Alternating Table Rows With Template Toolkit And CSS

Whilst looking at a potential recode of the Smash Hits Chart website, I came across the need to make each alternate row in the main chart table a different colour.

As the recode will be using Template Toolkit, this is simple.

The chart is passed as a list, so we have to iterate over it to get each entry out. I do this using a simple [% FOREACH %]. Template Toolkit thoughtfully provides us with a Template::Iterator object called loop inside the FOREACH block, so we can use the index() method to get the current elements list position. Using this, we just need to check if the value is odd or even to decide what colour to make the row.

Let’s see some sample code. To change the row’s colour I’m going to use two CSS classes called lite and dark.

[% FOREACH entry = chart %]
<tr class="[% IF loop.index % 2 %]lite[% ELSE %]dark[% END %]">
<td>[% entry.position %]</td>
<td>[% entry.artist %]</td>
<td>[% entry.track %]</td>
[% END %]

The magic is in the line loop.index % 2. It takes the remainer (modulus) of loop.index divided by 2. This returns either 0 or 1, which is what Template Toolkit uses to determine truth, so can be used directly in the IF statement.

Supporting Moblogging From The Nokia 7610

I’ve had to make some changes to my homebrew MMS moblog software now I have a Nokia 7610 phone.

The 7610 has a megapixel camera in it, which is far better than the very low res on in my old Nokia 7250.

The downside is I can’t use the images it creates directly in my blog as they are far to high resolution. What I needed to do was to reduce the size of the image coming in before posting it to the blog. I achieved this using the Image::Magick Perl module.

This snippet of code takes an image from a filename, resizes it to a maximum of 450 wide and 350 high, and saves it back out with the original filename.

my $oldimage = new Image::Magick;

The key to code is the use of geometry. Here I am saying what I would like the maximum boundries to be. Image::Magick does the rest, keeping the aspect ratio of the original image. The > at the end tells Image::Magick only to scale if the image is larger than that ratio, meaning smaller images are left untouched.

Great, so I have lovely scaled images. The next problem was that the software wasn’t picking up the attachment.

The Nokia 7250 attaches the image directly with the MIME type of image/jpeg, however the Nokia 7610 attaches it with the MIME type of application/octet stream. This means it’s hard to detect what the attachment is, however we are provided with a clue. We are given the recommended filename of the attachment, so scanning to see if it ends in .jpg lets us know if we have a JPEG image or not.

The code I use to detect the attachment in the octet-stream and put it into the variable $attachmentlooks something like this…

if ($entity->mime_type =~ m/application/octet-stream/i) {
if (($head->recommended_filename =~ /.jpg$/i) || ($head->mime_attr("") =~ /.jpg/i)) {
my $bh = $entity->bodyhandle;
my $attachment = $bh->as_string;

Where $entity is a MIME::Entity object and $head is a MIME::Head object from the entity.

I now have a tool that can take MMS email messages from various phones and post remotely to my blog.

Comparing Email Addresses In JavaScript

I needed to write a quick JavaScript that could check if two email addresses were the same or not today. As it’s so simple, I thought I’d share it.

Firstly we put the following JavaScript into a script tag.

function compareEmails(myForm) {
  if ( != myForm.email2.value) {
    alert("Your email addresses don't match. Please double check");
    return false;
  } else {
    return true;

It takes a form, and compares the values of the fields called email and email2. If they are the same it returns true which lets the form submit normally.

However, if email and email2 are different it brings up an alert box telling our submitter the values are different, and returns false. Returning false means the script won’t submit to the script specified in the action parameter so the user has to confirm their email address again.

The following HTML code gives an example of the scripts use.

<form action="" onSubmit="compareEmails(this);">
Email :<input type="text" name="email" /> <br />
Verify Email: <input type="text" name="email2" /> <br />
<input type="submit" />

Of course the code can be used to compare any fields and not just email addresses. All you need to do is to change the field names in the JavaScript.


Copying Selections With JavaScript

One thing I’ve started to do for web based admin systems is a far greater use of JavaScript.

One task I find I do quite frequently is copying from a list of options to a sublist of selected options. For example, a list of all blog entries to a sublist of related blog entries.

I do this by using a version of the following JavaScript. It takes a <select> HTML element with the property multiple="multiple" set, and copies to another <select> HTML element, also with multiple="multiple" set. I have a button set to execute the JavaScript via an onClick handler.

Lets have a quick look at the code…

First we need to define our function. Here I’ve called it doCopy and it takes two parameters which are the two <select> elements from the DOM, eg document.formname.selectname.

function doCopy(list1, list2) {

Now we need to iterate over the first list to check each <option> to see if it has been selected.

for (var i=0; i< list1.length; i++) {
if (list1.options[i].selected == true) {

If the current <option> is selected, we need to iterate over the second list, making sure we don’t already have it in the list. I’m setting a temporary variable, cancopy that is set to false if we find we already have it in the second list.

var cancopy = true;
for (var j=0; j< list2.length; j++) {
if (list1.options[i].value == list2.options[j].value) {
cancopy = false;

If cancopy is true, then we’re OK to copy the item over to the second list. To do this we have to create a new Option object. Let’s have a quick look at the Option class in JavaScript. We can constuct a new Option like this…

new Option(text, value, defaultSelected, selected)

Where text is the text to show, value is value, defaultSelected is a boolean defining if we want the defaultSelected property set, and selected is a boolean defining if we want the selected property set.

We need to initialise our new Option with the value and text of our original option from list one, and set it as selected. We insert this into the secondlist by adding it to the very of its array. This will grow the list automatically.

if (cancopy == true) {
list2.options[list2.options.length] = new Option(list1.options[i].text, list1.options[i].value, false, true);

Lets put this all together for our final code…

function doCopy(list1, list2) {
for (var i=0; i< list1.length; i++) {
if (list1.options[i].selected == true) {
var cancopy = true;
for (var j=0; j< list2.length; j++) {
if (list1.options[i].value == list2.options[j].value) {
cancopy = false;
if (cancopy == true) {
list2.options[list2.options.length] = new Option(list1.options[i].text, list1.options[i].value, false, true);

Here is some example HTML that uses the JavaScript to copy from list1 to list2.

<form name="mytestform">
<select name="list1" multiple="multiple">
<option value="1">One</option>
<option value="2">Two</option>
<option value="3">Three</option>
<option value="4">Four</option>
<input type="button" value="Copy" onClick="doCopy(document.mytestform.list1,document.mytestform.list2);" />
<select name="list2" multiple="multiple">

We should now be able to copy between the lists when we click on the Copy button.

Checking Variables Exist In JavaScript

I came across a problem with JavaScript earlier trying to see if a variable actually exists or not. For example…

if (x) {
// x exists.
} else {
// x doesn't exist.

Unfortunately this causes an error if x hasn’t been defined, eg…

var x = "robs test";

The solution came after a read of JavaScript: The Definitive Guide chapter 4. It explains about the Global Object, and that all global variables are located there. For client side JavaScript this is the Window object. So to see if x has been defined we need to check window.x, eg…

if (window.x) {
// x exists.
} else {
// x doesn't exist.

This means if I forget to define x it will default to the block of code saying that x doesn’t exist. Of course, I shouldn’t really be in a situation where variables haven’t been defined, but sanity checking is always a good idea, especially with development code.

RDF::Simple And Proxies

I was trying to work with Jo Walsh‘s RDF::Simple 0.12 Perl module, but it kept failing as it wasn’t able to connect past the office proxy server.

It turned out the solution wasn’t too hard. I tweaked the RDF::Simple::Parser to accept an http_proxy parameter in its new method. The ua method then checks this when it creates a LWP::UserAgent object, and either sets the proxy method directly, or uses the settings from environment variables.

The following patch has already been emailed to Jo for her to consider inclusion in the next module release, but in the mean time it is available here.

--- Wed Apr 28 11:20:00 2004
+++ Wed Apr 28 11:19:52 2004
@@ -4,9 +4,9 @@
use XML::SAX qw(Namespaces Validation);
use LWP::UserAgent;
-our $VERSION = '0.1';
+our $VERSION = '0.2';
-use Class::MethodMaker new_hash_init => 'new', get_set => [ qw(base)];
+use Class::MethodMaker new_hash_init => 'new', get_set => [ qw(base http_proxy)];
sub parse_rdf {
my ($self,$rdf) = @_;
@@ -36,7 +36,15 @@
sub ua {
my $self = shift;
- $self->{_ua} ||= LWP::UserAgent->new(timeout => 30);
+ unless ($self->{_ua}) {
+ $self->{_ua} = LWP::UserAgent->new(timeout => 30);
+ if ($self->http_proxy) {
+ $self->{_ua}->proxy('http',$self->http_proxy);
+ } else {
+ $self->{_ua}->env_proxy;
+ }
+ }
+ return $self->{_ua};
package RDF::Simple::Parser::Handler;
@@ -481,6 +489,11 @@
'base' supplies a base URI
for relative URIs found in the document
+ 'http_proxy' optionally supplies
+ the address of an http proxy server.
+ If this is not given it will try to use
+ the default environment settings.
=head2 parse_rdf($rdf)

LWP::Simple And Proxies

Some Perl scripts I’ve been writing lately have to connect to remote pages to collect data. Normally I use LWP::Simple, but this hasn’t been working too well since we started having to use a proxy server in the office.

One solution is to either set the environment variable http_proxy with the address of the proxy server.

Another is to export the useragent variable $ua when you use the module, and set the proxy details directly in the resulting LWP::UserAgent object.

As an example, we’ll download the contents of my homepage in the variable $page.

use LWP::Simple qw($ua get);
my $page = get '';

I also came across a useful piece on Perl Monks called Getting more out of LWP::Simple, that has lots more useful tips on it.