Photoshop Alternatives

While it’s not related to programming, editing images is an activity that I encounter when creating my front end.

Photoshop is great, but sometimes I find other software easier.

Lunapic’s Color Change is awesome if you have a color that you want to replace in an image.  All you have to do it select the color you want to use in the image and then click on the color (in the image) you want replaced.  Voila!

Pic Monkey makes it super easy to convert an image into another shape.  My typical use case is changing an image into a circle shape (cropping the corners).  To do this, you just click: Frames > Shape Cutouts > [circle icon].

If you’re looking for additional functionality, similar to Photoshop, I recommend Pixlr (use on the internet) or Fire Alpaca (download and use locally).

Twitter Bootstrap Growls for Rails Flash Messages

I’m using Bootstrap with Rails, but I wanted to replace their alerts with growl messages.  Luckily, I found this JS made by Robert McIntosh.  Bootstrap-notify makes it so easy to turn your flash messages into growl messages.

  1. Download the JS
  2. Unzip the JS and place bootstrap-notify.min.js in your assets/javascripts folder
  3. Add this line to application.js: //= require bootstrap-notify.min
  4. Download Animate.css and put in your assets/stylesheets folder (add it to application.css, if you aren’t adding the CSS tree)
  5. Create a flash partial (layouts/_flash.html.erb) – change the options to customize:

<% flash.each do |type, message| %>

// options
message: ”
// settings
type: ”,
placement: {
align: “center”
animate: {
enter: ‘animated bounce’,
exit: ‘animated bounce’

<% end %>

6. Put this in application_helper.rb:

def bootstrap_class_for(flash_type)
case flash_type
when “success”
“success” # Green
when “error”
“danger” # Red
when “alert”
“warning” # Yellow
when “notice”
“info” # Blue

7.  Render the partial by adding this to “layouts/application.html.erb”:

<%= render “layouts/flash” %>

You should be all set!

Facebook not Showing Open Graph Images

My image tags were right for Open Graph, but my images weren’t showing when when people tried to share on Facebook.

I found my answer on Stack Overflow here.

Apparently, if Facebook doesn’t already know of a page, it will not know about the image until after it is shared once (at which time it becomes aware of the page).

However, there’s a work around.  You have to specify additional attributes about the image – the height and the width (where the content value is the number of pixels for width and height, respectively):

<meta property=”og:image:width” content=”450″/>
<meta property=”og:image:height” content=”298″/>


Adding WYSIWYG / Rich Text Editor to Rails App

I wanted to allow my users to format text input into a text area, so I decided to use CKEditor.  Luckily, there’s a great gem for this.  For my Rails app (Rails 4), all I had to do to get started was:

  1. Add this to the gemfile: gem ‘ckeditor’
  2. bundle install
  3. Add this to application.js: //= require ckeditor/init
  4. Adjust my text area in the form, I’m using the Simple Form gem (the documentation shows how to integrate with different form types): <%= f.input :text, label: “Lesson Text”, :as => :ckeditor, input_html: { :ckeditor => {:toolbar => ‘Full’} %>
  5. In config/initializers/assets.rb add this: Rails.application.config.assets.precompile += %w( ckeditor/* )

That’s all you need to do to get started with CKEditor.  However, this default comes with a ton of options for editing text.  For my site, it was too much.  For example, I did not want to allow some formatting changes, such as font size, font type, or color just so I could keep a consistent look across my app.  Also, I didn’t want to allow people to be able to upload files using the editor (although you can – the documentation shows you how to do this by tying the upload to Carrierwave or Paperclip).

So I needed to create a custom toolbar configuration.  Luckily, the gem makes this easy.

In app/assets/javascripts/ckeditor/config.js you need to add configuration.  The easiest way for me to do this was to copy the configuration from the gem (in the gem’s files – app > assets > javascripts > ckeditor) into the file, and then cut out what is not needed:

Copyright (c) 2003-2011, CKSource – Frederico Knabben. All rights reserved.
For licensing, see LICENSE.html or

CKEDITOR.editorConfig = function( config )
// Define changes to default configuration here. For example:
// config.language = ‘fr’;
// config.uiColor = ‘#AADC6E’;

/* Filebrowser routes */
// The location of an external file browser, that should be launched when “Browse Server” button is pressed.
config.filebrowserBrowseUrl = “/ckeditor/attachment_files”;

// The location of an external file browser, that should be launched when “Browse Server” button is pressed in the Flash dialog.
config.filebrowserFlashBrowseUrl = “/ckeditor/attachment_files”;

// The location of a script that handles file uploads in the Flash dialog.
config.filebrowserFlashUploadUrl = “/ckeditor/attachment_files”;

// The location of an external file browser, that should be launched when “Browse Server” button is pressed in the Link tab of Image dialog.
config.filebrowserImageBrowseLinkUrl = “/ckeditor/pictures”;

// The location of an external file browser, that should be launched when “Browse Server” button is pressed in the Image dialog.
config.filebrowserImageBrowseUrl = “/ckeditor/pictures”;

// The location of a script that handles file uploads in the Image dialog.
config.filebrowserImageUploadUrl = “/ckeditor/pictures”;

// The location of a script that handles file uploads.
config.filebrowserUploadUrl = “/ckeditor/attachment_files”;

config.allowedContent = true;

// Toolbar groups configuration.
config.toolbar = [
{ name: ‘document’, groups: [ ‘mode’, ‘document’, ‘doctools’ ], items: [ ‘Source’] },
{ name: ‘clipboard’, groups: [ ‘clipboard’, ‘undo’ ], items: [ ‘Cut’, ‘Copy’, ‘Paste’, ‘PasteText’, ‘PasteFromWord’, ‘-‘, ‘Undo’, ‘Redo’ ] },
// { name: ‘editing’, groups: [ ‘find’, ‘selection’, ‘spellchecker’ ], items: [ ‘Find’, ‘Replace’, ‘-‘, ‘SelectAll’, ‘-‘, ‘Scayt’ ] },
// { name: ‘forms’, items: [ ‘Form’, ‘Checkbox’, ‘Radio’, ‘TextField’, ‘Textarea’, ‘Select’, ‘Button’, ‘ImageButton’, ‘HiddenField’ ] },
{ name: ‘links’, items: [ ‘Link’, ‘Unlink’, ‘Anchor’ ] },
{ name: ‘insert’, items: [ ‘Image’, ‘Flash’, ‘Table’, ‘HorizontalRule’, ‘SpecialChar’ ] },
{ name: ‘paragraph’, groups: [ ‘list’, ‘indent’, ‘blocks’, ‘align’, ‘bidi’ ], items: [ ‘NumberedList’, ‘BulletedList’, ‘-‘, ‘Outdent’, ‘Indent’, ‘-‘, ‘Blockquote’, ‘CreateDiv’, ‘-‘, ‘JustifyLeft’, ‘JustifyCenter’, ‘JustifyRight’, ‘JustifyBlock’ ] },
{ name: ‘styles’, items: [ ‘Styles’, ‘Format’, ‘Font’, ‘FontSize’ ] },
{ name: ‘colors’, items: [ ‘TextColor’, ‘BGColor’ ] },
{ name: ‘basicstyles’, groups: [ ‘basicstyles’, ‘cleanup’ ], items: [ ‘Bold’, ‘Italic’, ‘Underline’, ‘Strike’, ‘Subscript’, ‘Superscript’, ‘-‘, ‘RemoveFormat’ ] }

config.toolbar_mini = [
{ name: ‘paragraph’, groups: [ ‘list’, ‘indent’, ‘blocks’, ‘align’, ‘bidi’ ], items: [ ‘NumberedList’, ‘BulletedList’, ‘-‘, ‘Outdent’, ‘Indent’, ‘-‘, ‘Blockquote’, ‘CreateDiv’, ‘-‘, ‘JustifyLeft’, ‘JustifyCenter’, ‘JustifyRight’, ‘JustifyBlock’ ] },
{ name: ‘styles’, items: [ ‘Font’, ‘FontSize’ ] },
{ name: ‘colors’, items: [ ‘TextColor’, ‘BGColor’ ] },
{ name: ‘basicstyles’, groups: [ ‘basicstyles’, ‘cleanup’ ], items: [ ‘Bold’, ‘Italic’, ‘Underline’, ‘Strike’, ‘Subscript’, ‘Superscript’, ‘-‘, ‘RemoveFormat’ ] },
{ name: ‘insert’, items: [ ‘Image’, ‘Table’, ‘HorizontalRule’, ‘SpecialChar’ ] }

What I ended up with was this:

CKEDITOR.editorConfig = function( config )
// Toolbar groups configuration.
config.toolbar_mini = [
{ items: [ ‘Bold’, ‘Italic’, ‘Underline’, ‘Strike’] },
{ name: ‘paragraph’, groups: [ ‘list’, ‘indent’, ‘blocks’, ‘align’, ‘bidi’ ], items: [ ‘NumberedList’, ‘BulletedList’, ‘-‘, ‘Blockquote’ ] },

And then, I updated the toolbar configuration in my view: <%= f.input :text, label: “Lesson Text”, :as => :ckeditor, input_html: { :ckeditor => {:toolbar => ‘mini‘} %>

You can find additional configuration options for CKEditor here and here.

Twitter Bootstrap Resources

Twitter Bootstrap is a great style framework for quickly getting sites and apps running.  Created by some Twitter employees, it allows you to easily create modern, stylish designs, as well as include popular javascript functionality like: dropdown menus, modals, popovers and carousels/sliders.  Once you look at Twitter Bootstrap, you’ll realize that many of the sites that you use or see have used Bootstrap or something similar.  In fact, Bootstrap is popular enough to have spawned it’s own ecosystem.

Here are some cool sites that I found that list Twitter Bootstrap resources:

The title says it all with: The Big Badass List of Twitter Bootstrap Resources

W3Resource explains how to use Twitter Bootstrap to make it responsive.  What that means is that you can use Twitter Bootstrap and have it look good regardless of the platform it is being viewed from – monitor, tablet, phone.

Onextrapixel lists Bootstrap extensions in this article, including extensions for making jQuery adopt the Bootstrap look.

Showing Line Breaks

I needed to show line breaks when displaying a text area field that users populated without having them add html.  For example, my app allowed for people to enter text which could span multiple paragraphs.  I didn’t want people to have to enter html, but I wanted it to show line breaks based on if user put line breaks (carriage returns) when they entered the paragraphs.

I found an answer on Stackoverflow.  When you want to display the text field, use code like this:

<%= h(obj.description).gsub(/\n/, ‘<br/>’).html_safe %>

where “obj” = your model, and “description” = your text field.

I also think that simple_format will work, as described here.