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Government sites such as bea.gov and census.gov provide lot of interesting data relevant current events. These data are usually provided in dense spreadsheet tables with limited, if any, charting facilities making them relatively inaccessible to the casual visitor. As a former Economics and Statistics educator, I have an interest in presenting data in a straightforward, visual manner.
Perl’s libraries such as Text::CSV, HTML::TableExtract, Spreadsheet::ParseExcel provide means to extract relevant information from data distributed in commonly used file formats.
Recently, Perl has gained a number of simple Web application frameworks. One of these is Dancer . Web applications written using Dancer can be deployed easily in a number of ways, including as standalone scripts. Dancer works well with Perl’s Template::Toolkit for HTML generation.
I propose a presentation putting these elements together to create a simple interface to the National Income Accounts data provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis :
None of this is particularly complicated, but I am not aware of any tutorials or documentation that would help someone with reasonable familiarity with all the technologies involved to put together such an application. Therefore, an example of such a self-contained web application might be of interest.
Of course, these building blocks can be used to provide interfaces to data from other domains than Economics as well.
Sinan Unur is an economist by training and currently works as an independent programmer and consultant helping his clients make sense of large and complicated data sets.
He earned his Ph.D. in Consumer Economics at Cornell University where he worked as a Senior Lecturer until 2009, teaching Economics and Statistics to graduate and undergraduate students. Unur’s passion for Perl dates back about ten years to when he decided to switch from Java to Perl as his tool of choice for writing Economics experiments. He is an active contributor to the Perl tag on Stackoverflow and maintains Perl’s Crypt::SSLeay and Net::Sharktools modules on CPAN.
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