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Quick news

  • 2014-03-27: MongoDB Watchdog module ported to Drupal 8 at the Szeged Dev Days.
  • 2014-01-26: My post on the Symfony web profiler in Silex selected in Week of Symfony. w00t !
  • 2013-10-18: My first commit went into MongoDB today. And, guess what ? It's in JavaScript
  • 2013-09-20 to 29: Working on Drupal 8 EntityAPI at the extended code sprints during and around DrupalCon Prague
  • 2012-08-19: Working on Drupal 8 EntityAPI at Drupalcon Munich
  • 2012-06-15: Working on Drupal 8 EntityAPI at DrupalDevDays Barcelona
  • 2012-03-23: Working on the future Drupal Document Oriented Storage at DrupalCon Denver. D8 or later ? Bets are on Later

Computing

Switching to private downloads to speed up Drupal

It is usually considered a given that "private" downloads, going through Drupal, are slower than "public" downloads, which can be served directly by Apache, or whatever web server the site is running on. This is indeed true in the general case; however, for low-cost hosting, this apparent axiom needs to be revisited.

Context

I recently had to install Drupal 6.x for a french government agency on a low-cost hosting plan. Although the site performed reasonably well considering the limitations of the chosen hosting plan, I soon noticed it was missing mod_deflate and mod_expires, which caused pages to be served uncompressed and every static file to be served without an expiration date.

And, of course, the site had quite a few images: photos on most pages, and several logos at the bottom of each page.

Now, when mod_deflate is missing, using the "Page compression" option on http://example.com/admin/settings/performance is a good workaround for the download page size, but what about the static files ?

Checking a few cheap hosting plans, it appeared these limitations are actually quite common. And without mod_expires, there is no way to tell Apache to serve static content with specific headers. Luckily for us, with Drupal we have a trick up our sleeves, the so-called "private" file downloads.

When hovering over a link no longer displays the target in Opera

Spending most of my web time in Opera, I had noticed that on one of my PCs, hovering over a hypertext link (i.e. <a href="..." ...>) had ceased displaying the target of the link in the UI, and there didn't seem to be a setting to make it appear again. Even when upgrading, that annoying behaviour kept stuck.

As one can expect, it turned out to be simple to fix, just not obvious in the Opera UI. Here is the procedure:

Speeding up Drupal on Vista with Wampserver

The problem : Drupal awfully slow on Vista (and Seven) with Wampserver

For some time now, I'd been severiously annoyed by the (utter lack of) performance of Drupal 6 and 7 on my home PC, which happens to be running Microsoft Vista: considering I was used to getting page times around 200ms on a fractional Celeron with Apache 2.2 on a Linux server hosted comparatively far across the net from that same machine, I felt the 5 to 15 seconds response time per page on this local machine with a quad core and 3 GB RAM were really making me lose my time.

The solution

After some time spend googling around, I stumbled upon an incredibly simple tip, which made the 5 to 15 seconds per page drop down to around 1 second when logged in, and well below 500 ms when not logged in. It's incredible what ONE single character in a plain text file gets you under Vista :-)

UPDATE 2010-01-23: David Hogg tells us (see below) that this works for Windows Seven too

GroupWise 8 is here at last

So at long last, GW8 is becoming reality :

See the GW8 announcement on Novell communities.

As a long time developer on GroupWise (hey, I did this even before I started on Drupal !), I'm glad to see the product evolve. And already a planned upgrade for a customer :-)

Now, if I could find a project merging both... to this day, I've only used Delphi, both with OLE and SOAP, to communicate with GW.

When Trac "Available projects" starts as an empty page

Having to use Trac instead of our usual Drupal Project* setup for a new Drupal project, I just found out a problem which perplexed me for a moment: after following the instructions from the Trac site for a very basic setup, without SVN integration, all seems to work well, up to the point where I started the server.

# tracd --port 8000 /var/www/trac/proj1

The problem

... and went to my browser to http://www.example.com:8000/ only to receive an almost empty page, just saying "Available Projects" and nothing else. No error during trac-admin initenv. And the page was well-formed, showing it was likely not an actual bug.

Googling around the problem showed the issue to be already known, but offered no hint about the solution. What could be wrong ?

If the SELECT in your Drupal modules are suddenly all 4 lines high or more...

If all of a sudden you notice that the SELECT elements in your Drupal forms increases to 4 and any smaller size is ignored...

... maybe you've already forgotten you were using Chrome, and it is not a Drupal bug : this is a "usability" feature of WebKit. See http://trac.webkit.org/browser/trunk/WebCore/rendering/RenderListBox.cpp#L67.

Safari users are probably used to it, but for users of other browsers, this is a bit disconcerting.

Reducing system load for graphical widgets

Using a graphics library, be GD, ImageMagick or anything else, is convenient, but carries a price to pay: unlike most Drupal parts, which are generally database-bound, image generation is typically CPU-bound: generating many images on the fly can significantly increase the CPU load on a system, while Drupal setups are typically not optimized for this, and could result in problems if you are using Drupal on a shared hosting account. So what ?

A graphical progress bar widget for FormsAPI

A graphical progress bar widget for Forms APIIn the previous post, we saw how to create a XHTML progress bar widget for Forms API, using theme_progress_bar. The next logical step is now to create a graphical equivalent to that progress bar, as an example for far more advanced fully graphical widgets made possible using a similar mechanism.

A progress bar widget for FormsAPI

Forms API progress barAs a Drupal user, you certainly noticed that update.php displays a nice progress bar to make you wait during its batch operations. And maybe you also noticed theme_progress_bar in the API reference.

The question

Wouldn't it be nice to have that progress bar available as an extended version of markup that would graphically display a value in your forms without stuffing it in a markup element ?

Checkboxes in forms step by step

For some reason or another, I've noticed several new Drupal developers these last few days sweating on Forms API, and thought it would be nice to have a smallish example to complement the unavoidable FAPI reference and Guick start guide, for a typical non-basic form: one including set of checkboxes in a table, with a customized display, like the core user, content or modules administration forms. So follow me while we build this example.

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