Philip Norton

Phil Norton
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Creating Presentations In Markdown With Marp

15th May 2022 - 14 minutes read time

Marp or Markdown Presentation Ecosystem is a collection of tools that allows the generation of presentations of different formats from a markdown template. The tools are written in JavaScript and have a number of options that allow presentations of different styles and formats.

This tools stood out to me as it has syntax highlighting built in and allows the creation of presentations using markdown. The presentation can also be altered using standard CSS styles.

I've spent many hours fiddling with presentations in Keynote and Google Slides, so I wanted something that would be simple to use and generate the presentation files I needed.

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Generating A PDF From A Web Page Using PHP And Chrome

8th May 2022 - 12 minutes read time

Generating a PDF document from a web page through PHP can be problematic. It's often something that seems quite simple, but actually generating the document can be difficult and time consuming.

There are a number of libraries available that allow you to generate PDF documents, but in reality they solve one problem and introduce several more. Packages exist as either HTML to PDF converters or allow you to generate a PDF by placing elements into the document.

Generating a PDF manually is not normally a good way to go just due to it being a very time consuming process and is difficult to test. You will probably have to spend time creating a rendering engine just for this purpose, and that will take time to create and maintain.

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Drupal 9: Using Lazy Builders

1st May 2022 - 26 minutes read time

The lazy builder API in Drupal allows the creation of highly dynamic content within a render array without having to disable the cache for the entire render array or the page the content is attached to. What this means in real terms is that the initial render array can be cached quite heavily, but lazy builders allows for additional rendering to be done in after the initial rendering pass to generate content.

There are several reasons why lazy builders might be useful. The most useful reasons are to present some highly personalised or dynamic content to a user, but you might also want to offset the rendering of some slow code to give it some more fine grained caching that stores the outcome in a cache bucket.

Lazy builders work by using a normal render array, but instead of rendering the content you inject a lazy builder placeholder into the content. A callback method is used to tell Drupal how to inject the content into the placeholder.

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Drupal 9: Using The Caching API To Store Data

24th April 2022 - 12 minutes read time

The cache system in Drupal has a number of different components with time, contexts and tags being used to determine the cache.

Whilst all of these mechanisms are really useful you can also inject data directly into the cache system. This is beneficial if you have an expensive function that takes a long time to complete. The result of the function can be stored in the Drupal cache system just like other cache data.

For example, let's say you are pulling data from a slow API. If the data doesn't change much it might be better to add a cache to the request so that instead of going to the slow API the fast cache systems are used instead.

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Drupal 9: Loading Options From An Option Field

17th April 2022 - 9 minutes read time

I was recently working on a Drupal form where I needed a user to select from a list of options that were available in a field attached to an entity. As the entity itself didn't exist when the user was filling in the form I needed a way of finding out the options that could be applied to the field. 

Getting a list of values from a field allows for numerous possibilities within Drupal, including configuring modules and creating wizards for generating content. As it took me a little while to track down how to do this I thought a quick post might come in handy for anyone looking to do the same.

In order to get the values available in a field we first need to create a blank entity. This will be used by the field storage system to load the correct field definitions.