Dec 18 2008


Compressed JSON Requests

Category: UtilitiesTags: , ,

I rarely find myself in a place where I am writing javascript applications that use AJAX in its pure form. I have long abandoned the ‘X’ and replaced it with ‘J’ (JSON). When working with Javascript, it just makes sense to return JSON. Smaller footprint, easier parsing and an easier structure are all advantages I have gained since using JSON.

In a recent project I found myself unhappy with the large size of my result sets. The data I was returning was tabular data, in the form of objects for each row. I was returning a result set of 50, with 19 fields each. What I realized is if I augment my result set I could get a form of compression.

// uncompressed
JSON = {
  data : [
     { field1 : 'data1', field2 : 'data2', field3 : 'data3' },
     { field1 : 'data4', field2 : 'data5', field3 : 'data6' },
JSON = {
    data : [ 'data1','data2','data3','data4','data5','data6' ],
    keys : [ 'field1', 'field2', 'field3' ]

I merged all my values into a single array and store all my fields in a separate array. Returning a key value pair for each result cost me 8800 byte (8.6kb). Ripping the fields out and putting them in a separate array cost me 186 bytes. Total savings 8.4kb.

Now I have a much more compressed JSON file, but the structure is different and now harder to work with. So I implement a solution in Mootools to make the decompression transparent.
Continue reading “Compressed JSON Requests”

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Dec 13 2008


Random words from RSS feeds

Category: PHPTags: ,

Recently my friend Dan has been playing with some design ideas for his new site. He had a list of words that could be dragged like refrigerator magnets. He wasn’t happy with the fact that the words were static and to update them was kinda a pain.

Together we came up with the idea to pull in his RSS feed from his blog and use the words from his descriptions. With his design, we wanted 48 words. We didn’t want any punctuation, numbers or html entities floating around either.

So I wrote the following script for him.

Continue reading “Random words from RSS feeds”

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Dec 04 2008


Image Transitions Demo

When I first launched my blog I released the Transitions class at the same time. The header of my blog at that time was my demo. I have since changed the look of my blog and as a result the demo was removed. I have had a number of requests to get it back online so here you go.

Transitions Demo

Overall I am quite happy with how these effects turned out. I think they provide for some nice alternatives over the standard image transition effects that are commonly used today.

I hope you enjoy.

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Dec 04 2008


VisitSpy - Where have you been lately?

Category: Javascript, MootoolsTags: , ,

As many are aware Javascript has been crippled by design. These design decisions were put in place to protect your privacy from rouge websites. VisitSpy is not a Javascript exploit, it is an exploit in CSS. CSS has built in styling for displaying links in different colors to communicate to you, the user, that you have previously viewed the link. With this visual cue we can use Javascript to find out if you have visited a site.

I think it is important to note that I did not discover this exploit, Jeremiah Grossman did. He provided a proof of concept but it is not full proof. His code requires a specific color to be used for the link. In VisitSpy I have implemented a dynamic stylesheet to prevent any kind of misreadings. I definitely feel that there are some ethical concerns to using such a technique. I myself have only used the follow script to make sure it works. It is not implemented on my site nor do I ever plan to. Some may ask “Then why even posted it?”. Information is power. To prevent this exploit while you surf around the internet I recommend you checkout SafeHistory for Firefox. SafeHistory, hides all visited links unless the link was directly linked to the current site. With this plugin the CSS exploit is removed.

Now onto the fun part!
Continue reading “VisitSpy - Where have you been lately?”

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Dec 04 2008


Registry Class for Mootools

I have been building some pretty large apps lately and I found the need for the registry design pattern in some of my javascript. I went with this approach because I wanted to minimize the power my objects had, yet I needed some kind of blackboard where all objects could check and report to.

In addition I found that implementing events onto the class made for a very effective event handler as well.

var Registry = new Class({
	Implements : [Events],
	conf : {},
	set : function(path,value){
		var fragments = path.split('/');
		if( fragments.shift() !== '') return false; // remove empty, first component
		if(fragments.length > 0 && fragments[fragments.length - 1] == '') fragments.pop();
		var obj = {}; var ref = obj; var len = fragments.length;
		if( len > 0){
			for(i = 0; i < len-1; i++){
				ref[fragments[i]] = {};
				ref = ref[fragments[i]];
			ref[fragments[len-1]] = value;
			this.conf = $merge(this.conf,obj);
		} else {
			this.conf = value;
	get : function(path){
		var fragments = path.split('/');
		if( fragments.shift() !== '') return null;
		if(fragments.length > 0 && fragments[fragments.length -1] == '') fragments.pop();
		var ref = this.conf; var path_exists = true; var i = 0; var len = fragments.length;
		while(path_exists && i < len){
			path_exists = path_exists && (ref[fragments[i]] !== undefined);
			ref = ref[fragments[i]]; i++;
		return ref;

The class is pretty simple but it provides for a powerful hierarchical syntax. Only two methods are supplied ‘get’ and ’set’.


var reg = new Registry();
reg.set('/Options/Default',{'name' : 'test', 'version' : 1});
reg.set('/Options/Default/name', 'changed');
reg.set('/dynamically/creates/nested/objects', true);
/* returns
 name : 'changed',
 version : 1
reg.get('/Options/Default/version'); // returns 1
/* returns
 Options : {
	Default : {
		name : 'changed',
		version : 1
 dynamically : {
	creates : {
		nested : {
			objects : true

I found it extremely useful for configuration objects for classes that were initialized in a tree fashion. It also seemed to help with the readability and organization of code. I also had several places where I had multiple objects doing completely different things to the same Request.JSON result. With this class I just stored it in a single place and fired off my event. I found it extremely useful to use the class as a global event manager for cases such as this. I ended up using a dot notation naming convention for my events which helped greatly in documentation and API design.


In my actual production code I had my Registry class implement my Singleton Class Mutator. This way I could initialize the registry object multiple times in my code without the need to worry about scope.

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