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Femion » One Week of php

One Week of php

July 23rd, 2007

Before last Monday, I didn’t know very much about computer programming. I did do some dabbling in Javascript, however, my approach was like an evil kid, catching a fly, pulling off its wings and claiming to have invented a new species (ie. I pulled scripts off of other websites, and chopped them up and edited them to suit my needs, without really learning any code).
At the Coady, I’m part of the ‘web group’ - that is, all of the people at the Coady who know anything about webdevelopment: IT guy, librarian, who knows what he does guy, me, and my boss, Janet. (I’m not sure if Janet knows anything about web design, but since she’s the communications manager and the website is a form of communications, she’s on it.) Last meeting, they brought up the point that the media page is devoid of media, and I volunteered to make an image gallery. I knew that I should probably use php to do it, but I had no idea exactly how.
Janet went on vacation two Fridays ago, and the following Monday, realizing that I wouldn’t be able to do much more work until she got back and approved the documents I’d put together, I loaded up w3schools and started reading through the php tutorials.
Monday evening, I had created this: The Name Game.
One week later, I’ve created a way to make image galleries out of user-uploaded jpegs, with a navigation system modeled after facebook.com’s albums.
If you want to see an example, the first image set I made was Blossoms, a set of photos I took of my dad’s orchard back in the spring.
Go ahead and try to make your own image set. You’ll need 10 jpegs and a lot of patience (depending on the size of the images). You can save your gallery by saving the URL at the bottom of the image gallery page at the end.
My supreme efforts are thwarted by the fact that it looks so lame at the moment, but that’s nothing a little CSS can’t change. Once the finishing touches are done, IT guy’s going to put it on a secure location on the Coady Website. There’s a lot more things that could be improved on this project. I could allow for pngs to be used and let the user decide how many images are in a set. I could also try to figure out how the user could go back and edit the images and captions, but that’s a whole other level of complexity. And there are many bugs I need to fix, such as that the Set name can’t handle underscores or spaces.
Though it may not seem like it, there were a lot of things I had to learn for this project. I had to learn loops and conditions for the final image gallery page. I had to learn the file copying, and resizing images and how to apply some algebra to get the files to resize to 500 pixels for both landscape and portrait. I had to learn how to use forms and devise a method of passing $POST variables on to the next pages. Finally, I had to learn how to use MySQL for the captions, which I think was the most difficult part, because that involved installing MySQL and a server on my computer, learning command line entry stuff, and how php interacts with MySQL.
So that is my forray into php. I’m not sure I’ll have much use for it outside of the Coady Image Sets, but if I’m feeling ambitious, maybe I’ll use it to make a Facebook application or two. Or maybe, armed with the confidence that I can teach myself a programming language, I’ll work my way up the programming language ladder, and I won’t feel guilty about taking a journalism class instead of computer science.

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