OpenID Authentication Plugin for vBulletin 4

Recently I volunteered to help fix an existing project or develop an OpenID authentication plugin for the vBulletin platform. The group in need was UbuntuForums.org and I would have never known if it hadn’t been for Jorge Castro’s public request for help.

The Story

The existing plugin had been developed specifically for vBulletin 3.x, however, they are (as of writing this) in the process of upgrading their forums to vBulletin 4 especially wanted OpenID to be available when they make the upgrade. That’s where I came in.

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, provided me with necessary software licenses for vBulletin 4 and from there it was a lot of late nights attempting to simply get a successful OpenID process to occur.

Working a full time job doesn’t make projects like this as easy as I remember them once being… Nonetheless I was able to successful port the plugin to vB4 where there were several significant differences that took me some time to address and to be honest, the previous code was a bit more complicated to follow than it should have been.

One major change from vB3 to vB4 was the way templates work. I’d never worked with vBulletin before, but I’ve had an extensive amount of experience with phpBB and bbPress in the past. After getting over the frustration of how vBulletin prefers to store ALL template information (in the database rather than pull from template files) I was ready to begin the repair process.

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Happy Halloween

Hope everyone had a great Halloween this year! If you missed visiting my blog, then you also missed my Halloween theme!

Thats about as far as my Halloween decorations went (other than dressing up as a pirate) this year, but I saw a lot of great looking jack-o’-lanterns this year and some really great costumes at Moogfest! Had a blast!

Here’s a quick video of this random guy dancing during Massive Attack. 😀

We got to see MGMT, Dan Deacon, Girl Talk, Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack, Shiongle, Disco Biscuits and a few others. Overall, it was a pretty amazing Halloween weekend! If only they were all that way…

What’s New..

Well, I think you’ll all find this useful at one point or another. I’ve implemented editing for user comments, finally. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while and correcting some errors here and there, but now you can correct your own or add more to your comment. However, there are just a few things you will need to know:

  1. You will not have the option to edit your comment unless your ip address is the same one that was used when you posted the comment. It is best to edit the comment soon after originally posting it since ip addresses do change frequently for some.
  2. You cannot edit your comment after a specific time period from originally posting it. I will use a 48 hour interval to start out with. This interval may change, but I’ll keep you up to date.

Off to finish F.R.I.E.N.D.S. on TBS!

UPDATE:
Quoting is also an option now! Both of these features rely on javascript and will be improved greatly in the near future. They are just kind of 1.0 versions I guess, or maybe alpha. 😉 Enjoy.

no-www.org and kyleabaker.com..

nowwwSo you might be wondering what this post is all about with such a weird title. Basically, me being the little web developer that I am, I’m pushing myself to learn new standards and actually use these standards as I further my knowledge of web design. I mean this both in the visual sense as well as the behind the scenes or backbone coding sense.

I strive to apply standards to everything that I have on this site. It is actually evolving as I learn more and understand how to implement some of the standards that I’ve learned. I know by now you’re wondering what this has to do with No-WWW and kyleabaker.com, so I’ll break it down for you..

I just recently (as in today) did some server side work to force a domain redirect from www.kyleabaker.com to kyleabaker.com. This is in theory how most all websites should handle the www sub-domain. The reason being that it is redundant for most all websites. For example, with my website I have no other sub-domains served to the public. When visiting or browsing this site you will never need to enter a sub-domain to navigate this site. Therefore the use of ‘www’ is understood. This is how the majority of public websites on the Internet are today. The exceptional websites would be sites such as yahoo, google, ms, etc…that actually take advantage of sub-domains such as ‘mail.blah.com’ or ‘search.blah.com’. However, it is still understood that when visiting Google.com for instance that the ‘www’ can be left off. If you’ve ever seen websites do this in the past then it was probably because they had a crafty URI and wanted it to stand out by removing the ‘www’ automatically.

If you would like to learn more about No-WWW then visit their website at no-www.org. You can also test your site there to see what class level your site is in. The most common is Class A, but the small editing that I did moved mine to a Class B. Class A means that the site is accessible with and without the www, however, it does not redirect to the non-www URI (or from the non-www to the www for that matter). Class B means that the site does redirect to the non-www from the www sub-domain. Class C (which is very strict, but according to standards is how websites should be designed) means that visiting a site with ‘www’ at the beginning will get you a 404 file not found page, but non-www version will pull up the site perfectly find. If you want to see one of these sites in the exact opposite form then try visiting the following links (their implementation is the strict like Class C, however they have the allowed sub-domain and blocked sub-domain backwards.):

http://ncsecu.org <- Should work, implemented wrong
http://www.ncsecu.org <- Works for them

If you have any questions about this or any other standards (this one being supported less than most) then please do ask questions or feel free to look into their site and find a bit more information!

New site design under way..

I’ve been working on redesigning the site a bit so it doesn’t feel so cluttered. I’m not finished yet and still have a bit of cleaning up to do. However, I wanted to get some comments, feedback and constructive criticism. Please let me know the goods and the bads. If you can..please give a suggestion or 20. 😀

I don’t want to officially launch the design yet, so I’m waiting for reviews. I’m curious if it’s better or worse and what is better or worse about it. I haven’t gone as far as setting up cookies or passing the css tag, so the style sheet will only apply on pages with css=2 appended to them. If you view another page and would like to see how it looks with the style sheet then just add ?css=2 at the end and press enter. Here are some links to get started..

https://www.kyleabaker.com/?css=2
https://www.kyleabaker.com/archive.php?css=2
https://www.kyleabaker.com/news.php?news=71&css=2

Check them while their hot! I’ll be removing this feature/option soon and these links will be disabled. 😉

UPDATE:
New design is up. I’m still tweaking it and working in the comments and suggestions. Thanks for the feedback!

Screenshots now use on-the-fly thumbnails

phpI finally got around to implementing thumbnails for the screenshots to the right and in the gallery! Basically, instead of loading full screen images (which take ages to load on a slow internet connection) you are now loading images that have been shrunk from the originals down to the size that you see so no bandwidth is wasted and you see them load much faster!

Here is how it works:
The script that I’m using takes a src param and a width param. [You’ll see this if you’re viewing the source of the images. 😉 ] The src (or source) param is the path to the original full size image. Once the source or path to the image has been established, the script shrinks and caches (saves or stores) the image on the server and then sends it to you. This makes my job of maintaining screenshots much easier!

Just thought you ought to know. 😉 You most likely would never have known that these images were served to you on-the-fly and are not actually stored on the server in the sizes that you see. Just a neat little php trick!

If you’re interested in the script that I used you can find it at phpthumb.sourceforge.net/. It’s open source and updated fairly often (just enough so it’s not out of date, lol).

Enjoy the faster page loads!