Site review: Nestoria

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The world of online real estate is exploding with new websites. One of them is Nestoria, whose website lists properties in the United Kingdom and -- since May -- in Spain as well.

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I talked to Mike Astle, the head of engineering at Nestoria, about the site and how they use Perl.

"We knew Nestoria was going to have a lot of pieces, and Perl is a good tool for building all of them," he said when I asked him about their choice of Perl as a development platform. "We're spoilt for choice on web development frameworks and data access toolkits, and we can leverage the breadth of CPAN for all of the data analysis and manipulation task that go on behind the scenes."

"These days it seems that all the hip young kids are using Ruby or Python. We believe that Perl has reached a higher level of maturity than it's newer companions. We can rely on Perl for stability -- something that is even more important to us than overall speed or language features. Optimizing a stable system is easy. Trying to figure out why the garbage collector in your fancy new runtime isn't working right is hard. We want to be on the bleeding edge of product innovation, not language design."

I asked what toolkit Nestoria used, and what their favourite CPAN modules are. Mike tells me they use Mason as the web development framework, along with various DBI modules to talk to MySQL and GD for resizing thousands of images a day.

They also use a lot of CPAN tools to speed their development process. "We are a small team without a QA department, so we rely very heavily on automated tests for unit, blackbox, and performance testing." Modules used include Test::WWW::Mechanize for functional testing of their website and Devel::Profile for profiling code performance.

Nestoria participated in the recent Yahoo Hacks Day in London, and will be at YAPC::Europe in force. Mike also mentioned other ways the company is involved in the Perl community, from presenting at user group meetings to contributing to CPAN. Most importantly, he adds, "We are always happy to buy a few beers at the monthly London.pm meetings. Those guys write a lot of the code that we rely on."

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