development

rsync in Vagrant 1.5 improves file performance and Windows usage

I've been using Vagrant for almost all development projects for the past two years, and for projects where I'm the only developer, Vagrant + VirtualBox has worked great, since I'm on a Mac. I usually use NFS shared folders so I can keep project data (Git/SVN repositories, assets, etc.) on my local computer, and share them to a folder on the VM, and not suffer the performance penalty of using VirtualBox's native shared folders.

However, this solution only scaled well to other Mac and Linux users with whom I shared development responsibilities. Windows users were left in a bit of a lurch. To extend an olive branch, I hackishly added SMB support by installing and configuring an SMB share from within the VM only on windows hosts, so Windows devs could mount the SMB share and work on files in their native editors.

VirtualBox, Vagrant, and Ansible: local development environment prowess

I recently gave a presentation titled Local Development Environments - Vagrant, VirtualBox, and Ansible. The presentation explains the importance and efficacy of using (and how to use) local Virtual Machines under VirtualBox, managed with Vagrant, and provisioned with Ansible, especially in comparison to using more traditional tools like WAMP, MAMP, or other prepackaged server solutions.

Local Development Environments

By the end of the presentation, you'll hopefully see how easy—and powerful—it is to create virtual machines for local web and application development.

Ensuring Drupal email doesn't get sent from a local development environment

It seems most developers I know have a story of running some sort of batch operation on a local Drupal site that triggers hundreds (or thousands!) of emails that are sent to the site's users, causing much frustration and ill will towards the site the developer is working on. One time, I accidentally re-sent over 9,000 private message emails during a test user migration because of an email being sent via a hook that was invoked during each message save. Filling a user's inbox is not a great way to make that user happy!

With Drupal, it's relatively easy to make sure emails are either rerouted or directed to temp files from local development environments (and any other environment where actual emails shouldn't be sent to end users). Drupal.org has a very thorough page, Managing Mail Handling for Development or Testing, which outlines many different ways you can handle email in non-production environments.

However, for most cases, I like to simply redirect all site emails to my own address, or route them to a figurative black hole.

D8CX at MWDS - Porting Wysiwyg Linebreaks to Drupal 8

I have been at the Midwest Drupal Summit for the past few days, focusing on #D8CX and reducing Drupal 8's technical debt (at least, a tiny bit of it!).

Wysiwyg Linebreaks

My main goal at the conference was to port the Wysiwyg Linebreaks module to Drupal 8. I originally built the module for Drupal 6 while helping the Archdiocese of St. Louis migrate almost 50 separate Joomla-based websites into one organic-groups-driven Drupal site. Their legacy content used linebreaks (rather than markup like <p> and <br /> tags) for paragraphs of text, and when we originally enabled Wysiwyg with TinyMCE, the editor ran all the text together in one big paragraph. The Wysiwyg Linebreaks module fixes that problem by running some JavaScript that adds the required tags when an editor is attached to a textarea, and (optionally) removes the tags when the editor is detached.

Running Vagrant + VirtualBox from an External Drive

I have a MacBook Air with a 128 GB SSD, so I'm always in a bit of a crunch for space on my hard drive. Developing with local VMs provisioned by Vagrant and VirtualBox makes my Drupal (and other) development experience great, but it also quickly fills up the (tiny amount of) remaining space on my SSD!

Here's how you can move your Vagrant files and VirtualBox VMs out of your home folder onto an external hard drive:

The New Shiny

I recently read a very good interview with Jason Fried on The Great Discontent, and one of the answers towards the end of the interview struck me:

The other advice is to focus on one thing. I see a lot of entrepreneurs build something and then move onto the next thing and the next thing and the next. Building something is only step one. It’s not that hard to put something out there. Building on top of that to maintain and improve it is actually the harder thing to do. Anyone can release something, but it’s much harder to polish and refine it over time once it’s out there.

I admit I've been tempted by this same thing many times—trying out new idea after new idea, leaving the old to gather cobwebs in a closet. Lately I've been refocusing on some of my older, mildly successful projects, like my Hosted Apache Solr service and Server Check.in (they're not that old compared to other mature services, but they're old for me).

Questions about Wordpress

Having been away from the WordPress scene since version 2.x days (I think the last time I launched a WordPress website was around 2009), I recently had reason to develop some WordPress plugins, and I wanted to ask some questions about the WordPress coding standards and API that I hope will help enlighten me (and, maybe, other PHP developers coming from other frameworks/platforms to WordPress).

Here are some questions I've had while working on my first WordPress plugin (coming purely from the development side—I'm deliberately ignoring any mention of WordPress's UI, as I don't want to inspire any trolling along the lines of 'WordPress vs. [Another CMS]'):

Quick Resizer - My first Mac App

I've created a few iOS and Android apps for mobile devices and tablets, but just a few days ago, my first 'desktop' app (for Mac OS X 10.7+) was released on the Mac App Store.

Behold, Quick Resizer ($0.99 on the Mac App Store):

Quick Resizer Main Screen

I created the app mostly because I realized I would often drag an image to Photoshop to simply resize it from something like 1024x768 to 500 pixels wide, constrained. Quick Resizer makes resizing JPEGs and PNG files super-easy, and everything can be done from the keyboard (or the mouse, if you're so inclined).

Developing for the Mac is a bit different than the iPhone, but Objective-C and the libraries included are very similar, so it wasn't like creating the first iOS app!

Simple Git feature branch workflow

After reading A successful Git branching model [nvie.com], which I consider one of the best graphical/textual depictions of the ideal Git model for development teams (and most large projects), I simply wanted to adapt a similar (but way less complex) model for some of my smaller sites and multisite Drupal installs.

Since I'm (almost always) the only developer, and I develop locally, I don't want the complexity of working on many branches at once (master, hotfixes, develop, release, staging, etc...), but I do want to have a clean separation between what I'm working on and the actual live master branch that I deploy to the server.

So, I've adopted a simple 'feature branch model' for my smaller projects:

  • master - the live/production code. Only touch when merging in a feature or simply fixing little bugs or really pressing problems.
  • [issue-number]-feature-branches - Where I work on stuff.

Graphically:

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