Bootstrap to the rescue

Well, my simple PHP Database project did what I wanted it to, behind the scenes at least. The  mad styling and poor usability   certainly left much to be desired though so it was time for an upgrade. Step forwards Twitter Bootstrap. Bootstrap  is a CSS framework for styling web pages.

It’s the first time I’ve played with a CSS grid system as well really,   infact I also used a load of other ‘boiler plate’ code from ‘initializer’ too. This supposedly sets up all sorts for IE workarounds and stuff .

Anyhow here is the finished result … It certainly looks a lot better than before ! It’s also a responsive design since it’s based on Bootstrap, although on my iPad, the form doesn’t line up properly at the moment. I think that’s a job for the next version though 🙂

hillsDB 

 

There are a whole load of ways this could be improved performance- wise . For starters the HTML for the table is generated on the Server, so even though most of the table columns are hidden by default , all this HTML is sent along the wire. A better solution ( Perhaps 😉 )will be to use Javascript templating and Ajax calls with the server sending out JSON data. Having said that, the main reason it’s slow is probably because I haven’t moved the database onto my new UK2 hosting yet… it’s still on Freehostia ! I was that surprised that it still worked I just left it like that LOL .

The other obvious area for optimisation seems to be with sorting the table. The Hills Database has 9049 entries and although I’ve used an algorithm from a book that’s supposed to be an efficient approach  it’s  till  pretty slow with over 5K items.

The algorithm sorts the table rows by creating  an array, so that it doesn’t need to re-flow the DOM until the table is sorted, but it’s still very slow even on my iMac ? Hmm 😉 I can’ think why you’d want a GPX file with 9049 hills in it.. but hey you can  have that, if you are prepared to wait  🙂

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Facebook Userguide for beginners

Well it’s sunny outside so I’m going to   head off for a walk in the New Forest this afternoon.  I’ve started listening to ‘The Big Book of NLP’. I’ve sort of got an introduction to the subject curtousy of  Tony Robbins, but this book goes into way more detail, it’s quite interesting.

I had a job interview yesterday for which I was requested to ‘Create a User Guide for people new to Facebook on 1 side of A4’ Apparently part of the role is to write documentation for users… Well here is what I came up with. I think I need to do some research into SEO!  How to make this the top google result for ‘Facebook granny login’ ? 😉

Using FacebookA beginners guide

Facebook is a popular Social Networking service, accessible via a Web browser and on mobile devices. Social Networking utilises advances in Information Technology to facilitate interactive communication amongst individuals and organisations. As of December 2013 there were 1,230 million users on Facebook, easily making it the most successful service of its kind.

Facebook allows you to connect with others and keep up to date with their events. Facebook provides a personal wall for posts that others can see and comment on. In addition you can upload photos to your profile or create online photo galleries. You can also share Web links, comments and opinions , play games, or have an online chat with your aunt in Australia and much more.

Facebook is free to use, you just need access to a personal Email account. Email access can be arranged with your Internet Service Provider or by registering for a free online service.

Getting Started

  1. In your Web browser’s address bar, enter the following: www.facebook.com .
  2. Click the Green ‘Sign up’ Button to see the sign up page.
  3. Complete the form, remembering to use a secure ( un-guessable) password.
  4. Confirm that you are registering by sending a reply to the automated Email.
  5. That’s it ! You are now a member of Facebook and should be able to sign in.

Recommended First Steps

  • Before ‘posting’ to your wall consider clicking the padlock to choose privacy settings.
  • Click ‘Edit Profile’ and set up your details, upload a ‘Profile Picture’ so friends can see you.
  • Click ‘What’s on your Mind’ and type an introductory post, about yourself for example.
  • Use the ‘Find Friends’ feature to request that people you know join your list of friends.
  • Click on the Logo (F) or ‘News Feed’ to see all your friend’s posts in chronological order.
  • Send Personal Messages or chat to friends using the column on the right on the page.

Things to Remember

  • Be prudent when choosing what to post online, consider who might see it and any impact it could have on your online reputation, both now and in the future.
  • Don’t share confidential, highly personal or other sensitive information via your wall.
  • It may not be easy to remove content that someone has redistributed to other Web sites.
  • Be mindful that what you say and do online has an impact in the real world. There have been cases recently of people being held accountable to law for certain Facebook activity.

Learning More

This guide is intended only as an introduction, for more details see the documentation online at:

https://www.facebook.com/help/

Simon Parker 25/03/14

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WordPress for Web Developers!

 

I’ve recently been  studying the ‘nuts and bolts’ of creating custom themes and plugins in WordPress. It’s  in my nature to want to know how things work ‘under the hood’. I remember getting in big  trouble as a child for taking things apart (and not being able to put them back together) !

WordPress is still characterised by many  as   ‘a Blogging Platform’ however it is in fact so customisable, it can serve as a fully fledged Content Management System (CMS). You can add and remove custom  fields to posts, create custom taxonomies and set up the Edit screens accordingly. You can choose from menus based on Pages, on Posts or  define your navigation via a simple drag and drop interface.

From a Web Developers perspective WordPress  handles all the boring but vital stuff that you don’t want to get wrong…  Security, Internationalisation,  upgrades, archive navigation, ‘pretty URLs’  re-writing , media uploads, setting and retrieving options in the database, ‘content management’ and all the SQL queries, customisation, organisation ( taxonomies) and user admin ( capabilities)… the list goes on and on and you get all this for free !

WordPress provides a complete Web based environment for content creation and management. Once configured WordPress can be used to make new pages with out any knowledge of HTML or CSS coding. There are many other CMS platforms, some developers create their own, effectively  tying their clients to a proprietry platform that no one else will know how to support. Part of the beauty of using WordPress is the sheer size of the community behind it. People who create themes and plugins and contribute to the core code all help to make a rock solid product that through its ease of use and ubiquity is becoming more and more the ‘go to’ Web design solution.

Designers and Developers are starting to turn to WordPress   even if there is no specific requirement to enable non technical  end users the ability to  modify their content. The availability of Themes and Plugins enables a very rapid turn around of Web sites, providing plenty of customisabilty and design choices, but again using tried and trusted building blocks.

I have always been more interested in learning ‘how things works’, I am fascinated by conquering the understanding of the logic and structure behind complex but beautiful solutions . I love to sit down and read a book about JavaScript for example and then I can write JavaScript code. The problem is that knowing ‘how to code’ does not then lead intuitively to creating  great web pages or useful applications. Similarly, I have learned how to use Photoshop , but really a  PSD Web page mock up is becoming less of a requirement  these days for a variety of reasons.

There are many plugins that let you modify pretty much anything in WP. I really believe it’s worth the  effort learning how to use the PHP functions and tags that comprise the WordPress core and its API’s as well though. Having this understanding  means one can create custom  template files and provides the developer with  tools and  building blocks that can be used to turbo-boost productivity. Projects can be more rapidly assembled and more easily maintained. There is complete customisability where required via a  well documented and stable set of API’s. ‘Hacking’ WordPress is also a great way to get practical experience of Web coding and see how others have written code.

Knowledge of the ‘guts’ of WP and use of front end, combined with some Web Coding skills, support from the WordPress community  and a bit of creativity leads the developer ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ IMHO ! It’s also great fun 😉

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