]</p>
<!-- End  messages -->

    [% started_new_row  = 0  %]  [%# To specify how many Addresses per line %]
    <!--- four to a line -->
    [% FOREACH address_element IN tm_form.field('addresses').fields -%]
        [%  IF ((loop.count == 1) || ((loop.count % 5) == 0))   %]

          [% IF ( started_new_row == 1) %]
              <!-- Close previous row before opening a new one. -->
               </div> <!-- /row-fluid -->
          [%  END %]
          <div class="row-fluid">
          [% started_new_row  = 1 %]
        [% END %]

        <div class="span3 well">
          [% IF loop.first %]
              <span class="text-info">
                <abbr title='Calculations are based from a starting point in central New York City.'>
                First Address
          [% ELSIF loop.last  %] 
              <span class="text-info">
                  <abbr title='The next version will have an option for more destination points.'>
                  Last Address</abbr>

          [% ELSE %]
              <span class='text-info'>Address [% loop.count %]</span>
          [% END %]
          [% address_element.render %]

        </div> <!-- /span3 -->
    [% END %]

    [% IF ( started_new_row == 1) %] [%# Close div tag at end of each row %]
        </div> <!-- /row-fluid -->
        [% started_new_row  = 0 %]
    [%  END %]

<div class="row-fluid">
    [% tm_form.field('submit').render %]
</div> <!-- /row-fluid -->

</div> <!-- /row-fluid -->

[% IF ( tm_form.is_valid) %]

    [% IF (my_errors) %]
        <div class="alert alert-error">
        <span><b>[% error_message  || 'What a mess!' %]</b></span>
        [%# One way to loop through a hash %]
        [% FOREACH error IN my_errors.values %]
         <span> [% error %]</span>
         [% END %]
    [%  END %]
[% ELSIF ( tm_form.errors) %]
    <div class="alert alert-error row-fluid">
        [% FOREACH error IN tm_form.errors -%]
        <span class="span2">[% error %]</span>
        [% END %]
[%  END %]

The source code for this template is available here.
There are many other ways to render a HTML::Formhandler form, which you can explore in the CPAN documentation.

There is much to explore in HTML::FormHandler and I am sure I will be using it again in future projects.

City, State, County Selection With Bootstrap 2 Typeahead

This is a demonstration of how I implemented an Ajax call to a Perl Dancer2 Application using jQuery and the Bootstrap Typeahead function.

As part of my TravelTime App , I wanted to create and easy way to select the start and end locations using the jQuery Autocomplete component. Bootstrap 2 has its own version of this which they call Typeahead.
I just found out that the latest version of Bootstrap will not include this Typeahead functionality. Instead it will be replaced with typeahead.js I hope to check this out in the future.
Anyway, I will be using Perl, Dancer2 with Template Toolkit to render this form.
I also needed to customise the Typeahead to complete an Ajax call to my Perl Dancer2 application. The Dancer2 application will then provide the sorted list of City,States and Counties based on the search parameters passed to it.

The Template::Toolkit Form

Exerpt from

<div class="span11">
        <span class="text-info">
            <abbr title='Enter the starting location'>Start Location</abbr>
        <div class="control-group">
        <!-- Bootstrap Typeahead -->
            <label class="control-label" for="address-[% loop.count %]">[% warning_message %]</label>
            <div class="controls">
                <input type="text"
                    class="cityStatesTypeahead span9 input-append"
                    name="address-[% loop.count %]"
                    id="address-[% loop.count %]" value="[% address %]"
                    placeholder="City/Town, State" 
                    <span class="addQmark"><i class="iconic-question-mark"></i></span>
            <input type="hidden"
                name="h-address-[% loop.count %]"
                id="h-address-[% loop.count %]"
        </div> <!-- /span11 -->

The entire template can be seen here on GitHub.
The highlighted fields are the ones that are pertinent to the activation of the Bootstrap Typeahead.
In order to customise the Bootstrap Typeahead, I found this very useful website by FusionGrokker, for which I am thankful (You could also check out the jQuery docs for the original concept).

Here is my JavaScript to implement the Typeahead Ajax call.

The jQuery

Excerpt from city-states.js

var hiddenId;
// Get the hidden address field associated with the current
// address field
$('.cityStatesTypeahead').bind('focus',  function(){
   hiddenId =  $(this).attr('id'); 

  items: 10, 
  minLength : 3, 
  source:  function(query, process) {
      //Call Perl App to find the sorted list of City, States and Counties
      return searchForPlaces(query, process);
  highlighter: function(item){
    return highLightSelect(item);

matcher: function () { return true; }, 
updater: function (item) {
    return updateField(item);

// Ajax call to Perl Dancer Script, which returns an Array Ref
// of sorted City, State and County data.
var debounceWait = 100;
// Use Underscore JS function '_debounce' to ensure that the
// search waits for specific number of milliseconds before running again.
var cityStates = {};
var cityNames = [];
var searchForPlaces = _.debounce(function( query,  process ){
    $.post("/city_states",{ find : query}, function(data){
    cityStates = {};
    cityNames = [];
        var counter = 0;
        _.each( data.city_states,  function( item,  ix,  list ){
        item.label = item + '-' + (counter++);
         // console.log('Got this item from AJAX : ' + item);
        cityStates[item.label] = {
                city : item[0],   
                state : item[1],  
                county : item[2]
        //add selected items to diaplay array
        // console.log('Add this to the array ' + item.label);

    // Let Bootstrap and jQuery process the list
    // for display in the input box
    process( cityNames );
},  debounceWait);

//Highlighter Function
var highLightSelect = function(item){
    // console.log("      Item inside highlighter " + item);
   var c = cityStates[item];
   return ''
       + "<div class='typeahead_wrapper'>"
       + "<div class='typeahead_labels'>"
       + "<div class='typeahead_primary'>" + + ', ' + c.state + "</div>"
       + "<div class='typeahead_secondary'><strong>County: </strong>"  + c.county + "</div>"
       + "</div>"
       + "</div>";

// Updater Function
// Add the required data into the input field
var updateField = function(item){
   var c = cityStates[item];
   //Hidden field will contain all the valuable data
    $( "#h-" + hiddenId ).val( + ',' + c.state + ',' + c.county );
   //This is the data for display on input box
   return + ', ' + c.state + "  County: " + c.county ;


Have a look at line 34 for the actual Ajax call to the Perl module. It sends a request to’s ‘/city_state’ route. As the Typeahead attribute ‘minLength’ is set to 3, it passes at least the first three letters of the requested City to the Dancer2 application. The city_states database is then searched for a city beginning with this search string. The Dancer2 application will return a sorted list of these cities with their corresponding state and county names. The application can also accept two search strings separated by a comma. This will search the database for cities beginning with the first string and corresponding states beginning with the second string.
“city-states.js” receives this sorted list of cities, states and counties.
The Typeahead displays (items: 10) items in the dropdown list.The “highLightSelect” highlighter function formats this list into a more readable format.
When an item is selected “theupdateField” populates the hidden fields.

More details of what is happening in will be left for another post.
Have a look at the TravelTime App in action.
I hope that this blog post may useful to some developer out there.