Monthly Archives: July 2017

JavaScript page refresh timer

I wanted a web page I’ve been working on to auto-refresh, but not just after a certain time has elapsed, but when the clock is just past a quarter hour interval (i.e. x:15, x:30, x:45, x:00).

It’s pretty straightforward, but as I was searching around, it seems to be a pretty common question, so figured I’d put up my own answer here:

 function setAutoRefresh()
   var interval = 15*60*1000; //every 15 mins...
   var timeNow = new Date().getTime();
   var nextInterval = (Math.floor(timeNow/interval)+1) * interval + 10000; //next time interval, plus 10 seconds...
   var nextIntDate = new Date();
   console.log("Next timeout tick: " + nextIntDate.toLocaleTimeString());
   autoRefreshTimer = setTimeout(function(){
   console.log("Auto-refresh: " + new Date().toLocaleTimeString());
   },nextInterval - new Date().getTime());

So we round up the current time in ms to the next 15 min interval, and add 10,000 so our event triggers 10 seconds after the interval (I have another process that ticks every 5 mins and updates the DB table this web page pulls from, so I wanted to make sure I got the latest data).

The var autoRefreshTimer is global and can be used to cancel the timeout timer when the page becomes hidden.

The var nextIntDate is only used for the console log, and can be removed if you don’t need that.

The function reloadPage resends all my ajax calls to reload the different data on the web page and then calls setAutoRefresh when it’s all done.

Hope that all makes sense.


Json_encode and PHP 5.2.17

A server I push PHP scripts to is still running PHP 5.2.17 – its insanely old, almost 5 years!

I discovered that if I try to use that version of json_encode and pass it a string with unicode characters, I get nulls back where I should have UTF-8 encoded strings!  The code works fine on my local server, running PHP 7.0.15.

The fix for this is pretty simple, but worth noting for future reference:

 $text = utf8_encode($row[$key]);

Where $row is an assoc. array and $key points to the value I want to push into my array which in turn is encoded with:

$json = json_encode($items);

Without the ‘utf8_encode’ I just get nulls in my encoded string 🙁

Javascript, UTC datetime and formatting oh my…

I’ve been working on a project to display data stored in a MySQL database using the Google Graph API.  I’ve done this before, but this time I need to display the time the MySQL entry was created.  The DB row contains this information as a MySQL timestamp field, and is returned as a string when I fetch it, for example:

2017-07-09 02:30:00

This is in UTC, and as I’ve discovered, the PHP script has no idea of what timezone the browser is in, so either I need to pass that from JavaScript, or hand the UTC times back to the browser and let it take care of the conversion.  I decided it would be best to let the browser handle it (for now), and immediately discovered the confusion around formatting a Date string with JavaScript.

To me, this seems pretty basic, and I really don’t understand why it was omitted from the language.  There are a lot of libraries out there that will do this for you, but I ended up using jQuery, as I was already using it for the AJAX and graphing support.

jQuery provides the .datepicker class, which includes a date formatter.  I just needed the month and day, the month needs to be a short string, while the day is a number without any leading zeros.  I used the following:


Where utcTime is a Date object that’s been created from the MySQL string with:

var dt = new Date(Date.parse(item[0] + "Z"));

I append the Z to the MySQL string, so JavaScript knows its a UTC time.

At the time I did this, there is no option for handling Time within the standard jQuery package, so I added that manually, padding with a leading ‘0’ as needed, with the final date/time string being created with:

return $.datepicker.formatDate("M-d",utcTime) + " "
        + ("0" + utcTime.getHours()).slice(-2) + ":"
        + ("0" + utcTime.getMinutes()).slice(-2);

Note: I could have had .datepicker parse the string, but it wouldn’t have given me the time portion, so I do that in a separate step.