Code Web Apps

Doc5 Wiki Available for Download

Slightly behind with this post but I finally have a new release of Doc5 available for download.

New features include,

  • Full WYSIWYG editing and no more trying to get used to the markup. (Not that it was difficult but people are used to risch editors these days)
  • Complete redesign of the UI.
    Bootstrap makes for an easy to use, clean interface and I really like the design anyway.
  • Easier to use more finely grained permissions.
    Per user permissions for categories and pages and inheritance for pages.
  • Much better file management and easier to link files into pages.
  • Bug fixes and support for different databases with faster access.
  • HTML email templates.
    This will make it easier to extend and handle language translations in the future.
Code Security Sys Admin

Permissions Problems with git pull

I’ve started working on Doc5 from a laptop in the last few months and have begun the pull/push process to get my Bitbucket repo and desktop machine all in sync. But when trying to get these sorted I found permissions problems on one of the local repos. When I tried to do a pull I had about eight files that either couldn’t be unlinked or couldn’t be created.

If I looked at the permissions on the files I was the owner, www-data (Apache in Ubuntu) was the group and the permissions where 644 on the files and 755 on the directories in my project folder. So that all seemed fine.

But what you need to watch for is the extra permissions that a process needs in order to unlink. What git is doing is taking these files away and then replacing them in the folder. i.e. it’s not just a modification through a write action to the file.

Code Web Apps Web Design

Doc5 Beta Now in Testing

After many years I have got a version of Doc5 up and available to use. It’s a vastly different wiki app than the previous version and most of the changes have been made in the last 9 months. The last version released for download was a different name and appeared before my son was born. He starts school in two weeks.

My 9-5 job takes up enough time that for a couple of years I left this project alone and considered dropping any thoughts of pushing it out. But writing web apps is my hobby, so it’s been good to dig through all the old code and clean it up.

So a list of the major changes:

  • WYSIWYG editing has arrived and the previous wiki engine is gone
  • Permissions have been simplified but also extended to categories
  • Full UI make over, although I have gone with a pretty basic Bootstrap view of things.
  • Better file uploads and management.
  • Templates for email notifications

I think a full release should be available for download in the next two months. Testing on the web will help tune spam catching and there’s some bug fixing to roll out as well as plenty of test cases to run.

Code Web Apps

Git Hosting and Issue Tracking

I’ve been looking about for some free Git hosting and found that most options like Github require you to make the code available to everyone. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Bitbucket from those ingenious Aussies at Atlassian.

There’s some excellent documentation, the system is easy to use and your first push from your local repository can be done with a few minutes after you’ve signed up.

An issue tracker is available for each of your projects and can be made public while your code is still private. So for a small team or individual it’s a valuable tool even just to use as a backup for your local code repos and keeping track of the odd bug.


Easy, Beautiful Charts with Flot

I’ve been looking for a free, open source chart library for a while and was struggling to find something that was good enough (and handled time series and missing data points well). For a long time I’ve been using Fusion Charts (FC) and Open Flash Chart (OFC) in any in-house work and those products are very good. But they’re Flash, a little slow and not supported by some popular mobile devices. I’ve also used pChart for some testing but it was fairly stale in development and being images, had no interaction.

The Flot JS library was something I’d seen a while back, but before I became comfortable with JS and jQuery. It does almost exactly what I want, is farily light-weight, extensible and easy to use. In a few hours last week I swapped out the FC code I had written for Overview and put in something almost half the size with Flot that created (in my view) a better product.

So I thought I might let others know what a nice, easy option Flot is with a little example. Beware this is not a fully working, copy and paste sort of example, it’s really just a chunk of generic code I pulled out.


Debug PHP Function Calls

Logging errors can be very helpful as your code base becomes huge. But sometime it’s still difficult to find out what’s calling the function that’s giving the error. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to see how you’d got to that function?

Well of course there’s a way in PHPdebug_backtrace. Just add something similar in a suitable place in your code and you’ll be able to find what functions were called.

$caller = $trace[1]['function'];
// or just dump all the info

Beware the leading zero in Javascript parseInt()!

Exhibit A,

parseInt('01'); //equals 1
parseInt('02'); //equals 2
parseInt('03'); //equals 3
parseInt('04'); //equals 4
parseInt('05'); //equals 5
parseInt('06'); //equals 6
parseInt('07'); //equals 7
parseInt('08'); //equals 0 !!
parseInt('09'); //equals 0 !!

When Javascript encounters a leading zero it assumes an octal number. So when it sees 08 or 09 then there are problems.

The fix is to add the radix to the function call,

myInt = parseInt('08',10); //equals 8
Code Sys Admin

Using PHP exec() with IIS6

There are a few work arounds I’ve found since having to use PHP under IIS6 and Windows 2003. Every now and again I come across something that just doesn’t work the same way with this variation of web server, OS and PHP.

I needed to double-check the DNS hostname being reported from users on an internal website. Our DNS is a little scratchy when it comes to scavenging and keeping itself tidy, so often a DNS lookup of the client IP will give an incorrect name. This happens especially for laptops that hop off and on wireless APs.

So to compare against DNS (and because it’s an internal site) I thought to query the machines NetBIOS name with,

exec("nbtstat.exe -A",$r);

and that quickly fails with an error about “failing to fork”. Essentially this means, PHP can’t do what you want.

It boils down to file permissions. you need to run cmd.exe and nbtstat.exe with that single command. Both those files are secured against non-system users – probably rightly so too.

To resolve, just allow your IUSR_SERVER user to have read and execute permissions on both those files. Your exec() command should now be working.

REMEMBER: You are responsible for the security of your server. If you really don’t need to let programs run on your web server, then don’t.

Blogging Code How-To Sys Admin

Running WordPress & PHP Behind ISA Proxy

Some things work well on their own but when mixed make your life hard. Things like Linux and PHP work very well. Microsoft ISA proxy also does a good job in a corporate MS environment. But making the two work together in a controlled environment can be an exercise in frustration.

In this post I’ll pass on the methods I found to get PHP and your Linux boxes talking out through a corporate ISA proxy server. You can then bring in RSS feeds, updates and other things in WordPress and use apt-get to update Ubuntu.


Outlook Hates Line Breaks

If you’ve ever wondered why your plain text email message is randomly ignoring line breaks like n or rn then you’re not alone. I regularly use PHPMailer to send off automated emails and usually in plain text to keep it simple.

What Outlook 2003 (and 2002 and 2007 versions apparently) likes to do is be super helpful and remove what it regards as extra line breaks. It won’t be consistent either within a single mail or across many but it will make the content difficult to read. What you thought would be new lines will now be joined up in places and it seems to happen more often the further through the content you go.

There don’t seem to be many fixes for this issue but there are a few work arounds to help out.

  1. Turn off this “feature” in Outlook in the Tools»Options menu. Honestly I’m not sure what use it is anyway. Unfortunately you’d have to do this on all the recipient’s computers.
  2. Use HTML in your email rather than plain text. Depending on your content and need for complete accuracy, perhaps more time than it’s worth.
  3. Add twice the number of line breaks where you currently have them. This seems to help but now your email is rather full of white space and may be more difficult to read.

Other than changing email clients, which is pretty unlikely, that’s about it. If you know of other options to try and get Outlook to not remove line breaks, please leave a comment below. This Microsoft KB article explains which versions of Outlook are affected