27 Sep 2009

Validity – flexible jQuery form validation

I was looking for a form validation plugin for jQuery that offers enough flexibility to hook in to my own rather complex forms and existing JavaScript. After auditioning several plugins I came across Validity which has seriously impressed me.

Validity, by Wyatt Allen, offers the key following features:

  1. Built-in validators for email, number, url, date, range, length, etc.
  2. Equal(), distinct(), sum(), etc, methods for advance validation.
  3. Use jQuery selectors to create rules for which fields to validate and compare.
  4. Easily extendable using your own regular expressions or js functions.
  5. Fully chainable validation. e.g. $("#lastname").require().minLength(2).maxLength(40).nonHtml();
  6. Optionally provide your own validation error messages.
  7. Multiple validation error display modes: Creates neat arrowed validation messages by each field with an error, or Modal mode, or Summary mode, or create your own! e.g. javascript text based alert, or outline error fields in red, or display errors at top of page, etc.
  8. Automatically picks up the name of each form field or use a friendly name with the title attribute. e.g. <input type=”text” id=”firstname” title=”First Name”>
  9. Validity can intercept the submit button or be called when you want it to (if you use ajax for example).
  10. Only 9KB in size

Some example uses:

The title field is required, min char length is 25 and max length is 250.

The duration field is required, must be an integer, and numbers from 1 to 400.

$("#email,#email_confirm").require().match('email').maxLength(70).equal("Email addresses do not match");
Applies to both the email and email confirmation fields, both required, must be a valid email address up to 70 chars, and must be equal to each other. My own error message will be shown if they are not equal.

$("#postcode").require().match(/^([a-z][a-z]?\d\d? ?\d[a-z][a-z])$/i,"Postcode is invalid");
The postcode field is required and must match my own regex for UK postcode validation and will display my own message if it’s invalid.

Here’s the documentation with a couple of little demos. The home page is here and you can download the plugin from Google Code.

Well done Wyatt, this is a brilliantly thought out plugin leaving ample room for developers to customise their own validators, messages, and display rendering. Perfect! :-)

6 Sep 2009

Windows 7 Annoyances & Backups

Up until now Windows 7 was just running on my laptop, a non-critical machine I use to run presentations on. Now that the final code is available to developers and my shiny new Intel SSD “G2” drive has arrived I thought it was a perfect opportunity to upgrade my main desktop PC to Windows 7.

It was a fresh install using the new SSD drive. It took 4 attempts before I had a stable install; the installer hung once, after one successful install the drive refused to boot up, the “repair Windows” option failed, yadda yadaa. 24 hours after it all appears to be working my fingers are still crossed.

Now, onto the issue of this post. When I shut down my PC at night I want to carry on working where I left off the following day – at least I want all the folders to be open up at the same place. Therefore, on XP I had both these options checked in Tools/Folder Options: “Restore previous folder windows at login” and “remember each folder’s view settings”. Windows XP obeyed this command like a faithful dog, but Windows 7 doesn’t play ball. On rebooting it opens all my previous windows on top of each other, in a pile. What a mess! I then spend a minute rearranging them all, dragging them to their correct position and resizing them to how they should be. What a pain!

Furthermore, Windows 7 forgets they layout options for each window. The option “remember each folder’s view settings” that was in XP is missing in 7! A couple of my windows list files that I frequently access so I don’t want to see the navigation pane, just the file list. I use another window for managing files so I always want the navigation pane displayed. XP obliges by 7 is so stupid it can only remember 1 folder setting and applies it to all of them, so on reboot the windows are either all with navigation panes or without, not the customised mixture that XP used to respect.

For those reasons I find Windows 7 very frustrating. Someone suggested using hibernate or suspend instead of shutting down. That may be okay if Windows doesn’t refuse to recover from hibernation, but it shows an error on resume and reboots.

Remembering folder views and locations is a very, very simple function for an OS but Windows 7 has taken a huge leap backwards here. It does not compute. Windows 7 has been given the memory of a goldfish.

Backups – Aargh!

I want to back up my C (boot) drive which is 80GB onto an external 200GB drive. No, it can’t do that because Windows has decided that the backup has to include my D drive which is a massive 1TB internal drive. What? I can’t back up my boot drive because Windows insists that the D drive is also included? How stupid is that. I do not want to back up my entire 1TB “D” drive, just the critical C drive.

Admittedly I have installed non-essential apps onto the D drive such as Firefox, Visio and Dreamweaver, plus I changed the location of My Documents from the C drive to the D drives to save disk space on the precious 80GB SSD. But those files aren’t critical to restoring Windows should the need arrise.

I’m now testing out other backup options. My key requirements are:

  • Volume Shadow Copy – so open files can be backed up like Outlook’s .pst files
  • Back up specific files from any of my drives without having to backup the entire drive
  • Option to back up files into zip files so the backups are completely independent and not proprietary files formats.
  • Additionally create an image backup of a drive (to quickly restore my boot drive onto another drive should it die)
  • Incremental backups so only changes are backed up on a daily basis
  • Windows 7 bit-bit compatible

Cobian Backup has always been perfect for file backups (it’s a brilliant free app) but sadly it’s only a 32 bit app which means it can’t do volume shadow copies on a 64 bit OS – which is what I’m now running to utilise the full 4 GB of ram in my PC.

So I will now evaluate the following free or cheap alternatives:

  1. Acronis True Image Home 2009 (commercial, £40/$60, or half price here)
  2. GFI Backup Home Edition (free)
  3. Macrium Reflect Free Edition (free)
  4. Macrium Reflect (commercial, £20/$30)

Acronis is not yet fully Windows 7 compatible which is a shame as it has some very powerful features. GFI Backup sounds great as a file-only backup solution (it doesn’t do drive imaging, same as Cobian Backup). Macrium Reflect (commercial) does both file and disk imaging but backs up to its own proprietary file format.

I think I may use two apps for a separate disk imaging and file backup strategy.

1 Sep 2009

8x ColdFusion Hot Fixes in just 2 weeks!

First there were 7 hot fixes rolled out on the same day on 17th August – all to do with security vulnerabilities. Adobe’s documentation was sparse causing problems and lots of questions to be raised by early adaptors of the hot fixes.

Today, 1st Sep, Cumulative Hot Fix 3 has been released for CF 8.01 that fixes 21 new bugs as well as the fixes contained in the previous 2 cumulative hot fixes. This does not include fixes for the aforementioned 7 security vulnerabilities.

I can’t say I’ve encountered any of the bugs listed for Hot Fix 3 and they’re not security related so we’ll put some thought into whether to deploy it or not as I’m a great believer in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Do read through the list of fixes to see if any issues are relevant to you. Maybe some of the descriptions will explain some strange errors you’ve encountered with your apps?

I notice there’s no fix for the mail spool bug I reported over a year ago.

Now, back to the 7 security hot fixes. The original documentation was, let’s face it, terrible. But on 28th Aug Adobe updated the text to make it clear that hot fix 1876 must only be applied if you’re running Apache. Do not apply it if you’re running IIS which is what I did on a test box. Luckily I held back on applying it to the prd servers before receiving confirmation that it’s not for IIS. The test box happily accepted the hot fix anyway and doesn’t seem any the worse for it.

Hot fix 1875 and 1878 are byte for byte absolutely identical which is really weird. Why didn’t Adobe roll them into the same hot fix instead of listing them separately and making people install two hot fix files which are the same in all but file name?