About Me

Curriculum Vitae

A brief list of my current skill set


Fixing CentOS high cpu usage when running as a virtual machine under VirtualBox
Sunday, 21st April 2013, 20:28

innotek rocks! I mean Sun... I mean Oracle...

Repairing a dK'Tronics Keyboard and Scoping Out a ZX Spectrum 48k - Part One
Sunday, 17th March 2013, 23:51

What signals inside of it actually look like

Tabs vs Spaces and Why You Should Always Use Tabs
Monday, 4th March 2013, 19:51

Spaces are bad, just real bad

Why you should ban Amazon's Cloud IPs
Thursday, 27th December 2012, 14:50

And how to do it in nginx, Merry Christmas Amazon

Building Better jQuery DOM Inserts
Thursday, 20th December 2012, 15:18

Break it down baby

SEO Companies - Don't Waste Your Money
Wednesday, 12th December 2012, 16:16

Spammers by any other name

Pulse Width Modulation and How 1-bit Music Works
Wednesday, 5th December 2012, 23:34

Beep beep multi-channel!

Making PDFs from HTML on your webapp in CentOS
Thursday, 29th November 2012, 14:00

Not as easy as it should be

Some Days I Wish For an Async String.replace
Monday, 19th November 2012, 12:59

MinnaHTML to the rescue!

Object Oriented Programming for Javascript Dummies - Part 2
Tuesday, 6th November 2012, 15:33

OOP it up to the OOPballs

Object Oriented Programming for Javascript Dummies - Part 1
Tuesday, 30th October 2012, 16:01

Not using OOP? Are you mad?

Strange Windows Errors and a Bowser in My Event Log
Wednesday, 24th October 2012, 11:10

It's like my own DailyWTF round-up!

Why Do People Come Here?
Monday, 15th October 2012, 15:47

They come to look at porn!

Idiot thinks Raspberry Pi Unsuitable for Education
Tuesday, 2nd October 2012, 15:24

Dumbest thing I've read since...

Upgrading to PostgreSQL 9.2 on CentOS 5
Tuesday, 25th September 2012, 14:52

It's easy as PI!

Projects and Sillyness

MAME Cabinet Diary

How I built my own arcade cabinet

Loading Screen Simulator

I don't miss the ZX Spectrum, I still use it!

The Little Guy Chat Room

It's a Pitfall inspired chat room


A fully featured MP3 player what I wrote

GP Space Invaders

My first little emulator

GP32 Development Page

Some info and links about this cute little handheld

Disney Nasties

Uncensored images, you must be 18 to view them

Diary of a Hamster

Learn about how hamsters think, first hand


Time Calculator

A simple little online utility for working out how many hours to bill a client

A Few Links

Some Days I Wish For an Async String.replace
Monday, 19th November 2012, 12:59

The big project I've spent much of my free time on this year, has been moving a mammoth code base from a Windows based ASP JScript to a Linux Node.js one. Part of the reason this has taken so long, is I keep having to stop and do work that pays better in-between.

Another reason is the chance to redesign a lot of how it works under the hood. Like all products, every now and again it really helps to start again from scratch, and just totally redo everything, that way you get to keep the good and dump the used-to-be-good-till-things-outgrew-it.

But possibly the major reason things take so long, is Node.js is asynchronous. It changes so much how things are done, because what was once a single route through your code from start to finish, no longer is. The great thing about doing things async is you don't have to wait for any one part of your app to finish before you get going with the other bits.

The most annoying thing about it, is when the other bits you want to do are reliant on waiting for the earlier bits. Once you get into the mindset, a lot of this is easy enough, but occasionally... just occasionally you hit a snag which makes it all a tiny bit more frustrating.

I hit one of those last week, and it was all to do with text substitution on the forums. This is the second time I came across this issue, the first time I could do a temporary solution that had no effect on the user, this time, not so lucky.

Text Replacing from a Database?

Put simply, the forums on the MyReviewer website use a form of BBCode, the sort of thing I'm sure you've seen in forums where [b] gets changed into a bold tag, that kind of thing.

But there are also some tags which are used to include things like polls into threads. But there is a clear difference between inserting a poll into a thread and a bold or image tag, it's a dynamic structure that requires hitting the database, which means doing an asynchronous call.

Easy enough right? Well not as easy as you'd think at first, because this is how things worked before:

    message = message.replace(/\[poll]([0-9]+)\[\/poll/ig, function($0, $1) {
return nonasyncPollFunction(parseInt($1, 10));

htmlpage += "<p>" + message + "</p>";

How do we replace a string like that when our pollfunction needs to execute a database query and will return before it's complete? The answer is, we can't. So a few solutions present themselves, one is to create an async version of String.replace which admittedly would be an elegant way of doing it from a design point of view.

But I don't really like that idea because every time I think how to do it, when it comes to global replaces it would require a check to see if the regular expression matched, and then you'd have to run the regex again to do the actual replace, plus it means you can't really do anything with the resulting message string until it's complete.

I Did Say MinnaHTML to the Rescue Didn't I?

And then I realised, I already use the HTML library which has a built in solution for this kind of thing. It has a facility to include child objects which is ideal for this problem, and it's async aware to boot. So now the above becomes:

    var divMessage = new mh.Paragraph(divMessageLine);

message = message.replace(/\[poll]([0-9]+)\[\/poll/ig, function($0, $1) {
var intPollIndex = parseInt($1, 10);

divPoll = new mh.Div(divMessage, "poll" + intPollIndex, null, true);
asyncPollFunction(intPollIndex, divPoll);

return "[[child_poll" + intPollIndex + "]]";

divMessage.data.content = message;

And the asyncPollFunction marks the passed divPoll notReady(), then performs the database look-up, makes the poll HTML and then sets divPoll isReady() when it's done. When MinnaHTML processes the document tree to create the final HTML, it automatically replaces the [[child_poll1234]] tags with the poll1234 children objects.

Job done, home for tea and biscuits.


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