Category Archives: 2863

Dynamic friends list with Whooiz and Ajax

Whooiz is changing. They have a new logo, they’re dropping the capital H (but it might take a bit of time for this one to go through), and the widgets are now much more dynamic.

So in my blog (if you’re reading this from elsewhere, go to http://msmvps.com/blogs/robfarley), I now have a much smaller ‘whooiz friendz’ section, and I only show one friend. It’s not that I have offended everyone and only have one friend, because if you watch for a few seconds, you’ll see the friend change to a different (random) friend.

This is really nice. It’s something I was tempted to do myself before, but Clarke beat me to it (it’s fair enough, he’s the guy behind Whooiz). I told him I was going to do it, but just didn’t get the time over the holidays to scrape through his script for the bits I wanted to change.

Unfortunately it now lives within an iframe, which gives a little less control over the CSS. My trick of setting the header to not display no longer works, but instead, you can now put ‘&noheader=y’ on the end of the querystring, and that achieves the same (or at least, it will once Clarke has made the change for this).

The code I’m using is:

<div class=”sideNavItems”><h3>Whooiz Friendz</h3>
<iframe id=”Iframe1″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” height=”200px” width=”100%” src=”http://whooiz.com/FriendsList.aspx?Profile=56&type=0&bg=ffffff&hrd=000000&fn=1&noheader=y”></iframe>
</div>

The 100% lets it fit nicely in the div tag, and 200px is what I reckon makes it fit nicely, although it could probably be adjusted down a little more.

Now, presumably this could be thrown really easily into a sidebar gadget… 

Customising the wHooiz Friendz list

If you look at Nick’s blog, you’ll see that he has a lot more wHooiz Friendz than me. That’s probably because he’s a lot more popular than I am. But also, I filter my list to show only a few. If you refresh the page, you’ll see more.

You’ll also notice that he has a big blue and white title at the top, which currently says “Friendz recently here” (but is subject to change – this comes from the wHooiz script that produces the list). But I don’t have that on mine. I have the standard Community Server sidebar heading, but that’s it. And here’s how I did that… Really simple – I looked at the HTML that’s shown, to see that that title bit has an id of whooiz_tr1, and then altered my CSS slightly, adding #whooiz_tr1 { display:none; } to it.

I guess I could’ve just changed its style to be just like one of my normal sidebar headers, but I actually figured that it would be easier to scrap it completely, and have my own header there. 🙂
 

Application monitoring in 20 seconds with PowerGadgets

Performance Monitoring is great, but unless you’ve made a bunch of custom monitors, it doesn’t really tell you the health of your application. Well, not completely.

For example, take wHooiz – Cameron and Clarke’s profile tool. I’m sure they have various things running to to persuade them that their system is ticking along nicely. But that doesn’t tell them whether their marketing is working. It doesn’t tell them if their application is actually happy and successful. There may be no 404s in site, but if no-one is using the thing, then they’re failing. Luckily for them, they seem to be having a great deal of success. I’m sure if you go there, you’ll find out they’re giving away a Nintendo Wii soon. But wait until that competition is over before you start using wHooiz, because I want to win it.

To find out if they’re doing well, these guys run a query on their database which shows them how many people have registered. Currently it’s about 125. If the site is going well, it might be 130 by the time I’ve finished writing this, and 200 by the time you’re reading it. Or maybe my blog is really popular and you’re reading this while it’s only 131, who knows?… but Cam and Clarke should know. For the sake of their confidence in their application, they should be seeing a number tick over in the corner of their eye… maybe in their sidebar!

And this is where PowerGadgets comes in. And you don’t even need a sidebar to have PowerGadgets do its thing – it works just fine in XP as well, floating around the desktop, on top of your applications if you want.

So go and download (and install) the evaluation copy, and walk with me for a moment. Counting the seconds, we…

1… 2… find the “PowerGadgets Creator” in the Start Menu and click it… 4… 5…

Pick “Digital Panel” from the list presented in the screen that opens up, and then the SQL option in the next pane. (Don’t bother taking the time to notice that you can very quickly use maps, gauges, charts, or get your data from Web Services or PowerShell – that’s not part of the 20 seconds)… 8…

Enter the database connection details (all us developers know how to do this really quickly, right, but let’s assume it took you three seconds)… 11… 12…

Now paste in the SQL statement you prepared earlier, something like “select count(*) from dbo.PeopleRegistered”. 14…

Ooh, there’s the result of the query in a nice digital format… but we’re not done yet.

Let’s click the “Data Refresh Rate” button, and leave the default of “1 minute” (or whatever you want… 5 seconds if you want to see something happening more often).

15… Change the “Display in” option to Desktop, and hit Save. 17… Give it a name, 18…samplepowergadget

And you’re done. Take the remaining time to launch it and see your numbers happily changing each minute.

Ok, so you might want to explore the options some more, and take a whole minute over it. Alternatively, you might want to pipe the results of a PowerShell script straight into out-gauge or out-chart, possibly using the -configure option to give you more options when you do. Or then pipe the result of out-chart into an email, and see it arrive in your Inbox with a pretty graph!

It costs about US$300 for the tools to make this, which is probably worth it when you consider the time you’ll save. The licence to display a PowerGadget is about US$70, but if you can show someone this easily that their application is working (or that they’re making sales, or whatever), then I’m sure they’ll happily part with that too.

Oh, that’s how you do Whooiz with Community Server…

When I first put the link to the bit of script to list my Whooiz Friendz, it didn’t work. It would just display as the link. Seems <script would be replaced with &lt;script – but there’s an answer!

http://communityserver.org/forums/thread/496622.aspx shows you how to tell Community Server to allow things like this. A quick tweak to communityserver.config (or in my case, a quick email to the ever-helpful Susan Bradley), and hey presto!

So now my friendz are listed nicely. 🙂

Whooiz my Friendz?

Observant people will have noticed a friend-list appear on the side of my blog. Changing my blog around is way overdue for me. I need to take a few hours out some time and work on the CSS. I still don’t have all the useful stuff that I had at my old blog site. One of those is a friend-list. I’ve never actually been a fan of friend-lists. I hate the idea of missing people out. And I think that’s where Whooiz can come in.

Whooiz is a start-up by Clarke (I want to call him Monkey, but I won’t) and Cameron, and the idea about it is to be able to keep your profile information in one place, linking to it as you require. It’s a nice idea – I know that I keep a list of places who know my address, so that if I move I can make sure that I let them all know. Whooiz might help for keeping profile stuff up to date. Of course, it would be nice if it could do it behind the scenes, so that you go to LinkedIn or FriendsReunited and just see text there as if you had entered it, except that it’s actually populated by a call to whooiz. That would work really well for me, although I’m sure those other sites would need to tweak their systems to actually allow it. Perhaps Whooiz could partner with them, and sites could start to be ‘powered by whooiz’.

Another thing I want is to be able to have full control over the display of my profile, friends list, contact information, etc. I’ve got my friends list appearing over to the side, and I’ve set the heading colour and background to be the same colour as the background that I have there. But what I’d rather do is to tell the heading not to display. I’d also like to change the font of the text which says who the people are, even have the names removed, replacing them with alt and title text for the images, or put them underneath the images… have the images in two columns perhaps, that kind of thing. All feasible with CSS. Even have Whooiz give me the details in XML, and then let me use my own JavaScript to place them. The list shows a random <some number> friends (friendz?) from my list, and it could be neat to have a call to give me a new random friend that isn’t currently displayed (I don’t mean making new friends, I mean just grabbing one of my existing friends for displaying). Then I could have a bit of JavaScript (or have Whooiz provide it) so that my friend list could sit their cycling through them. I could put them into a live.com (or sidebar) gadget – kind of like a “how longz it been?” list, prompting me to catch up with friends I haven’t contacted for a while.

I like things like whooiz – the possibilities are cool. I just need to come with the starting ideas myself, instead of finding ways to help improve others’.