Uploading Images via APIs in the Open Event Server

APIs help us to send and receive data in some particular data format that can then be used individually or integrated with a frontend UI. In our case, the entire API server is used to manage all the requests from the frontend and send back the necessary response. Usually, the application is to send simple form data which is then stored into the backend database and a valid jsonapi response is shown. However other than normal text, url, datetime data one very important data is media files, in our case event images, user images, slides, etc. In this blog, we will particularly deal with how we can upload images in the server using API.

Sending Data

Firstly, we need to decide how do we send the data in the post request of the API. So we are sending a base64 encoded string representing the image along with the image extension appended to it, for example, data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANS. This is a widely used format for showing images over the web. So when we send a POST request we send a json encoded body like:

{
    "data": "data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANS"
}

Converting Base64 Data to Image

There are 2 parts of the data in the string that we receive. The first part basically tells us the format of the image(.gif in this case) and string encoding(base64 in this case), the second part gives us the encoded string. So, from the first part, we extract the file extension for the image file to be created. We use uuid.uuid4() for a random filename.

filename = '{}.{}'.format(str(uuid.uuid4()).data.split(";")[0].split("/")[1])

Now to write the base64 encoded string as an image file, we first need to get only the encoded string part from the data and then decode it. We use string decode function of python for the decoding purpose. Then we write the data to the image file and save it.

file.write(data.split(",")[1].decode("base64")

API Response

Finally using whatever logic you are using for serving your static files, you generate the static file path for the image saved. And then create another json encoded response which returns you the url for the saved image in the server.

{
    "url": "https://xyz.storage.com/asd/fgh/hjk/1233456.png"
}

And there you have your image uploaded and served.

Permission Dependent Schema for Admin Settings in Open Event Server

For implementing the next version of the API in Open Event, the schema is a very important thing. It tells you exactly what all information you need to send in the body and how the response will look. In flask-rest-jsonapi, we usually mention a schema for an API which is then used for validating requests and sending response. Using decorators, we restrict who all can create, edit or get responses from a particular API endpoint. However, a scenario may so arise that you need to show data to users at different permissions level, but the amount of data shown significantly varies with the permission.

For example, for the settings API in our case. There are few informations like the app name, app tagline that we want to be available to users at all permission levels. However, informations such as aws secret key, or mailing secret keys or any other secret key, we want that to be available only to the admin and super admin. And the responses should be such that users at different permission level should feel that whatever information shown to them is complete and not missing.

So, what we do is we create different schemas, in our case 2 different schemas. Depending on the permission of the user, we show them a particular schema. In our case, the two schemas are SettingSchemaAdmin and SettingSchemaNonAdmin. In SettingSchemaAdmin, we have all the attributes or fields that are present and is accessible to the Admin and Super Admin. In the SettingSchemaNonAdmin however, we have only those fields and attributes that we want to show to all non admin users.

from flask_jwt import current_identity
 
class SettingDetail(ResourceDetail):
    """
    setting detail by id
    """
 
    def before_get(self, args, kwargs):
        kwargs['id'] = 1
        if current_identity.is_admin or current_identity.is_super_admin:
            self.schema = SettingSchemaAdmin
        else:
            self.schema = SettingSchemaNonAdmin

 

The above code helps us achieve this. If you have read previous blogs about the API server, you would already know that we are using JWT for authenticating our users. In this code, we are importing current_identity from flask_jwt. Current_identity, returns us an object of the User type which has properties such as is_admin, is_super_admin, etc. to help us identify the permission level of that user.
Using this object, we check whether the user who is making the request via jwt authentication is an admin or super admin, or just a normal registered user.

        if current_identity.is_admin or current_identity.is_super_admin:
            self.schema = SettingSchemaAdmin
        else:
            self.schema = SettingSchemaNonAdmin

 

So, if the current user sending the request is an admin, then we set the schema for the Resource manager class of the flask-rest-jsonapi as SettingSchemaAdmin, which we have already declared before containing all the fields, else, we set it as SettingSchemaNonAdmin which has limited number of attributes.

Ticket Ordering and Positioning (Front-end)

As discussed in my last blog about ticket ordering and positioning, in this blog we are gonna talk about how we implement the front-end part of re-arranging the tickets. We essentially do it using compute and methods of Vue.js. The functionality that is expected in the front-end is, the event organizer should be able to move the tickets Up or Down the order and save that position so that it gets displayed later in that very particular order.

Like I said above we use two main things of Vue.JS for this purpose – Compute and Methods.

Compute

We use this to get the sorted list of tickets based on the position key of the tickets and use this sorted list to display the tickets in the event editing wizard. Whenever you change the value of the position for a ticket, it automatically updates the list to sorted list again and hence the order of ticket in the front-end also updates. To add a compute function in Vue.JS, inside the new Vue() object creation, we add an attribute computed and inside that we put all the functions that we are gonna use. So in our case the function is sortedTickets . We make use of the sort function of lodash to sort the tickets array based on it’s position attribute.

Now while showing or looping over the tickets, we loop over sortedTickets  rather than the original ticket array.

Method

This method is called when the button is clicked to move it up or down. This makes the calculations to determine the values of the position of the two tickets which are being re-ordered in a single click. To add a method, we do it in a similar way like computed but using methods attribute instead. The methods we have written to move tickets up or down is moveTicket.

It has 3 parameters – ticket, index and direction. So when this function call is emitted, depending on the button, the direction is either “up” or “down” while the other two parameters are the ticket properties of the particular ticket. So in this function we check the direction and accordingly update the value of position for the tickets involved in the arranging. As we update the position here, because of the compute, the UI automatically updates to show the tickets in the new order.

Finally after all arrangement is done, the position is always saved in a hidden input field which is then passed as form data and is saved in the database so that the position value can be used in other pages for showing the ticket in order.

Show Ordered Ticket

In other pages, while showing ordered ticket, we already receive the ticket array in sorted format based on the position key. Hence, we don’t need to worry about it in the front-end and it automatically is shown in the sorted order.

Ticket Ordering or Positioning (back-end)

One of the many feature requests that we got for our open event organizer server or the eventyay website is ticket ordering. The event organizers wanted to show the tickets in a particular order in the website and wanted to control the ordering of the ticket. This was a common request by many and also an important enhancement. There were two main things to deal with when ticket ordering was concerned. Firstly, how do we store the position of the ticket in the set of tickets. Secondly, we needed to give an UI in the event creation/edit wizard to control the order or position of a ticket. In this blog, I will talk about how we store the position of the tickets in the backend and use it to show in our public page of the event.

Continue reading Ticket Ordering or Positioning (back-end)

PIL to convert type and quality of image

Image upload is an important part of the server. The images can be in different formats and after applying certain javascript modifications, they can be changed to different formats. For example, when an image is uploaded after cropping in open event organizer server, it is saved in PNG format. But PNG is more than 5 times larger than JPEG image. So when we upload a 150KB image, the image finally reaching the server is around 1MB which is huge. So we need to decide in the server which image format to select in different cases and how to convert them.

Continue reading PIL to convert type and quality of image

Adding Google Analytics To All Pages Using Flask

Google Analytics gives a detailed insight about your website including how many people visited, time, demography, how many returning visitors and all such information. It’s a real important tool to have. All you have to do is create a Universal Analytics Tracking code and use it in a javascript code. The only problem is this code needs to be present in all the pages that you wants the analytics data for. So changing any part of the javascript code anytime, needs to be changed in all .html files.

However, there is a better way of doing it in flask. Create a file base.html and write the code:

<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,’script’,’https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘<track-code>’, ‘auto’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

</script>

Then using the property of jinja2 template extend this file in all the html files, i.e. {% extends ‘gentelella/admin/base.html’ %}. Thus now when you make some change in the above mentioned javascrpt code, you need to change it only in one place and it is changed in all other places.

R14 – Memory Quota Exceeded

We, like many other organisations, are using heroku as the deployment server for our project open event organizer server. Things are pretty simple and awesome when your project is in its beginning phase and things run pretty smoothly. But as your project grows, there comes some server problem. And one of the biggest problems as your project grows is memory. Now since various packages have a different amount of memory assigned to you in case of hosting in generic servers such as heroku, so it might result in memory quota exceeded. Recently, we faced such a problem. R14 – Memory Quota Exceeded. Took us quite some time to understand what and why and how this occurred. So let me share a few things I found about this error.

Continue reading R14 – Memory Quota Exceeded

Resizing Uploaded Image (Python)

While we make websites were we need to upload images such as in event organizing server, the image for the event needs to be shown in various different sizes in different pages. But an image with high resolution might be an overkill for using at a place where we just need it to be shown as a thumbnail. So what most CMS websites do is re-size the image uploaded and store a smaller image as thumbnail. So how do we do that? Let’s find out.

Continue reading Resizing Uploaded Image (Python)

Mark Notifications Read on Click

Screenshot from 2016-08-01 07:31:22

Notification has become a really important way of informing users about the various activities related to them in web apps. There are different types of notification such as web app notification, email notification, desktop notification, push notification, etc. We are going to primarily talk about web app notification and mainly about how to mark them as read.

Create Notification

Creating a notification is plain and simple. You have a json or an object which stores the notification message corresponding to a particular activity. Whenever that activity occurs in the backend, you call the send notification module, which adds the information to the database and shows it in the notification page. As simple as that.

Screenshot from 2016-08-01 07:48:08

Marking Notification as Read

The main functioning of this is plain and simple as well. You have a URL, which on getting a request from the user, marks the notification as read in the database. That’s it.

Screenshot from 2016-08-01 07:48:17

We know how to do this using a button or a link. But the question here is how to mark a notification as read on clicking any part of the notification?? The obvious answer is, well, put the entire notification inside an anchor tag and you are done, right? Well, it would work in many cases. But what if the design structure is such that this doesn’t work somehow. Somehow enclosing the notification inside a particular anchor tag doesn’t solve the purpose. What do we do then?

Identify Whether Inside a DIV

The main problem here actually is how to identify whether the click is inside the enclosing div or somewhere else. Once we solve this problem, we can send an ajax request to the mark read URL and our job is done.

Screenshot from 2016-08-01 07:52:58

So, to identify that a click is indeed inside a div, we use the event.target property of the event clicked. The target event property returns the element that triggered the event. So we check whether event.target has the “notification” class in our case. If it does not have the “notification” class we check in all it’s parent nodes. We get the parent nodes using the “parent()” function and check whether any of that has notification. If either of the 2 occurs, we consider that the click is inside the div. And thus mark the notification as read.

Screenshot from 2016-08-01 07:51:09

So, once this is done, we mark the notification as read in the backend and our job is done…

Autocomplete Address Form using Google Map API

Google map is one of the most widely used API of Google as most of the websites use Google map for showing address location. For a static address it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is mention the address and the map will show the nearest location. Problem arrives when the address is dynamically putted by the user. Suppose for an event in event organizer server, one enters the location. The main component used while taking input location is Google Autocomplete. But we went a step further and parsed the entire address based on city, state, country, etc. and allowed user to input the details as well which gave them the nearest location marked in Map if autocomplete couldn’t find the address.

Autocomplete Location

Screenshot from 2016-07-27 06:52:37

As we can see, in the above input box we get suggestions by Google Map on entering first few letters of our address. To this, we need the API https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/js?key=YOUR_API_KEY&libraries=places&callback=initMap. You can find an example code of how to do this here.

After this is done, what we wanted is not to just include this address, but to provide a form to fill up the entire address in case some parts were missing on this address. The function that the autocomplete listens to is “place_changed” . So once we click on one of the options, this event is triggered. Once the event is triggered, we use the autocomplete.getPlace() to get the complete address json. The json looks something like this:

Screenshot from 2016-07-27 07:04:49

Now what we do is we create a form with input fields having the id same as the ones we require(e.g., country, administrative_area_level_1, locality, etc.). After that we select the long_name or the short_name from this json and put the value in the corresponding input field with the ids. The code for the process after getting the json is elaborated here.

Editing Address Form

After doing this it looks something like this:
Screenshot from 2016-07-27 07:12:13

However, now the important part is to show the map according to this fields. Also, every time we update a field, the map should be updated. For this we use a hack. Instead of removing the initial location field completely, we hide the field but keep the binding to autocomplete intact. As a result the map is shown when we select a particular address.

Now when we update the fields in the address form, we append the value of this field to the value in the initial location field. Though the field is hidden but it is still bound to autocomplete. As a result as soon as we append something to the string contained in the field, the map gets updated. Also, the updated value gets stored to the DB. Thus, with every update in field, the pointer is moved to the nearest location formed by appending all the data from the form.

After saving the location data to DB, if we wish to edit it, we can get back the json by making the same request with the location value. And then we will get back the same address form and the map accordingly.

Finally it looks something like this:

Screenshot from 2016-07-27 07:19:56