Latest Version: 0.3
Released: 2007-02-09

Frequently Asked Questions

This page is organized into the following sections:

Installing Chirpy!

What do I need to install Chirpy!?

Chirpy! requires Perl version 5.8 or higher. It also uses a couple of Perl modules, which should have come with Perl by default. Some non-essential features may require additional modules.

To use the (default) MySQL data manager, you need write access to a MySQL database. Most web hosting plans that offer Perl come with MySQL these days.

For more information, consult install.txt, contained in the download package.

How do I install Chirpy!?
What are the configuration options for Chirpy!?

Everything you need to know should be covered in install.txt, which comes with the Chirpy! download.

Common Error Messages

File "base_path
.ini" does not exist

Notice how there are superfluous line feeds in the message? This indicates that you have probably uploaded your configuration file (e.g. chirpy.ini) in binary mode, and your platform’s line separator characters did not get converted to the server’s. Make sure you set your FTP client to ASCII mode when uploading the file. Most FTP clients allow you to configure .ini as a text file extension; the decent ones even do that by default.

If there aren’t any line feeds in the message, Chirpy! had trouble finding the locale file, which should be located at the path it reported. This can be either because you misconfigured the base path, or because the locale file simply wasn’t there.

Internal Server Error

This one is quite the pickle. Chirpy! attempts to provide useful feedback when something goes wrong, but in some cases, it can’t. That’s when you get this message.

The good news is, you can check the server’s error log for more information. You may have to ask your host about this.

Most commonly, this message means that the path to Perl is incorrect; see install.txt for more information.

Tips & Tricks

How do I modify the theme?

The best way to do this is to create copies of the two directories which make up a theme, i.e.

  • base_path/templates/theme
  • resources_path/themes/theme

A good starting point would be the default theme, appropriately entitled default. Once you have copied it and given it a cool name, you can start modifying your new theme. We hope to have a comprehensive in-depth theming guide up in the near future.

When you’ve finished modifying the theme, all you need to do is change the value of webapp.theme in your configuration file to the name of the theme you’ve just created.

The reason why it is recommended that you create a copy of those directories is because it makes it a lot easier to upgrade Chirpy!. Whenever a new version is released, you can just overwrite all the files, and your own theme will still be there. Note that theme specifications usually change between versions, and you may therefore need to switch back to the default theme while manually updating your own.

How do I translate Chirpy! into my own language?

That’s an easy one. Chirpy! keeps everything related to the language it uses in a single file, which defines the locale.

This file is an INI file, located in the locales directory. The filename should reflect the language and country, as defined in the ISO 639 and ISO 3166 standards; the country name may be omitted if the language is generic.

To actually create the file, it is recommended that you copy the en-US.ini file and work from that. Every field you need to translate is covered in the documentation for Chirpy::Locale.

Once you are done translating, open your configuration file and change the value of locale (found in the [general] section) to the new locale. Chirpy! will now load the file you created and everything should be translated.

If you would like to share your locale with other users, please e-mail it over, so I can include it in future releases.

I don’t like my tag cloud’s font sizes!

In the event that one or more tags are used unusually often, they may appear so much larger than the other ones that the tag cloud’s distribution becomes useless.

Starting with Chirpy! 0.3, you can add tag_cloud_logarithmic=1 to your configuration file’s [ui] section to use logarithmic calculation for the sizes. While this method isn’t really accurate, it provides a useful alternative that doesn’t lose track of the tag cloud’s objective.

How are the Top and Bottom Quotes ordered?

Before Chirpy! 0.3, a quote’s rating would determine its place in the ranking. Ratings were simply the difference between the number of positive votes and the number of negative votes. This had a couple of drawbacks, the most important of which that the oldest quotes would often appear at the top, even with a significant number of negative votes.

Chirpy! 0.3 introduced a new sorting order, based on the quotes’ scores. Scores are calculated using the following formula: (positive votes + 1) / (negative votes + 1). This should result in a more logical distribution, and allow newer quotes to reach the top more easily, provided that they’re cool enough.

If, for some reason, you prefer the old method, you can add quote_score_calculation_mode=1 to your configuration file’s [general] section.

What are these “microsummaries” you speak of?

Starting with version 0.3, Chirpy! adds support for a nifty feature that many web applications may offer in the future. Basically, microsummaries are little summaries of web sites. You could compare them to feeds, but they contain far less information, making them more compact and more convenient in a lot of cases. In the case of Chirpy!, you could, for instance, use them to get quick access to the ID of the most popular quote.

Support for microsummaries was first introduced in version 2 of the Mozilla Firefox web browser, and, being relatively new, your preferred browser may or may not support them. If it does, you don’t need much to use the ones Chirpy! has to offer.

In the case of Firefox, you just bookmark a page, and, instead of the page’s title, you will be able to select a microsummary or “Live Title”. Implementations in other browsers may vary. Also note that not all of Chirpy!’s pages offer microsummaries, and that the theme you are using must have support for them, so the browser knows where to look.

For more about microsummaries, consult this MozillaWiki article.


What’s with the name? I thought “py” meant this thing was written in Python.

Well, it’s not. I can’t really explain the name, except for the fact that Chirpy! can be used to keep track of chirpy quotes. I thought that sounded sort of cool.

I want to contact you!

Well, by all means, go ahead! Depending on the nature of your query, you can try …

As far as the trackers go, I really insist that you use them, so other people with the same issues or suggestions may benefit from them.

I find Chirpy! so awesome that I have decided to donate my firstborn!

That would be great! Other options include telling people about Chirpy!, and linking to this web site. Thanks!