Jan 232013
 

Each HTML element can be thought of as a combo meal;  That is, it comes with a pre-defined set of styles.  Even something as simple as a <p> tag has a whole slew of predefined styles.  For example, it is a block level element (which means it gets its own line), the bottom and top margins have a bit of space in them, etc.  Just like a combo meal, though, you can change those default values (using CSS).  Just supersize it!  To get an idea of what the default values are for many common HTML elements, check out this cool site that Kevin Ashton (a former 560 student) created: http://2tailedmonkey.com/gadgets/markup/html_combo_meal/latest/view.php

 Posted by at 12:52 pm  Tagged with:
Jan 072013
 

After submitting your Learning Contract, you’ll submit a step by Friday at midnight each night.  In submitting this step, you need to:

  • indicate what you did
  • include the source files
  • include a critique of your work
  • grade your work (out of 10)

Here are some previous examples that may help you to see what a useful “Step” post looks like:

Sep 182012
 

This week, I did the first two lessons on codeacademy bla bla blabn aln al.  Check out the attached file for my awesomeness!  I did everything and got it all ot work, so I think I deserve a 10 out of 10.

 

FormFun

 Posted by at 4:10 pm
Feb 212012
 

One of the most oft-repeated imperatives in the scriptures is to “ask.” Try it out. Go to scriptures.lds.org and enter “ask” into the search box. I got 345 results. Put that together with “knock” and “seek” and you’ll notice that there is hardly anything that the Lord directs us to do more than to search out, think about, and ask for the answers to our problems.

As I have been troubleshooting my own programming needs, I have found this to be one of the most important things I can do to increase in knowledge. When you come across a programming behavior that baffles you (either it doesn’t work the way you’d expect or you just don’t know how to do it yet), SEEK the answer. Just as with the Lord, we need to go to the source to find the answers. Go to someone reputable, whose advice and instruction you can trust.

Next, PONDER their advice. Think about what they’re saying and put it to action. I often find that I have a quick reply along the lines of, “yes, but that doesn’t help me.” But then, when I stop to really digest the answer, I find that the person who offered advice often is saying something more meaningful than I initially interpreted. Remember D&C 9:7. “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”

FInally, ASK. Ask for further understanding, for clarification, etc. Make sure to “ask not amiss” (2 Ne. 4). One way of asking amiss is to expect the person you are asking for help to do all the work for you. Another way is to provide too little information. Programmers can be very helpful, but they might not be as kind as the Lord is if you expect them to do everything for you.

Feb 212012
 

After watching everyone’s design presentations last week, it became apparent that everyone is going to need to set up some server space at some point in their projects.  Usually, this is something you’ll have to pay for on a remote server.  Check out the links on the “Hosting services” page for a few options regarding hosting.  For 1 free database with PHP already setup, you can check out freehostia.com.

Even when setting up a remote server, though, you’ll want to set up a server on a local machine for your own development purposes.  Developing on your own machine is called “sandboxing.”  The idea behind sandboxing is that you first develop something in a safe area, where you can “play” with the code, before deploying it for all the world to see on the public server space.  I strongly encourage you to sandbox your development by setting up a server development environment on your own computer.

In order to set up a server, you are going to need the server software on your own computer.  Lucky for you, this is way easier than it used to be.  First, let’s understand what you need.  There are three things:

  1. First,  you need the actual server software.  We are going to use the free, open-source Apache server software.
  2. Second, once your server is up, you are going to need some database software.  We are going to use the free and open source MySQL database.
  3. Finally, you’ll need some way to translate between database calls and HTML.  We are going to use the free and open-source PHP for this.

I didn’t include the links in the above descriptions, because I don’t want you downloading each of those software packages separately.  Instead, there is an awesome, free tool called either WAMP (for Windows), MAMP (for Macintosh), LAMP (for Linux), or XAMPP (another linux/mac alternative).  The first letter stands for the respective operating system.  The A-M-P stands for Apache (the server), MySQL (the database), and PHP (btw, the extra “p” on XAMPP is for Perl, another programming language).

So, download the either WAMP or MAMP, depending on your OS.  The really nice thing about these is that you can turn them on and off quickly.

 Posted by at 7:50 am  Tagged with:
Feb 212012
 

Dr. West sent me an interesting link yesterday to a place called CodeAcademy.  It’s an online site that intends to take learners through a step-by-step process to start programming.  They begin with javascript.  I went through the first 50 exercises or so and I’m curious to see how a beginner would approach these lessons.  To me, they’re pretty straightforward, but I wonder if their use of programming jargon with minimal explanation is a good thing or not.  Either way, it’s worth checking out if you’re learning to code.  So, head on over to codeacademy.org and sign up for your first few lessons (they’re very quick to go through).

 Posted by at 7:17 am  Tagged with:
Feb 172012
 

Sometimes, it’s nice to not have to worry about which IDE or program you’re using and just get to the coding. If you’re interested a free online HTML5 editor that allows you to also edit the css and javascript, I just found a handy editor at: http://rendera.heroku.com/.  This is similar to one that Robert has been using.  Robert, what was the name of that editor?

 Posted by at 3:43 pm
Feb 062012
 

So, for 560 today we introduced the concept and basic notions behind CSS.  The basic idea is that you want to separate the style layer from the structure layer.  Doing so allows you to replace style without modifying structure.  A GREAT site that demonstrates this is CSSzengarden.com.  The principle concepts that you need to understand for CSS are:

  1. selectors, classes and IDs
  2. positioning
  3. the Box model

Here’s a file you can download to practice CSS with (if you don’t have your own).

 Posted by at 9:56 am