It’s Late September and I Really Should be Back at School

There’s always a tension between using the technologies that one is already good at vs. learning the coolest new things. People pay me to do things I’m good at, which means if I’m not always pushing, I’ll end up getting lots of practice doing things that are going out of style. OTOH, fads and frameworks come and go all the time, especially in JavaScript, so I could spend all my time getting no products out the door 1mkzlui.

I told you that to tell you this — I’m heading to the woodshed to put a couple more notches on my belt look at this web-site. Look for Angular 2 and node.js on my linkedin profile soon!

Setting up WordPress for Development

I’m giving a talk for a WordPress group about how I set up my own computer (a MacBookPro) to develop WordPress sites. Here’s a link to my notes:

Running WordPress Locally

(As an aside, I used <a href="http://tiddlywiki their” target=”_blank”>TiddlyWiki to organize my talk. I love it! I use it for a number of different things — I have a separate one for pretty much any topic where I have a number of things to remember.)

Generating MIDI with abcjs

It’s been a while since I worked on the MIDI part of abcjs, and it shows! When Greg first developed it, he put in a widget that would use QuickTime. Pretty clever at the time. But that doesn’t work anywhere any more, so I removed it. I have some plans for generating MIDI right on the web page, but that will have to wait until the next version.

For this version I concentrated on making the MIDI generation better.

I refactored the generation to use three passes: 1) identify the parts of the abcjs object that affect sound and put them in chronological order, 2) Turn those conceptual events into specific events, 3) generate MIDI. That made it much easier to add features: all of the “artistic” stuff is in the second step.

The two main features I added were guitar chord generation and grace notes. Both of those required some artistic license cheap generic cialis.

I tried to find a rule of thumb for how long a grace note is, but there really isn’t one. It depends on the style of music whether the grace note is before the beat or on the beat. The length of a grace note is variable. It is unclear whether it should be a fraction of a beat or a fixed amount of time, independent of the tempo. I just picked something that seemed to work for me.

For guitar chords, in general I wanted to do a boom-chick pattern, but that depended on where the chords were specified in time. This can be vague and differs for different meters. So if boom-chick didn’t work, I played the full chord on the beat. If a chord appears between beats, I pulled it back to the previous beat. This seems to have worked passably for the sample tunes I tried. It’s just that the specification is not very exact, so there’s no way of telling for some of the border cases.

In any case, the result was surprisingly good on some tunes! There is room for improvement and there are many decorations, MIDI commands, and rhythm designations to support to keep me busy for the next version.

And, when it comes down to it, MIDI is never going to sound “good”. The purpose of MIDI is as a proof-reader of the music you create. It’s just hard to stop refining it once I get going.

Money Lost:

ABCJS.renderMidi(“abc-midi-58a19cf42622d”, “X: 36T:Money LostM:3/4L:1/8Q:3/4=40C:Paul RosenS:Copyright 2007, Paul RosenR:KlezmerK:DmAde|:\”Dm\”(f2d)e gf|\”A7\”e2^c4|\”Gm\”B>>^c BA BG|\”A\”A3Ade|\”Dm\”(f2d)e gf|\”A7\”e2^c4|\”Gm\”A>>B \”A7\”AG FE|1\”Dm\”D3Ade:|2\”Dm\”D3DEF|:\”Gm\”(G2D)E FG|\”Dm\”A2F4|\”Gm\”B>>c \”A7\”BA BG|\”Dm\”A3 DEF|\”Gm\”(G2D)E FG|\”Dm\”A2F4|\”A7 (Edim)\”E>>Fy \”(A7)\”ED^C2|1\”Dm\”D3DEF:|2\”Dm\”D6||”.replace(/\x01/g,”\n”), {}, {});

Sheet Music in WordPress!

I created a WordPress plugin called “ABC Notation” that makes it easy to put sheet music in your blog find more. It uses the abcjs JavaScript library developed by Greg Dyke and me. Here’s an example of how it works:

ABCJS.renderAbc(“abc-paper-58a19cf42764d”, “X: 36T:Money LostM:3/4L:1/8Q:3/4=40C:Paul RosenS:Copyright 2007, Paul RosenR:KlezmerK:DmAde|:\”Dm\”(f2d)e gf|\”A7\”e2^c4|\”Gm\”B>>^c BA BG|\”A\”A3Ade|\”Dm\”(f2d)e gf|\”A7\”e2^c4|\”Gm\”A>>B \”A7\”AG FE|1\”Dm\”D3Ade:|2\”Dm\”D3DEF|:\”Gm\”(G2D)E FG|\”Dm\”A2F4|\”Gm\”B>>c \”A7\”BA BG|\”Dm\”A3 DEF|\”Gm\”(G2D)E FG|\”Dm\”A2F4|\”A7 (Edim)\”E>>Fy \”(A7)\”ED^C2|1\”Dm\”D3DEF:|2\”Dm\”D6||”.replace(/\x01/g,”\n”), {}, { staffwidth:550 });

The above music was created with this shortcode:

[.abcjs engraver="{ staffwidth:550 }"]
X: 36
T:Money Lost
C:Paul Rosen
S:Copyright 2007, Paul Rosen
Ade|:"Dm"(f2d)e gf|"A7"e2^c4|"Gm"B>>^c BA BG|"A"A3Ade|"Dm"(f2d)e gf|
"A7"e2^c4|"Gm"A>>B "A7"AG FE|1"Dm"D3Ade:|2"Dm"D3DEF||:"Gm"(G2D)E FG|
"Dm"A2F4|"Gm"B>>c "A7"BA BG|"Dm"A3 DEF|"Gm"(G2D)EFG|"Dm"A2F4|
"A7;(Edim)"E>>Fx "(A7)"ED^C2|1"Dm"D3DEF:|2"Dm"D6||

Integrating Rails and WordPress

I do most of my development in Rails, but many sites need a tab that contains a blog, so I’d like to install WordPress in my Rails app. Here’s how I do it.
(I’m using Passenger for deployment.) We first need to create a space for the blog, and we do that by creating a symbolic link in the Rails’ app’s public folder:

cd path/to/rails/app/public
ln -s /path/to/wordpress/installation news

This separates the WordPress from the Rails app physically, so it makes deployment easier. With the symbolic link, when we go to http:/, it should go to the blog cheap cialis generic online.
However, Passenger is going to grab that URL and print out a Rails error message. This needs to be put in the Apache config file to get Passenger to ignore the blog:

<Directory "/path/to/rails/app/public/news">

    PassengerEnabled off
    AllowOverride all

Now, theoretically, that’s all you’d need to do, but the theme for the blog should be the same as the theme for your app. To do that, we need to get WordPress to use our stylesheets, and the code for our header and footer. That means that we should put most of the code in the layout file in partials, and create routes for them. After doing that, my layout file looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>



    <%= render :partial => '/layouts/dependencies' %>

    <title>Site Title</title>



    <%= render :partial => '/layouts/header' %>

    <%= yield %>
<%= render :partial => '/layouts/footer' %>


and my routes.rb file contains:

get "/styles" => "home#styles"

get "/header" => "home#header"

get "/footer" => "home#footer"

and my home_controller.rb file contains:

def styles
    render :partial => "/layouts/dependencies"


def header

    render :partial => "/layouts/header"

def footer

    render :partial => "/layouts/footer"


And, to use it, I created a little plugin for WordPress. I haven’t packaged it up, but here is the entire code for it. Just put this in the plugins folder, then activate it and look under “settings” for “Rails Theme”.  Put in the URL of the Rails app, and it should use your theme.
Note that because html ids and classes are global, it is easy to have a conflict, so you will probably need to be careful in the names of the css selectors you use. I use the Hybrid WordPress Theme, which doesn’t impose much and has lots of functionality. I had to rename a class that was named “content” because it conflicted. I also needed to add these two styles to override Hybrid styles:

/* for wordpress */
#body-container {
margin: 0;
#header-container {

Here is the entire code of the plugin:

Plugin Name: Rails Theme
Plugin URI:
Description: This plugin causes WP to call into a Rails app to get stylesheets, javascripts, header, and footer info. This allows WP to seamlessly be integrated into a rails app.
Version: 1.0
Author: Paul Rosen
Author URI:
License: Private

// options in the admin section

//------------- Add the admin menu -------------
function rails_admin_options() {
if (!current_user_can('manage_options'))  {
wp_die( __('You do not have sufficient permissions to access this page.') );
echo '<div>';
echo '<h2>Rails Theme Options</h2>';
echo 'Options for the Rails Theme Plugin';
echo '<form action="options.php" method="post">';
echo settings_fields("rails_theme_options");
echo do_settings_sections("rails_theme");
echo '<input name="Submit" type="submit" value="Save Changes" />';
echo '</form></div>';

function rails_modify_menu() {
add_options_page('Rails Theme', 'Rails Theme', 'manage_options', __FILE__, 'rails_admin_options');

add_action('admin_menu', 'rails_modify_menu');

//----------------- Add the settings for this plugin ---------------------
function rails_theme_admin_init(){
register_setting( 'rails_theme_options', 'rails_theme_options', 'rails_theme_options_validate' );
add_settings_section('rails_theme_main', 'Settings', 'rails_theme_section_text', 'rails_theme');
add_settings_field('rails_theme_text_string', 'Base URL (e.g.', 'rails_theme_setting_string', 'rails_theme', 'rails_theme_main');

add_action('admin_init', 'rails_theme_admin_init');

function rails_theme_section_text() {
echo '<p>Set the location of the rails web service that will respond to the urls: /styles, /header, and /footer.</p>';

function rails_theme_setting_string() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
echo "<input id='rails_theme_text_string' name='rails_theme_options[url]' size='40' type='text' value='" . $options['url'] . "' />";

function rails_theme_options_validate($input) {
$newinput['url'] = trim($input['url']);
return $newinput;

// Calling rails app

add_action ( 'wp_head', 'load_stylesheets');

function load_stylesheets() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
$base_url = $options['url'];

$style = file_get_contents($base_url . "/styles");
$style = str_replace("/stylesheets", $base_url . "/stylesheets", $style);
$style = str_replace("/javascripts", $base_url . "/javascripts", $style);
echo $style;

add_action ( 'hybrid_before_html', 'load_header');

function load_header() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
$base_url = $options['url'];

$contents = file_get_contents($base_url . "/header");
$contents = str_replace("href='/", "href='" . $base_url . "/", $contents);
echo $contents;

add_action( 'wp_footer', 'load_footer' );

function load_footer() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
$base_url = $options['url'];

echo file_get_contents($base_url . "/footer");