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Failed Web Predictions And How Not To Talk To Web Developers

6th June 2021 - 9 minutes read time

Picture the scene, it's 2010, you're a young web developer working in a satellite office of a fast paced digital agency. The work is interesting, but normally quite stressful as there are tight deadlines and high expectations on delivering good work. There is a lot going on so you tend to finish one website and jump onto the next. The company you work for has a history of firing people and making people redundant, especially in the satellite office you work at. Low morale, a culture of blame, and absolutely zero investment in people means that there is very little enthusiasm for the work from anyone. The economy is still recovering from the collapse of the banking system from a couple of years before. You have a young family at home and so you'll put up with a lot of poor working conditions to ensure a pay cheque every month.

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Getting Started With Git

30th May 2021 - 21 minutes read time

I have been using Git for a number of years and I can remember feeling quite daunted at the complexity of some of the commands I saw on the internet. When I started using Git on a daily basis I soon realised that the basics were quite simple and the complexity only lay further down the road with commands like cherry-pick or rebase.

Whilst Git does sometimes make me scratch my head, it is never as bad as the days of SVN where I would have a notepad of 'fix' commands that I would copy and paste into my terminal to solve random problems. I usually didn't even know what the problems were, just that this command fixed things so I could continue on and not lose work.

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Drupal 9: Setting Up Multilingual Content Views

23rd May 2021 - 4 minutes read time

Drupal Views is a powerful module. The ability to generate lists of things in Drupal means that it is used everywhere. It even has a powerful plugin system that allows other modules to interface with it and create more functionality.

With multilingual sites there is a common issue I come across quite a lot that is quite easy to fix. A View will be created (usually via the Views wizard) that is intended to list a type of content. When an item of content is translated the content is duplicated in the View and you end up with a single list containing both translations of a single content item.

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Create Checksums Using The Luhn Algorithm In PHP

16th May 2021 - 14 minutes read time

The Luhn algorithm was created by Hans Peter Luhn and is a way of creating a simple checksum for a number. This algorithm, also known as the mod 10 algorithm, is used in a wide variety of applications but is commonly associated with credit card numbers.

If you look at the numbers on the front of your credit card the last digit on the right is the checksum. An algorithm is done on the other numbers and if the checksum is the same then the number is considered valid.

Outside of credit card numbers, the Luhn algorithm can be used to create a checksum on any number that you want to store. It is especially handy when you want to give users a number that they will be hand typing into a computer. The checksum helps spot any errors in typing in the number before that number is processed. The good thing about the Luhn algorithm is that it doesn't matter how long the number is so it will work with any kind of digit sequence.

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Swapping Between Different Composer Versions

10th May 2021 - 2 minutes read time
I had an issue I was trying to debug today and needed a way to swap between different versions of composer. Composer is one of the few things that I install globally so it was locked at a particular version on the machine I was using. There has been some significant changes between version 1 and version 2 and it isn't quite safe to use a composer 2 package on a platform that has composer 1 installed.  As some projects I'm working on haven't been upgraded yet I needed a way to swap between versions whilst this work was being done.
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Drupal 9: Customise Your Robots.txt File

9th May 2021 - 7 minutes read time
A robots.txt file tells search engines spiders what pages or files they should or shouldn't request from your site. It is more of a way of preventing your site from being overloaded by requests rather than a secure mechanism to prevent access. It really shouldn't be used as a way of preventing access to your site, and the chances are that some search engine spiders will access the site anyway. If you do need to prevent access then think about using noindex directives within the page itself, or even password protecting the page.
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Drupal 9: Get List Of Content Types

3rd May 2021 - 4 minutes read time

Getting a list of content types out of a Drupal 9 site is useful in a few situations. Mostly, I find that when creating a service of some kind that I will also create an administration form for that service to allow it to be restricted to certain content types. This list can be saved to configuration so that when the service is run it only effects certain content types, based on the saved configuration.

To get a an array containing a list of the content types on a Drupal site you can use the following code.

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Drupal 9: Auto Tweeting From A Drupal Site When Content Is Published

26th April 2021 - 19 minutes read time

Normally, when creating Tweets from Drupal 8 I use the Social Post Twitter module. This module is part of the Drupal Social Initiative and has been my go-to module when I've needed to read or send Tweets from a Drupal site. Since the release of Drupal 9, however, these modules have not been receiving the support needed and as of writing this article there is no easy way to install them on a Drupal 9 site. I've looked into the issue queues and can't see why the delay is there.

The Social Post Twitter module does have a lot of features that I didn't need for what I was looking for, which was to send Tweets when items of content are created. I decided to see how difficult it would be to send Tweets from a Drupal site as an item of content is published.

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Drupal 9: How To Tell If A Page Is First Published

19th April 2021 - 5 minutes read time

I was writing some code on a Drupal site that detects if a page is being published and I realised that this state isn't as clear cut as you might expect.  Drupal stores the published state of a page as the 'status', with 0 being unpublished and 1 being published. With revisions being turned on by default since Drupal 8 it is possible to see past states of the page when saving the page. The issue is that there is nothing in the current state of the page stating that this is the first time it is being published.

As an example of this in action, and where I cam across this, we can use the hook_ENTITY_TYPE_update() hooks to detect if a page is published as it gets updated like this.

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Godot: The Open Source Game Engine

11th April 2021 - 7 minutes read time

I have been watching a lot of game development coding tutorials over the last couple of years. This includes things like the excellent Game Developers Conference (GDC), Sebastian Lague and his wonderful coding adventures series, and Yahtzee's dev diary series to name a few.

It's difficult to not see developers use Unity when demonstrating their game developing online. Some developers will directly reference it, whilst others will simply look at the code they are writing. Unity, though, didn't appeal to me as it comes with some licensing costs. You only need to pay those licensing costs if you release a game, but as a hobby developer who advocates free and open source development Unity just didn't sit well with me.