Joomulus 2.0 – More Simple Yet More Powerful

After many many months and little time we’ve finally refined and simplified the Joomulus flash tag cloud. The latest version of wp cumulus for Joomla is available now.

I’d like to introduce Joomulus 2.0!

Now there are still improvements we are planning, but this version works on all joomla 1.5 variations, and from the testing we’ve done it works on all major browsers as well.

Thanks to all the users who contributed to Joomulus (Flom I know you did a lot of work). In this new version we’ve done away with a lot of the parameters from the earlier versions; No more tags generated from content for one.

The main reason for this was to stop a major bug with PHP expending bytes allocated, which would stop the whole page from loading and leaving the viewer with a lovely PHP error.

The second reason to remove them, and people may not be aware of this, is the search link that all of the generated tags were associated with. This not only brings up usability issues with the user clicking on a tag then being confronted with a list of all content search results with that tag word in it (which is quite annoying). But it also brings up 404 errors, if you’re a user of Google’s webmaster tools you’ll see a lot of unreachable urls along the lines of:

index.php?option=com_search&searchword=joomlabear&searchphrase=exact&ordering=newest

Lastly, you didn’t  have full control over what tags were generated.

These issues combined make for a fairly useless little tool. A: it’s not really usable B: it doesn’t help search engines but rather impairs them. So the tag generation from content has been all together removed (also known as automatic read out).

We’re left now with one option, the user defined tags. This requires a little more work to set up but allows full control over the tag, what it links to, and the size at which it should appear. And because the XML process is pretty much the same, but requires even MORE set up with ftp access, the parameter tag options was the way to  go.

So after creating an efficient, to-the -point module, scrapping unnecessary parameters, we still had the IE issue to go.

And if you weren’t aware of it the IE issue was fairly major. It was worse than the PHP memory issue, the viewer was confronted with a wicked error and the page just wouldn’t load? I had thought the error was some where in the previous 300 lines of code; After refining the module to just under 100 lines of code I was still stumped by the issue.

Going back to basics I went to SWFObject Google group, and the old SWFObject forums….. then the posts went by and I still couldn’t find the issue. My brother had told me about the defer=’defer’ attribute that is now apart of XHTML specifications. This hints to the browser that the javascript doesn’t create content therefore delaying the execution until after the page loads. So I tried it and a burst of excitement/satisfaction arose in me as the page started to load.

But then a new error occurred and the page went blank….. my heart sank, frustration swelled.

But still progress was made. Looking at the page source on IE6 a bazaar line of code was left <script id=__ie_ondomload defer=true src=://><\/script> was all that was in the page. Going back to Google and searching for “__ie_ondomload” brought up some pages I hadn’t viewed before, and sure enough others had experienced this problem.

This was a line of code inserted by SWFObject when detecting the browser and which method of embedding to use. It was a known issue for the developers and they’d recently updated this in SWFObject 2.2.

So I updated Joomulus from 2.1 to 2.2 and again the results were looking good, until crash, burn, IE6 fell on another one of it’s 1001 hurdles, what a surprise.

I was starting to doubt the effectiveness of this method of embedding .swf’s. But everything I’ve read would suggest otherwise, Google is behind it and Adobe. So why me? Why was this such and issue and where was the fix? Was I really that noobish that I couldn’t get the most recommended method of embedding swf’s to work?

So I started from scratch again with a basic HTML page and any old swf file, it worked fine, not an error in/on site. I’d read a few forum posts of people having issues with IE errors, when the problem had been using an absolute path to the .js file. I’d been using the full URL the entire time though, in the basic HTML page and in the Joomla module?

The answer lies in the XHTML compliant <base> tag which Joomla uses. I found when adding a <base> to my basic HTML page errors were flying again in IE6. After reading forum posts on the topic I had a fleeting thought that people would just have to hack into Joomla and remove the base tag…. buts this is not only unintelligent, unpractical, it’s right pain in the arse.

The base tag uses a compliant method of closing which is called a self closing tag <base href=”http://joomlabear.com/” />. The self closing part is the final forward slash the comes before the closing of the opening tag. A better example is a hr <hr /> or a br <br />, if these were normal HTML tags they would look like <hr></hr> or <br></br>. It’s this self closing nature that IE can’t seem to interpret. Not only can it not interpret it but it crashes totally when used with SWFObject.

So after hours of frustration and cursing Mircosoft IE, the solution for all browsers is in IE ‘if statements’ that I’ll have you know were developed to allow alternative solutions for IE known issues. They actually developed IE with the ability to pick on specific HTML comments, that’s saying something. Here it is the solution for Joomulus or any swf being embedded with SWFObject on a page using a <base> tag

<!–[if IE]></base><![endif]–>

Thats it, IE is now satisfied with a old school traditional closing tag element.

Strange how something that simple can cause huge aggravation. And here we have Joomulus 2.0.

I hope anyone out there experiencing similar issues might benefit from this.

Porting Roy Tanck’s Beautiful WP-Cumulus To Joomla

Regular readers may have noticed a beautiful new Tag Cloud appearing at the bottom of the right column on this blog – If you haven’t checked it out have a look now – it’s magic!

It’s a WordPress Tag Cloud plugin called WP-Cumulus and it was devised by Roy Tanck.

I won’t beat about the bush – As soon as I saw it I knew the Joomla community would love to have a compatible version of this plugin as a Joomla module so I contacted Roy and asked if he would mind if we ported it. Roy has kindly given us the thumbs up – read more here.

We hope to have a Joomla beta version of the WP-Cumulus tag cloud available in the next week or so. I’m thinking it should perhaps be named J-Cumulus, but will run this past the original developer. Leave a comment if you have a better idea for a name.

Thanks again to Roy Tanck for making something so beautiful and sharing it with the world.


Download Joomulus module

This is only the first release, cleaner more advanced code will come shortly. Please post suggestions and comments in the Joomlabear forum

 
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