Drupal + Google Search Appliance + Multiple languages and collections

2011-07-06 20:29:10 PST

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So at work we use Drupal a lot. And one of our clients has a Google Search Appliance (mini google in a box installed in their datacenter for their personal use) and runs sites that operate in multiple languages. So we installed the Drupal GSA module, flicked it on, and had Google searches. Of course since we had multiple languages, we set up GSA collections, one collection for each language. Easy enough. But by default the Drupal GSA module only takes one collection in it’s admin page. So we did what we always do in this situation, we made the collection a multilingual variable, a kind of Drupal hack that enables that variable to have different values transparently depending on the site’s language. Then we input each GSA collection into each language/site’s GSA config. Done and good to go? Nope. All the searches were still in English for all the sites. So on the French site we cleared the cache and then the searches were in French! … for all the sites. The Drupal GSA module was deeply not designed to work with multiple languages/collections it turned out.

After about 2 hours debugging we figured it all out. When the module is initialized, it pulls out all the config data, puts it in a hash, and hands it off to Drupal in the menu hook. Drupal stores it forever, and hands it off to the search function whenever it is called and so what ever language is active when the module is initialized determines what colleciton is used forever for all languages. Not cunning. The fix however was straight forward and one line: in the search function, just disregard the passed in settings value for the collection and re-pull it.

For what it’s worth I filed a bug and patch (against 6.x-2.0-beta1, though it should work fine for all versions) with the module at http://drupal.org/node/1208892 but it seems it’s suffering from low maintainership.

Here it is as well, though it’s probably just as easy to copy/paste the line in directly.

Index: google_appliance.module
--- google_appliance.module	(revision 14982)
+++ google_appliance.module	(working copy)
@@ -1055,6 +1055,9 @@
  *   Themed search results.
 function google_appliance_search_view($search_base, $client, $collection, $keys = NULL, $title = NULL) {
+  $collection =  trim(variable_get('google_appliance_default_collection', 'default_collection'));
   $form = drupal_get_form('google_appliance_search_form', NULL, $search_base, $client, $collection, $keys);
   // When POSTing back to an existing search-results page, the original
   // URL is accessed (which re-runs that search) and then the redirect for

Now it works just fine and all our different language sites have searches and results in just their language. Splendid!

Twitter Updates for 2011-06-29

2011-06-29 10:00:00 PST

  • # uptime
    12:09:29 up 18 days, 21:27, 8 users, load average: 41.03, 24.61, 11.14 #

Note on Javascript (all?) closures and the difference between reference and value

2011-06-22 13:21:10 PST

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for(var i=0; i< 10; i++) { var t = setTimeout( function () { alert(i);}, 200); }

This will results in 10 alerts all saying ’10′ and not as some might think 10 alerts of 1, 2, 3, …, 9, 10. This is because the function being called is a closure and contains a reference to i, not the value of i. When the first one is finally called, 200ms later, i contains the value of 10 since the loop is done executing when the function looks i up. I suspect this has caused some people some headaches.

You can easily test this in Chrome’s javascript console as I did first ;)

links for 2011-06-21

2011-06-21 00:01:17 PST

Game of Life in HTML/Canvas

2011-06-20 23:08:53 PST

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I’ve been wanting to play with HTML5′s canvas for a bit now and I’ve always liked Conway’s game of life since it was introduced to me in first year CS so it seemed like a good match. In the spare time of a few days I was easily able to cobble it together, and even add some nice controls and one novel (to me) feature: the rainbow color age effect, which cycles the color of the cells and darkens them with age so you can quickly see the age of cells on the board and get a pretty show.

The code is on github and you can see it live on the demo I put up.

HTML5′s canvas is fun for simple things like this. I don’t know how it would a) hold up for more complicated and practical applications, and b) how much “fun” it would still be. Maybe I’ll find out, maybe not.

links for 2011-06-19

2011-06-19 00:00:53 PST

Twitter Updates for 2011-06-17

2011-06-17 10:00:00 PST

  • Big <3 to all the volunteers who have come out to clean. The city looks… better :/ #

Twitter Updates for 2011-06-16

2011-06-16 10:00:00 PST

  • So proud of the patience the VPD is showing! You guys rock! We're sorry #

Fedora 15 / Gnome Shell

2011-06-14 21:08:56 PST

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So after a few failed attempts at installing Ubuntu 11.04 on my parents computer I thought I’d give Fedora 15 a try. It worked.

The install was pretty painless, and no weird unresponsive 10 to 20 minute pauses, so that was nice. Rebooted, logged into Gnome Shell.

It’s ok. It’s not bad. I like it better than Unity, but both of them suffer from the developer “my hands are always on the keyboard, why can’t I launch apps by search” syndrome. That’s cool for you, but sometimes if I have one hand on the mouse I just want to use the mouse to lauch apps and having to fling or click the top left of the screen, then move to the other side to click applications and the find my app in an unsorted list that over fills a screen is not optimal. At least Gnome Shell obviously offers the categories on the side to filter by. But at this point it is way way slower than the old Gnome menu was. Also, not offering an window list for me to easily toggle between apps? Either I again have to fling or click the top left and the select my window from a different display or Alt-Tab it. It’s like these new exciting GUIs are less friendly to traditional graphical interface tools like… a mouse. They are more friendly to keyboard combos.

Still, ranting aside, Gnome Shell was ok, and definatly better than Unity. And it and Fedora were more stable, why, this system has been runing for over an hour, and no random crashes. There are a few visual artifacts but I guess that’s just what I get for runing Linux on a new AMD Radeon 6500. Maybe in half a year there won’t be visual artifacts.

What really got me though was how much worse package management is on Fedora than it is on Ubuntu. It’s a colossal pain. Ubuntu / Debian have really spoiled me. Flash didn’t come with the system, so I followed online advice and downloaded the YUM and then it installed and nothing happened. But then flash was in the package manager, except it just sat there with a “Waiting in queue” message doing nothing for like 10 minuets with no way to fix. Awesome. And searching for apps? *Office also doesn’t come installed, and good luck trying to find it. I search Libre Office all kinds of ways. Among the truly large amount of not Libre Office results, the one that was closest that I usually got was “Libre Office development”… I eventually gave up and found a .doc file and tried to open it and Fedora then asked me if I wanted to install Libre Office Writer. Why yes I would. Then the installer went to work, it looked like it froze on the download, but with so little feed back it was hard to tell so I left it alone for a while and it sorted it self out. It’s just really not remotely helpful.

Finally, one of my mom’s favorite features on the computer is making a screen saver of all her family photos (they had several thousand photos and slides digitized recently) and it appears Gnome Shell has abolished the screen saver…. Really? Also, one of the other winning features of Gnome 2.0 for my Mom was I could place absurdly large icons of her few apps (Web Browser, Office, Picture folder) on her desktop. Not any longer.

All this new “usability” seems to make things more of a nuisance for me and simply remove key features my mom relied on. Critical regressions. I’m pretty sad.

More on Unity and Ubuntu 11.04 from Tom’s Hardware

2011-06-13 07:52:20 PST

Tom’s Hardware: Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal), Reviewed In Depth

This is actually a solid in depth and good review of Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity. It actually hilights some functionality I didn’t know about. It’s in someways the missing documentation Unity really needed. Also i politely outlines some of the previously mentioned grievances.

Over all I have a new… understanding of Unity and what it’s trying to bring, even if the current implementation falls a little short, and I also have a better idea of how to make it work. The final verdict from Tom’s Hardware is still that there is no burning need to upgrade from 10.04 however if that’s working for you, wait until 11.10 when more of the issues have been fixed. Also their conclusion contains some alarming comments about Gnome Shell/Fedora 15 which I hope to test soon.

I hope Canonical and the Unity team take some of the recommendations to heart and we see some solid improvements in the next version of Unity, and also some better stability :)

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