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Drupal 8: Get the current Node's NID

Theming Drupal can be like working with layers of an onion. There are layers and layers and sometimes cutting through makes you cry. Besides not knowing what theme function or template file one must use (Drupal 8 helps with the knowing part with html comments) there is the big problem of global state and context, and the theme layer you're trying to use might be missing some context. The major example is that you want some block to be aware of the node on the page. (This is a problem which React.js helps deal with by passing state from parent to child component via props.)

But...

Stack traces, backtraces, call stacks explained in JavaScript, Python, PHP

People are rarely happy to see a stack trace. A stack trace often appears when software encounters an exception, an unexpected error which can't be handled gracefully and therefore most stop execution of the program. What the stack trace shows is what was happening in the moments leading up to the bug. The stack is called a stack because each item (each function call) is stacked on top of the previous one in a special part of computer memory called the stack. Most computers and programming languages work with a stack. In programs written in programming languages without side effects, a...

MEAN vs LAMP stacks defined and compared

The long popular web development stack LAMP is slowly being chipped away from its dominant position by newer, trending technologies, letter by letter. MEAN is one total replacement which has been gaining ground lately.

What do those acronyms mean?

  • MEAN: MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, Node.js
  • LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP

MongoDB is a NoSQL database which won't support your existing applications because they would require some sort of relational database with SQL querying capability, probably including a whole lot of very custom...

Querying the database in Drupal 7 using db_select

Drupal, unlike plain old blog software, gives you the ability to create custom content object types with backing storage in the database as custom tables, doing all this without requiring any programming knowledge. When you create a new custom Content Type and add fields to it, in effect, you are creating a new database table for those fields.

Drupal also gives you ways to access and query the data without writing code. The most powerful form of this is Views, which every Drupal site should install as soon as starting. In the Views UI, you can select which fields (database columns...

List Comprehensions in PHP (how to emulate Python)

Python has a sweet syntactic feature where you can take a literal list written out in bracket notation (e.g. [1, 3, 5, 7, 9]) but have inline expressions generate the list's contents. So instead of writing out the 5 consecutive odd numbers like above, in Python we can say [(x*2+1 for x in range(5)] which turns out to be more characters but you can imagine the savings if the series in the list was longer and not just odd. Instead of range() we could have a literal list [0, 1, 2, 3, 4] or even a generator function, anything which is...

Top 5 Programming Languages to Learn in 2016

It's a new year in a world that's moving faster than ever. This means it's important to keep up to date on technology, and young people who would have not been programmers before need to learn to code. There are various lists of programming languages by popularity of demand but they are too broad to read at face value. I've seen many people fail to learn a programming language when they had nothing to apply it to and were simply learning how a language works. It's a bit like learning a foreign language by reading a dictionary. The following list are my choices (not necessarily in order)...

Choosing Shell script vs Python vs Node.js vs PHP for Server-side Command Line Scripting

After decades of improvements in graphical user interfaces, the Unix command line interface still remains the most powerful way to get things done for a lot of workflows. This is due to many reasons: the difficulty of quickly and precisely moving the mouse cursor compared to the ability of touch typists to select exactly what they want (even when it's via hotkey combinations), but mainly (IMO) the expressive power of composing separate Unix commands into one pipe-separated command operating on standardized files (usually text).

It's also easy to write your own Unix commands which...

Write PHP Code in English only: Unicode/UTF-8 and the BOM

First, a general introduction to the choices of human natural language within computer programming languages.

Since the beginning of time, programming languages supported the English language and only the English language, the English version of the alphabet, encoded as ascii characters [ok, not since the beginning of time but standard since consumer Internet support had solidified]. By ASCII I am referring to the lower 7-bit American character set. Even when foreign countries were using computers and began programming them, they would still use English programming languages, even...

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