paul bennett

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I’ve found the command line to be the most reliable and simplest way of managing subversion repositories, but also found the svn:ignore property a little more esoteric to set up than I’d like.

svn:ignore is used to specifiy files and folders you don’t want to be part of the version controlled repository for your site or application build. These often include location specific settings files, development or debugging files etc.

For the benefit of others, here’s my run down to getting this working for my user account on a CentOS server.

1. Set up your default text editor for SVN

First, make sure you have a default text editor set up for subversion. The first time svn runs it builds a config directory, which on a linux server, is a directory named ‘.subversion‘ in your home directory.

Navigate into the .subversion directory (/home/youruseraccount/.subversion) and edit the config file. Uncomment the editor-cmd line and add in the name of the editor you’ll be using (in CentOS it’s nano).

Save your changes and then navigate to the directory where your repository resides.

2. Check which files and folders currently aren’t under version control

You can easily see what files aren’t under version control by running

svn status

and looking for the lines prefixed with a ‘?‘.

3. Add exclusion patterns for files and folders

Add svn:ignore properties for the files and / or folders you want subversion to ignore by running the folling command:

svn propedit svn:ignore directory-name

where directory-name is the directory you want to apply the changes to.

This should open the :ignore properties file in the text editor you specified. You can then enter file and folder names and / or patterns you want ignored. Once you’ve saved the changes, run

svn ci

to check in the property changes.

Now if you run

svn status

the file and folders you specified to ignore won’t be listed and won’t be under version control. Voila!

Further resources:


Drupal’s module installation system makes it very easy to extend and customise Drupal sites and to disable and re-enable modules quickly and non-destructively. However, the default way Drupal’s treats modules can get in the way during development.

When building your own modules, it’s common for database table structure to change as project needs become clearer, or even for modules to be built in a “front to back” fashion – where the admin screens and the UI interaction skeleton is built before the underlying processing and data storage code is developed (or finalised).

If this is the case, you may find yourself building an install file late in module development and then wondering why Drupal seems to dutifully ignore it.

Despite being counter-intuitive, this behaviour has some clear benefits. Previously installed modules may have attached database tables, and these tables may still hold valid application data. Drupal’s behaviour ensures that these tables aren’t destroyed when the module is disabled. The module can then be re-enabled later without any data destruction.

To get a module to run an install file, or to re-install successfully, you need to do more than just disable and re-enable the module on the module list screen (/admin/build/modules). This is beacuse  Drupal keeps a record of previously installed modules and won’t reinstall them if they are merely disabled and re-enabled.

The trick to getting your new / updated install file to run is to remove the modules entry from the system database tables. If your module has already created one or more tables, and you want the table structure to be altered or rebuilt, you may also need to remove these tables before re-enabling the module.

Once you’ve disabled your module, removed the related entry from the system table and removed any module-related tables, you can re-enable the module and your install file will be run correctly.

In the interests of the entire internets (ie: me) I now post some stats from this site, which has been “active” (in the very loosest sense of the word) for about 18 months.

First up, top 17 posts:

Javascript: checking if a function exist 6,074
Internet Explorer 7 CSS filter 5,707
Javascript: testing whether elements or 3,123
MySQL query speed: REGEXP vs. LIKE 2,459
Drupal: Creating custom node templates 2,014
MySQL insert or update in one query 1,128
print_r into a variable 1,117
the password() function – mysql 4 vs. my 1,005
a really short tumblr review 937
Javascript: testing whether elements or 794
EE-YUI: A *full* Rich text editor plugin 741
mysqldump to text file 660
Notes on creating your first Adobe Air a 535
eeyui – a YUI rich text editor for Expre 477
Opera 9.5 CSS filter 396
Solving the Drupal ‘White Screen of Deat 386
MySQL multi insert 378

So, basically people are coming here looking for answers to coding problems. Much like what I do with 90% of the blogs I visit. (Note to self: write more of these)

Now – top 11 search terms

ie7 css filter 547
javascript function exists 512
ie7 specific css 476
tumblr review 399
javascript check if function exists 386
mysql insert or update 188
css filter 183
javascript check function exists 178
javascript if function exists 176
print_r to variable 150
javascript object property exists 137

Basically lining up with the top 5 posts. No prizes for guessing where most of my traffic comes from.

I’m surprised at how much interest my short review of Tumblr has produced.

Top 15 referrers… 251… 77 47… 38 31… 29… 28 27 26 23… 23… 22 22… 21

Some blogs, a Google Code project I administer, my Twitter account,  some comments I’ve left and a few extra bits floating about.

Weirdest Referrer

Um, OK.

Next – traffic summary

This really is something I should use to convince some clients of the value of frequently updating content and doing something (anything!) to promote their sites – and the traffic to this site is tiny.


As you can see – for the first year I didn’t even do anything with the site and since then I’d be lucky if I average one post a month. Despite this, traffic rises – which goes to show the power of writing things that at least a few people are interested in.

Any stats you care to share? Link them up in the comments.

1. Produce terminal-friendly output

Occasionally you may be using the command line and find yourself limited by the size of either the table you’re getting results from or by the size of the terminal window you’re using. (I find the DPS window particularly resistant to resizing.

You can get results in this format
column1_name: data
column2_name: data

instead of the default tabular layout by using the \G flag at the end of your select statement:

select * from my_table where id = "3"\G

2. Better, more flexible result ordering

Recently I found myself a bit hamstrung by the way a table had been designed. I wanted chronological ordering, but the default ordering by date wasn’t ordering the results exactly chronologically.

I found that I could use functions in the ‘order by’ component of my selects to get better ordering

select * from my_table order by concat(entry_date, entry_time);

(group by could also be used to similar effect)

3. Logging your command line session

Occasionally you may end a command line MySQL session and then think “Argh – I wish I’d saved that query!”. MySQL has a handy logging feature which writes your session (input and output) to a file so you can pull out those tricky queries and keep them for future reference. To do so, log in using the -tee flag:

mysql -u username -p -tee=/path/to/your/log.file

Obviously you need write access to the folder you’re writing to. If the file doesn’t exist, MySQL will create it for you.

Beware: if the file already exists, MySQL will overwrite it with the new session data.

4.  Loading .CSV file data into a table using the command line

MySQL has a very simple way to load .csv file data into tables. Once you have the syntax down, I find this a lot easier and ess error-prne than commonly used web-based or GUI tools.

Syntax I’ve used is:

load data infile '/path/to/your.csv' into table my_tables fields terminated by ',' optionally enclosed by '"' lines terminated by '\n';

Works a treat.

5. Cloning tables

This is really simple, but is something I use a lot to create development tables with live data (when necessary).

create table my_new_table as select * from my_old_table;

This does exactly what it looks like – creates an exact renamed copy of the original table (my_old_table in this instance).

Beware: keys and indexes aren’t recreated – you’ll need to add these back in manually.

What about you  – any handy MySQL tricks to share?

It has somewhat of a steep learning curve, but Drupal is amazing for allowing you to build flexible, complex websites with lots of functionality in very little time.

For a site I’m working on, we had several custom content types coming through the default node template (node.tpl.php) in our customised theme.

This was fine and dandy for quick development, but then the time came to customise the node page for each content type.

First things first, you need a custom node template. Save the node.tpl.php file as node-[your node name].tpl.php and you’ve created a custom node template. (This means if your node type is ‘audio’, you’d save the file as node-audio.tpl.php)

Now we need to customise the template to suit our needs.

If you dive into a standard node template you’ll see something (unhelpful) like this where the content goes:

<div class=”content”>

Um, OK. So how do you get at the functions which compile the content before it gets to this stage? Well, you probably can, but the easier way is to avoid this step and just access the default $node object which drupal gives you access to with each ‘page’.

To find out what’s hiding inside the $node object, simply do something like this:


(Yes, I like print_r())

The resulting cacophony in your page source will show you all the node attributes and properties you have access to. Chances are you’ll be able to access these directly to create the customised node template you need.

Firefox, Opera, and webkit based browsers (Safari, Chrome) are all purported to be the shizzle when it comes to standards support, but that doesn’t mean they all render the same.

This following CSS chestnut will allow you to address any tweaks you need to make for webkit based browsers without affecting any others:

@media screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio:0){
/* webkit rules go here */

I ran across some odd Subversion / Samba errors lately. It seemed whenever we added an image or non-text file to the repository, we were getting the error:

Commit succeeded, but other errors follow:
Error bumping revisions post-commit (details follow):
In directory '[dir name]'
Error processing command 'committed' in '[dir name]'
Can't move
'[dir name]\.svn\props\[image name].gif.svn-work' to
[dir name]\.svn\prop-base\[image name].gif.svn-b...\
Access is denied.

It looked like a subversion issue at first – but actually it’s not, it’s a Samba permissions issue. I share this to possibly spare someone else the pain of chasing this down.

Short answer – make some small edits to smb.conf, restart samba and the problem goes away.
The full solution is here.