Strict Data Typing

Learning Actionscript 3 over the past year or so, I must admit I've been of the mindset: Why the @$%* should I bother with strict data typing? It's so restrictive. And it's messy! And all cluttery. So much extra typing...seems like a waste! However, working with some AS code written by a proper flash developer, I can't help but notice that EVERYTHING is typed. Functions are marked as :void when they don't return. And so on. So I forced myself to do some reading on why I should bother. A very nice post I found here has me considering perhaps following the existing convention in this code.

I suppose I'll stick to it for now, give it a try. Do you have thoughts on the matter? Please feel free to cuss me out in the comments!

Regular Expressions: A Primer

Well, this morning I finally came across a problem where I couldn't avoid regular expressions anymore. Sure, I've used them in form validation, but I've pretty much always just copied existing code for validating email addresses etc, without much attention to the gibberish of characters that magically format or validate my string.

I busted out google and did a bit of searching; this is the page I found to be the most informative in the briefest amount of wordage:

This page has a nice example chart at the bottom which for me really helped with my understanding of how it all works. I recommend anyone who hasn't bitten the bullet in this department to do a quick read over of this page, as regular expressions are pretty much a staple of any sort of semi-advanced programming.

And yes, you can now mock me for not bothering to learn this prior to now. Yay for self taught programmers!

Simple CSS 100% Height and Width!


Here's what happened. My earlier blog post about the 100% width absolute background element turns out was totally wrong. IE7< was glitching on this, causing a width of closer to 130%. Digging around the internet for an explanation for this bug(?), I came across this helpful post on A List Apart:

Basically, it mentions that some browsers don't play nicely when you mix percentage widths and fixed widths together on the same page. But that's not the important part - what is, is the solution it provided.

Take a div. Position it absolutely. Now give it left:0 and right:0 positioning. What is your first instinct will be the result? Mine was that it would default to the position which is declared lower in the style declaration. But the reality is much much sweeter. What you are in fact indicating is that the left most corner of the div should be at left:0, and the right most corner of the div should be at right:0. The result? 100% width. Now you may be thinking, can the same thing possibly apply to height? Guess what.....IT DOES.

The catch - it doesn't work in IE5 or IE6, and there is a teeny glitch in Opera. However, the List Apart article provides some work arounds for the IE issues. And if you or your development company has gone the way we have, as well as many other large internet presences, you can forget IE5 and 6 altogether these days, instead recommending your user to upgrade.

*waiting for the flaming from that comment. Oh wait, no one reads this blog. Phew.*

Here's my sample if you want to see it in action:

Initializing an Associative Array in Javascript

Ian presented the following question to me: How do you initialize an associative array with default values in javascript? There is plenty of posts out there on the internet in regards to creating arrays, most look something like:

var myArray = new Array();
myArray["something"] = "some value";

and so on. But what he was looking for was something more like the php method:

$myArray = ( "something"=> "some value", "something else" => "another value");

after a small amount of scouring remembering something about colons, I finally found a scathing post by someone with the revelation: Javascript doesn't actually have associative arrays. In fact javascript doesn't have arrays at all. It has objects. So how do you initialize an associative array in javascript? You don't. You initialize an object:

var arrayTest = {"something":"1st Result","second":"2nd Result"};

Hopefully that helps someone out there in Google land.

Javascript Variable Variables

Looking for a way to dynamically generate and assign variable names to objects in javascript, I found this post on creating a sort of variable variable in Javascript. Reading the post itself, I found the answer to my immediate question. However upon reading the comments, I feel like I had a moment of clarity in my understanding of the truly awesome power of javascript, dot notation, and prototype. Why is javascript so underestimated? I see this changing in the very near future...

PHP getimagesize()

Wondering how to find out the size of your image? getimagesize() returns a lovely array containing the height and width of the image, along with a few other bits of data. In fact, one of the array values is even a nice little string containing height="yyy" width="xxx" that can be used directly in an IMG tag.

See the php manual entry for more info on this, as well as a number of other nifty image data gathering functions.

PHP ini_get

A somewhat useful function in PHP - ini_get(string $varname). Useful for troubleshooting, would have come in handy for me once or twice in the past when trying to prove to a server admin that globals were on or off. IE:

echo 'register_globals = ' . ini_get('register_globals') . "\n";

Returns something like:
register_globals = 0
Read the PHP Manual entry for more details.