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WARNING: If you are reading this on GitHub, DON'T! Read it on ReadTheDocs:
have working references and proper formatting.

Chapter 4: Bling-bling

As a reward for making it all the way to the end, we will help you add some fancy features to your project, otherwise known as bling and that means having to write JavaScript. Fortunately Plone comes with jQuery so we can easily integrate.

The final part of this tutorial will allow users to check and un-check items on their todo list without having to load a new page request. Note that by developing the functionality in this order, 100% of the functionality of the application remains working even when javascript is disabled. Win!

AJAX view

Before we add front-end bling, we need some code that can handle these requests coming in. Let's create a simple view that will update the object in context to a new state. Go to GitHub and copy the code for WorkflowTransition class in todo.py. This class represents a view that our AJAX code will call. You can also get the code with git, however note that now we are checking out code from master, as Chapter 4 is the last chapter and its code is in the master branch.

$ git checkout master src/tutorial/todoapp/todo.py

Take a look at the WorkflowTransition class and comments around the code. There are a couple of things to point out specific to this setup:

grok.context(Container)

Tells us that this view should be called in the context of a Dexterity Container item. So if you try to go to this view from the portal root or anywhere in the site that is not a Dexterity item, Plone will return a 404 - not found error. By default all Dexterity types that you create TTW are based on the Dexterity Container base class.

grok.name('update_workflow')

This tells us on which URL the view will be available on. In this case, on <url_to_plone_content_object>/update_workflow.

def render(self):

render is a special function that must be used. It is where all of the code must go when used with grok directives. This is the main block of code that will be executed.

transition = self.request.form.get('transition', '')

self.request is set by the base class, and anything based on BrowserView will have access to this variable. All of GET/POST parameters will be stored in self.request.form.

self.request.response.setHeader(
    'Content-Type', 'application/json; charset=utf-8')
return json.dumps(results)

When working with JSON, it's not required to set the header content type, but when used with certain jQuery calls it is expected to have the header set correctly. If you don't set this, it will sometimes work and sometimes not. Get used to setting it!

Additionally, we return the result serialized as json by default. For making and testing JSON web service calls, keep in mind that they should do exactly one thing and no more. This makes it easy to integrate with Javascript and VERY easy to test. We'll see later on how easy it is to test this view.

Furthermore, before taking the plunge to wire up JavaScript, go directly to the url and test the change. For example, if you have an item at http://localhost:8080/Plone/todo-list/go-to-the-bathroom, you can test the view by appending the view name and GET variables to the end of the item's url. However, you first need to restart your Zope first, so your Python files get reloaded!

http://localhost:8080/Plone/todo-list/go-to-the-bathroom  + update_workflow?transition = complete

http://localhost:8080/Plone/todo-list/go-to-the-bathroom/update_workflow?transition=complete

images/ajax_call.jpg

For extra clarity: if you are not an expert in python, plone, AND javascript, I highly recommend integrating bling bling in the following order:

  1. Write base view and passing test cases
  2. Test views in browser
  3. Make ajax interactive

Starting with bling from the start will only bring you pain.

Custom JavaScript

Now that we know the update_workflow view is working, let's add some AJAX handling on the top of it. Checkout the Javascript file and a JavaScript registry file into your working directory:

git checkout master src/tutorial/todoapp/static/todoapp.js
git checkout master src/tutorial/todoapp/profiles/default/jsregistry.xml

jsregistry.xml contains all configuration needed to tell Plone how it should register and use our JavaScript. It has a lot of options that are pretty self explanatory (if you think like a machine).

Trying it out!

Holy moley you made it! Restart Zope (to reload Python files), reactivate the product (to reimport XML files), do a hard reload in your web browser (to clear any caches) and check out your todo list. The todo items should toggle between complete and incomplete without the page reloading. Sweet!

Tests

As always, let's add tests! First add the following snippet to test_setup to verify that your JavaScript is registered in Plone.

# jsregistry.xml
def test_js_registered(self):
    """Test that todoapp.js file is registered in portal_javascript."""
    resources = self.portal.portal_javascripts.getResources()
    ids = [r.getId() for r in resources]

    self.assertIn('++resource++tutorial.todoapp/todoapp.js', ids)

Lastly, add a new test module: test_workflow.py. Download it from GitHub, put and it in your tests folder and run tests. Then fiddle around with it to see what it does. As always, you can use git to get the file.

$ git checkout master src/tutorial/todoapp/tests/test_workflow.py

The end

This concludes the Todo app in Plone tutorial. Congratulations! Now it's time to checkout other tutorials and documentation available on developer.plone.org!

Troubleshooting

If something goes wrong you can always go to GitHub and see how the code in master should look like and compare this to what you have on your local machine.