Online Tutorials

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

I realize most of you are busy trying to finish your semester, so have no time to take on new projects. But, if you would like to learn more about scripting for the web, or managing web applications, you should bookmark the following two links and take a look at them over your break—these are good “side” projects:

  1. W3 Schools: W3 Schools has free (as in beer) online tutorials for a range of web coding projects/needs. They have tutorials on everything from HTML and XML mark-up to advanced tricks like javascript, ajax and stuff for maintaining databases. If you don’t know what any of this means W3 schools is actually the place for you. These tutorials are surprisingly easy to understand. If you are presenting information on the web, even if you don’t want to become a master of doing your own scripting, the basics tutorials are a good place to start as they will give you a general overview that will help you to understand how things work. (For example: difference between having a browser change the way a page is viewed or the server—an important choice for those presenting info on the web).
  2. Open Source CMS: If you are thinking of running a web application, like say hosting your own blog (rather than using EduBlogs), class wiki, or even Moodle, Open Source CMS is a good place to start. They have basic installs of a range of web applications (like those listed above) and they allow you to play with them, configure them how you want, see what works etc. This way you can try a range of applications and figure out which one you want, without actually installing all of them (I did this before, spent three hours trying to install something I didn’t even end up using, had I been able to use it for 2 seconds I wouldn’t have wasted my time). Open Source CMS automatically restores the default settings every so often so you can try out anything you want.

A lot of this stuff is complicated so it takes time, but it is worth it to learn the basics (and often the basics can be learned with an hour or two investment), even if there are shortcuts available which you will later use. And especially W3 Schools is a good place to start.