chris_jack at msn.com
Wed Sep 19 12:12:17 BST 2007
Ovid publiustemp-londonpm at yahoo.com wrote
> --- Chris Jack <chris_jack at msn.com> wrote:
> > Can anyone recommend a good, free Perl obfuscator. I had a search on
> > Google, and there seem to be a zillion out there - but which one
> > should I choose? It needs to be able to handle classes, packages,
> > include files etc without effecting functionality/output.
> However, if you could mention the problem you're trying to solve with
> obfuscation, we might be able to suggest reasonable alternatives.
I am working on a Perl program which I am intending on selling. It will probably be around 10,000 lines when complete. It's high concept - in that no-one (that I know about) has done what I want this program to do and a fair amount of the value is in the algorithms rather than the amount of code. Hopefully it will be highly useful to the niche market that I will be selling it to and as such, it may encourage similar code.
Obviously, I get copyright protection - and I am not too concerned about piracy in that my target market is mostly corporates who wouldn't want to be caught dead stealing code (not that obfuscation stops piracy of course). I chose Perl because of it's portability and data munging ability. But I am concerned that people may reimplement my code and "reduce my profit potential".
I don't want to compile/test for every platform under the Sun (little capitalisation joke there - OK: very little capitalisation joke) so releasing compiled code is not on my agenda.
Obfuscation, however, imperfect - at least has the benefit of tending to dissuade reverse engineering. Some of the code will probably obfuscate better than other bits - there are a few "regular expressions from hell" which I can't see obfuscation doing much to hide.
On the other hand, selling something with readable source code would definitely be a selling plus for the application; given that people will quite possible want to customise some of the reporting stuff that comes out. Performance is also highly important and any significant impact on that would be a show stopper. It may also be that simply presenting the output would give people enough clues about what is possible to drum up something similar - and hence obfuscation might not be a realistic solution to my primary concern about copy cat code.
I still have a way to go to finish the app - but the discussion here has really helped clarify my thoughts on the pros and cons of obfuscation.
Thanks to all who posted answers.
PS Does anyone know why I get replies through to another one of my other email addresses (christopher_jack at hotmail.com) rather than the one I generally use to post to the list from (aka chris_jack at msn.com) - and more importantly what I can do to fix it?
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