JSON and CakePHP

Last few articles in this blog are only for stupid problems and unfortunately this one will be the same.

I had to use JSON to update some chained select boxes. I am using one jQuery plugin for this. The problem is that if you code, most likely your debug setting in the core.php file is set to 1 (or 2). This way the developer can see errors from CakePHP.

When the level is set to 1, at the end of the page, there is an comment, displaying the processing time for the page, but when you use JSON, this comment causes troubles (probably, because JSON doesn’t accept this type of comments) and the JS fail to process the response.

In order to check JSON, I needed to disable set debug level to 0 and after this to reset it again to 1 (for debugging purposes in other parts of the application).

So, the conclusion: bear in mind, that JSON doesn’t like HTML comments.

Hope this helps.

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Autocompleter plugin v 1.2

Autocompleter Plugin 1.2Hey guys,

today I’ve released a new version of the WordPress Plug-in “Autocompleter”.

What is the change?

The new version contains ability to display number of matches per word or phrase in the drop-down. The example is available in this blog (top/left search field). Of course in order to activate this you should go to Admin under the Settings section, where there is an option “Autocompleter” 🙂

Bear in mind that ‘number of matches’ are not the posts in the blog, but number of times where the tag or category is used. I would provide small example of this.

Let’s imagine that in your blog you have 3 posts all tagged with WordPress and one of them is in the WordPress category, while other 2 are in another category.

The result in matches for wordpress would be 4, because there are 3 tags attached to the posts and 1 of the posts is attached to the wordpress category. Hope this make sense to you.

There is also ability to change the word ‘matches’ with your own, or even word in your language.

If you want to play with position of the matches, you could change autocompleter.css from the plug-in directory.

That’s it. I hope you like this plug-in.

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Careful with JavaScript includes

Ok, this is not a code snippet article. It’s just an experience which you probably already met, but it was nightmare to find and it took me 1/2 a day to fix this “stupid” bug.

So what is the case?

Working on a project including some advanced JavaScript and Ajax techniques my coworker Milen noticed that the Session is not behaving as expected. In a simple function like:

 function test($id = false){
  if ($id != false) {
    echo $id;
    echo $k = $this->Session->read('some_var');
    $this->Session->write('some_var', $id);
  }
  $this->set('tests', $this->paginate());
 }

The result should be quite easy to be predicted: if you pass for example 5 on the second reload the $k should be with the same value as $id. Unfortunately instead of 5 the $k was ‘images’. Yep, quite strange, isn’t it?

if you put die() at the end of the function, the result is as expected.

What was the problem

In our current project we are using jQuery and some of it’s plugins. So the problems was in the ThickBox plugin. If you remove it from the header everything works.

Digging into unpacked version of the plugin we’ve noticed that the loading picture is not where it should be. there is an variable

 var tb_pathToImage = "images/loadingAnimation.gif"

and as you may notice the path is not compatible with Cake convention and obviously it’s not in the http://server/cakeapp/tests/test/images/.

In the example above we were writing id into the session. Yes but calling: http://server/cakeapp/tests/test/images/loadingAnimation.gif mean that $id take value of ‘images’.

It was quite tricky, because if you loading CSS or JavaScript and the file is not there, FireBug or even the html /if there is no correct CSS the styling will fail/ will warn the developer, but image loaded into the JS function is quite difficult to find.

Anyway, the conclusion is “Watch you JavaScript libs and what files they require”.

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My first WordPress plugin

Hey,

I am very proud to present you, my first plugin for WordPress platform – Autocompleter.

The plugin adding autocomplete functionality for the search input field of your blog. The values are the tags and categories existing in the blog and this way you will help your visitors to find easily the proper information in your blog.

My first implementation was with Prototype and Script.aculo.us, but because I like very much jQuery library and I found a wonderful plugin for autocomplete, I build it with jQuery.

You can check the demo in this blog – top right – search box 🙂

Hope you will like it and you will vote for it 🙂 Thanks

The official page is: wordpress.org/extend/plugins/autocompleter

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Adding autocomplete field for search in WordPress

Added a nice Autocomplete field of the search box in that blog /top right/. It’s really nice to have and I really enjoyed doing it.

I followed that article: How to: Create an Ajax-based Auto-completing Search Field for your WordPress Theme, but instead of using suggested js code, I’ve used Script.aculo.us Autocomplete way.

I really enjoyed and I hope you will like it too.

Update: I’ve wrote a plugin for this: nik.chankov.net/autocompleter/. Enjoy!

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Building cake application (Part VI)

Saturday (Day 6)

Problem with validation messages while translating
Although my native language is Bulgarian and the requirement from the client was to have this site only in Bulgarian, I’ve preferred to have it in English and to make the translation with the i18n functions of CakePHP. There are 2 reasons to do this:

1. This will give me the possibility to show you the result of all these days of coding and
2. I can reuse some part of the codes the same as I’ve used in this project

So, up to my experience having application in English is never a bad idea. 🙂

You know, that the translating process is not very exciting process, but someone need to do it and because there is no one who can help me with this I’ve start the translation. Anyway. 🙁

While translating I noticed that the most of the validation messages are not appear of the translation file. I knew this from my past experience, but I needed to find an easy and elegant solution to translate these messages instead of putting them in all views. Putting in the view you need to do this at least 2 times.
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Building cake application (Part V)

Friday (day 5)

Constructing SQL statement for the search
Yep, today I need to finish the Profile search for the admin part. As I mentioned, the search is only by fields of experience, so there is no big and scary where clause /especially if you want to cover all cases, like splitting the words with AND, OR etc. will cause huge where with all possible combinations/.

There are 2 specific requirements here: The results need to be ordered by relevance and the report need to show fields of competence which are match to the search criteria next to each row /user/.

What does it means? Let’s say there are 2 users. First one has following skills like Java, PHP, MySQL, HTML and JavaScript, the second one knew only JavaScript and HTML, so when we search for users matching criterion PHP and HTML, the search results need to be ordered like this:

User1 – matching fields: PHP, HTML – relevance 2 criteria matched
User2 – matching fields: HTML – relevance: 1 criteria matched
and so on.

At first glance it look like I had to build huge SQL including few sub queries or functions for fetching the fields of relevance and matching fields and I was prepared for at least one day to accomplish this task, but in fact it was very fast.
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Ubiquity Plugin for Firefox

Yesterday I’ve seen the presentation of this new plug-in and I think it’s quite good! I’ve installed of course and indeed it’s very good! The part which I like is that it’s possible to be extended. Take a look of the video, it’s very good.

Here what the author of the original article say for Ubiquity features:

The overall goals of Ubiquity are to explore how best to:

  • Empower users to control the web browser with language-based instructions. (With search, users type what they want to find. With Ubiquity, they type what they want to do.)
  • Enable on-demand, user-generated mashups with existing open Web APIs. (In other words, allowing everyone–not just Web developers–to remix the Web so it fits their needs, no matter what page they are on, or what they are doing.)
  • Use Trust networks and social constructs to balance security with ease of extensibility.
  • Extend the browser functionality easily.

Link to the original article: Introducing Ubiquity


Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

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ClickHeat – track user’s clicks on your web site

Today … is the first day after my trip in Greece. Well it’s hard to be in good mood after a holiday and I couldn’t code as fast as I want for these first days, but this is another story.

I would like to share here some information about a marketing tool which I just saw. It’s called ClickHeat.
What is the main purpose of that tool? People which using already Google Analytics could see many things which are the same, but in fact there are differences which I am going to mention.
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Extended Autocomplete Helper

When I started with CakePHP, my first project includes also Autocomplete functionality for some fields. Of course I start using default Ajax Helper provided from the library. The main problem was that in most of the cases I needed the ID of the string which I searched. The best example is the Country list which is very easy to be accessed with Autocomplete, but instead to messing up with strings as usual developer I wanted to have the ID of the specified country. I used some kind of hack by adding callback function onComplete, which checks the selection in the Autocomplete field, and by this selection set hidden ID field, but as you can imagine this is not the best choice, first of all because it’s a hack – you rely on a sting which already sound as a hack /imagine if you are searching in a list there are some duplicated entries – examples are too many/ and second if you rely on callback this mean that you need another second or two for the second responce. Anyway, by giving this examples just wanted to convince you once again that Autocomplete helper with Key and Value related are really necessary in the projects /or at least that’s what I am thinking./

Well so far the default Autocomplete helper doesn’t provide such functionality. That’s why I created this helper which solves this problem partly. Why partly? You will see the answer of this in Strict Autocomplete with Scriptaculous (Part II)
Continue reading

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