KISS Datatable

Recenlty I’ve faced a problem with sorting columns in Datatable.

What is Datatable?

Datatable is a plug-in for Jquery library. It provides a lot of features like pagination, quick search or multi-column ordering. Besides, you can develop easily Bootstrap or Foundation ui css styles. There are also more other option but It doesn’t make sense to list it here, because you can visit their site and you can read clearly documentation. On Datatable website you can see a lot of examples. First of them shows how to improve your ordinary table to awesome and rich of features table. One function changes everything, It’s fantastic!  


Returning to my problem which I’ve faced, as I told it was problem related to sorting column in table.

I know sorting is a trivial thing. I hope that everyone knows it 🙂 Sorting by a date is also implemented in a datatable library. So everything is clear when we don’t change date format to human readable format. I mean something like this ‘3 hours ago’, ‘1 year ago’.

When Open Event team tested how datatable manages ordering columns in that format it didn’t work. It’s quite hard to sort by that format, So I’ve invented an idea. Surely you are wondering what i’ve invented. I’ve postponed my minds about sort by this values. It can direct to overwork. When I thought about it, weird ideas came to my mind, a lots of conditions, If statements… Therefore I’ve resigned from this. I’ve used KISS principle. KISS means ‘keep it simple stupid’. I like it!

Therefore that sorting is implemented on frontend side. I’ve decided not to display human readable date format at the beginning. I find  all dates which have format “YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm” then I replace that format to human readable format. So it’s very quick and comfortable, and doesn’t require a lot conditions to write. Of course I’ve tried to implement it in Datatable library. I suppose that it would  require more effort than it’s now.

Below You can see great function which changes a date in frontend side but does not change data in a datatable. So sorting process takes place in a datatable using format  “YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm” but user see human readable format. Isn’t it awesome?!

function change_column_time_to_humanize_format(datatable_name, column_id) {
  $(datatable_name).each(function( key, value ) {
    $(value).children().each(function( key1, value2 ) {
       if(key1 === column_id ){
          var current_value = $(value2).text().slice(0, 16);
          var changed_value = moment(current_value, "YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm").fromNow()
          var isValid = moment(current_value, "YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm", true).isValid()
          if (changed_value !== current_value && isValid === true){


Building the Scheduler UI

{ Repost from my personal blog @ }

If you hadn’t already noticed, Open Event has got a shiny new feature. A graphical and an Interactive scheduler to organize sessions into their respective rooms and timings.

As you can see in the above screenshot, we have a timeline on the left. And a lot of session boxes to it’s right. All the boxes are re-sizable and drag-drop-able. The columns represent the different rooms (a.k.a micro-locations). The sessions can be dropped into their respective rooms. Above the timeline, is a toolbar that controls the date. The timeline can be changed for each date by clicking on the respective date button.

The Clear overlaps button would automatically check the timeline and remove any sessions that are overlapping each other. The Removed sessions will be moved to the unscheduled sessions pane at the left.

The Add new micro-location button can be used to instantly add a new room. A modal dialog would open and the micro-location will be instantly added to the timeline once saved.

The Export as iCal allows the organizer to export all the sessions of that event in the popular iCalendar format which can then be imported into various calendar applications.

The Export as PNG saves the entire timeline as a PNG image file. Which can then be printed by the organizers or circulated via other means if necessary.

Core Dependencies

The scheduler makes use of some javascript libraries for the implementation of most of the core functionality

  • Interact.js – For drag-and-drop and resizing
  • Lodash – For array/object manipulations and object cloning
  • jQuery – For DOM Manipulation
  • Moment.js – For date time parsing and calculation
  • Swagger JS – For communicating with our API that is documented according to the swagger specs.
Retrieving data via the API

The swagger js client is used to obtain the sessions data using the API. The client is asynchronously initialized on page load. The client can be accessed from anywhere using the javascript function initializeSwaggerClient.

The swagger initialization function accepts a callback which is called if the client is initialized. If the client is not initialized, the callback is called after that.

var swaggerConfigUrl = window.location.protocol + "//" + + "/api/v2/swagger.json";  
window.swagger_loaded = false;  
function initializeSwaggerClient(callback) {  
    if (!window.swagger_loaded) {
        window.api = new SwaggerClient({
            url: swaggerConfigUrl,
            success: function () {
                window.swagger_loaded = true;
                if (callback) {

    } else {
        if (callback) {

For getting all the sessions of an event, we can do,

initializeSwaggerClient(function () {  
    api.sessions.get_session_list({event_id: eventId}, function (sessionData) {
        var sessions = sessionData.obj;  // Here we have an array of session objects

In a similar fashion, all the micro-locations of an event can also be loaded.

Processing the sessions and micro-locations

Each session object is looped through, it’s start time and end time are parsed into moment objects, duration is calculated, and it’s distance from the top in the timeline is calculated in pixels. The new object with additional information, is stored in an in-memory data store, with the date of the event as key, for use in the timeline.

The time configuration is specified in a separate time object.

var time = {  
    start: {
        hours: 0,
        minutes: 0
    end: {
        hours: 23,
        minutes: 59
    unit: {
        minutes: 15,
        pixels: 48,
        count: 0
    format: "YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss"

The smallest unit of measurement is 15 minutes and 48px === 15 minutes in the timeline.

Each day of the event is stored in a separate array in the form of Do MMMM YYYY(eg. 2nd May 2013).

The array of micro-location objects is sorted alphabetically by the room name.

Displaying sessions and micro-locations on the timeline

According to the day selected, the sessions for that day are displayed on the timeline. Based on their time, the distance of the session div from the top of the timeline is calculated in pixels and the session box is positioned absolutely. The height of the session in pixels is calculated from it’s duration and set.

For pixels-minutes conversion, the following are used.

 * Convert minutes to pixels based on the time unit configuration
 * @param {number} minutes The minutes that need to be converted to pixels
 * @returns {number} The pixels
function minutesToPixels(minutes) {  
    minutes = Math.abs(minutes);
    return (minutes / time.unit.minutes) * time.unit.pixels;

 * Convert pixels to minutes based on the time unit configuration
 * @param {number} pixels The pixels that need to be converted to minutes
 * @returns {number} The minutes
function pixelsToMinutes(pixels) {  
    pixels = Math.abs(pixels);
    return (pixels / time.unit.pixels) * time.unit.minutes;
Adding interactivity to the session elements

Interact.js is used to provide interactive capabilities such as drag-drop and resizing.

To know how to use Interact.js, you can checkout some previous blog posts on the same, Interact.js + drag-drop and Interact.js + resizing.

Updating the session information in database on every change

We have to update the session information in database whenever it is moved or resized. Every time a session is moved or resized, a jQuery event is triggered on $(document) along with the session object as the payload.

We listen to this event, and make an API request with the new session object to update the session information in the database.

The scheduler UI is more complex than said in this blog post. To know more about it, you can checkout the scheduler’s javascript code atapp/static/js/admin/event/scheduler.js.

Doing asynchronous tasks serially using ‘async’ in node.js

In the open-event-webapp generator we need to perform a lot of asynchronous tasks in the background like –

  • Downloading images and audio assets
  • Downloading the jsons from the endpoints
  • Generating the html from handelbar templates
  • and so on . .

Sometimes tasks depend on previous tasks, and in such cases we need to perform them serially. Also there are tasks like image downloads, that would be better if done parallelly.

To achieve both these purposes, there is an awesome node.js library called async that helps achieve this.

To perform asynchronous tasks serially (one task, then another task), we can use something like this –


    (done) => {
       someAsyncFunction(function () { done () })
    //(done) => {..}, (done) => {..} more tasks here
    (done) => {
       someAsyncFunction(function () { done () })

Basically async takes an array of functions. Each function contains a callback that you need to call when the internal task is finished. The 2nd task starts, only after the done() callback of first task is executed.

An example of it’s usage can be seen in the open-event-webapp project here

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 property of the event clicked. The target event property returns the element that triggered the event. So we check whether 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 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

Building interactive elements with HTML and javascript: Interact.js + resizing

{ Repost from my personal blog @ }

In a few of the past blog posts, we saw about implementing resizing with HTML and javascript. The functionality was pretty basic with simple resizing. In the last blog post we saw about interact.js.

interact.js is a lightweight, standalone JavaScript module for handling single-pointer and multi-touch drags and gestures with powerful features including inertia and snapping.

Getting started with Interact.js

You have multiple option to include the library in your project.

  • You can use bower to install (bower install interact) (or)
  • npm (npm install interact.js) (or)
  • You could directly include the library from a CDN (
Implementing resizing

Let’s create a simple box using HTML. We’ll add a class called resizable to it so that we can reference it to initialize Interact.js

<div class="resizable">  
    Use right/bottom edge to resize

We need to create an interact instance. Once the instance is created, we have to call the resizable method on it to add resize support to the div.

    edges: { right: true, bottom: true }
  .on('resizemove', function (event) {


Inside the resizable method, we can pass configuration options. The edgesconfig key allows us to specify on which all edges, resizing should be allowed. Right now, we have allowed on the right and bottom edges. Similarly we can have resizing support in the top and left edges too.

The resizemove event is triggered by interact every time the user tries to resize the div. From the event, we can get the box that is being resized, (i.e) the target by accessing

The event object also provides us event.rect.width and event.rect.height which is the width and height of the div after resizing. We’ll not set this as the width of the div so that, the user is able to see the width change.

var target =;
    // update the element's style  = event.rect.width + 'px'; = event.rect.height + 'px';

We can also instruct Interact.js to preserve the aspect ratio of the box by adding an option preserveAspectRatio: true to the configuration object passed to resizable method during initialization.

    edges: { right: true, bottom: true }
  .on('resizemove', function (event) {
    var target =;

    // update the element's style  = event.rect.width + 'px'; = event.rect.height + 'px';

Resizing and drag-drop (with Interact.js) were used to create the Scheduler tool at Open Event. The tool allows event/track organizers to easily arrange the sessions into their respective rooms by drag-drop and also to easily change the timings of the events by resizing the event block. The entire source code of the scheduler can be viewed at app/static/js/admin/event/scheduler.js in the Open Event Organizer server’s GitHub repository.


Building interactive elements with HTML and javascript: Interact.js + drag-drop

{ Repost from my personal blog @ }

In a few of the past blog posts, we saw about implementing drag-drop andresizing with HTML and javascript. The functionality was pretty basic with a simple drag-and-drop and resizing. That is where, a javascript library called as interact.js comes in.

interact.js is a lightweight, standalone JavaScript module for handling single-pointer and multi-touch drags and gestures with powerful features including inertia and snapping.

With Interact.js, building interactive elements is like a eating a piece of your favorite cake – that easy !

Getting started with Interact.js

You have multiple option to include the library in your project.

  • You can use bower to install (bower install interact) (or)
  • npm (npm install interact.js) (or)
  • You could directly include the library from a CDN (

Implementing a simple draggable

Let’s start with some basic markup. We’ll be using the draggable class to enable interact.js on this element.

<div id="box-one" class="draggable">  
  <p> I am the first Box </p>
<div id="box-two" class="draggable">  
    <p> I am the second Box </p>

The first step in using interact.js is to create an interact instance. Which you can create by using interact('<the selector>'). Once the instance is created, you’ll have to call the draggable method on it to enable drag. Draggable accepts a javascript object with some configuration options and some pretty useful callbacks.

// target elements with the "draggable" class
    // enable inertial throwing
    inertia: true,
    // keep the element within the area of it's parent
    restrict: {
      restriction: "parent",
      endOnly: true,
      elementRect: { top: 0, left: 0, bottom: 1, right: 1 }
    // enable autoScroll
    autoScroll: true,
    // call this function on every dragmove event
    onmove: dragMoveListener,

  function dragMoveListener (event) {
    var target =,
        // keep the dragged position in the data-x/data-y attributes
        x = (parseFloat(target.getAttribute('data-x')) || 0) + event.dx,
        y = (parseFloat(target.getAttribute('data-y')) || 0) + event.dy;

    // translate the element = =
      'translate(' + x + 'px, ' + y + 'px)';

    // update the posiion attributes
    target.setAttribute('data-x', x);
    target.setAttribute('data-y', y);

Here we use the onmove event to move the box according to the dx and dyprovided by interact when the element is dragged.

Implementing a simple drag-drop

Now to the above draggable, we’ll add a drop zone into which the two draggable boxes can be dropped.

<div id="dropzone" class="dropzone">You can drop the boxes here</div>

Similar to a draggable, we first create an interact instance. Then we call the dropzone method on to tell interact that, that div is to be considered as a dropzone. The dropzone method accepts a json object with configuration options and callbacks.

// enable draggables to be dropped into this
  // Require a 50% element overlap for a drop to be possible
  overlap: 0.50,

  // listen for drop related events:

  ondropactivate: function (event) {
    // add active dropzone feedback'drop-active');
  ondragenter: function (event) {
    var draggableElement = event.relatedTarget,
        dropzoneElement =;

    // feedback the possibility of a drop
  ondragleave: function (event) {
    // remove the drop feedback style'drop-target');
  ondrop: function (event) {
    event.relatedTarget.textContent = 'Dropped';
  ondropdeactivate: function (event) {
    // remove active dropzone feedback'drop-active');'drop-target');

Each event provides two important properties. relatedTarget which gives us the DOM object of the draggable that is being dragged. And target which gives us the DOM object of the dropzone. We can use this to provide visual feedback for the user when he/she is dragging.


Unit testing nodejs with Mocha and Chai

There are a lot of unit testing frameworks available for Javascript, Jasmine and Karma being some of the older and more popular ones.

Jasmine and Karma, though are, originally designed for browser-side JS, and hence, frameworks like NodeUnit and Mocha have become more popular with server-size JS.
We needed code coverage reports to work after the unit tests, and the Jasmine-Node reports were not sufficient, so we just moved to using Mocha.

When using Mocha, we can use some assert library (which is not necessary, but makes life a hell lot easier). We are using chai at the open-event-webapp..

First of all install mocha globally –

npm install -g mocha

And write your tests in the test/ folder that mocha by default considers as the folder containing your test specs. For example we have our tests here –

Writing a simple mocha test is as easy as this –

var assert = require('chai').assert;
describe('Array', function() {
  describe('#indexOf()', function() {
    it('should return -1 when the value is not present', function() {
      assert.equal(-1, [1,2,3].indexOf(5));
      assert.equal(-1, [1,2,3].indexOf(0));

The first parameter inside describe() is just to show the tests in a aesthetic way in the console.

You can see our tests described in this file  –

And attached below is an screenshot of the terminal after I have run the command mocha in the root of my project

Screenshot from 2016-07-10 04-42-26

Uploading a file to a server via PHP

Uploading a file to a server via PHP

If you have been following my posts about my GSoC project, you would be knowing that we are making an app generator which will allow users to easily generate an android app for any event that they plan to host.

So, the next thing that we wanted in our app was to allow the users to upload a zip containing the json files (in case they don’t have an API, from where app can fetch data from) and then upload it to the server where we can use these files during the app compilation.

Steps below will tell you , how we achieved it :

Changes to HTML

First thing that we needed to do was add a file upload element to out HTML page that would allow only .zip files to be uploaded.
It was pretty simple one liner code which goes as follows

<td valign=”top”>
<label for=”sessions”>Zip containing .json files</label>
<td valign=”top”>
<input accept=”.zip” type=”file” id=”uploadZip” name=”sessions”>

PHP script to upload file on to the server

Next, we needed a server sided script (I used PHP) which would upload the zip provided by the user on to the server and store it to a unique location for each user.
The code for that was,

if ( 0 < $_FILES[‘file’][‘error’] ) {
echo ‘Error: ‘ . $_FILES[‘file’][‘error’] . ‘<br>’;
else {

So what is happening here is basically the input arg. is first checked whether it is null or not null.
If it is null, and error is thrown back to the user, else the file is renamed and uploaded to the uploads folder in the server’s public directory.

Changes to the JavaScript

This was the part that needed most of the changes to be done, we first had to store the file that is to be uploaded in the form data, and then make and AJAX call to the php file located on the server.

var file_data = $(‘#uploadZip’).prop(‘files’)[0];
var form_data = new FormData();
form_data.append(‘file’, file_data);
{ url: ‘/upload.php’, // point to server-side PHP script
cache: false,
contentType: false,
processData: false,
data: form_data,
type: ‘post’,
success: function(php_script_response){
ajaxCall1(); } //Chain up another AJAX call for further operations

So, that’s almost it!
Some server sided changes were also required like allowing the web user to execute the upload.php script and making the uploads directory writable by the web user.

Well, does it work?

Um, yeah it does.
There are a few issues with concurrent users which we are still debugging, but apart from that it works like a charm!

Here you can see a folder created by each user based on his/her timestamp
And here you can see the file that was uploaded y him/her
Lastly our webapp (Looks stunning right?)

So, that was all for this week, hope to see you again next time.
Cheers and all the best 🙂

Debugging with Node

Nodejs is a powerful Event-driven I/O server-side JavaScript environment based on V8. Debugging of Node applications is not as easy as the browser code. But the node wonderful debugger can make it easy if it is used effectively.

How to start the debugger

For debugging node applications, we have to only run a debug command. Here for a quick demonstration, I have used Open-Event-Webapp fold.js code.

Suppose there is a problem in the script file and we have to debug it. All we have to do is to run the debug command from the directory containing the file.

node debug ./fold.js

The output screen will show something like this:


This brings us into the debug mode. When we are in debug mode, we can try various commands like ‘n’ for next, ‘s’ for the step into a function, ‘list(k)’ where k is the number of lines of the code you want on the screen.


The ‘n’ command always takes us to next instruction, hence in long codebases, it is always recommended to use ‘c’ or Continue Execution command for going to the next breakpoint.

To set the breakpoint, we can use the command:

setBreakpoint() or sb()

The snapshot shows the output once the breakpoint is set. We can check the values at the breakpoint by using command repl.


Debugging the code correctly can save a lot of time and effort. These techniques provided by the debugger are necessary to learn.