Gregory's Blog

Integrating a HTML5 Media Player using Plyr

Integrating Plyr into your own website

Background

I needed to integrate a new HTML5 Media Player into Galaxie Blog for several reasons. I was using the Kendo UI HTML5 Media Player as it was integrated with the themes that I developed for Galaxie Blog, however, it is not part of the Kendo Core open source distribution, and required other Galaxie Blog owners to have a Kendo UI license.

It was my goal to integrate a new HTML player that was open source. I had thought to use Kendo's media player if the blog owner had a license, however, after integrating Plyr, I determined that Plyr offers quite a bit more functionality than the Kendo Media Player, and changed the default media player to Plyr- even if the blog owner had their own Kendo commercial license.

Why Plyr?

Plyr is a simple, lightweight, accessible and customizable HTML5 media and audio player. It supports HTML Video, Audio, YouTube and Vimeo. It has support for video captions in multiple languages, and has add revenue capabilities. What also excited me is that I could cast my videos to my own TV. Plyr also supports air play, and I wanted to be able to view the video's that I took on my own TV.

How to integrate Plyr into your own website or blog

Integrating Plyr is relatively trivial. I will show you the steps that I used to integrate Plyr into Galaxie Blog. This is meant as a general how to document, if you run into problems or want more information, see the full documentation on the Plyr GitHub site

  1. Clone or download Plyr at https://github.com/sampotts/plyr
  2. Upload all of the files found in the dist folder to your own site

Once the files have been uploaded, you will need to open the index document of your site and edit a few lines of code

Load the javascript and css files in the head portion of your document like so:

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1<head>
2    <!-- Plyr (our HTML5 media player) -->
3    <script src="/blog/common/libs/plyr/plyr.js"></script>
4    <!-- Defer the plyr css. -->
5    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/blog/common/libs/plyr/plyr.css" />
6</head>

Find the portion of the page where you would like the video to be displayed, and copy and paste the code below into your own webpage. Pay attention to the crossorigin argument. You need to remove the crossorigin argument if your video is hosted on your own site. If the video is hosted elsewhere, such as the plyr cdn site, you'll need to put the crossorigin argument back into the code.

If you have different sized videos, let's say one with 720p and 1080p, put both of the sources in there. The Plyr library will dynamically choose the most appropriate video size that can be rendered on your site. Of course, you can also put in one video source.

Video captions are supported and are optional.

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1<div id="mediaplayer" class="mediaPlayer">
2    <video
3        controls
4        crossorigin
5        playsinline
6        poster="https://cdn.plyr.io/static/demo/View_From_A_Blue_Moon_Trailer-HD.jpg"
7        id="player1"
8        class="lazy">

9        <!-- Video files -->
10
11        <source
12            src="https://cdn.plyr.io/static/demo/View_From_A_Blue_Moon_Trailer-720p.mp4"
13            type="video/mp4"
14            size="720"
15        />

16
17        <source
18            src="https://cdn.plyr.io/static/demo/View_From_A_Blue_Moon_Trailer-1080p.mp4"
19            type="video/mp4"
20            size="1080"
21        />

22
23        <!-- Caption files -->
24        <track
25            kind="captions"
26            label="English"
27            srclang="en"
28            src="https://cdn.plyr.io/static/demo/View_From_A_Blue_Moon_Trailer-HD.en.vtt"
29            default
30        />

31
32    </video>
33</div>

Finally, put the following script at the very end of your code. You need to do this if you need to have more than one video on your page. If you only have one video on your page, the script will not cause any errors, so I advise you to put this at the end of your page.

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1<script type="deferjs">
2    // Initialize the plyr.
3    const players = Plyr.setup('video', { captions: { active: true } });
4    // Expose player so it can be used from the console
5    window.players = players;
6</script>

This article was meant to quickly convey how to put a basic Plyr Media Player on your own web page. You'll definitely want to check out the Plyr GitHub website for more information.

If you want to see how the video looks on Galaxie Blog, see Plyr, a HTML5 media player, is incorporated into Galaxie Blog

In our next article, we'll see how we can share our video to both Facebook and Twitter

Thanks for reading!

Comments

This entry was posted on November 17, 2019 at 2:47 PM and has received 77 views.

Plyr, a HTML5 media player, is incorporated into Galaxie Blog


Plyr, a HTML5 media player, will be incorporated into the next Galaxie Blog version

Plyr, an open source HTML5 media player, is now the default media player in Galaxie Blog. Plyer will automatically render video or audio when Galaxie Blog finds supported content. To improve page performance, Galaxie Blog will also lazy load the media for you. Plyr is a simple, lightweight, accessible and customizable HTML5 media and audio player. It supports HTML Video, Audio, YouTube and Vimeo. It has support for video captions in multiple langauges, and has add revenue capabilities. For a full list of features, see the Plyr site at https://github.com/sampotts/plyr

If you have a Kendo UI license, you can optionally use the Kendo HTML 5 media player, however, the Kendo Media player is not as functional as Plyr, and it is not open source.

Comments

This entry was posted on November 15, 2019 at 2:37 PM and has received 165 views.

How to make the perfect social media sharing image - part 6 Validation tools and tips

In this last post in this series, I will provide to links to some social image sharing validator tools and provide a few tips and tricks that I learned along the way.

After creating the proper social media images and fine tuning the social media meta tags that are required, you can validate how each site will display your page using the tools below.

Facebook Sharing Debugger

The Facebook Sharing Debugger will validate your og meta tags and scrape the social media image. It's relatively straightforward to use. Just enter in the URL of the page that you want to validate, and the debugger will scrape your page and show you if any errors were made. When you first enter the URL, it will take several seconds to generate the page, and if this page was not shared before, it will prompt you to fetch new information. Click on the button to fetch new information, and the debugger will list out data along with error information.

The debugger will not immediately generate the Facebook sharing preview as it is crawling your page in the background, wait several minutes and refresh the page, and the image preview should be displayed. If you have errors indicating that you have missing tags, you can ignore these, as long as you have all of the essential tags.

If you don't like the look of the images, you can make some changes, but come back here and regenerate the preview on the pages that you have shared the URL to.

If you're using Galaxie Blog, I have a utility tool in /common/utilities/cfimage.cfm that will allow you to reprocess the images quickly. For non Galaxie Blog users, I have provided instructions below, and I placed the utility script on Git hub.

Twitter Card Validator

The Twitter Card Validator is a bit easier to use, and it responds faster than the Facebook Sharing Debugger. Like Facebook, all that you need is to input your URL. After entering the URL, Twitters tool should immediately display your page preview. However, it is not easy to change the appearance of the preview after it has been made. I'll show you some tricks to re-create the preview.

How to Regenerate a Twitter Preview

Twitter will cache your preview once the page has been shared, or a Twitter Card Preview has been made. However, it can be quite problematic to refresh the cache once made. I learned a few tricks and will show you a bullet proof way to change your preview if you have to make any changes.

Go to the Twitter Open Graph meta tags in your page. Append something unique on the twitter:image tag like so. If you're using ColdFusion you can simply create a UUID. Other languages have the same capabilities. All you need to do is make sure that the URL is unique.

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1meta name="twitter:image" content="https://gregoryalexander.com/blog/enclosures/twitter/toby.jpg?id=#createUuid()#"

Once you have made the URL to the image unique, Twitter thinks that you have changed the image entirely, and will clear the cache and refresh the preview.

Note: you'll have to get a Facebook and Twitter Developer Account to use these tools.

Creating Social Media Images

I have put a cfimage.cfm template on GitHub for you to generate Social Media Images. I use this to generate social media images for my older posts. The usage is pretty simple. Upload the cfimage file to your server. then drop the original image in a enclosures folder, and create two new folders within the enclosures folder named twitter and facebook. In the socialMediaImagePath variable, put in the full image path for the type of image that you want to create. Go to the URL of your cfimage.cfm template with a browser, and the images will be saved underneath the '/enclosures/facebook' or '/enclosures/twitter' folders.

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1<!-- This is the only line that you should adjust --->
2<cfset socialMediaImagePath = "D:\home\gregorysblog.org\wwwroot\enclosures\DSC_0518.JPG">
3<!--- Consume the createSocialMediaImages(socialMediaImagePath, socialMediaImageType) function --->    
4<cfset createSocialMediaImages(socialMediaImagePath, 'facebook', '')>
5<cfset createSocialMediaImages(socialMediaImagePath, 'twitter', '')>

Other Social Media Validators

There are other tools for validation for different media platforms, such as Twitters Post Inspector, and Pinterest Rich Pin's Validator that I will cover at a different time.

Happy Coding!

Comments

This entry was posted on November 4, 2019 at 3:40 PM and has received 294 views.

How to make the perfect social media sharing image - part 5 Essential Meta Tags


How to make the perfect social media sharing image - part 5 Essential Meta Tags

Sharing your content on social media can have dramatic results at driving more traffic to your site. In my own experience, sharing my own content can drive 50% more traffic to the site. Along with adding the properly sized images, we need to make use of the correct meta tags. I have made several passes at improving the logic that Galaxie Blog uses to auto-generate the tags, and will share my experience with you. If you are using Galaxie Blog, the auto-generation of these tags is done for you.

Each social media site has it's own rules for generating the meta tags. Facebook prefers open graph tags, Twitter can use the open graph tags, but it has a slew of it's own proprietary tags, and Google +, LinkedIn, and Pinterest prefer schema markup tags, which I will not cover here.

Open Graph Tags

The following open graph tags are essential for Facebook

<meta property="og:image" content="URL to the social sharing image.">
<meta property="og:site_name" content="The site name (ie Galaxy Blog). " />
<meta property="og:url" content="The URL to the article" />
<meta property="og:title" content=" Must be 25 characters or less, especially for mobile" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Should be up to two sentences long, but under 30 characters for decent mobile rendering" />

The og:image:height and og:image:width tags are helpful, but not necessary. Facebook will correctly determine the proper image size as long as you stay within the Facebook recommendations.

Essential Twitter Tags

<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image">Use 'summary_large_image' if you're following along with this article
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@Site or article URL">
<meta name="twitter:title" content="The title of your site or article">
<meta name="twitter:description" content="Description, should be less than 200 characters">
<meta name="twitter:image" content="URL to the social sharing image.">

In the next article, I will go over some useful validation tools and share some tips and tricks with that I found.

Comments

This entry was posted on November 2, 2019 at 11:07 PM and has received 147 views.

How to make the perfect social media sharing image - part 4 Image Examples

After the last entry, I wanted to show you the social media images that were created by ColdFusion. Each of these images match the exact recommended size and the ratio aspect that are recommended by the various social media platforms. I'll show you the actual images that were created, and how the social media platform displayed the images after I shared the previous article.

The images

The first image to the left is the original image that was uploaded. This is a picture of my dog, Toby, a super-smart, 13 y.o. bundle of energy running in the snow. The second image, in the middle, is the Facebook social media image, and the image to the right is the Twitter social media image. All of the social media images are copies of the original.

Galaxie Blog will automatically take the image that you want to post, and create Facebook and Twitter social media images that are sized per the social media's recommendations. The Facebook social media image is 1200 pixels wide, and 630 in height. Twitter is similar, but just a hair shorter. They are 1200 pixels wide, and 628 pixels in height.

How the page renders on social media sites

Below are the social media sites render the page when it is shared. The images below are actual screen shot's of the last post I shared in part 3 of this series. Again, the image to the left is the original. The middle image is how Facebook presents the site, and the image to the right is how Twitter displays the share.

Both Facebook and Twitter will take the images that were created by Galaxie Blog, and resize them into their own format. As long as the images either meet the maximum or minimum dimensions as they do here, the site presentation of the share will look good.

Note: this approach works for Slack and LinkedIn sites, but this is outside of the narrow Facebook and Twitter scope that I wanted to blog about.

Next up in this series, how to properly use the meta tags for social media sharing.

Comments

This entry was posted on November 1, 2019 at 11:45 PM and has received 138 views.

How to make the perfect social media sharing image - part 3 Get the code...


In this post, I will share how I implemented logic to have Galaxie Blog automatically create social media sharing images for you when uploading an image for a given post.

Background

When a Galaxie Blog owner creates a post using the administrative interface, there is an option to upload an enclosure by clicking a Choose File button at the end of the add entry page. The interface is simple, when the Choose File button is clicked, it opens up a file browser and the user selects the image that they want to be displayed at the top of the post.

In this post, the picture above is an abstract image that is 2200 pixels wide, and 1760 pixels in height. However, the social media images that the code below produces from this image will have different sizes that are optimized for both Facebook and Twitter. Galaxie Blog has always created a responsive image that automatically adjusts itself to fit on any modern device, however, I have now implemented logic that will manipulate the selected image and create both Facebook and Twitter social media images as well. Here is my approach...

Usage

To use this to create and save social media images, all that you need to do is invoke the createSocialMediaImages function below. It takes three arguments, the URL of the image that you want to perform operations on, the social media platform, and optionally, the Social Media Image Type. If the social media type argument is left blank (which is what I use in Galaxie Blog), the function will automatically determine the size and the proper aspect ratio. Here is the production code for Galaxie Blog that is working right now:

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1<!--- Set the path. --->
2    <cfset socialMediaImagePath = "D:\home\gregoryalexander.com\wwwroot\blog\enclosures\aspectRatio1.jpg">
3    <!--- Automatically generate social media images for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. --->
4    <cfset createSocialMediaImages(socialMediaImagePath, 'facebook', '')>
5    <cfset createSocialMediaImages(socialMediaImagePath, 'twitter', '')>
6    <cfset createSocialMediaImages(socialMediaImagePath, 'instagram', '')>
7    <cfset createSocialMediaImages(socialMediaImagePath, 'linkedIn', '')>

Logic Walkthrough

I am assuming that if you're reading this, you're someone with the technical skills that can read this and try it out, so I'll jump right in to briefly cover the core logic of this approach. For the sake of clarity, I will only cover how the logic creates Facebook social media images. Most of the logic for the other platforms are the same, and I'll provide the full code at the end of the article.

Once the blog image is selected by the blog owner, Galaxie Blog will first get the width and height of the uploaded enclosure image that was just uploaded.

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1<cfimage
2    action = "info"
3    source = "#socialMediaImagePath#"
4    structname="imageInfo">

The logic will then compare the height and width of the original image and determine which type of image will be used. Essentially, are we going to use the largest image type specified by the social media platform, or the minimum depending upon the image that was just uploaded.

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1<cfcase value="facebook">
2    <!--- Is the original image larger or smaller than Facebook's large image size? If larger, use the larger image dimensions specified by the social media platform. If the original image is smaller, use a smaller sized image. We are going to use similiar logic for every social media platform. --->
3    <cfif imageInfo.width gte facebookSharedImageWidth and imageInfo.height gte facebookSharedImageHeight>
4        <!--- Use the larger social media format. --->
5        <cfset socialMediaImageType = "facebookSharedImage">
6    <cfelse>
7        <cfif imageInfo.width gte facebookLinkRectangleImageWidth and imageInfo.height gte facebookLinkRectangleImageHeight>
8            <cfset socialMediaImageType = "facebookLinkRectangleImage">
9        <cfelse><!---<cfif imageInfo.width gte facebookLinkRectangleImageWidth and imageInfo.height gte facebookLinkRectangleImageHeight>--->
10            <!--- Use the facebookLinkSquareImage --->
11            <cfset socialMediaImageType = "facebookLinkSquareImage">
12        </cfif><!---<cfif imageInfo.width gte facebookLinkRectangleImageWidth and imageInfo.height gte facebookLinkRectangleImageHeight>--->
13    </cfif>
14</cfcase>

First, we will double check the images again to make sure that the uploaded image has a larger size than the social media sharing image that we will create. If the uploaded image is larger, we'll set the width and height to match the larger image type. If the uploaded image is smaller than the largest recommended size, we will use the minimum size recommended by the social media platform, and we may set a pre-crop variable to true if necessary. We'll cover this logic next.

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1<cfcase value="facebookSharedImage">
2    <!--- Is the original image larger or smaller than the large image size? If larger, use the larger image dimensions specified by the social media platform. If the original image is smaller, use the miniumum size. We are going to use the same logic for every social media type. --->
3    <cfif imageInfo.width gte facebookSharedImageWidth and imageInfo.height gte facebookSharedImageHeight>
4        <!--- Use the larger social media format. --->
5        <cfset thisImageWidth = facebookSharedImageWidth>
6        <cfset thisImageHeight = facebookSharedImageHeight>
7    <cfelse>
8        <!--- Use the rectangular facebook format. --->
9        <cfset thisImageWidth = facebookLinkRectangleImageWidth>
10        <cfset thisImageHeight = facebookLinkRectangleImageHeight>
11        <cfset preCrop = true>
12    </cfif>
13</cfcase>

Resizing a copy of the original uploaded image

Next we'll check to see if the original image is twice as wide as the targetted social media size. If it is, or if the preCrop variable was set in the previous switch statements, we will create a copy of the original image, and then resize the new image. The code below illustrates this. I removed all of the code other than the Facebook code.

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1<cfif preCrop>
2
3    <!--- Create a new image --->
4    <cfset shareImage = imageNew(socialMediaImagePath)>
5
6    <!--- Handle small images. --->
7    <!--- This logic is only invoked for Facebook rectangle links. --->
8    <cfif socialMediaImageType eq 'facebookLinkRectangleImage'>
9
10        <!--- Resize the new image. For portrait images, we are going to resize the image to 550 pixels wide. --->
11        <cfset imageResize(shareImage, 550, '')>
12        <!--- We know the width of the new image that was just created (550), now get it's height --->
13        <cfset shareImageWidth = imageGetHeight(shareImage)>
14        <!--- Crop the resized image from the center (centerCrop(path/image, originalWidth, originalHeight, newWidth, newHeight). We don't need to determine an aspect ratio. It is a square. --->
15        <cfset shareImage = centerCrop(shareImage, 550, shareImageWidth, thisImageWidth, thisImageHeight)>
16
17    </cfif><!---<cfif (socialMediaImageType eq 'facebookLinkRectangleImage'>--->
18</cfif>

Maintaining the aspect ratio using our nifty ColdFusion ratio calculator function

One of the most critical requirements or this is having the ability to resize images while maintaining the targeted aspect ratio. I could not find a ColdFusion function that did this, so I had to built my own. If you play around with manipulating images and aspect ratios, this type of function should belong in your own toolbox.

Our ratioCalculator function below takes 3 arguments. The aspectRatioWidth and aspectRatioHeight arguments should match the recommended width and height of our targetted social media image that are indicated in the prior post. For the large Facebook Shared Image, the ratio aspect is 1200 pixels wide, and 630 pixels in height. We'll go ahead and plug these values in for the first two arguments as this is the aspect ratio that we want to keep, no matter what size we eventually resize the image to. The third argument is the newWidth argument. Here, the newWidth argument will either be: the original width of the uploaded image: or, the new width when we resized the image in the step above when the size of the uploaded image was twice the width of the recommended Facebook image size.

The ratio calculator function will take these three values, and return the height that is needed to maintain the original aspect ratio. To get the new height of the image, all that we need to specify is the recommended width and height, provided by the social media platform, and the new width that we want to resize an image to be. The new width argument can be smaller, or larger, than the aspect ratio size. No matter what you plug in for the new width, the aspect ratio will be maintained.

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1<cffunction name="ratioCalculator" access="public" output="true" returnType="numeric" hint="This is used to determine the new dimensions needed to fit a certain width while maintaining the specified aspect ratio. I am using this to determine how to resize an image to meet the aspect ratio used by varius social media sites.">
2    <cfargument name="aspectRatioWidth" required="yes" hint="Specify the original width of the image.">
3    <cfargument name="aspectRatioHeight" required="yes" hint="Specify the original height of the image.">
4    <cfargument name="newWidth" required="yes" hint="Specify the desired width of the new image.">
5
6    <cfset newHeight = (arguments.aspectRatioHeight / arguments.aspectRatioWidth) * arguments.newWidth>
7
8    <cfreturn newHeight>
9</cffunction>

Cropping the images

The code has two cropping functions, centerCrop, and horizontalCrop. The centerCrop function is used when we have a landscape image, and the horizontalCrop function is used when using a portrait image.

The centerCrop function takes five arguments, we need to specify the full path of the image, or the variable of the image if we are creating a new image using the newImage ColdFusion function. The original width and original height arguments using the social media recommended size. Here, we are using the large Facebook size of 1200 for the originalWidth, and 630 for the originalHeight. The fourth argument, width, is either the width of the uploaded image, or the width of the newly resized image, and finally, new height, which is provided by the ratioCalculator function that we just covered above. This function will crop the image from the center.

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1<cffunction name="centerCrop" access="public" output="true" returnType="string" hint="Used to crop an image with a desired size that is smaller both horizontally and vertically than the original image. This will crop the image from the center.">
2        <cfargument name="imagePath" required="yes" hint="Provide either the full original path of the image, or the actual ColdFusion image using the newImage function.">
3        <cfargument name="originalWidth" required="yes" hint="Provide the original width of the image.">
4        <cfargument name="originalHeight" required="yes" hint="Provide the original width of the image.">
5        <cfargument name="newWidth" required="yes" hint="Provide the desired width of the cropped image.">
6        <cfargument name="newHeight" required="yes" hint="Provide the desired height of the new cropped image.">
7        <!--- Local debugging carriage. If something goes awry, set this to true. --->
8        <cfset debug = true>
9        
10        <!--- This algorithm was found at https://www.raymondcamden.com/2010/02/03/Cropping-to-the-center-of-an-image --->
11        <cfset originalImage = "#arguments.imagePath#">
12        <!--- Make a copy of the original image. --->
13        <cfset croppedImage = imageNew(originalImage)>
14        <!--- Get the coordinates. We will subtract the orinal width minus the new width to grab the center of the new image. --->
15        <cfset xCoordinate = (originalWidth - newWidth) / 2>
16        <cfset yCoordinate = (originalHeight - newHeight) / 2>
17            
18        <cfif debug>
19            <cfoutput>
20                originalWidth: #originalWidth#<br/>
21                originalHeight: #originalHeight#<br/>
22                newWidth: #newWidth#<br/>
23                newHeight: #newHeight#<br/>
24                xCoordinate #xCoordinate#<br/>
25                yCoordinate" #yCoordinate#<br/>
26            </cfoutput>
27        </cfif>
28            
29        <!--- Crop the image. --->
30        <cfset imageCrop(croppedImage, xCoordinate, yCoordinate, newWidth, newHeight)>
31            
32        <!--- And return it. --->
33        <cfreturn croppedImage>
34    </cffunction>

The horizontalCrop, used when we are uploading a portrait image, leaves the width intact, but crops the top and the bottom of the picture equally. This function takes three arguments, the imagePath (or the variable name of the new image when we use the imageNew ColdFusion function), the original height of the uploaded image, and the new height. I am using our ratioCalculator function to provide the new height again while maintaining the original aspect ratio recommended by the social media platform. Again, this example uses the large Facebook size of 1200 for the originalWidth, and 630 for the originalHeight.

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1<cffunction name="horizontalCrop" access="public" output="true" returnType="string" hint="Used to crop a horizontal image that has a horizontally size that is greater than the desired size of the new image. This will crop the image from the horizontal center.">
2        <cfargument name="imagePath" required="yes" hint="Provide the full original path of the image.">
3        <cfargument name="originalHeight" required="yes" hint="Provide the original width of the image.">
4        <cfargument name="newHeight" required="yes" hint="Provide the desired height of the new cropped image.">
5        <!--- Local debugging carriage. If something goes awry, set this to true. --->
6        <cfset debug = true>
7        
8        <!--- This algorithm was found at https://www.raymondcamden.com/2010/02/03/Cropping-to-the-center-of-an-image --->
9        <cfset originalImage = "#arguments.imagePath#">
10        <!--- Make a copy of the original image. --->
11        <cfset croppedImage = imageNew(originalImage)>
12        <!--- Get the coordinates. The x coordinate starts at 0. The image only needs to be cropped vertically. --->
13        <cfset xCoordinate = 0>
14        <cfset yCoordinate = (originalHeight - newHeight) / 2>
15            
16        <cfif debug>
17            <cfoutput>
18                originalHeight: #originalHeight#<br/>
19                newHeight: #newHeight#<br/>
20                xCoordinate #xCoordinate#<br/>
21                yCoordinate" #yCoordinate#<br/>
22            </cfoutput>
23        </cfif>
24            
25        <!--- Crop the image. --->
26        <cfset imageCrop(croppedImage, xCoordinate, yCoordinate, newWidth, newHeight)>
27            
28        <!--- And return it. --->
29        <cfreturn croppedImage>
30            
31    </cffunction>

This is a rather long and complex post. In my next post, I'll provide some concise examples of social media images that this function creates.

Get the code

The code is published as a git hub repository. This component will also become a part of Galaxie Blog in the next release.

Further Reading

Some of the logic in the center crop function was taken from Raymond Camden's article at https://www.raymondcamden.com/2010/02/03/Cropping-to-the-center-of-an-image

Comments

This entry was posted on November 1, 2019 at 1:07 AM and has received 174 views.

How to make the perfect social media sharing image - part 2 Getting the Size Right

There is a lot of information about this on the web- but unfortunately, most of it is wrong or outdated. And this is not necessarily due to the author's mistake. The social media platforms are always fine tuning their image formats and the information changes. To make matters worse, there is conflicting information even when going straight to the source, ie Facebook or Twitter.

For example, here twitter recommends using a 2x1 image ratio1 for their large summary cards, however, twitter has new documentation on it's business page mentioning the new 1.91:1 aspect ratio that was updated this August 2. Faceook is a bit better, but there is an overwhelming amount of information out there, and much of it is confusing. I had to learn the proper aspect ratios by digging into a lot of posts, and through trial and error. I have dug into at least a dozen posts for each image type and this is what I came up with and what proved to work for me best.

The following information should be correct as of October 28 2019. I will periodically try to update this list.

  • Twitter

    • Twitter Summary Card with a large image (1.91:1 aspect ratio):

      • Recommended width: 1200 pixels
      • Recommended height: 628

      • Minimum width: 518
      • Minimum height: 226
  • Facebook
    Facebook has a few more options. There is a large image type, but you can also choose from two different smaller image types. The smaller types allow the text to be floated to the right of the image whereas the larger type puts the text at the bottom underneath a larger image. The aspect ratio for the large image size is just a hair bigger than Twitter's Summary Card.

    • Facebook Shared Image (extremely close to the 1.91:1 twitter format, Facebook has a 1.91 aspect ratio):
      • Recommended width: 1200
      • Recommended height: 630

    • Facebook Link Image - Rectangular
      • Minimum width: 484
      • Minimum height: 252

    • Facebook Link Image - Square
      • Minimum width: 116
      • Minimum height: 116
  • Instagram

    • Recommended width: 1080 (1x1 aspect ratio)
    • Recommended height: 1080

    • Minimum width: 600
    • Minimum height: 315
  • Linked In
    LinkedIn images are very narrow and wide.

    • Recommended width: 1128
    • Recommended height: 376

    • Minimum width: 502
    • Minimum height: 282

If this sounds a little confusing, read on to the next post. In the next post, I will show the actual dimensions of each image type, and provide information how to use ColdFusion to manipulate images to obtain the desired size while keeping the proper aspect ratio.


1A 2x1 aspect ratio is recommended on this particular twitter page "Images for this Card support an aspect ratio of 2:1 with minimum dimensions of 300x157 or maximum of 4096x4096 pixels"
2
Yet, this twitter page suggests the new 1.91:1 aspect ratio: "Image size: 800 x 418 pixels for 1.91:1 aspect ratio, 800 x 800 pixels for 1:1 aspect ratio"

Comments

This entry was posted on October 28, 2019 at 11:21 PM and has received 180 views.

How to make the perfect social media sharing image - part 1 Background


Have you wondered how to get a perfect image from your blog when you share your post on social media? I have... and after spending several weeks on this; I think that I have managed to figure it out...

Over the course of the last few months, I have spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to effectively share my content on social media sites. I had thought to simply share the image at the top of each post, but I didn't get the size of the image right. The proper image size was different for each social media platform. Finding the proper sizes between the social media platforms was daunting. The information available on the net is often contradictory, and constantly subject to change. Figuring out the proper approach necessitates aiming at a constantly moving target. What worked several months ago might not work the same now.

After failing at my initial attempt; I reverted the Galaxie Blog code and used the same default social media image that tended to work for every post. While I was sick of looking at the same mountain logo on every social media post (I assume along with my three regular readers), I had more pressing tasks to deal with. There have been a lot of other features that I wanted to put into this blog first, and wanted to wait until I could take a few weeks to devote to learn by trial and error to get this social media image sharing thing right.

There are also other considerations other than just manipulating the image. The social media platforms need to have certain meta tags. After spending the last couple of weeks I found a good approach to solve this. In the next several posts, I will share my journey with you and show you my Galaxie blog implementation. Along the way, I'll provide some ColdFusion scripts for you to resize your own images for social media sharing on your own. Additionally, I hope to provide you some helpful tips.

Comments

This entry was posted on October 28, 2019 at 11:29 AM and has received 169 views.

Enabling Search Engine Friendly Links with Url Re-write in Galaxie Blog


I've finally managed to incorporate URL rewrite rules and changed the Galaxie Blog logic to use search engine friendly URL's. Search friendly URL's allow the URL to be more consistent, and eliminate information that is not important. A search friendly URL should easily convey meaning of the page.

Making this open source blog work with search friendly URL's was not a trivial undertaking. A lot of changes had to be made. Galaxie Blog now removes the '/index.cfm' string from the URL. We are also using the posted date and an easy to read entry title within the URL. Galaxie Blog also removes the '/index.cfm' string from all of the links. We don't want to have a mixture of different links that the search engine would crawl and cause duplicate content on several different pages. Additionally, Galaxie Blog will also remove the '/index.cfm' string from both the google site map and RSS feed that Galaxie Blog automatically creates for you.

To enable search engine friendly URL's in Galaxie blog, follow the two steps below.

  1. If you're using IIS, the following rule should be copied and pasted into the web.config in the root directory of the server. The URL redirection rule is between the rewrite tags below. It essentially matches all strings with 'index.cfm', and removes this string. Additionally, it sets a permanent redirect that the search engine uses when crawling your page.

view plain about
1<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
2<configuration>
3 <system.webServer>
4 <directoryBrowse enabled="false" />
5 <urlCompression doStaticCompression="true" doDynamicCompression="true" />
6        <rewrite>
7        <rules>
8         <rule name="GregorysBlog" stopProcessing="true">
9 <match url="(.*)index.cfm" />
10 <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll">
11         <add input="{SCRIPT_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true" />
12 <add input="{QUERY_STRING}" pattern=".+" ignoreCase="false" negate="true" />
13 </conditions>
14 <action type="Redirect" url="{R:1}" appendQueryString="true" redirectType="Permanent" />
15 </rule>
16        </rules>
17        </rewrite>
18 <security>
19 <requestFiltering>
20 <fileExtensions>
21 <add fileExtension=".pl" allowed="false" />
22 </fileExtensions>
23 </requestFiltering>
24 </security>
25 <httpErrors errorMode="Detailed" />
26 <staticContent>
27 <remove fileExtension=".woff2" />
28 <mimeMap fileExtension=".woff2" mimeType="font/woff2" />
29 <remove fileExtension=".webp" />
30 <mimeMap fileExtension=".webp" mimeType="image/webp" />
31 </staticContent>
32 </system.webServer>
33</configuration>

  1. In the application.cfc template which is in the blog's root directory, search for the following string and set it to true. It should be around line 22. Note: this is not permanent. You can always reverse this and set it to false at later time if you're new server does not allow for search friendly URL's.

view plain about
1<cfset application.serverRewriteRuleInPlace = true>

That's it! You're blog should now be using search friendly URL's.

Credits:

  • I especially want to thank Caleb C. from Hostek for helping me get the IIS rule straight. The folks at Hostek have been nothing but outstanding in their service and support!

Further Reading:

Notes:

  • The search friendly URL features will be available in the next release.

Comments

This entry was posted on October 26, 2019 at 5:24 PM and has received 275 views.

Pressure cooked ‘KFC’ style chicken with the Magfesa star pressure cookers.

Pressure cooked 'KFC' style chicken with the Magfesa star pressure cookers.

There is absolutely nothing better than 'KFC' style pressure cooked chicken made at home. However, you can only do this with a very limited number of pressure cookers, namely a Magfesa star pressure cooker1, with an extra metal arm that is wrapped around the lid. You can also do this at home using older chicken bucket cookers, but the safety features on the older style pressure cookers aren't as good. You can't do this with any other pressure cooker- certainly not your insta-pot! It will blow up or just melt. Magfesa does not advertise that you can pressure cook using oil due to legal liability- but it is made like the old chicken buckets, and folks use these specific pressure cookers when they use oil. I have cooked this recipe many times at home using a 16 quart Magfesa cooker, but I am super diligent and carefully follow this method.

Add the following in a glass bowl:

  • ½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper. Black pepper, salt.
  • Fill up to the top with buttermilk.
  • Optional: 1 beaten egg.
  • Let chicken sit in buttermilk in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I try to leave in in the fridge for at least two hours. You can also leave it overnight.
  • Take chicken out of fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Create the breading. My typical ingredients include:

    • 2 Cups of flour.
    • 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.
    • 1 teaspoon Cajun spice mix.
    • 1 teaspoon basil.
    • 1 teaspoon rosemary.
    • 1 teaspoon thyme.
    • ½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper.
    • ½ teaspoon Greek seasoning.
    • ½ teaspoon paprika.
    • ½ teaspoon celery salt.
    • ½ teaspoon ground ginger.
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper.
    • ½ teaspoon salt.

  • Mix thoroughly.
  • Take the chicken out of the buttermilk mixture. Shake the chicken gently in order to drain off the buttermilk for 30 seconds or so. Once drained off, dredge the chicken through the flour spice mix. Use tongs while dipping chicken into mixture.
  • Put aside on lined baking sheet.
  • Wait 30 minutes, dredge again. This time it does not use as much flour. You're only trying to cover portions that were not covered in the first dredge.
  • Wait for 30 minutes to allow chicken to warm up to room temperature. This also allows the flour mixture to bond with the chicken.
  • Dredge again and lightly season the chicken with any extra herbs that you want to put in. Don't over-season.
  • Inspect the main seal and the spinning pressure release by blowing into it and seeing if air comes out. Do not continue if the seal or release valve is not working.
  • In pressure cooker, heat peanut oil up to 350 degrees with the top off. Use a long thermometer to gage temperature. You must use peanut oil, or a specialty oil mixes that are sold to deep fry turkeys with.
  • Other oils won't hold up with the high temperatures, and they may catch fire as the smoke point is too low.
  • Once the peanut oil reaches 350 degrees, use long tongs and carefully drop chicken into the oil. Work in batches, even with a large pressure cooker, I only put in 4-6 pieces of chicken at a time. It is also advisable to wear thick insulated gloves that you would wear when using a BBQ. Be careful of splattering.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and tighten. Wait a minute or two to allow the pressure to build. Do not leave the area once you have applied heat to the pressure cooker.
  • Once pressure builds up and the pressure release top starts spinning, immediately turn down the heat on the burner down a little more than 2/3rds without actually turning the stove off. I turn my electric stove down to 4 (high is set at 15), and set the timer.

  • Set timer for:
    • Legs: 10 minutes.
    • Thighs: 12 minutes.
    • Breast: 15 minutes.

  • Watch the pressure cooker carefully- if the release top starts spinning like crazy, turn the burner down further. If the emergency pressure release is popped (the 2nd safety feature, turn the stove off and move the pot off of the burner.
  • After the timer goes off, release the pressure manually and carefully use tongs to pull the chicken out. I do not put the pressure cooker under water to quick release the pressure. Play it safe- water and oil do not mix.
  • Make sure that the pressure is released before opening the lid, otherwise, you may have oil come up the pot, make a mess, and perhaps get burned.

Helpful tips: for chicken breasts and thighs, you can also gently precook or smoke the meat halfway done prior to soaking the chicken in the butter milk. This allows you to shorten the time by a few minutes and not over-burn the skin.

Happy (and safe) eating!

Further reading:
Cookistry: Pressure fried chicken
Serious Eats: Gadgets: Magefesa Star Pressure Cooker

1Note: I am in no way affiliated with Magfesa, and don't derive any income from this post. I just like deep fried chicken and this is the most economical way to make this at home!

Comments

This entry was posted on October 14, 2019 at 8:15 PM and has received 133 views.




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Your input and contributions are welcomed!

If you have an idea, BlogCfc based code, or a theme that you have built using this site that you want to share, please contribute by making a post here or share it by contacting us! This community can only thrive if we continue to work together.

Images and Photography:

Gregory Alexander either owns the copyright, or has the rights to use, all images and photographs on the site. If an image is not part of the "Galaxie Blog" open sourced distribution package, and instead is part of a personal blog post or a comment, please contact us and the author of the post or comment to obtain permission if you would like to use a personal image or photograph found on this site.

Credits:

Portions of Galaxie Blog are powered on the server side by BlogCfc, an open source blog developed by Raymond Camden. Revitalizing BlogCfc was a part of my orginal inspiration that prompted me to design this site. Some of the major open source contributers to BlogCfc include:

  1. Peter Farrell: the author of 'Lyla Captcha' that is used on this blog.
  2. Pete Freitag: the author of the 'ColdFish' code formatter that is also used on this blog.

Version:

Galaxie Blog Version 1.45 October 9 2019














































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