Experience

Updates and Oddments: August 2012

Published on 8th August, 2012

It’s been 12 month since the previous Updates and Oddments post. I haven’t been completely idle during this time, but my rather erratic blogging schedule means that most of my side projects are released without fanfare.

Read on for a collection of ExpressionEngine-related oddments that quietly slipped out the back door over the past year.

Add-on updates

Most of my “main” add-ons have received significant attention since the previous round-up post. Here are some of the forgotten highlights.

Campaigner

Campaigner has progressed steadily from version 4.0.0 to version 4.5.0, with nary a Tweet for its trouble.

Most releases have focussed on making Campaigner play nicely with others, resulting in a couple of handy new extension hooks, and compatibility with CartThrob, Zoo Visitor, and Membrr, among others.

Crumbly

Crumbly has also received some love, with a new reverse_breadcrumbs tag parameter, and improvements to the way in which it “humanises” URL-encoded strings.

OmniLog

Along with Testee, OmniLog is the add-on that I most rely on in my day-to-day work, a fact reflected in the amount of attention both receive.

Over the past 12 months, OmniLog has progressed steadily (if somewhat unspectacularly), primarily with improvements to the pagination and filtering of results.

SmartDown

SmartDown 1.2 was such a (comparatively) significant release that it warranted its own blog post; quite the achievement for a point release.

Since then, SmartDown has been upgraded with new template tag parameters, and a very handy SmartDown Images extension. The latter uses SmartDown’s extension hooks to implement support for the “Matrix and NSM Transplant” image replacement technique.

GitHub-only oddments

Of course, not everything scales the dizzying heights of the Software section. Much of the code I write barely makes it off my machine, and even then it typically only travels as far as GitHub.

Nevertheless, there is some useful stuff lurking in those repositories…

MailChimp Subscribe

Yes, I realise MailChimp Subscribe is one of the chosen few, but there hasn’t been an official release for a long time.

One of the reasons is that I’ve never really used MailChimp that much, and therefore have little motivation to update MailChimp Subscribe. As such MailChimp Subscribe has long been clothed in Campaigner’s hand-me-downs.

With the release of Campaigner 4.0 such code-sharing became impractical, and since then MailChimp Subscribe has mostly assumed the coveted role of “why did I ever release this bloody thing?”.

However, just because I’m a terrible parent doesn’t mean that MailChimp Subscribe is completely unloved. Several helpful souls have forked the repo and made significant improvements, including better support for third-party add-ons such as CartThrob and Zoo Visitor.

Eventually these updates may find their way into an official release, or perhaps MailChimp Subscribe will be officially relegated to GitHub. For now though, the repo is significantly more up-to-date than the official release.

Author Info

In my experience, every ExpressionEngine site has at least one or two tricky problems that can’t be solved out the box, and for which no third-party solutions exist.

A recent project had more than its fair share of such challenges. This resulted in 8 custom add-ons, solving problems ranging from the incredibly simple, to the considerably more complex.

Languishing somewhere in the middle of this scale is Author Info. Author Info retrieves information about the author of a Channel Entry, and makes it available through custom template variables.

View the README for full usage instructions.

Simple Commerce Developer

Developing an extension that works with the Simple Commerce module’s extension hooks is painful. Part of this is due to the module itself, but the PayPal Developer Sandbox deserves most of the credit for this particular circle of hell.

This is where the Simple Commerce Developer module comes in.

Simple Commerce Developer lets you generate realistic IPN notifications at the push of a button, completely circumventing PayPal and making it much easier to test your extensions.

If you’ve never had to extend the Simple Commerce module in this manner, you’re probably wondering why I’d even waste my time building such a thing. Everyone else is already downloading the ZIP.