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By on Jan 05, 2019 at 6:58 PM (Edited Jan 05, 2019 at 7:04 PM)

Today I've been working on how WSN performs, especially with large pages and especially when not using query caching. Specifically, when I was trying to show 132 articles at once on a page at scripts.webmastersite.net/...nistrative-tasks/switches/ it was taking as long as 30 seconds to load.

Delving into that, I found several culprits. First, when WSN is configured to only allow one vote per person per listing, there was a query that checks whether the viewer has already voted on a given listing. This was running 132 times for the 132 articles, so I changed it to pre-cached a list of all listings voted on by the viewing member (1 larger query that runs a lot faster than 132 small queries). Then I found a similar situation with the saved listings system, it was running a query on each article to see if we've saved that article -- so I cached that with a single advance query too. That's 262 queries eliminated and twice as fast a page load, but still not fast enough.

Next, I noticed that it was querying category #5 once for each article displayed. Turns out this was a parent being queried for {LINKCATNAMEWITHNAV} navigation which is shown in search results but still in the link bit template all the time even when conditionalized out. I made that method cache the categories so it only queries each category id once. That saved another 131 queries and 4 seconds.

After the above, the article processing in the middle of the page was reasonably fast -- but the page as a whole was still unacceptably slow. This turned out to be mostly because of some inefficiencies in processing huge pages (132 articles is a lot of text, even when it's just listing bit stubs). The funcreplacements() call which replaces the {FUNC_ generic function template calls was taking 3 seconds to run. This was because of hundreds of {FUNC_SHOWICON[edit]} calls running redunantly for every article. I've optimized that away so it only runs the showicon function on each icon once.

Applying...

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By on Jan 03, 2019 at 8:30 AM

The first release of the new year contains a variety of changes.

There was a postal code autofill issue. Normally when you enter a postcode WSN automatically fills in the city and state if they haven't been entered yet. Discovered that wasn't working when OpenCage was your geocoding provider, because WSN was looking for the city name in the wrong place. Fixed that.

Most of my time was spent on the calendar system, particularly rewriting the event joining system to use a new _eventrsvps table. Added an RSVP caps option and did a lot of work on the calendar templates.

I've finally re-enabled the HTML minification option. I never did find a new library that avoids the <option value=""> -> <option> transformation mistake, instead I've simply added a de-transformation at the end which changes <option> back to <option value="">. There's nowhere in WSN that intentionally uses <option> to mean the value should be the label, so it should be safe... hopefully.

Also added a javascript minification setting. Previously javascript minification was always on unless the developermode tweak was enabled. Changed the developermode tweak so that it turns off all 3 types of minification now. And in order to add a warning about developermode overriding settings, I ended up adding BOOL versions of the {TWEAK template variables to enable conditionals that check if tweaks are enabled... e.g. <IF {TWEAKDEVELOPERMODEBOOL}>Warning:This value is overrridden by the developermode tweak!</IF>

For the future, I'm pondering what the best way to do a development / production toggle would be. I'm thinking something on the front page of the admin panel that can temporarily disable every option that gets in the way of debugging when you toggle it to development mode. Then when you put it in production mode it turns all the temp-disabled options back on and suggests a list of additional things (like URL rewriting and minification) that...

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By on Dec 25, 2018 at 11:43 PM (Edited Dec 25, 2018 at 11:47 PM)

As a last minute Christmas present for you, I've enhanced WSN's advertising system in several ways.

First, I've added device and country targeting. Device targeting allows you to set certain ads to only show on mobile or only show on desktop/laptop. This is useful when you have differently sized or differently targeted ad code for phones versus desktop. Country targeting, which depends on IP geolocation being turned on, is useful if you have certain ads or ad networks that are only good for a particular country or set of countries. For example, if you're advertising an offer only available in the USA you can limit the ad to only show in the USA so that your international visitors are served something else potentially more useful.

After those changes, the frequency percentage system had come to look absurdly complicated. A set of percentages that adds up to 100 in one country might not add up that way in another, thanks to country targeting. Likewise with device targeting your ads in a slot might add up to 100% on desktop but 120% on mobile. It was clear that percentages were not the ideal way forward.

Also, I found that WSN's ad display logic was regluarly repeating display of the same ad until it could bring that ad's impressions count up to the desired percentage. That's bad, because an ad may have been created much more recently than a different ad or percentages may have been changed. Essentially, this was causing new ads to be the only ones shown for long periods.

The solution to both issues? A new frequency system that calculates relative odds for display of each ad. First, WSN determines which ads are eligable to be viewed by the person viewing this ad slot on the current page (removing any ads from other ad slots or targeted at other devices or countries from consideration). For each remaining ad, it calculates a weight: a random number between 0 and the frequency number you've specified. Whichever ad ends up with the highest weight gets displayed. This ...

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By on Dec 23, 2018 at 3:38 AM

10.3.26 brought a whole slew of new mobile fixes/enchancements too numerous to go into detail on, so let's talk about the non-mobile changes.

The first change you'll notice is that the release notes are now on permanent display on the front page of the admin. This way, your site automatically updating itself doesn't prevent you from seeing the list of what changed.

While doing the mobile stuff, note I moved the delete boxes on the edit listing/category/comment/member/field/help pages to the bottom and made them collapsed by default. This has a dual purpose: it reduces the amount of scrolling needed to get to the more commonly used content (especially important on mobile), and it serves as a confirmation of intent to delete since it takes two clicks/taps now.

Recently I removed a bunch of dead IM fields like AIM, Yahoo, MSN messenger. Now I've repurposed that section as "social" and added a twitter field. This should soon enable displaying recent tweets on a person's profile or by their listings/comments.

I've added a "login with meetup" option to go along with the facebook and google oauth federated sign-ins. It imports their meetup pic as avatar, their meetup interests and bio etc to the respective WSN fields. It also imports the member's twitter handle if they've supplied that to meetup. Meetup sends the person's first name usually as the only name identifier, so there will be a lot of name colissions causing WSN to append random numbers to the end of the names to make them unique. And unfortunately, meetup does not allow requesting the member email address. The member is logged in, but next time they try to edit their profile (and before they get any notifications) they'll have to enter their email if email is a required field on your site.

Non-mobile fixes in both 10.2 and 10.3 included a fuller proper fix to bulk add URLs, the member personal link list (which was redirecting to the index since who knows when), a tiny little map pin apostrophe encoding issue, a...

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By on Dec 20, 2018 at 12:03 AM

On a phone, your worst enemy is user input that happens to be slightly longer than you expect. The pages you check look fine, but then along comes the submitter who has a really long URL for their listing and suddenly the display of that URL on the listing details page is causing a horizontal scroll on people's phones. Today I've addressed that problem by adding the following lines to the base.css/bootstrapbase.css to be applied only on small screens:

.detailedinfo { display: inline-block; word-break: break-word; }
.urlarea .thumbshot { float: none; }

That forces long URLs shown on the details page to wrap onto multiple lines even though they have no spaces -- hopefully that inline-block doesn't have unintended sideeffects on other elements, I didn't see any. And the other line makes the URL start below the thumbshot instead of next to it, so it has more space to fill out.

Relatedly, I found that listings with very long titles (even with spaces) were causing their categories to become potentially wider than the screen. This proved a much more frustrating problem. It's easy to solve if you remove the tables and use a div only layout, but I can't assume that everyone will want to do that so I had to wrestle with the oddities of table layout CSS. In the end, based on a stackoverflow suggestion, I came up with this nonsensical voodoo that somehow works:

td.link
{
max-width: 0; /* I know it makes no sense, but it works, and removing it breaks */
}

.panel-title
{
overflow: hidden;
text-overflow: ellipsis;
white-space: nowrap;
}

The .link panels continue to have a greater than zero width in defiance of all logic. Notably, if i apply the CSS to .panel instead of .link then logic does semi-apply to all other panels except the .link ones and they shrink to at least near nothing. Presumably it's something about being a <td> element that makes logic not apply at all. Thus if you happen to be using a tableless div layout with class="link" I almost...

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By on Dec 19, 2018 at 3:02 AM

One of the big annoyances I run into during WSN installations is cookie conflicts. If you only have one installation per domain you never have to worry about this, but I've often got dozens. There's nothing more frustrating than running the setup and then not being able to login to the admin panel because some other installation used the same cookie names from who knows what path, perhaps a global cookie from some other subdomain even. Digging through Chrome settings to remove the cookie to get in to change the cookie names is no fun.

Some time ago, I added a section to setup.php which checks to see if the installation is in a subdirectory of another WSN installation. When it detects that scenario, it automatically sets unique login cookie names. And that helps one common scenario... but it does nothing for all the other places cookies can come from.

To solve this, my first thought was to make setup.php check for $_COOKIE['wsnuser']. But then I realized that would only work for a manual setup (which almost nobody does anymore), because autosetup.php loads setup.php in a programatic way that does not transmit your browser cookies. So what I ended up having to do is modify both setup.php AND autosetup.php, so that autosetup.php can do the cookie check and can then send the request for de-conflicted cookie names to setup.php as a url parameter which setup.php then obeys.

The end result? No further risk of being immediately unable to log in to a fresh installation. There is still a risk of cookie conflicts though: you might have another installation capable of setting a conflicting login cookie, but which you are not presently logged into in that browser, but which will create a problem when you login later. I'm not sure if there's anything I can do to automatically handle that scenario.

If you encounter such a problem, by the way, you can solve it using a tweaks.php file.


By on Dec 18, 2018 at 7:56 PM (Edited Dec 18, 2018 at 7:58 PM)

The changes I made a couple weeks ago to the $leaveencoded and $nomemberinfo flags have had more than their share of hard to notice side effects. The latest I've found are the menu manager delete buttons not showing and the manage redirects page acting as if all switches were off when they're not. Hopefully I've caught all the recently-messed-up admin pages now.

There was also a problem with the category level selector for the add url list option, caused by having more than one level selector on the same page... I thought I'd fixed it before but apparently not fully until now. Then there was a little error message at the end of CSV exports that I fixed, which I hadn't noticed before because LibreOffice Calc automatically edits it out as being bad data. And an error on the admin stats page that was happening when there were no stats in the database yet.

I've gotten started on calendar enhancements. First, I added all the same location fields that links have to events (address, address2, city, state, country). I made the preexisting events "location" field into a location name field, since for events (unlike links) the location name is not likely to be the same as the event title. Then I ported the postal code autofill from links so it works for events. I was able to add the submit/edit map to the add/edit events pages. In imlementing an event details map, I found that there wasn't actually an event details page yet -- only a day page that showed all events for the day -- so I went ahead and added an event details template and page. Also added an event pin template to control what shows on the pin. In the future, I hope to add map on the calendar page that shows pins for where all upcoming events take place.

All the event mapping features can be toggled on or off with the "Calendar event maps" switch.


By on Dec 14, 2018 at 2:12 PM

Due mainly to 16 years of legacy, WSN uses tables as the default way to arrange your category and listings layouts. This has the advantage of making it easy to control the number of columns per row (via the settings at Admin -> Settings -> General), but the disadvantages of being considered poor practice and not reflowing easily on mobile devices.

To address the mobile problem, a year or two ago I added mobile override options on the mobile settings page. This allowed you to have for example 3 columns of categories on desktops/laptops but 1 column on mobile devices to fit into small screens without horizontal scrolling. Until now, only WSN Links had this set up by default on new installs -- today I've set all scripts to have 1 column per row on mobile by default, and have applied it to upgraders too (unless another value has been manually set or there are 0 columns per row) since there's really only one reason for another value.

That one reason was the big issue I had to deal with today: tableless layouts. For many years, WSN has allowed you to set the columns per row to 0 in order to stop WSN from auto-inserting any table cell code, so that you can remove the tables from your templates and use a div layout (autowrapping div floats or whatever you like). This created a sort of hidden conflict with the mobile override, because you might set the category columns per row to 0 at Admin -> Settings -> General -- but if there were a mobile override value of 1, you wouldn't realize you had to change that to 0 too. What I've done is I've made WSN automatically change the mobile override column values to 0 when you change the non-mobile values to 0, and change the mobile override column values to 1 when you change the non-mobile values from 0 to another number (reinstating tables).

This should allow a seemless experience where sites will fit mobile screens by default without your having to fiddle, and you'll still be able to change to a tableless layout with...

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By on Dec 13, 2018 at 11:12 PM

Someone today found the indent -s in the category level selectors confusingly unexpected. On consideration, the indent only makes sense for non-level selectors. Thus I've added a separate option for level selector option html compared to non-level selector option html, and have removed {CATINDENT} from the level selector one. I've also removed the category selector denied permission option html setting, which was using optgroups for MSIE7 support... it makes more sense these days to simply automatically apply the disabled attribute to the options since all browsers since MSIE8 support it. Although it looks like the current behavior is to just not show what can't be used, anyway.

I've also been running into several people who feel that WSN Links is broken because they've activated the show links in frameset switch. This switch worked fine back in the day, but with most modern websites being HTTPS and most modern web browsers being increasingly strict about security, it seems that browsers will refuse to render many sites in a frameset due to security policies on mixed content. To dissuade people from thoughtlessly using the switch, I've just moved it to the advanced options page.

Came upon a series of geolocation problems earlier this week. First there was an error that was making sites appear dead to unregistered guests when facebook connect was enabled but the new version of maxmind geolocation wasn't downloaded yet. Then there was a corrupted maxmind database download on one of my sites that was taking the site offline (a problem which is likely more frequent now because the new maxmind files are about 50 MB instead of 10 MB) -- I've fixed that by making it delete the file when the database can't be read.

My next major task will be an overhaul of the calendar system to add location and mapping and RSVP caps to events. This will probably lead to a new script WSN Group which will be optimized for group collaboration and meetups. I'm also giving thought to sta...

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By on Dec 09, 2018 at 9:24 PM (Edited Dec 09, 2018 at 10:34 PM)

Today, I've been working mostly on updating the WSN KB blog theme. That's the theme this blog is based on.

The main change I wanted to make was to add a simple subscription button. It's much better for a blog to have a button to click on the front page for members to subscribe to email notifications of all new blog entries, instead of expecting people to edit their profile and set "Notify of all new blogs" to "yes". To do this I had to change the backend to make it possible to subscribe with a click. And then it seemed like a good idea to have the button available to guests too, by making it take them to a registration page configured to automatically subscribe them when they complete their registration. And an unsubscribe button seemed like a good idea. The end result of all this was the following template code which you can use in any WSN script as of 10.3.20 Beta 3:
<IF {THISMEMBERISREGISTERED} and {THISMEMBERNOTIFYOFLINKS} is yes>
<div class="addnewblog"><a href="index.php?action=unsubscribelistings" class="btn btn-info btn-lg"><span class="glyphicon glyphicon-remove" aria-hidden="true"></span> {LANG_GENERAL_UNSUBSCRIBEEMAIL}</a></div>
<ELSE>
<div class="addnewblog"><a href="index.php?action=subscribelistings" class="btn btn-info btn-lg"><span class="glyphicon glyphicon-cloud-download" aria-hidden="true"></span> {LANG_GENERAL_SUBSCRIBEEMAIL}</a></div>
</IF>

I noticed the blog theme, and so presumably other upgraded old themes as well, had a repeating pattern of magnifying glasses in the search input background due to the CSS rule #searchbox input { background-image: url('../images_blog/search.png'); } in the stylesheet. I think that was originally meant to be just shown on the left side of the input once and the base.css rule that made it only appear once must've been removed at some point after the idea was dropped f...

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