In the distant past the only way of accessing a database through the vendor's API was compiling perl with extra libraries. This led to "oraaperl", "sybperl", etc, and also much pain.
DBI ended this situation -- Tim Bunce didn't "scratch an itch", he ended a massive migrane.
The DBI module gave perl two Very Nice Things: DBI itself and the guts of our XS interface and dynamic loading of compiled modules.
DBI lives on top of perly API modules in the DBD:: group (e.g., DBD::Oracle, DBD::Sybase). Now you can connect to multiple platforms at once, query all of them using a standard interface and get the results back in native perl.
I'll go over the basics of using DBI and DBD::Oracle, an object I use on some web projects for caching statement handles and some code we use for quickly generating databases using externally maintained files.
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