Web Development

Wordpress Widgets - Enhanced Search Box

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After installing Wordpress 2.0 and discovering the wonderful Widgets plugin I added a few widgets to this site. While the widgets are great and give a really wonderful level of configuration over the site, I was quite disappointed to discover that the default search box looked pretty, well, aweful:

The old search box

So I did what every self-respecting geek does, I fixed it :-) I present to you, WPWidgets_EnhancedSearchBox v0.1:

The new search box

You can download a small zip file I made of both the new widgets.php file and a diff file off the SVN source code (in case you're into that kinda thing), along with a quick readme.txt file explaing how to install it, which you can download at will:

Project managment software for the rest of us

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A really awesome find this evening. I've always been on the lookout for good project management tool. I've wanted something that was web-based (so that I could access it from anywhere), open-source (so that I had full control over the code if needed), easy to use, and able to cope with both my personal projects along with any consulting work I pick up along the way. There are some definitely great programs available, for example 37Signals' Backpack, BSAG's Tracks, etc, but most of them suffer in one way or another, particularly Backpack which is a hosted application so you can't control its inner workings. In the end I found a program called activeCollab which is very heavily based on Backpack but is open source, so you host and manage it yourself. The current version works well for what I need and the update coming in a few weeks adds many improvements, mainly being able to add comments to anything and a rewritten file system to simplify uploading and managing attachments. Worth trying out.

TIP: Apache rewrite rules forgetting stuff

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On a side project I'm working on they're using Apache mod_rewrite rules to turn ugly page addresses into pretty ones, e.g.:

RewriteRule widget-(.*)\.htm$ widget.php?id=$1

Nice goal and in general it works well. There was a problem, though, when they started doing this the SAJAX AJAX fancy stuff I wrote stopped working. A few thousand hair and some time later I worked out that one very simple keyword was missing from the rewrite rules, the %{QUERY_STRING} keyword to retain all of the extra fields passed in by SAJAX, e.g.:

RewriteRule widget-(.*)\.htm$ widget.php?id=$1&%{QUERY_STRING}

Also, note the extra ampersand in there before the keyword, you need this to separate the extra values from the one you're passing in from the widget-somat.htm address. Et voila!

TIP: IIS looses touch with ColdFusion

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This evening I was trying to install PHP on our Windows/IIS web server and had some unusual problems develop. It seems that first off a partially installed IIS rewrite engine decided to start causing problems, so I uninstalled it. At this point someone mentioned that our ColdFusion sites were failing so panic set it. After some fiddling I got IIS to at least try using ColdFusion for CFM files, but started to get this error message:

Either the Macromedia application server is unreachable or it does not have a mapping to process this request.

To fix it from here I had to run the remove_all_connectors.bat script then do the iis_connector.bat script to reinstall the connector. Et voila, it started working again. <phew>

TIP: Fixed positioning in IE 6

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A little tip if you're trying to get fixed positioning to work in IE6. One problem with IE6 and older is that they ignore the perfectly valid position:fixed; style, which is often used along with either top:0px; or bottom:0px; to have a static header or footer respectively. Luckily someone else has spent a vast quantity of time fiddling with Javascript to get this to work, so you and I don't have to. Enjoy.

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