The Basic Meeting List Toolbox

Javascript Satellites & bmlt.js

The latest release of the root server (v2.10.3), has some exciting new features.  It introduces a new response endpoint called JSONP, or JSON w/padding.  Typically making a JSON request/response requires that both the client and the server are on the same exact domain.  This is a by design security feature of most modern browsers to prevent XSS (Cross Site Scripting Attacks).
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[UPDATED] Google Maps, API Keys and Geolocation Issues

Das Pröblem:

As most of you have probably already found out, Google now enforces HTTPS and API keys in their Maps.

This results in:

1) the dreaded “Oops! Something went wrong!” display:

Oops! Something Went Wrong!

NOTE: In the Root Server, this results in the map display shown as “all blue,” with no map displayed. Also, the “Set Longitude and Latitude to Address” button will not work.

2) and/or the “Unable to Determine Your Location” display:

Can't Find Your Location

This happens if you try to use a location-tracking feature, like the “Find Meetings Near Me” button in the Satellite.
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PROTIP: Why Meetings Are Marked “Closed” By Default

I’ve had a number of folks ask me (sometimes, “ask” is a rather mild term for the manner in which they approach me) why meetings tend to be marked as “Closed” in data dumps and listings.

There’s a very simple, good reason for this:

The VERY WORST thing that can happen to a meeting, or a Service body, is that someone attending a meeting (often, a family member of an addict in attendance) is thrown out of a meeting. They will usually take the person they attended with when they leave, and never return to NA again. They will often also say bad things about NA in many venues.

NOT GOOD.

Compounding this, is that meetings are often held in…less than upscale…neighborhoods, and throwing someone (like a middle-aged, middle-class woman who attended with her teenage daughter) out could actually put them in direct physical danger.
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PROTIP: A Quick Geeky Way to Update NAWS World IDs

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Root Server Admin

ABSTRACT

If you have used the NAWS Export Functionality of the BMLT to send synchronization dumps to NAWS, you have received a spreadsheet in reply, with a series of meetings that have revised or newly-assigned Committee Codes (what we call “World ID” in the BMLT).

These are fairly long sequences of numbers, prefixed by one or two letters, like so:

  • Regions are listed as “RGXXX“, with “XXX” being 3 digits (with leading zeroes). For example: “RG001”, “RG123”.
  • Areas are listed as “ARXXXXX“, with “XXXXX” being 5 digits (also with leading zeroes). For example: “AR00001”, “AR00123”, “AR12345”.
  • Groups are listed as “GXXXXXXX“, with “XXXXXXX” being 7, leading-zero-padded digits. For example: “G0000001”, “G0012345”, “G1234567”.

These need to be assigned back to your BMLT database in order to ensure continued synchronization with NAWS.

It should be noted that NAWS tracks GROUPS, not MEETINGS.

Groups are Service entities. They are the driving force behind meetings, and often a single Group can have multiple meetings (like clubhouses, or lunchtime meetings).

In these cases, you may apply the same World ID (NAWS Committee Code) to multiple meetings.

IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO DO THIS! DON’T IGNORE THE SPREADSHEET RETURNED TO YOU BY NAWS!

It is very much worth it to keep NAWS in sync with your database, so this operation is important.

Thankfully, NAWS has agreed to do a certain thing that makes this process fairly easy to automate.

This post will spell out a somewhat “high geek factor” way of doing it. I will be working on a tool to abstract the complexity, but that will be a little while in coming.
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The Next Big Thing -Part Deux

OK. I have completed adding all the basic functionality to the BMLTiOSLib project.

I still need to add stimulus support for these to the test harness app.

Once I have validated the library with the test harness, I’ll write some small sample usage apps in both Swift and Objective-C.

There’s probably still a month or more to go before the library is ready for me to call it “done,” but it’s in great shape.


The Next Big Thing

So far, the Root Server and the various Satellites seem to be working well.

I’m in the process of releasing an updated version of the awesome BMLTAdmin app. The update won’t add any new functionality. It’s merely a tweak for the latest Apple iOS version (iOS 10). The original version still works fine, so there’s no urgency to update.

So what I’ll be developing will be an iOS framework for people that want to develop iOS apps for the BMLT. It will abstract all server communications using an Observer Pattern (Apple calls it “delegates“).

This will be a “dogfood” project, which I will use to create the next version of the iOS BMLT app, and, eventually, a new version of the BMLTAdmin app.

The whole idea is to make it insanely easy to write iOS apps that will interface with the BMLT.

I’ve done this kind of thing before, and it will work out great. It may take a few months, though, because I do this kind of thing extremely carefully. This will be an “infrastructure-level” framework, and needs to be of the absolutely highest quality possible. I’ll also need to write some fairly comprehensive documentation.

It will be written in Swift, and will require a fairly current version of the operating system (never an issue with Apple, but a huge problem with Android, and one of the reasons that I don’t program Android). It will abstract the JSON variant of the Semantic Interface.

UPDATE:

Here is the repo for the project.

At the time of this writing, there’s still a long way to go.


HTTPS, And the iOS (iPhone) App

At the Worldwide Developer Conference this year, Apple announced that it will force all iOS apps to use HTTPS to connect to the Web.

This could have a fairly big impact on the NA community, and the BMLT Community, especially.

A few months ago, I reworked the BMLT to behave properly in SSL/HTTPS (secure Web sites), and with nonstandard ports (a technical term -if you don’t know what it means, don’t worry).

That means that you can run the BMLT on secure sites (ones with “httpS://” prefixes), no problem.

Hosting those sites is a bit more of a challenge, though. Here’s a good blog entry that makes it fairly straightforward and simple.

If you are running an NA site, you may want to consider switching it to HTTPS. I’ll get around to doing that with this site in my copious free time. I already run a test site with SSL.

The biggest issue with running SSL/HTTPS on your site, is that it can be slower. The reasons are a bit technical, but basically, SSL likes browsers to do just one or two things at a time, whereas HTTP allows a whole bunch of simultaneous actions. I’m hoping that changes rapidly as SSL becomes the standard.

The most likely immediate impact on the BMLT could be that the iOS app might stop working. I’m not sure if that will be the case or not. Apple seems to be a bit vague on how they will enforce their edict. They may not allow me to make any updates without SSL, but may allow the current (extremely stable) version to run non-SSL.

More will be revealed…