Social Games

Just had a great idea for social software sites

I was chatting at work about how to encourage community interaction between people on a community site. I was thinking having some sort of recommendation system that would figure out who you might like and then notify you of there most recent actions. After chatting with Alex about it the idea of community games amongst people on the site came up.

I noticed that on Vibewire forum games always had the most posts, which were similar to those voluntary surveys that move around email like chain letter, the ones where you have to answer a series of unrelated personal questions. Some people love those things.

I think good interactive online games would make a big difference to a community site in terms of retention of attention. Its hard to talk about as there aren’t any ‘community metrics’ yet. Something I would like to do some work on at some stage.

The Eclipse of PHP

I’ve been using PHPEclipse at work for 3 months now and I’m impressed with it.

I’ve been using Eclipse at work for 3 months now and I’m impressed with it. It is a Java IDE but has a very flexable plugin architecture so you can get plugins for PHP (PHPEclipse) and HTML, CSS etc. The main reason I’m using it is because it comes with a Visual Source Safe (forced on us at work) plugin that makes it really easy to work with a version control system. I imagine it does even nicer for Subversion and CVS a like. Give you a panel to see a table of who has what checked out and makes it easy to checkin all your stuff in one go.

The general interface is quite nice once you get used to it. Tab panels for everything, and if you double click it makes that tab full screen. List of function in the current file. It also has a panel that lists all the warning as and errors for all the files in your whole project. If you tell it what your include path is this makes it really easy to pick up problems for large projects.

The only bitch is that its written in Java, which does mean it will run on every thing, so requires about 182megs to get going for PHP with all the extra plugin bits. Also its complicated to get it going got PHP (there is a step-by-step guild to installing that really helps, and once setup it will downlaod upgrades to all installed plugins). Also its code completion for native PHP functions is non-existent (it does do it after you have typed it in and you hover your mouse over the function name).

Overall a nice IDE. I tried to use Komodo again and found I liked Eclipse better, and it free!

Visual Community Segmentation

Community segmentation is going to become a growing need for large online communities where some parts of the community will not want to encounter other parts for various reasons, ether for content rating issues or because there is too much information from a certain part of the community that a member might not be interested in.

Community segmentation is going to become a growing need for large online communities where some parts of the community will not want to encounter other parts for various reasons, ether for content rating issues or because there is too much information from a certain part of the community that a member might not be interested in.
Continue reading “Visual Community Segmentation”

IE button bug

Yet another bug in IE.

I would like to report this Windows Internet Explorer bug to save other greif. Seems that IE 6 (well, version: 6.0.2900.2180.xpsp_sp2_gdr.050301-1519 to be specific) doesn’t handle the <button> tag very well, especially when it is of type submit.

I have a form that allows multiple actions to be preformed on the selected data. Each action has a button with a value and they all share the same name. Something like:

<button type="submit" value="send_email" name="act">Send email</button>
<button type="submit" value="delete" name="act">Delete</button>

This button works but the value that IE submits is always ‘Delete’ (note the capital!?). Seem that when a form has more than one button of type submit IE will always pass the value of last one on the form no matter which button is pressed. This is not the case for <input> buttons.

Guess this means it doesn’t fully support HTML 4, or is this a ‘feature’ not a bug?

Problems with Drupal and the way forward.

Lessons learnt from Drupal, taxonomies, hierarchys, modules and a new approch to content management.

Drupal treats taxonomies like any other entity and so you can have as many as you like. You then associate them with module types and when someone creates an instance of a new module (Node) they are given the option to select which term(s) (i.e. category) they want to put the data in. Modules can have more than one taxonomy associated with it. In reality all data is treated the same and the taxonomies make the bumps in the landscape. we had the problem that you couldn’t associate one bit of content with another but someone wrote a handy module to do this. It basically allowed parent child relationships between the data of different module types i.e. so a an ‘Article’ about a course could have ‘Events’ listed with it to book those courses. The interface became unintuitive because the admin had to make then both separately and then separately make the associating between the course description and the booking listings.
Continue reading “Problems with Drupal and the way forward.”


Xenu takes site management to new levels.

Just finished a job for ATOC maintain the National rails website (both runners up for ugly site of the month). On this job we had to make the site DDA compliant, so accessible to the less fortunate and standards compliant basically. Because there were a large number of static pages that were maintained by a nasty CMS system there were a lot of pages to check for broken links.

Xenu was then brought to my attention and has changed my life. Point it at a site and it will make a list of all the pages on that site, which pages link to it and from where on that page as well as list broken links and where they are coming from. Further it will prompt you for FTP details and then make a list of all the orphan pages and much more and present this in a web page report.

This is the best site management tool I’ve seen so far. I don’t know why none of the other web development tools do this kind of job.

Sunbirds and calendars

Mozilla Sunbird allows for colaborative scheduling and PHP needs to support it!

There has been a recient review of Mozilla Sunbird which is just a simple calendar and To Do list program from the Mozilla people, bit like the appointment part of Outlook. I like it because its nice and simple and uses open standards.

With it you can have multiple calendars (which Outlook doesn’t do) so you can keep your work life and social separate if you like, or not: its a check box away. You can also import and/or share your calendar using WebDAV which basically lets you write to files on a web server over http. So you can share a calendar online with one or more people. So if you have a group of friends who do stuff together, or just people working on a project together, you can all see what the up and coming events are.

The idea

RSS is all fine and dandy but its designed to show you events that have already happened. What I’d really like is to be able to subscribe to a particular venue, artist, band, club, circle of friends, radio station etc. Basically anything with a schedule/calendar and have it appear in my local calendar. Sunbird seems to allow this. The standard it stores its calendar information in is called iCal. I had a quick sniff around and there is no a PEAR or general PHP support for this format. Be nice if there was an XML version of it (Sunbird has an option in the export but its not implemented it would seem)

This is a not to self: Write PHP iCal object

Localisation and PHP

A discussion on localization caught my eye, and fleshes out the issues involved. It took me back to a project I did with Bernard on 2001 where we had to translate a portal system for 13 country’s in Europe, each with multiple languages each.

Since I’ve been keeping translation in the back on my mind while developing ComPort i had a look around to see what’s out there for PHP:

One day ComPort will be in Japanese…(one day)…

Cross browser html editor

Seems cross browser HTML editors you can embed in a web page are everywhere

For content management systems (CMS) that you want to allow users to mark up their posts here are some cross browser solutions.

  • Cross-Browser Rich Text Editor was the first one brought to my attention by Coach Jason. Simple and does the basic job.
  • FCKEditor which I’ve implemented in an online help system manager for Cable and Wireless. Quite feature rich: multi language, skins, right click context menu etc. Had some problems with version 2Beta:
    • Can’t handle complex code generated by some other editor i.e. MSWord
    • Image insert not finished (but looking promising).
    • Needs more documentation as its a huge API.
  • Another one I haven’t really looked at yet.

Drop-Down Menus = CSS HELL

Seems there is a bit of a hoo-har about making nice dropdown menus since most recent article on ALA which has got Zeldman started on about how he hates drop downs anyway but supports the right to rant about them. There does seem to be some empirical evidence to support the idea that dropdowns are bad UI design, but try telling that to a designer.

This is all fine and dandy since I woke up this morning and decided to solve all my CSS dropdown problems once and for all. So I’ve been researching and this is what I’ve found:

  • There’s mention of some Dutch dude who has a pair but bugger me if I can read Dutch. Works in everything except IE/Mac (bain-of-my-facking-exsistence). So no good :(
  • There are better suckerfish menu’s avalable now, which I originaly gave up on because of IE/Mac problems. Still no work in IE/Mac but offers a dubious solution.
  • Whatever I come up with, I’d like to intergrate it with the sexy sliding menus. Pitty they don’t use CSS for positioning.
  • Finaly there is the XHTML/CSS/DHTML Semantically Correct Drop-Down Menu v1.1 which I have been using thus far but have done something to the CSS that makes it wig out on Safari 1.2 and quite frankly I’m over it.