Week 6 Project: Update a page with a “push” from the server – Part 1, WordPress

This week’s project will be broken down into multiple parts – it seems too big to do all in one week. The end goal is to have a process that runs on the server and outputs updates to a <div> on a web page in real time without user intervention, and without reloading the browser page. I also would like to avoid using AJAX so that there is minimal impact on the user’s performance. Finally, I hope to be able to do this in such a way that the user could close the page/browser, log off the site, and then come back at some later time, log in, visit the appropriate page, and continue getting real-time updates if the process is still going, or get a final status if the process has finished.

The primary motivation for this project is because I want to be able to write code to load a text file (probably a .CSV file) into a database, get the process status (however that is defined), and not be required to leave the browser page open for the entire time the process takes (in case it takes a really long time (thinking in terms of many hours or maybe even in terms of days)). This is necessarily a simplified version of the requirements, and I’ll fill in more details in each of the upcoming blog posts that deal with this project.

This project will need a database, an authentication and authorization mechanism, and a way to easily create pages with forms to control the upload of the text file and the parameters of the database loading process. A basic WordPress site will provide all three and is easy to set up. So, I’ve set up a WordPress play site and configured it with the theme I like to customize (Colinear by Automattic), the child theme I use to do the customization (Colinear-KC by Kobayashi Computing), and a couple of plug-ins that I use on most sites.

You can see the results of this week’s work by going to the project site, clicking the “Projects” drop-down and choosing “Week 6 (2017-02-22)” or you can go directly to the WordPress play site.

Week 5 Project: Bootstrap Carousel

This is Week 5 of the “52 Weekly Websites” challenge (see http://dev.kobayashicoding.net), which was supposed to be published at noon on February 15, 2017. The update to the project website was uploaded before the deadline, but this blog post was neglected. So, here it is, a little late…

This week’s project is pretty recognizable and straightforward: a sliding carousel of photos for a website. The Bootstrap framework provides the capability for this, and it just needed to be customized a bit. Ho hum.

The impetus for this particular project was a request from a client to add a carousel to a page on their WordPress site. So after getting the Bootstrap carousel function to work quickly and easily on the project site, I thought, “how difficult could this be to integrate into WordPress?” Well, as these things often go, it took longer to get it into production than it should have.

I had already used some Bootstrap functions on this particular site, so the WordPress “header.php” in the child theme (more on that next week) already had the code to include the Bootstrap CSS and JavaScript files, as well as the required JQuery files. So – working on the development site, not the production site – I copied the appropriate WordPress page to a new temporary page, added the HTML to it, saved it as a draft, and then clicked the “Preview” button. Success! Worked like a charm. I needed to tweak the image sizes and padding a bit, and also apply the style to round the corners of the photos, but the carousel functionality was working. After the aforementioned tweaks, I saved the draft again and checked the preview version again. Perfect! Time to publish the temporary page just to be sure everything worked correctly and looked good.

Oops… in the “published” version the carousel did not work – the first photo was displayed properly, but it never changed. Hmmm. I changed the status of the page back to “draft” and previewed it again. Again, it worked flawlessly. Clicked the “Publish” button again, checked the result – carousel not working. After much head-scratching and investigation with both Firefox’s and Chrome’s built-in developer’s tools, I finally figured out what the problem was.

The problem turned out to be that when I’d originally added the code to include the files required for Bootstrap, I had used relative paths. Yes, I know, stupid mistake (but aren’t they all once you find them?). Even though I had used Bootstrap functions for the front page of the site, it worked there because the “root directory” was effectively the “working directory” for the front page. However, WordPress adds the short name of the page to the end of the URL when displaying a published page; it does not do this when previewing a draft page. Changing the header.php file in the child theme to use full paths for the Bootstrap-related files solved the problem.

I won’t make that mistake again.

Week 4 Project: The Contact Form!

Well, it was supposed to be for week 4 of the “52 Weekly Websites” challenge (see http://dev.kobayashicoding.net), to be published at noon on December 7, 2016 – an infamous day in its own right, but not the day that this blog post showed up. As I mentioned in the most recent post in this series, the “Contact Form” proved to be a bit more complex that I’d anticipated. This was mostly because I wanted to add a CAPTCHA to it in an attempt to defeat Spambots.

Three resources were invaluable in creating and styling the final form. The following are links to the articles at the named sites:

The CAPTCHA functionality was provided by Securimage, an excellent open-source script with great documentation.

The contact form was actually working when I published the most recent post on November 23, 2016, but as this blog is written by me, well, this post is late. And, because it’s been so long, I don’t recall exactly what the problem with the implementation was. Sorry.

So, I’m going to try to get back to writing here more often, and also get back to the 52 Weekly Websites challenge. I have a couple of things I need to figure out (or find an example of) how to do, so I’ll use those for my next two challenges. One is a photo carousel (I’ve already found an example of how to do this, so that’ll be next week), and the other is updating a (possibly) scrolling <div> on a page with data from the server without refreshing the page. Come back in a couple of weeks to find out how that turned out.