Making Drupal's TinyMCE module produce domain absolute URLs

By default Drupal's excellent TinyMCE module will convert domain aboslute URLs (e.g. into plain old absolute URLs (e.g. /files/u63/drupal_logo.png). Generally this is not a problem so long as you do not want to use an external web service such as FeedBurner for your RSS feeds. Unfortunately FeedBurner does not handle plain old absolute URLs very well. This is because the domain name for your FeedBurner enabled RSS feed is and any absolute (or relative) links in your post try resolving to this domain name rather than the original website.

In a perfect world FeedBurner would parse incoming RSS feeds and replace absolute/relative URLs with domain aboslute URLs to ensure everything works (or maybe it can and I haven't figured out how to do this). Fixing this problem in Drupal when you are using the TinyMCE editor is a little tricky because TinyMCE tries to be helpful by replacing your domain absolute URLs. To get around this we have to tell TinyMCE to leave these URLs alone and convert any new absolute or relative URLs into their domain absolute equivalents.

To achieve this edit the modules/tinymce/tinymce.module file in your Drupal site and change the following lines (line numbers relate to 5.x-1.x-dev release of the TinyMCE module):

Line 494 change:

$host = $base_url;

to your site's domain name:

$host = "";

Between lines 505-506

$init['relative_urls'] = 'false';
$init['document_base_url'] = "$host";

add the following extra parameter:

$init['relative_urls'] = 'false';
$init['remove_script_host'] = 'false';
$init['document_base_url'] = "$host";

These settings are taken from the TinyMCE FAQ on the subject. Once you have made these changes you should find TinyMCE behaves itself much better when it comes to using FeedBurner.

Capturing workplace knowledge with Drupal

Formally recording what we have learned in the workplace is a worthwhile process that is often forgotten or not undertaken because there is no time or immediate incentive to do so. Web-based technologies such as wikis and blogs have demonstrated that enabling people to quickly publish and publicise their knowledge within their peer group is potentially a very powerful means of undertaking collaborative knowledge capture. This article explores how Drupal, an open-source content management framework can be used to facilitate this process in a community centric manner.

So much to know, so little time

A workplace such as an architecture practice generates a lot of 'on the job' knowledge which at the time can seem obvious or worthless but afterwards can be invaluable. Such knowledge can range from the most appropriate window detail to use in a certain situation, to the most efficient way of modeling that window detail in the office CAD package. Usually these little morsels of knowledge are never formally recorded because it is just more work that typically is not budgeted for, or acknowledged by, management. As a consequence finding an answer to one of the aforementioned questions becomes dependent on your ability to understand the workplace's knowledge topography (i.e. who knows what). But even though it maybe common knowledge in your workplace that Bob has a collection of decent window details or Andrew 'the CAD guy' will help you out, what happens when they are not available, or even worse quit their job to work at the more fashionable architecture practice across town?

The case for splitting Novell

Phil Windley in a recent Between the Lines posting entitled 'Split Novell?' mused that Novell's relatively poor identity management business performance (in comparison to the industry in general) was perhaps a result of poor strategic synergy between their operating system (Suse) and IDM product lines. Not being a financial follower of the IDM market I cannot say for certain whether he is right or wrong, but I do agree with his basic assertion that Novell should be split in two. For a while now I have felt that their emphasis on Suse Linux is to the detriment of their excellent product offerings in the identity and network services markets such as eDirectory/iManager, IDM, iFolder and ZenWorks.

Commoditising the operating system

The success of Novell during the 80's and early 90's was due in no small part to their tried and tested Netware operating system. Unfortunately the operating system market has changed, Windows has matured and Linux has gained a strong foothold as a ubiquitous, free platform for reliably hosting network services. With the gradual demise of Netware, Novell had an opportunity to step out of the low-level operating system market and focus on the aspects of their business that where going strong. In this process they could have left the grunt work of maintaining the base operating system to partners such as Red Hat, Suse and even Microsoft. This would have provided a clean and relatively open migration path for existing Netware customers who are committed to a Novell infrastructure (i.e. eDirectory/Groupwise/Zenworks) and for the most part ignore the underlying operating system so long as it was stable and supported by a reputable party.

Instead of adopting a lightweight approach Novell opted to maintain their tried and true business model through the purchase Suse Linux as a straight replacement for Netware in their product arsenal. This meant that instead of placing development emphasis on getting their network and identity products seamlessly working on a range of partner operating systems attention was focused on fusing Novell's existing identity and network services into Suse Linux. The culmination of these efforts has resulted in Open Enterprise Server (OES), an excellent Netware 6.5 replacement that continues with the Novell tradition of marketing a tightly bound operating system/network services stack. Unfortunately this focus on a closed server/services model has been to the detriment of the network and identity services' deployment flexibility and marketing appeal as these valuable offerings must be coupled to and marketed alongside their related server products.

Off-line enabling existing applications with Gears

Today Google released their open source Google Gears extension for Firefox and Internet Explorer. Also announced at the same time was upcoming support for the Safari and Opera browsers and inclusion of the technology into Adobe's Apollo framework. All these things should help make the concepts underpinning the software fairly ubiquitous. You may at this point be asking yourself what is Gears? In a sentence it is a set of Javascript API's and supporting backend functionality to enable offline use of Web applications. For more information on the subject I would recommend checking out David Berlind's recent podcast interview with Linus Upson of Google on the topic.

Google Gears is big news because a Web-based application's biggest stumbling block has always been the fact that if there is no Internet access your application stops working. If you are like me and write Web-based database applications then this is really interesting because it opens up opportunities for your users to access their data in a variety of ways that are currently impossible. For example WhichDoctor manages physician information ranging from their contact information through to their training history. From my perspective it would be nice for a user of this application to be able to pull down a sub-set of this data so they can take it away to a secluded beach to work on for the weekend. Gears helps in realising this functional requirement on the browser but for existing and complex applications like WhichDoctor there is still a great many problems to overcome before such a possibility becomes reality.

A few technology podcasts that I listen to regulary

I like to listen to podcasts while I work because it beats the monotonous hum of CPU fans (thanks Intel) and the sound of traffic outside. I use iTunes to manage podcasts because it 'just works' but there are alternative applications and websites that will see to all your podcasting needs.

What follows is a rundown of some of the podcasts I listen to and why...

  • Cranky Geeks - I like to think one day I will be old and cranky. I have the cranky bit down pat and the age thing I am getting the hang of too. It is a good podcast to listen to if you want to hear negative opinions on technology and the people making it.
  • Lullabot Drupal Podcast - If you are interested in Drupal even at a non-technical level then this is a very useful resource. Lullabot are some of the best Drupal developers in the business and really know their stuff.
  • Novell Open Audio - Novell's public relations are useless but this podcast interviews the technical people behind the scenes of Novell to give you insight into what is happening inside the big red N.
  • The Java Posse - If Java and the technologies built on top of it are your thing then this podcast is a must have. The presenters from Google, Sun and Apple are all hugely experienced and respected in the Java world. It certainlly makes you appreciate how large and vibrant the Java community is after listening to this podcast.
  • This WEEK in TECH - Leo Laporte's flagship podcast is a weekly roundup of the goings on in the tech industry. Sometimes it is a bit boring but every now and then it is a good listen.
  • ZDNet: The Dan and David Show - Dan Farber and David Berlin are experienced I.T. reporters who cover a lot of emerging stories and trends related to the Web and enterprise software. Dan is old and cranky whilst David is young and bright eyed. Together they cross horns enough to make it enjoyable.
  • LUGRadio - This podcast is not worksafe but is often the funniest thing you'll hear on the Internet. It is a podcast about Linux by a group of swearing Brits. The humor means that even if you do not know the first thing about Linux or the surrounding community you will still enjoy it.

Not purely tech-related but still good to watch or listen to are Diggnation and The Totally Rad Show. Diggnation is a weekly summary of the top stories on whilst TRS deals with games, movies and television shows that geeks like myself enjoy.

Eben Moglen on the threat of patent agreements

Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Centre is a great public speaker and he demonstrates this skill exceptionally well in his ability to answer what the risk to the Free Software community is when deals such as last years Novell - Microsoft agreement take place.

If you like his response to this quesiton then I believe you will find his interview on FLOSS Weekly about Free Software and the GPL not only good to listen to but educational at the same time.

Mount Microsoft makes more patent rumblings

Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith placed the number of patent violations by Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) at 235 in an interview with Fortune magazine this week. Considering these suposed violoations cover everything from the kernel through to office applications I am somewhat surprised that the theoretical total is not more considering the huge number of patents Microsoft has recently aquired. Tim Bray of Sun's response in his blog was short but to the point, 'litigate or shut up'.

Unfortunately the chances of Microsoft actually litigating are slim to none considering the damage it would do to their image and the potential problems it would cause from counter-suits from the likes of IBM. Instead the threat of legal action looks like it will continue to remain just that in the vain belief that by simply placing a cloud over Free software's head it will deter existing Microsoft customers from jumping ship. Whether or not such a strategy will be successful only time will tell, but forcing potential customers to buy your product through fear of what would happen if they did not does not seem like the kind of image one would want to portray.

Site upgraded to Drupal 5.1

This morning I finally got around to upgrading the website from Drupal 4.7 to 5.1. The upgrade was relatively smooth and hopefully nothing is fundamentally broken. The update took a while to happen because many of the modules used to provide specific site functionality had not been upgraded to be 5.0 compatible.

Over the next few months I plan to make some aesthetic changes to increase usability and the general aesthetic. If you experience any issues with the site please contact me.

First Allison now Haeger, is there any personality left in Novell?

Today Ted Haeger announced on his personal blog that he has left Novell and taken up a position at Bungee Labs, a Web 2.0 startup focused on creating a purely Web-based application development environment and deployment platform.

Ted founded the Novell Open Audio podcast which did an excellent job of humanising the image of Novell, especially within the Linux community. In general Novell's formal marketing is pathetic but thanks to Ted's leadership Novell Open Audio created an isolated bright point. The podcast provides an excellent conduit for information about Novell products minus the 'doublespeak' that normally accompanies their P.R. attempts. Whilst Ted was not too explicit over the future of the podcast I am sure if Novell management continue to support the show its co-host Erin Quill will do an excellent job as lead.

Ted's departure from Novell removes yet another prominent personality from its ranks after Jeremy Allison's recent move to Google. Together the pair expressed rare qualities for Novell figureheads; honesty and an air of confident casualness quite unlike the suited and boring party line image normally attributed to the company. Sure Miguel de Lcasa and Nat Friedman are still around but as a Linux user I would prefer they concentrate on their respective technology fields. I hope we see a couple of new up and comers stand up to take their place, unless of course Novell plan on subcontracting their P.R. out to Microsoft...

StressFree Webmin theme version 1.88 released

Version 1.88 of the StressFree Webmin theme corrects a display issue with the extra tabs added in version 1.340 of Webmin. With this version of the theme installed you should be able to access all Webmin functionality and can be downloaded from here.