Scribbler

example

Scribbler is a WordPress plugin that allows you to show an animation of handwritten text on your site. See an example on deschrijfcoacharuba.com

Why use Scribbler?

Handwriting is very personal, this can give a personal touch to your logo, your site, product, app or videos.

How to use Scribbler

  1. Download the plugin  (we’re not on the WordPress directory yet).
  2. Go to your admin section in WordPress and choose Plugins.
  3. Choose ‘upload plugin’
  4. Press ‘choose file’ and then install
    • Alternatively, unzip the plugin. Use FTP to go to your WordPress/wp-content/plugins folder and upload the directory there. Activate the Scribbler plugin
  5. Go to Settings > Scribbler
  6. Enter the text you’d like to see animated on your home page

Options

There is currently only one option: text. This defines what text to show on the page.

Customization

You will probably want to customize the CSS file, which is in the same folder as the plugin. By default the text appears in div#pen, which will be placed right below the content of the post.

Limitations

  • The plugin is programmed to only work on a home page (using is_frontpage), because having a handwriting animation on every page gives bad usability.
  • The speed is fixed to 400 ms per character
  • As already said, it has only one font: ‘Tangerine’ (a Google Font).

Caveats

The plugin hasn’t been tested on every website known to man, and it relies heavily on javascript, in particular the Raphael, jQuery and Cufon libraries.

There is only one font (Tangerine). If you want to use another font, you’ll have to do the preparations yourself: create a cufonized font and modify the default in Scribbler.php.

Known Problems

There are no known problems as of yet.

Contribute

If you want to help me, I’d appreciate to be sent cufonized fonts. I will then implement the use of that font in the plugin.

I want this too on my site!

If you’re not technically inclined I can customize it for you on your site. Just leave a comment or contact me (http://about.me/michiel) and we can agree on a price.

Download

Or, do it yourself.

Source

Download

A dead simple, lightweight javascript calendar

calendar-size-badgeI recently needed a good light weight javascript calendar but couldn’t find it. The problem is that online I could find many calendars, but they all suffered from one of two problems: they were either too heavy, or they were badly written (aka coding like it’s 1999).

I hereby present a very lightweight javascript calendar object. It can be used anywhere where you need to select a date.

It features the following:

  • no library. That’s right, it does NOT use mootools, it does NOT use jQuery.
  • clean code. Yes it can be improved, but that would make it a heavy calendar again.
  • it does not do Date magic. If you want date magic I can recommend date.js. (oh, and that means things like ‘3 days ago’ etc.)
  • it’s lightweight, mainly because it doesn’t do magic and it doesn’t have a library. It’s 2K uncompressed, 1.5K using dean edwards packer.
  • no popup windows. All

Download

Download mbcalendar 1.0

Usage

var cal = new MBCalendar('inp', 'btn', 'click');

Where

  • inp is the id of the input that will be retrieving the calendar, and
  • btn is the id of the element that will trigger the calendar to show, and
  • click is the name of the event that will trigger the calendar
  • in the onload script, in this example ‘out’ is the id of the element that will hold the calendar.

This way it can be used as a date picker, but it can also be used as a visible calendar with navigation (static). Basically the output is simply the HTML, so you can use it anywhere.

All dates van be individually styled, since they all get a unique id. Also all dates get class names so you can style either a certain year, month, or day of the month. E.g. ‘.y2009’ will style every date in 2009, ‘.m3’ will style every march, and ‘.y2009.m3’ will style every day in March, 2009.

Source code

Now for the code

/*(c) Michiel van der Blonk 2009 - license: http://www.opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php*/

function MBCalendar(m, y)
{
this.m = m;
this.y = y;
this.weekDays = ['Sunday', 'Monday', 'Tuesday', 'Wednesday', 'Thursday', 'Friday', 'Saturday'];
}

MBCalendar.prototype.$ =  function(s) {return document.getElementById(s)};

// export as array
MBCalendar.prototype.toArray = function() {
var d;
var dates = [];
for (var i=1;i<32;i++)
{
d = new Date(this.y,this.m-1, i);
if (d.getMonth() == this.m-1)
dates.push(d);
}
return dates;
};

// export as html
MBCalendar.prototype.toHTML = function() {
var i;
var ret, dayId, dayClass;
ret = dayId = dayClass = '';
var dates = this.toArray();
ret += '
<table class="cal">' + '
<tr>';
for (i in [0,1,2,3,4,5,6])
ret += '
<th>' + this.weekDays[parseInt(dates[i].getDay())].substr(0,1) + '</th>
';
ret += '</tr>
<tr>';
for (i in dates)
{
var d = dates[i];
if ((parseInt(i) % 7) == 0)
ret += '</tr>
';
if ((parseInt(i)+1 % 7==0) && i<dates .length)
ret += '
<tr>';
dayClass = 'y'+d.getFullYear() + ' m' +(d.getMonth()+1) + ' d' + d.getDate();
dayId = 'day-' + parseInt(d.getTime()/86400000);
ret += '
<td id="' + dayId + '" class="' + dayClass +'">' + dates[i].getDate() + '</td>
';
}
ret = ret + '</dates></table>
';
return ret;
};

window.onload = function() {
var $ = function(s) {return document.getElementById(s)};
var c;
$('showCal').onclick = function() {
var y = $('year').value;
var m = $('month').value;
c = new MBCalendar(m, y);
$('out').innerHTML = c.toHTML();
};
$('prev').onclick = function() {
var d = new Date(c.y,c.m-2,1);
c = new MBCalendar(d.getMonth()+1, d.getFullYear());
$('out').innerHTML = c.toHTML();
}
$('next').onclick = function() {
var d = new Date(c.y,c.m,1);
c = new MBCalendar(d.getMonth()+1, d.getFullYear());
$('out').innerHTML = c.toHTML();
}
};

If you like you can integrate the prev, next and show methods in the Calendar object itself of course. I invite all javascript experts to crunch the code even more, without making it unreadable!

If you don’t integrate that code, you will need to add some standard HTML in a page to get a functional Calendar demonstration:

<input type="text" id="year" value="" />
<input type="text" id="month" value="" />
<button type="button" id="showCal">Show Calendar</button>
<button type="button" id="prev">prev</button>
<button type="button" id="next">next</button>

Some alternative calendars you might like:

update: there was still some debug code in there, it’s removed now. Also it seems wordpress messes up the code when I paste it. Change line 16 to have the ‘<‘ char instead of &lt;

How to shuffle an array

This is a very common programming problem, e.g. when you wish to show some images in random order, when you want to show a random quote, etc. I will show you a solution in JavaScript, but it can be ported to other languages easily.

The common solution to shuffling is to swap random elements, but swapping means you have to constantly work with two elements, and it can be done by using only one. Also, it’s common to randomly swap e.g. 1000 elements, but that wouldn’t work well for very large arrays.

All you have to do is follow a couple of simple steps:

  1. First, of course you start with a simple array, which you have in a specified order.
  2. You place a random element in the output array, and remove the element
  3. Repeat step 2 until the array is empty

Here’s the full code

function shuffle(r) {
	var pos;
	var out = [];
	while (r.length > 0)	{
		pos = parseInt(Math.random()*r.length);
		out.push(r[pos]);
		r = r.slice(0,pos).concat(r.slice(pos+1, r.length));
	}
	return out;
}

Let’s examine the parts. First, the variables pos and out are defined, and out is initialized to an empty array.

	var pos;
	var out = [];

No we “loop” through the array. But, do note that this is not a real loop, in fact we’re constantly going to remove elements until the array is empty. So the simple check on length is enough here.

	while (r.length > 0)	{

We find a random element. For large arrays the Math.random() method can be considered unreliable, but then I mean really large.

		pos = parseInt(Math.random()*r.length);

Next, we add the random element to the output array, using push. Then we remove the element from the original array. This is done in three parts:

  1. get everything on the left of the element
  2. get everything on the right of the element
  3. concat these two arrays to form a new array

That is a really difficult way of removing just one element, but deleting an element from an array is not a native javascript method. John Resig wrote another version of delete

		out.push(r[pos]);
		r = r.slice(0,pos).concat(r.slice(pos+1, r.length));

And last but not least we return the new array:

	}
	return out;
}

Example

Here’s an example of calling the function, shuffling 52 integers

var r=[];
i=52;
while (i--)
	r.push(i);
alert(shuffle(r).join(','));

Extending Array

If you feel so inclined you can make it an extension of the Array object in javascript, like so:

Array.prototype.shuffle = function() {
	var r=this;
	... //rest of code
}

Note the additional "r=this" line.

Drawbacks

There are some drawbacks and warnings to take note of:

  • It can be slow for huge arrays, I would recommend it for arrays under 1000 items
  • It takes up additional space, since it creates a new array
  • The delete can be improved, by using e.g. John Resig’s version

A shorter ‘hack’

The following is a short hack that can most definitely suit one time needs. It’s a form of sorting randomly, which sounds weird, and it is, but it works. However, if the random value is not seeded again, the next time you run it you end up with the exact same sequence.

function shuffle(r) {
  r.sort(function() { return Math.random() } );
}

For more background see e.g. the Fisher Yates shuffle method (which by the way this is not, but this is).

Javascript floating point fix

Javascript has an annoying bug feature, and it’s the wrong result of simple floating point calculations. Try this:

alert(0.1+0.2);

Surprise! The result is 0.30000000000000004.

This can be quite annoying when programming timers, and doing math of course.

Why is this? It’s because floating points work that way, it’s by design. That’s not really a flaw, it’s just to make the process real fast. Just like your pocket calculator has only 8 digits, which isn’t wrong per se, but it’s never fully mathematically correct. Sun Microsystems has some real hardcore background on the floating point issue.

But for us simple programmers, all we want is a fix, right?

Here is one at lars-sh.de. Or download the Math Library directly. Kudos to Lars Knickrehm.

sIFR reloaded

 

sIFR
sIFR

sIFR (scalable inman flash replacement for the outsiders) is a technique to embed custom fonts in a webpage. You know, traditionally web pages can only show a couple of fonts reliably – the ubiquitous Arial, Times, and a couple of others.

 

When sIFR was introduced I was pretty psyched out about it. Showing any font, and still accessible, selectable, etc. However, it’s giving me nothing but headaches. Let’s recap some of those:

  • sIFR needs Flash. At a certain point there was a security issue and I had to disable Flash. No more sIFR.
  • Lots of people block Flash, because of the ads. 
  • Special characters weren’t showing. It appeared my font didn’t even have these defined. Well that’s not sIFR to blame, but still
  • It’s almost doing a good job presenting the CSS correctly. Almost.
  • Documentation? Don’t get me started. Besides a collection of pages on several blogs, that are badly maintained, there’s absolutely nothing.
  • Every time you install a new version you have to recreate your font files. Now that’s annoying!

Here are some alternatives I found today

TrueFontFamily

trademarks: JS, PHP, CSS, commercial. 

Server side generating is of course a good idea, but I can’t see if the textimages are cached, it looks like not.

Facelift

trademarks: JS, PHP, hosted, commercial

This one seems very good, but a bit too commercial. Hosted? No thank you.

TypeFace

trademarks: JS, SVG/VML, free

Typeface is a diamond among these, so it seems, if it doesn’t suffer from the lack of documentation that is. But if it’s really good it doesn’t need documentation.

The javascript Date object and how to add days to a date variable

JavaScript is not an object oriented language, it’s a prototype based language. This means that you can extend any existing object by just writing a new function for it on-the-fly. Here’s an example:

// add n number of days
Date.prototype.goto = function(n) {
	this.setDate(this.getDate()+n*86400000);
	return this;
};



Note: Thanks to commenter Joe I use setDate instead of setTime.
Yes I know… GOTO is considered harmful. But so is Edsger Dijkstra. Anyway, this nifty little function will add, or subtract(!), any number of days with an easy to use syntax:

// add n number of days
d = new Date; // today
d.goto(7); // move it to next week
d.goto(-365); // move to last year (well if it isn't leap)
};

Try it yourself, it’s fun. Now to make things more interesting, you can make a generic function (erm.. method?!) that will calculate the number of days since the Epoch

Date.prototype.days = function() { return parseInt(this.getTime() / (1000*24*60*60)); };

This makes stuff like comparing dates and calculating differences way easier. E.g. check out this one for calculating the number of working days between two dates:

Date.prototype.workdays = function(d2) {
	var start = new Date(this);
	var end = d2;
	var ret = 0;
	var diff = end.days() - start.days();
	if (diff > 0)
		// up to 1 year
		while (start.days() < end.days() && ret < 3650)
		{
			start.goto(1); // move to next day
			if (start.getDay() != 0 && start.getDay() != 6)
				ret++;
		}
	return ret;
};