Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Checking hyperlinks within a Word document (.docx)

Scrutiny has long been able to check links within pdf documents encountered during a website scan. Scrutiny is a website crawling tool, it wasn't intended that you could point it at a local pdf and ask it to check the hyperlinks within it. But with a tweak, the current version can do this.

The option to check links with in a Word document isn't a frequently-requested feature, but it has arisen a couple of times, and this week I've had a task where the ability to test / examine the hyperlinks within a .docx document would be valuable.


It has been an enjoyable (if sometimes bewildering) curve to learn about the docx format. 

As with the pdf option, (with the option switched on) Scrutiny should now look in Word documents discovered during the scan and report the link url and link text, and test that link. This also works if the document is on the local drive and the hyperlink points to another local document. At present this will only work on the .docx format, not the older .doc format.


As I write this post, (5 August 2020) this feature now exists within the current development version of Scrutiny and is in testing. If you would like to try it, I'd be pleased to let you have a test version for you to try. (Contact me.) It's important to try this on as many different docx files as possible before release. 

(Scrutiny offers a 30-day trial, so you'll still be able to try the feature if you're not a Scrutiny licence holder.)

Sunday, 19 July 2020

A sneaky peeky at the current development project

Years ago I wrote a simple development environment to help me hand code small websites. (Please don't judge my code.)


Development environment is overblowing it. But it did one very important trick.

But first, why would anyone want to hand-code a website? (Does anyone else hand-code any more?)

  • Having a server-side website CMS hacked is frustrating
  • Having plain html files on the server makes your site faster
  • If you're a control-freak like me, you want to write your own clean code, rather than allowing a system to generate unnecessary unreadable guff.

The first thing you notice when you hand-code a site, even a small one, is that if you make a change to code that appears on all pages, it's a huge PITA to go through all pages making the same change.

Hence that trick I mentioned. Those blue links in the screenshot are where an 'object' is inserted. An object is stored once, you edit it once and when you 'compile' the site, those placeholders on all pages are expanded. In the same operation, the app uploads the compiled pages to the server by ftp or sftp. Obviously, clicking that blue link in the editor loads the object for editing. The editor has forward and back navigation buttons.

That's a very brief overview. I've been using this myself for years. But as with tools you write for yourself, it's not very well-refined.

I've been thinking that I may not be alone in my wish to manage small sites this way. I guess most people who don't want a server-side CSM will be using a visual website creator on their computer.

I've decided to improve this to the point where it's a credible commercial (initially free) app and see what interest there is.

It's not ready yet. The whole object / compiling / uploading trick works, I've been using that for a long time.  I now have basic syntax colouring working and before any kind of release, I plan to build in these features:

  • A button to trigger 'Tidy', a unix html tidying utility (can also do some validation)
  • Preview of selected page, updated as you type
  • Compress (remove whitespace) before uploading
If you would like to read more, an early draft of the user guide is here.

Is this of interest to you? Are there other features you'd like in such an app? Let me know.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The browser padlock and why it might not appear



It's important to have an SSL certificate these days if your site is to have any credibility.

Even if you do have a valid certificate in place, you may still find that a browser refuses to display the padlock. Different browsers have their own criteria and display the information in different ways, but we've generally moved from 'a padlock when the site is secure' to a clear 'site insecure' warning.

The image above illustrates this. The site does have a valid certificate in place.  My two favourite browsers do both have developer tools which allow you to drill down and find the reason(s) for the warnings.

That's good for a single page that you know has a problem. But if you're a Scrutiny user, you want to be notified of any such problems on any page of your site.

Scrutiny has long had features to help you with migration to https://. It alerts you to old links to your http:// pages and pages which have mixed content. (images or linked files which are http://)

As mentioned above, browsers vary in their criteria for displaying the padlock. As from v9.8.0, Scrutiny makes additional checks / warnings:

The insecure content alert/report will now include:

  • insecure urls found in certain meta tags, such as open graph or Twitter cards.
  • insecure images, whether hosted internally or externally
  • insecure form action urls, even if the 'check form action' is switched off.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Testing website accessibility (WCAG / ADA compliance) using Scrutiny

No software can test your website and declare it ADA, or more specifically WCAG, compliant because some of the checks need to be made by a human or are subjective.

For example, is a heading, title or link text meaningful? Only a human can judge. But software can tell you whether headings and title of a reasonable length are present and thus report pages of possible concern.

Having said that, there are certain very important things that automated testing does do very well, such as checking for images without alt text.

With that in mind, here is a list of the ways that Scrutiny can help. The checkpoint numbers relate to the WGAC 2.0 requirements.



Alt text (1.1.1):  "non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative" (level A)

  • Scrutiny can report images without alt text


Adaptable website structure (1.3.1, 1.3.2): Properly marked up and well-organised headings  (level A) and
Section headings (2.4.10) "Section headings are used to organize the content." (level AAA)

  • Scrutiny can report pages with more than one h1 tag. For a specific page, it can show you the outline (ie just the headings, indented)



  • Scrutiny's Robotize feature can display a 'text-only' view of a web page and let you browse the site, with headings and links listed separately. This is a good way to test this checkpoint.



Keyboard accessible (2.1): "Make all functionality available from a keyboard."

  • if Scrutiny crawls a website fully (particularly with the 'run js' option switched off) then the navigation links are correctly-formed hyperlinks and it should be possible to tab through them using a keyboard and therefore navigate the site. (NB Scrutiny does not currently test / report form fields or buttons)


Page titles (2.4.2): "Web pages have titles that describe topic or purpose." "The title of each Web page should: Identify the subject of the Web page, Make sense when read out of context, Be short"  (level A)

  • Scrutiny can report pages which have a non-unique title, and pages which have a title which is too short / too long.

Link text (2.4.4): "The purpose of each link can be determined from the link text alone or from the link text together with its programmatically determined link context" (level A)

  • Scrutiny can report empty links as bad links (this option defaults to off, needs to be switched on)
  • Scrutiny makes it easier to check manually for meaningful link text.  Cast your eye down the 'link text' column of the links / flat view (or sort the table by this column) and look for link text that doesn't explain the purpose of the link.


Descriptive headings and labels (2.4.6): "Headings and labels describe topic or purpose."  "Determine if the Web page contains headings. Check that each heading identifies its section of the content." (level AA)

  • Scrutiny can report pages with no h1
  • Scrutiny can include headings (h1's h2's etc in separate columns) in the SEO report to make it easier to scan them by eye and pick out non-descriptive ones


Parsing (4.1.1): Make sure HTML code is clean and free of errors, particularly missing bracket closes. Also, make sure all HTML elements are properly nested.

  • Scrutiny provides a way to validate the html code for a specific page. Your website is likely to be template-based (ie the code for the design of the page is likely to be identical throughout the site) then validating the home page (and certain other pages if the design varies for differnet types of page) is a good indication of validation throughout the site.


Monday, 6 April 2020

Checking your browser's bookmarks

I had not considered this until someone recently asked about using Integrity to do the job.



Yes, in principle you can export your bookmarks from Safari or Firefox as a .html file and ask Integrity, Integrity Plus, Pro and Scrutiny to check all of the links it contains.

The only issue is that the free Integrity, and App Store versions of Integrity Plus and Integrity Pro are 'sandboxed', meaning that for security reasons, they generally only have access to local files within their own 'container'. Apple insists on this measure for apps distributed via their App Store.

For this reason, those versions of those apps will not be able to fully crawl a website stored locally (some people like to do this, although there are some advantages if you crawl via a web server, even via the apache server included with MacOS).

However, here we're only talking about parsing a single html file for links, and testing those.

A sandboxed app can access any file that you have chosen via an open or save dialog.

So all you need to do is to use File > Open to choose your bookmarks.html file rather than typing its name or dragging it to the starting url field. (Remember 'check this page only' to ensure that you only check the links on the bookmarks file and the app doesn't try to follow all of them.)
I have bookmarks in Safari going back many years. (nearly 2,000 apparently) There are so many pages there I'd forgotten about and some that clearly no longer exist or have moved.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Improvements to free sitemap visualiser

SiteViz is as its name suggests, a tool for visualising a sitemap.

Integrity Plus, Pro and Scrutiny can export their sitemap data in the form of a .dot file, which contains the information necessary to draw a chart.

Early on, Omnigraffle did a great job of displaying these .dot files but it became expensive. There were other options but nothing free and easy to use. That's where SiteViz came in and its functionality has been built into Scrutiny.

Its default chart didn't look great though. The layout was flawed making the charts less than ideal.

Version 3 contains some vast improvements to that 'bubble tree' theme, along with some improvements to the colouring. Nodes can be coloured according to links in or 'link juice'. (Think liquid flowing through your links). Connections can be coloured according to multiple criteria too. The charts now look much more professional and are much more useful, especially the bubble tree theme. The screenshots you see on this page were made using it.

It will remain a free viewer. You can export the chart as a png image or pdf, but it can't create the .dot sitemap. For that you'll need a website crawler like Integrity Plus or Pro.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

What happens in Objective C if you compare two NSObjects with a simple 'greater than' or 'less than'?

This is one of those odd bugs that goes unnoticed because a line of code that shouldn't work,  strangely does, at least most of the time.

The problem exhibited itself under certain circumstances. That led me to investigate and discover this line (in pseudocode):

if ([object getProperty] > [anotherObject getProperty]){

Years ago, this line was correct, because in this particular object's getProperty used to return a primitive such as an int or NSInteger (I can't remember which).

But at some point getProperty was changed so that it returned an NSNumber, which is an object rather than a simple value.

The line should have been updated to (and has been now):

if ([[object getProperty] integerValue] > [[anotherObject getProperty] integerValue]){

Of course I should have searched the source for 'getProperty' and updated accordingly but this particular line escaped. It went unnoticed. The compiler didn't complain, and everything still seemed to work.

If a tree falls in a forest......    If a bad line of code appears to work under testing and no-one reports a problem, is it still a bug?

It didn't always work though. Under certain circumstances that particular thing went screwy (no crash, no exception, just odd results sometimes). But not randomly. It worked or didn't work predictably, depending on the circumstances.

I can't find confirmation of this but it seems from what I've observed that

(NSObject > NSObject) 

returns true or false depending on the order that they were created. I'm assuming that the comparison is being made using the object's address (pointer) treated as a numeric value. This makes sense because declaring NSObject *myobject  declares myobject as a pointer, which is some kind of primitive, known to contain a memory address.

A simple experiment seems to bear this out.

    NSNumber *number1 = [NSNumber numberWithInt:2];
    NSNumber *number2 = [NSNumber numberWithInt:10];
   
    NSLog(@"number1: %p, number2: %p", number1, number2);
   
    if(number1 > number2){
        NSLog(@"number1 is greater than number2");
    }
    else{
        NSLog(@"number2 is greater than number1");
    }

returns:

NumberTest[89819:23978762] number1: 0x7312659ea1d74f79, number2: 0x7312659ea1d74779
NumberTest[89819:23978762] number1 is greater than number2

It's interesting that the objects seem to be allocated going backwards in memory in this example. I assume that allocation of memory is not predictable, but that there would be some general sequence to it, backwards or forwards.


I'm obviously pleased to have found and fixed a problem in this app. But more than anything this has amused and interested me.

If you have anything to contribute on this subject, leave it in the comments.