Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dropbox Tech Blog

The folks over at Dropbox recently started a new blog, which is focused on the technology that the Dropbox application uses. Their first blog post describes how the Dropbox team translated Dropbox into multiple languages.

It starts by acknowledging the success that Facebook had using community translation to translate their site to French in 2008. Dropbox, however, chose not to use this technique because of the significant effort required to build a framework that not only accepts community translations, but quality-checks them and converts them to the multitude of i18n file formats that Dropbox uses.

Instead, they decided to go with a hybrid approach--professional translators would do the bulk of the translation, while users would have the ability to make corrections. The idea being that since users are the ones using the application, they have a much better idea of the context in which a particular word or phrase is being used. Professional translators on the other hand, have likely never even heard of Dropbox, so may produce translations which don't quite capture the true meaning of a word or phrase.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

PHP-SQLUtils released

Yesterday, I created a project on github called PHP-SQLUtils. This is a small PHP library that helps make building SQL queries easier and less error-prone. I've been using a variant of this library at work and it has definitely come in handy. One thing that it can do is build INSERT statements.

In your typical INSERT statement, the list of column names come first, followed by the list of column values.
(make, model, year, purchased) VALUES
('Ford', 'Focus', 2005, '20050520 00:00:00')
It's a little hard to tell what values go with what columns. It gets harder as the list of columns gets longer.
(make, model, year, purchased, owner, seats, mpg_city, mpg_highway, color, sun_roof) VALUES
('Ford', 'Focus', 2005, '20050520 00:00:00', 'George Washington', 5, 30.4, 35.1, 'gray', 0)
PHP-SQLUtils provides an interface for building INSERT statements. It puts the column names right next to their values, making it easy to figure out what values belong to what columns and reducing the chance of a bug appearing:
$utils = new MssqlUtils();
$insert = $utils->insert("cars");
$insert->s("make", "Ford");
$insert->s("model", "Focus");
$insert->n("year", 2005);
$insert->d("purchased", strtotime("2005-05-20"));
echo $insert->done();
//prints "INSERT INTO cars (make, model, year, purchased)
//VALUES ('Ford', 'Focus', 2005, '20050520 00:00:00')"
Check out PHP-SQLUtils here.