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Calling form validate functions in include files from other modules

Update: See comments below, and completely ignore this post. Nothing to see here...

module_load_include() is a great way to add code from other module's include files, but it doesn't always work as you'd expect. Recently, I was building a form in one module that pulled up a validation function from another module when a particular submit button was pressed:

User-friendly spam prevention for your Drupal site

...such is the title of my session proposal for DrupalCon Denver 2012. I'm aiming the presentation at beginners, but it should be helpful for anyone with a Drupal site that has fought the battle with spammers—and lost.

Preventing form spam chart

Since I've had experience building and maintaining a variety of sites, from small blogs with a few posts a week, to large community sites with hundreds of posts and user accounts created per day, I figured I would try to share some of my experiences and what worked and what didn't. I hope to talk about the importance of keeping your site's user experience (UX) first, while still fighting off spammers, and then speaking about particular use cases and solutions.

Preventing Form Spam

Spam email folder - Gmail interface

There are many different techniques for preventing form spam on your website, and an important component of the battle against spam is your constant struggle between giving your 'real' users a good experience while preventing spammers and automated bots from spamming you and lowering the quality of the content on your website.

A Constant User-Experience Battle

Usually, the first thing someone will do after having trouble fighting spammers by manual comment/content moderation is place a complex CAPTCHA system on their forms. Something like this:

Spam CAPTCHA text difficult to read

Prefill the Subject of a Privatemsg Message

I've had a nice go at making private messaging capabilities for flockNote work a lot nicer than the out-of-the-box Privatemsg module experience, by simplifying everything to the point that it's closer to the Facebook Direct Message system than the normal Privatemsg UX. (Privatemsg is the premiere way of handling private messaging in Drupal. It's already awesome out of the box... just needed a bit more help for our particular site ;-).

One thing I had wanted to do for a while is prefill the subject field of certain messages. I already have the new private message page appear inside an overlay popup after a user clicks on a link to send a private message to another user on the site.

Privatemsg prefill subject

WYSIWYG Editing (contentEditable support) in iOS 5

I haven't seen much about this feature yet, so I figured I'd put it through its paces and share what I found. WYSIWYG editing on iOS devices is finally here! For a long time, contentEditable support has been lacking on iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, and it's been slightly annoying, as the only way to add richly-formatted text on these devices was doing a two-step through finding the carat characters and writing the HTML yourself.

Plus, some WYSIWYG editors (like TinyMCE) simply disabled the WYSIWYG from attaching to a textarea if it detected an iOS device. No longer, however: I've tested CKEditor (latest nightly) and TinyMCE (latest nightly), and both work perfectly (surprisingly well, in fact!) on the iPad running iOS 5 beta 6:

iPad 2 WYSIWYG TinyMCE Editing

Using Migrate to Import Content from a Legacy Database

Since a few people who missed last night's St. Louis Drupal meetup wanted to hear more about Migrate module and my notes from a recent content migration for flockNote, I thought I'd post my observations and some tips here.

Migrate Module, v2

My prior experience with Migrate was on version 1.x, along with Table Wizard, for Drupal 6 (I used it in tandem with a bunch of CSV files that were used to import organizational data into the Archdiocese of St. Louis' website). A lot has changed in the process of Migrate upgrading from 1.x to 2.x... especially with Drupal 7!

jQuery Code to Select Textarea or Text Input Field when Selected

On one Drupal site I'm developing, there is an 'embed code generator' in one of the site's forms. This embed code capability is similar to Twitter's embeddable timeline widget, in that a user can select some parameters (colors, mostly), then some code (usually an iframe with the contents provided by an external site) is printed in a textarea, which the user can select, and paste into his own site's HTML.

To help the user in the task of selecting the code, the entire contents of the textarea or textfield is highlighted when the user clicks any part, which ensures that the user will get every last bit of code without having to select and drag his mouse around the text box (sometimes I've seen people missing part of a tag, which makes the embed fail to load). That's what we want to do, inside our own Drupal form.

First, in the drupal form itself (or via an hook_form_alter()), we need to attach a javascript file in our custom module (in this example, I assume you have a module called custom.module, and a js file named 'custom.select-helper.js' in your custom module's directory, inside a 'js' folder):

Introducing the Honeypot form spam protection module for Drupal

Now that I've released a Drupal 6 backport of what I originally wrote as a Drupal 7 module, I figured I would write a little bit in the way of introducing one of the simpler, and more user-friendly ways of controlling spam in Drupal (as opposed to other also-helpful methods, like Mollom, CAPTCHA, etc.).

I'd like to thank Flocknote for giving me the development time to work on this module, as we needed something like it for the new 'version 3' launch of www.flocknote.com.

MySQL General Errors on MAMP/WAMP/XAMPP

I've been getting errors like General error: Can't create/write to file, Error 2006: MySQL server has gone away, and other similar PDOExceptions and errors from time to time while developing on my Mac using MAMP Pro (this seems to happen more often with Drupal 7 sites than Drupal 6, for reasons I know not). I've noticed a few other developers are getting these errors too, and almost always on local environments as opposed to live servers.

I found that the easiest way to deal with them is by giving MySQL a nice buffer of memory via the max_allowed_packet and innodb_buffer_pool_size settings. Just bump those up to 256M or higher, and the errors above should go away. (In MAMP Pro, just go to File > Edit Templates > my.cnf, and search for those variables. Uncomment the innodb_buffer_pool_size variable if it's commented out.

All the Hubbub About Drupal 7

Drupal 7. Is it ready?

That seems to be the general question in the air over the past few weeks discussed by many in the community. There's a problem with this question, though... I think many people look at their particular use cases, determine Drupal 7 to not (yet) be a good fit, then declare all things Drupal 7 to be lacking.

Really, though, are things so bad? I've seen hundreds of sites on Drupal Gardens that are beautiful and functional. I've upgraded two of my simpler Drupal 6 sites to Drupal 7. I've built a total of fifteen Drupal 7 sites—some serving more than 10,000 visitors a day, others serving a hundred or two (and almost all on shared hosting!)—and am working on three others. So, for me, the question 'Is Drupal 7 ready for prime-time?' doesn't make sense. It's already there (I haven't started a new project on Drupal 6 for six months now).

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