Timezones: The client, The server and The database

To Start out, I want to say why I’m writing this post. I have just recently been struggling with server to database interactions with date time and I had no idea why. Thought was “maybe I’m using the wrong time stamp”, “maybe I’m not setting the time to Midnight morning” then i realized “maybe my server is at a different timezone than my database”. And this was very very true.

SQL at base makes their timezones based on the servers timezone. That means if you’re in New York, running a server, it will be based off New York. If London, it will be London. This is ok, so long as your server is on the same timezone, and unfortunately for me, it doesn’t seem like it.  Wordpress has a few functions to work with such as current_time() and the seemingly undocumented option time_zone. Except its useless when it is empty, basically telling me UTC (the universal time for computers generally). PHP also returned my UTC which also doesn’t help me. In all who I hang with the most (My clean cut but simple friend wordpress and my old disorganized but extremely intelligent friend PHP) just don’t see at the same level as mySQL. So what do I do? Well, change mySQLs timezone and change my servers timezone to ensure everyone sees the same.

$wpdb->query("SET time_zone = '+0:00'");

Based off this post and the php manual,  I’ve found this is the ultimate solution to my problem. I was having such problems with timezones being in different places and wordpress not helping too much that I’ve just given up and decided the proper solution is just to set everything in UTC.

This isn’t what I necessarilly want to do though. The reason for this is I’m forcing the user to experience my application in UTC. Why is this a problem? Well, user experience. However, if I’m going to change the website dependent on the users time zone, I would need to find the persons position in the world to find out what time zone they are in. And generally users don’t just give away their time zones. So how am I suppose to do this?

I make the theme have all datetime oriented aspects in my theme return in UTC and when I want to shift the date, either through xslt or jquery, I change the date based on what I recieve from javascript. It isn’t pretty. But I can make it pretty. And functionality is more important than in this case


Whens the Right Time?: The Transfer from Local to Production

I’ve been working on my clockin plugin for some time, and have nearly completed most of the graphs and the basic functionality, but theres a couple of things that I still need to do. So It leaves to question, when is the right time?


Well, I think it I believe, at this point in time, its project based. What are absolute necessities? For example, Even though I have the graph bases, I still need to grab the github trees and append those to the graph. I need to add each post type, when its updated to “recent posts” so they are easily accessible. There are time difference bugs where a month will show the same times for a different day then a weekday. As well as Timezone problems, allowing for projects to have appended Bug fixes and Enhancements. Showing on author page, loading all previous data from all my various locations (I’ve been working a ton, and I want to show it off)

In essence, Top Shelfing User Experience.

Then theres the error checking which will allow me to post this to the plugins like; When github Authorization for a user is taken away. Caching the pictures to promote speed. When a wordpress user is deleted, what do I do? Making sure that the dates are SEO compatible as well as graphs. When a readme is blank, not displaying one.

In essence very important things that I am not worried about right now since they don’t necessarilly all apply to me

But as I look at my fixes and enhancements, I start realizing how intertwined the plugin and theme enhancements are. So Can I truelly submit this as a plugin? Or is this just neat idea for my own personal setup? As I continue, only more enhancements arise, so when does it end? Or do I see it as a continuous project? Is wordpress the best place for this? Could I be doing it better? These are important questions I think everyone may have, and I believe working hard from working smart.

MVC as applied to wordpess and a moment of silence for XSL

So, finishing up the backbones of the Clockin Plugin, I’ve found the next steps are to see it as I had it on my old site. With a multitude of charts and such. However, the display for the clockin plugin isn’t static. In fact its quite dynamic. The entire idea of a “clock in” is its date as such it will be changing almost daily. This is ok and unfortunate for me in that it was what bogged down my load times before. I gotta do what I got to do.

Now there are a few things I’m going to be doing

  1. Add a specific ui thats just for clock_in_project
  2. Add a specific ui thats just for users, and allow them to be searchable
  3. Start Moving away from the 2014 base (while attempting to keep a lot of the great parts)
  4. Create my old charts
  5. Cache days that are not current days for easy access

But my to do this isn’t why I’m writing this blog post, the reason I’m writing this is to explain what a model view controller is and what wordpress offers.

The best way I can explain the model view controller is this:

  • Model is an object in your database
  • View is how you’ll be viewing the Model
  • Controller is directing what Model to choose and what view to choose for it
    -This can be based off: User Request, Admin Request, App Request and Default

With wordpress, our MVC is simple: we have post types, we have a theme, we have a url.
Whenever a user makes a request at the top thereurl, what we’re actually doing is making a request.
Now from my experience there are two main forms of requests, archive, singles. Archives will show you a list of items based off a query. Singles may also be based off a query, the difference is that you get full frontal information instead of a bunch of items.

Why does this matter?

Well for the clock in post type, we’re going to have to do some very special things. And Unfortunately as is the default it renders as if its just a regular post. We’re going to change that.

Its something very simple, where we can base it off of file structure. But I’d prefer not

switch (get_post_type( get_the_ID() )){
case "type_a": break;
case "type_b": break;
default: echo "ah, the good old default";

As simple as this we can go through and pick our view. we can also mix and match and a bunch of funky things.

One thing I want to point out is a sad sad truth about MVC, XSLT. XSLT was designed to make HTML the view component of choice. Where we would take in our model, see what we had and apply the appropriate templates. Important to note, it was all (well kinda) XML. It gave people the conceptual graduation platform to move up to. So why didn’t it work out?

XSLT has a major flaw, most Databases don’t return XML. If your database isn’t returning XML, your going to have to Transform it into XML. If you’re transforming, your wasting time. Especially when you can just use the raw data retrieved to fill in the dots. Another Major flow is that despite how awesome Xpath is, there isn’t a direct correlation from url concepts o XPath concepts.

What people need to understand is the url is the command, just as XPath is a command. And most people go from HTML, CSS, File system into PHP and Javascript where either they sink or swim. XSL and Xpath had the opportunity to make that bridge easier. But they died as other CMS’s popped up and took over. Will we see them again? One day maybe, I certainly try to use it when i can. But I highly highly doubt it

Git: Living on the Edge isn’t for the Dumb

As you may know I’ve been using git as my primary ftp, version control and way to put my projects online for public access and viewing. However, there is a very important thing when considering using these great technology: .gitignore.

Now, when using oAuth, you need a client identity and a client secret. For me, I don’t want to hard code them because that will make them publicly accessible so I stored them in a json file. I thought I followed ignoring the json by adding


to the .git/info/exclude file, however I did not do it right
as ^(.*)/secret.(.*)$ is different than ^(.*)secret\.(.*)$ and quite possibly is completely incorrect

Now first i uploaded it to github, only to find that the file was still there. This through to a flurry as for the last three commits I had assumed everything was peachy clean (I am still learning everything so I don’t hate myself for it. Luckily I was able to find this tutorial on github.

Not only was I able to remove my secret from the commit, but also able to add to the .gitignore in a simple manner. My fears relaxed and a feeling for relief ensued.

Just to add to the security, I also made a proper .htaccess to hide the file

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^(.*)secret\.(.*)$ /404 [L]


ClockIn: Preparing the Shortcode

Last time I basically shutdown all possibilities of using google calander, but thats fine, SQL is an efficient alternative and it should be no issue.

CREATE TABLE Clock_ins (
 time datetime DEFAULT NOW() NOT NULL,
 duration int DEFAULT 0 NOT NULL,
 user tinytext NOT NULL,
 project tinytext NOT NULL

Now, theres 3 main UIs I need to focus on

  1. Clock In, Clock out-This will be in the sidebar, or really where ever someone wants to put it
  2. Project Chooser-When we begin to clock in, we need to be able to choose from our existing repositories
  3. Clock In Viewer (User and Project mode)-Whats a database if we can’t view it? Here we give sexy charts for people to look at to make them feel comfortable (We’ll worry about this later

So For Clock In, Clock out…. We’re going to want to add in a some WordPress Shortcode tags so that we can place it anywhere we want Our shortcode is going to be called [clock_in] and theres three major things we’ll be needing from the user -Their user id -their github id -The project they’re going to clockin to

function clock_in_setup( $atts, $content=null) {
 $current_user = wp_get_current_user();
 $type = "ajax";

 if ( !($current_user instanceof WP_User) ){
 $message = "Please Login First";
 $href = wp_login_url( get_permalink() );
 }else if(($meta = get_user_meta($current_user->ID, "clockin")) == array()){
 $json = json_decode(file_get_contents(plugin_dir_path( __FILE__ )."/secret.json"));
 $cid = $json->cid;
 $redirect_uri = plugins_url("auth.php", __FILE__);
 $state = "clock-in_plugin".$current_user->ID;

 $href = "https://github.com/login/oauth/authorize";
 $href .= "?client_id=".$cid;
 $href .= "&redirect_uri=".$redirect_uri;
 $href .= "&state=".$state;

 $message = "Authorize our plugin";
 }else if(isset($atts["cur_project"])){
 $nonce = wp_create_nonce("clock_in");
 $href = admin_url('admin-ajax.php?action=clock_in&proj='.$atts["curproject"].'&nonce='.$nonce);
 $message = "Clock in!";
 }else if($meta["clocked"] == true){
 $nonce = wp_create_nonce("clock_in");
 $href = admin_url('admin-ajax.php?action=clock_out&nonce='.$nonce);
 $message = "Clock out!";
 $href = plugins_url("clocked.php", __FILE__)."?action=in";
 $nonce = wp_create_nonce("clock_in");
 Choose a project to Clock Into
 <div class="clockin-wrap">
 <a style="display:inline-block;height:144px;width:64px;background-color:#000;"></a>
 <div class="clockin_projects" style="display:inline-block;height:144px;width:144px;">
 <a style="display:inline-block;height:144px;width:64px;background-color:#000;">
 wp_enqueue_script ('clock_in_proj');
 wp_localize_script('clock_in_proj', 'clock_in_vars', array("github_user"=>$meta["github"], "clockin_uri"=>admin_url('admin-ajax.php?action=clock_in&&nonce='.$nonce)));
 return ob_get_clean();
 <div class="clockin-wrap">
 <a class="clockin_anchor" href=<?php echo $href; echo ($type != "ajax")?" target=".$type.'"':''; ?> ><?php echo $message ?></a>
 if($type == "ajax"){
 wp_enqueue_script ('clock_in');
 return ob_get_clean();

What I’m doing here essentially is creating a link where ever the shortcode is. The Link will either;  direct to login, direct to github authorization, if its a project page, allow person to clock in, display logged persons projects to clock in or show clockout link. Next we need to make sure we authenticate with github, then display our projects properly

Google API + WordPress: A Problem, an Inconvienience and a Killer

I started off planning on using Google Calanders to store my clockin information. I was doing this for one main reason: Its important that how I store the information is standardized in case I attempt to export my plugin to node.js or another platform. But there is a problem I ran into that I realized may turn very annoying or worse.

Refresh Tokens are not unlimited

this will create an awkward situation once the refresh tokens run out and the website owner is forced to login and authorize again

And as a minor inconvienience

Google Authorization Doesn’t allow Get parameters in the url

Perhaps this is a problem on WordPress side more than googles in the way they setup their admin. Essentially I’m forced to create a plugin url that is independent from the direct flow. Making either the user Leave the admin interface conpletely or doing it through a popup. Then Instead of storing it in WordPress Options, we’d be storing it in a seperated SQL table to avoid loading wp-load.php. These are definitely managable, though not entirely preferable. If I’m using a content management system, I’d rather feel as though I can do everything in a very sexy and clean manner. Rather than go through hoops.

nonetheless I will continue to make the plugin as is simply for experience sake. Though I recognize this is definitely not final version

Update: What Killed using Google API as a web service was the fact that I am forced to use give my webserver an key file. This will not make future installations happy for random people. As a Result, I’m going to drop google calander from the design spec and move onto something else. This isn’t necessarilly Google Calanders Fault, but rather a design philosophy Flaw. I wanted to Use Google Calanders as My database, but I didn’t want to have to make installation a hassle. as a result, I gotta move on.

I’ll go with what is important

  1. Start DateTime
  2. Duration in seconds
  3. Github User
  4. Github Project

Clockin WordPress Integration: Million ways to get it, choose one. pt1

So at this point we can….
1) Retrieve a Github info
2) Retrieve google calender info

But one thing we have yet to do is provide a place where we can actually clock in and clock out. Now we can do this in a variety of ways….

  • Custom Post Types to define Projects and Users
    -they would literally just be place holders to avoid storing tons of duplicant data
    -Would be based off any user that enters our website and allows our app to access their github profile

    • Pros
      -We don’t need javascript to display data
      -Pretty URLs will be enforced
      -Good for SEO
      -Can Be Placed in a Plugin
    • Cons
      -Whats the point of creating a reference?
  • Query Based Multiple Page Service
    -We would create a page that is based off a template we created
    -In the template we would get the queries and give the appropiate data back

    • Pros
      -clean and neat
      -Can make it SEO Freindly
    • Cons
      -Would have to define an archive and various link tags to make it SEO freindly
      -Ugly Urls
  • Single Page Service
    -Using Ajax, we would do everything right from the one page

    • Pros
      -Clean and Neat
      -Pretty Url… Well theres only one….
      -Can be stored in a plugin
      -Nothing is stored
    • Cons
      -Requires Javascript
      -Will need to deal with the data in the browser
      -No SEO

So here’s our choices, I’ll assume you assumed which I’m going with… And if you didn’t assume, I’ll give you a hint “Type Post Custom”. WordPress is wonderful in that it gives you pretty URLS, it gives you proper SEO in a variety of ways, makes your URLs beautful and on top of that you can avoid alot of the struggles you would enter into with your own Content Management System,  such as creating a proper PHP class to interact with sql.

We really want to make sure this is a plugin also to allow ourselves some breathing room in terms of installation.

So Lets begin by creating our plugin

Now Things we will have to include are….

  1.  Creating a Custom Post Type for Users and associating it to a User
  2. Creating a Custom Post Type for Projects
  3.  Giving people the opportunity to choose their Calender
  4.  Auto Load on new sites to old calanders

So lets prepare in the Init, we’re going to leave out the auto load for now

add_action( 'init', 'initialize_clockin' );
function initialize_clockin() {
 register_post_type( 'clockin_dev',
   'labels' =&gt; array(
    'name' =&gt; __( 'Developers' ),
    'singular_name' =&gt; __( 'Developer' )
   'description' =&gt; 'The user object associated with the wordpress user. stores the guthub username as well',
   'public' =&gt; true,
   'has_archive' =&gt; true,
   'show_ui' =&gt; false,
   'show_in_menu' =&gt; false,
   'supports' =&gt; false
 register_post_type( 'clockin_project',
   'labels' =&gt; array(
   'name' =&gt; __( 'Github Projects' ),
   'singular_name' =&gt; __( 'Github Project' )
   'description' =&gt; 'Associated to Github Project',
   'public' =&gt; true,
   'has_archive' =&gt; true,
   'show_in_menu' =&gt; false,
   'supports' =&gt; false
 add_option("Calander ID", null);

Now lets create our admin page

This is the code I came up with. I preferred the object oriented approach so that I can store it in a different file

class clock_in_admin {
 public $options;
public function __construct(){
 add_action( 'admin_menu', array( $this, 'add_to_menu' ) );
 add_action( 'admin_init', array( $this, 'page_init' ) );
 public function add_to_menu(){
 add_options_page( "Clock In Settings", "Clockin", "manage_options", "clock-in-admin", array($this, "admin_page"));
 public function admin_page(){
 $this->options = get_option( 'clock-in' );
 <div class="wrap">
 <?php screen_icon(); ?>
 <h2>Clock In Settings</h2>
 <form method="post" action="options.php"> 
settings_fields( 'clock_in_fields' );
 do_settings_sections( 'clock-in-admin' );
<?php submit_button(); ?>
 public function page_init(){
 register_setting('clock_in_fields', 'clock-in', array( $this, 'sanitize' ) );
 add_settings_section('clock-in-cal', 'Google Calender Setting', array( $this, 'print_section_info' ),'clock-in-admin');
 add_settings_field('calender-id','Calander ID',array( $this, 'calander_id_input' ),'clock-in-admin','clock-in-cal');
 public function print_section_info()
 echo 'Enter your settings below:';
 public function sanitize( $input ){
 if( isset( $input['calender-id'] ) ){
 //need to check if the calender exists and we can't view and edit it
 //if we can't edit it, we need to ask for permission
 $this->options['calender-id'] = $input['calender-id'];
return $this->options;
 public function calander_id_input()
 { ?>
 <input id='calender-id' name='clock-in[calender-id]' size='40' type='text' value='<?php echo $this->options['calender-id'] ?>' />


Hello World: Google Calanders

So, the second main technology I’d like to use is google calenders
Lets have a look at their API 🙂

Now to start out, just looking at the google calender we can see that we can add an event to a previous date as well as edit previous actions. This looks good so far

In all We’re going to be looking for
1) Ability to add an event
2) Ability to edit an event
3) Ability to store Arbitrary Data about what we’re working on
4) Ability to specify a user either based on email address or even better a generic name

Our calander is going to be dependent on the company that uses it as a result we’ll be interested in using

https://www.googleapis.com/calendar/v3/calendars/{your calander id}/events/{the event id}?parameters

as our main Rest Query

To find the calender id

  1. add a new calender
    google calander
  2. go to calender settings
    calander settings
  3. Find the ID at the very bottom
    calander id


So Here is the basics of how we’re going to do this…

  1.  We create a new event storing…
    1. User
    2. Project
    3. The Start Time as the Event Start, Stop Time = Start Time
  2. On Clock Out We find
    1. All events that have the Github User (Sorted by startdate, descending)
    2. Get The Last one
      1. (Start time == Stop Time)?Set Stop Time = Date.Now():This user can’t clock out;

Looks good
So First we want to be able to Create events on our calander

Attendee[].email = github email
Attendee[].displayname = github username
summery = github project name
start = date.now()
end = date.now()

(One thing I love about google api’s is they make it real easy for you to try something out)

now Originally, I planned to store the information in attendees and title. But as it turns out, you can’t query attendees nor title… So……
Extended Properties it is!

POST https://www.googleapis.com/calendar/v3/calendars/{your calander ID}/events?key={Your Api Key}

  "shared" : {
 "summary": "git-username worked on github-repo"

Next we want to request

Important to note we want singleEvents to be true in order for us to be able to sort properly and we want to sort by startTime

GET https://www.googleapis.com/calendar/v3/calendars/{google calander id}/events?orderBy=startTime&amp;sharedExtendedProperty=User%3DGU&amp;singleEvents=true&amp;sortorder=descending&amp;key={your api key}

Success, but there’s one problem, the sort order…
currently its ascending which means we’ll get the very first clock in that’s ever be done is the first we’ll receive. When we have 50+ clockins this will be an issue since we’ll have to go through the pages to find the very last clockin.  However, a little research shows we can set the sort order to be descending

Next Thing We Want to do is update on clock out, this will be an update to change its end time
Using the first item (root.items[0]) we’ll grab its ID and make an update, after taking a look at the update though we see we are forced to supply the start time and the end time. Thats more information than we truelly desire to redeliver, as a result we can instead use patch

PATCH https://www.googleapis.com/calendar/v3/calendars/{your calander id}/events/{the event id}?key={your api key}

 "end": {
  "dateTime": "2014-1-7T15:03:00-08:00"

And We have it! Clocking in and Clocking out!
There’s other ways we could have done this, for example we could have stored the ID after clockin locally. However if the user changes computers or etc, then we run into an issue. that being said, we can always change that later

Version Control: Setting Up Git on Godaddy

So one of the things I’d prefer to do is to work on my website locally then push to github and my server. Easy to say like most concepts…

Now at times I just don’t want to figure things out, as such I chose to use someone elses work. This is a great Article on it. Now despite following the tutorial to a T I ran into issues, not because its a bad tutorial, because for anything, the amount of work and research that goes into something like this is very very very commendable. No work should ever be downplayed, though Its important to look at what is flawed.

I’m not going to rewrite the article but theres a few peices you will want to keep in mind
1) When editing your files from the shell, your most likely going to have to use vi the reason for this is you would have to install other file editors to use them
2) The Command

git remote set-url origin ssh://username@domain.com/~/repo/app_name.git

is actually

git remote add origin ssh://username@domain.com/~/repo/app_name.git

this may seem small, but you’ll be running into headaches if you don’t pay attention

3) if you’d like to include github to the mix, I’ll want to setup an ssh key for github https://help.github.com/articles/generating-ssh-keys

then in a similar fassion

git remote add github git@github.com:UserName/Repository.git

4) Get used to the following commands
-As I’m relatively new to git, I kinda learning the important aspects

Remember to change your directory to the working directory

cd /Path/to/your/local/repository
git add .
git commit -m "your message" .
git push github master
git push origin master

I might store this in a script that I’ll just run as needed

Hello World: Github

So I need to create an application to interact with Github
What I want…

  1. The Current Users Available Repos-Save the User ID
  2. Ability to access a specific Repo-Save the Repo ID
  3. Ability to show work done on that repo

Following the API, here are the basics

GET https://api.github.com/users/formula1/repos with a header specifying version 3

Click to get Current Repos
Click for something pretty
Click to hide

Now this is good for just me, but what about anyone who want to clock in? I need to authenticate… I’ll get to this later

Now, to be able to choose a repo and see the work Click Here

Now the instance work isn’t nearly as important since I can’t quantify that quite same as I can quantify times. However, that is possible as well.


Heres the Source code. Simple but straight forward.

jQuery(function(){ jQuery(".githubrepo").click(function(e){  e.preventDefault(); 
 url: "https://api.github.com/users/formula1/repos",
 type: "GET",
 beforeSend: function(xhr){
 url: "https://api.github.com/users/formula1/repos",
 type: "GET",
 beforeSend: function(xhr){
 for(var i=0;i<content.length;i++){
 jQuery("#github-repos-example").append("<span style='display:inline-block; padding:10px; background:#000; color: #FFF;margin:1px;'>"+content[i].full_name+"</span>");

 url: "https://api.github.com/users/formula1/repos",
 type: "GET",
 beforeSend: function(xhr){
 for(var i=0;i<content.length;i++){
 jQuery("#github-repos-example2").append("<a href='"+content[i].url+"/commits' style='display:inline-block; padding:10px; background:#000; color: #FFF;margin:1px;'>"+content[i].full_name+"</a>"
 url: jQuery(this).attr("href"),
 type: "GET",
 beforeSend: function(xhr){
 for(var i=0;i<content.length;i++){
 jQuery("#github-repos-example2").append("<div style='border:1px solid #000;'><span>Date: "+content[i].commit.committer.date+"</span><br/><span>Name: "+content[i].commit.committer.name+"</span><br/><span>Message: "+content[i].commit.message+"</span></div>"