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Piddle Graphics Online
Pages: 1, 2

Putting it Together: the View Page

With what we've learned and a little bit of HTML, view.cgi is easy:

  • first, print the content type;
  • second, open the shelf and retrieve tasks;
  • third, use the HTML <img> tag to display the image (by setting the src attribute to chart.cgi);
  • finally, display a link to edit each task.

The script is mostly plain HTML or code we've already seen, except for the last item, displaying a link to edit each task. This requires a loop:

# display the tasks as links:
for row in range(len(tasks)):
  print '<li><a href="controller.cgi?action=edit&row=%i">%s</a>' \
     % (row, tasks[row]["label"])
  print ' [<a href="controller.cgi?action=delete&row=%i">delete<a>]</li>' \
     % row

Make sure that the web server has rights to read and write model.shelf, and load view.cgi in your browser. If you run this cgi script now, you will see a broken image and the list of tasks. Next we will work on the chart.

Displaying the Image

To create the image, we'll use the original gannt chart code, with three major changes. The new version will

  • read the variables 'now', 'tasks', and 'titles' out of our shelf;
  • set the content-type to image/jpeg;
  • write the generated image to standard output.

The first two changes are simple; the third is trickier. In theory, we'd just save the piddle canvas to sys.stdout, but there are two problems with this approach.

The first problem is that piddlePIL doesn't allow saving images to file objects. Since it comes with full source, however, we can fix it ourselves. Search in for the save method. You'll see the problem. A couple lines down, there's a bit of code that says:

if hasattr(file, 'write'):
    raise 'fileobj not implemented for piddlePIL'

Replace that with the following:

if hasattr(file, 'write'):, format)

Now, displaying the image on the web is easy. Here's the code, from the bottom part of chart.cgi:

print "content-type: image/jpeg"
import sys, format="jpeg")

The second problem only happens under Windows: the output gets corrupted because stdout is not in binary mode by default. The fix is arcane, but concise:

import os, sys
if sys.platform=="win32":
    import msvcrt
    msvcrt.setmode(sys.__stdin__.fileno(), os.O_BINARY)
    msvcrt.setmode(sys.__stdout__.fileno(), os.O_BINARY)

Place this before the content-type line and chart.cgi should have no problem displaying the image.

Last Piece: the Controller

The controller is in charge of managing our data. Essentially, it does four things:

  • displays a form to add a task;
  • displays a form to edit an existing task;
  • saves a new or updated task;
  • deletes an existing task

By default, controller.cgi shows the "add" form. A parameter called action tells it to do something else. We can pass action, either as part of a query string (data following the question mark in a URL) or via a form submission. The cgi module can handle either method through the FieldStorage class. FieldStorage can be treated almost like a dictionary, although it doesn't implement every dictionary method. For simple cases like this, it returns values as cgi.MiniFieldStorage objects. The following code shows FieldStorage in action:

import cgi
request = cgi.FieldStorage()

action = "add" # by default
if request.has_key("action"):
    action = request["action"].value

In controller.cgi, a set of if/elif blocks looks at the action parameter and calls the appropriate function. In a sense, the controller is several CGI scripts rolled into one. We could have broken these into separate files, but I prefer to keep related logic together.

Some of the available actions don't return a page to the browser but, instead, redirect it to another page. In our case, saveTask and deleteTask both call backToView, which returns a Location header rather than a content type. The following line sends the browser back to the view page:

print "Location: view.cgi"

The rest of controller.cgi, including the code to save and delete tasks, is pretty straightforward. Consult the source for details.

The End

That's it for this whirlwind tour of the gantt chart CGI application. To recap, we've seen how to store and retrieve data from a python shelf, communicate with the browser through CGI, and use piddlePIL to generate graphics in real time on the Web.

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