Articles about programming

As a programmer by hobby and by job, I stumble across a lot of resources for programming, from websites to gaming competitions.

Vim

According to the Drupal Coding Standards for Documenting Hook Implementations, its considered a good practice to quickly chuck a comment before any function which implements a Drupal hook (eg, hook_menu). This helps someone reading your code quickly see that the function is actually linked with a hook in Drupal and isn't just a function in your module to be called directly.

PHP Logo

Ever needed to Entity Encode a block of text (maybe to partially protect it from spam bots or just hide/obfuscate the content?). I did. It's pretty easy.

If it's just based Entity Encoding, you can always use htmlentities - however this only does the "important" characters such as quotes, ampersands and angle brackets.

MySQL Logo

 I recently needed to clean up a MySQL Table which contained people's names. Upon searching the MySQL commands, I was surprised to find there was no equivalent of PHP's ucfirst or ucwords. There were commands to convert entire strings into upper or lower case, but not just the first letter.

I like little wins. I was just looking through the CSS file for this site and noticed that - for some reason - I'd used 0px instead of   a LOT of times. Most values need numbers (10em, 10px, 10% and 10pt are all very difference sizes) however 0 is one of the few valeus which is the same in all cases (0px, 0pt, 0% and 0 are all zero!). This adds up to wasted data and bandwidth; admitedly not a lot, but still Every Little Helps!

So I fired up Vim. Initially, I just did:

I just hit an interesting issue while trying to upgrade a Drupal 5.18 site to Drupal 6.12. I went to the update.php page and noticed an error at the top implying the url_aliastable was having issues due to Drupal 6 expecting a language column which wasn't present in Drupal 5. "No problem" I thought, "That'll get fixed during the update!". This was the beginning of a long learning curve through the new <a href="http://api.drupal.org/api/group/batch/6">Batch API</a> system!

The first test is a valid email address test. The second test is if an account exists for that email address. The third is if the username, generated by the "user" part of the email address, exists. If there are any issues, the "error" is logged into and array and printed at the end.

As the function goes along, a user is saves with the user part of the email address as their name, a random 6 character password and the email address as the contact address. In this example, it also give the user role number 3, which was our "subscriber" role.

I am a bit of a "neat geek" when it comes to coding. Things should be indented neatly and should have well laid out comments! Why? Well… It's easy to do and in 6 months time when you look at your code you will appreciate it! It will also me even more appreciated by another developer in less than 6 months time ;-)

Last night I was trying to configure SVN on a server. The setup was that the SVN Repo was on "srv2" and the frontend and code I wanted to import was on "srv1".

I created an NFS share on srv2 and mounted it on srv1 in /mnt/svnroot. The mount worked perfectly and I could touch and remove files from srv1.

So I tried to create a "sites" folder where I wanted to import a site I wanted to version control. This is where I started to have problems… The sollution was to add "nolock,bg" to the mount options on the client. Read on for more details!

Drupal Icon

I while ago (almost a year!) I released a module called Relevant Content to the community. This module executes a relatively lightweight SQL query which pulls up other nodes and sorts them by how many terms they have in common with the current node you're looking at. This provides a rudimentary method of suggesting other content to visitors to the page. It also provides a way of teaching search engines about other potentially relevant content.

I just finished upgrading a server to Ubuntu 8.04 which came with Vim 7.1 rather than 6.3 on the older server. It seems 7.1 does things slightly differently to 6.3.

In 6.3 I could create ~/.vim/filetype.vim and in there define a line as follows:

au BufRead,BufNewFile *.module,*.install,*.theme setf php

However in 7.1, it looks like a line similar to this has to go into ~/.vimrc instead…

Node Quick Find

I've just committed another module - Node Quick Find. That brings my projects to a nice round 10!

This module is a pretty basic one though. It simply provides a block which has an autocomplete field. This field is linked to the Node Title field. You start typing the Node Title and it will start suggesting possible nodes you might be interested in - sort of like a primitive search box.

It features primitive configuration, allowing an administrator to easil configure the title of the prompt, the size and the types of nodes returned in the autocomplete list (eg, you may want to limit the list to blogs only).

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