Progress (Sort of)

My site is coming together. Well, sort of. I have a lot of pieces floating around in cyberspace. The biggest piece, however, is my first customization: the interactive map. I downloaded the Leaflet map plugin, which uses an open-source JavaScript library for creating interactive maps. The API is pretty well documented, but there are some things I couldn’t figure out.

Once I input the shortcode to create my map at the location I wanted it and then created the marker for one of my sites, I was able to figure out how to program it to include photos on the markers. But I quickly realized that I did not understand the interface. Before I installed the plugin, I was convinced that I had missed the mark and that none of my customizations would be code customizations because they could all be done with plugins. When I started the work, I figured out that you can type code into plugins (duh). Then, I realized I don’t understand the relationship between plugins and APIs.

Troubleshooting my map plugin helped to give me a basic understanding. I know that a plugin contains groups of functions and is written in PHP. I know that the Leaflet map plugin uses a JavaScript library. This part confused me. When I was writing code for my map, I was confused about which type of file to create in Sublime Text. I settled on JavaScript but as I was typing my code, my mind wandered to if I should create HTML and CSS files to accompany it. At that point, I knew I was overthinking.

Though the map plugin boasts about its well-documented API, it’s still a little hard to understand for me as a beginner. It has lists defining elements, events, methods, and options, (?)  but I get confused about what exactly to type since programming is very specific.

I also had problems with issues with FileZilla. When I tried to connect, I kept getting an error message.

I have one lingering question. What is the relationship between an API and a plugin?

Final Project — Getting There

So I really started working on my project last week when I set up a *real* child theme in class. It made life so much easier — all I had to do was inspect element and replace whatever I wanted in my child’s style sheet.

Right now I have even completed two customizations! (Fans hooplahing & cheering in the background.) I was able to add a contact form to the bottom of my site and social media icons at the top of my site. However, nothing really works. I added the PHP for my contact form, but when I hit submit it shows me a 404 error. My social media icons work, but they’re not styled right. I think that is due to a lag with my style.css because I added a new font the other day, but it never showed up so I left. I came back a few days later and it was updated, so maybe my social media icons will come around in a few hours.

Outside of my personal customizations, my FileZilla refuses to connect to the server. I didn’t do anything differently from class either. And the WordPress navigation bar when you “visit site” disappeared as well. Oh, and the menu I added through WordPress doesn’t work. But at least it’s there I guess.

So, this all goes to say. I am getting there. Kinda.

Piecing the Puzzle Together (Lists on Lists on Lists)

This week, I was challenged. I’m sitting down to put together a list of what needs to be done for my site, because I am lost without a to-do list. Every week, I feel like there is another step to the process that blindsides me and I don’t know where these steps fit into what I’m doing.

As I began the readings about API, it began to make sense. I think all of the readings make sense until I have to actually implement what I read into my work. I know that an API the part of the server that receives requests and sends responses. I know that it is what the user communicates with. The WordPress handbook  helped me to understand how it relates to my site. It could be used for front-end interactivity in WordPress.

The first thing on my to-do list is to create and incorporate my child theme into my regular theme. I’ve chosen Mesmerize for the theme. I need to do deeper research and reading into what exactly needs to be in my child theme. I know that the purpose of its creation is to be able to make changes in the theme without compromising the core of the WordPress theme. Next on my to-do list is to make a list of the code I need incorporated into that theme.

Overall, I think the biggest challenge for me is visualizing what needs to be done, followed by actually doing it.

Getting Back in Order

After what was a tumultuous couple of weeks for me, personally and academically =, I am started to feel like I’m getting back into a productive groove. With scheduling and organizing it feels good to feel at least somewhat on top of my work.

So I’ve truly begun the process of starting to find modifications that I would be interested in applying to my final project. The contact form example that we worked on was very interesting me, although it may seem like a basic part of an e-portfolio it helped narrow the scope to things that I deemed to be practical. I’m thinking maybe leaving a comments box on the page could be a plausible idea. Hopefully I can come up with a few more ideas to solidify my modifications and then from there I can put them and motion and get my web portfolio up and running.

The readings this week were informative. I was confused to watching the API video but the article helped to break down the term piece by piece. This is a modification I could see wanting to put on my website. The possibility of being able to schedule an interview or something else through the website could prove to be useful.

Coming up with a Plan

Another late post, apologies. This week I remember reflecting on the PHP assignment. It was difficult to comeback and try to remember what I had learned and make it effective. Thankfully google is my friend, as well as Professor Linch. So I used a bit of the code from W3 schools to finish this assignment. It was beneficial to say the least. I did have trouble trying to move my code into Github, as usual, but after figuring that out it became a little bit more clear what I needed to do.

As I was doing this assignment, it became clear how much more I need to plan for the final project. As mentioned in a previous post, I had seen some modifications I had seen that were of interests for me. Yet, I am afraid of the difficulty of some the modifications and if I have not only the skill, but perseverance to go trial after trial to make sure its correct. This class has been a process for me. It started off easy-ish, but now I feel the full force of what is coding. At least what I think is the full force.

I look forward to putting these past two off weeks behind me, and making something I can be proud of.

Moving Forward

This week was a tough one for me seeing how I even missed this analysis post. It was interesting to start to see all the coding languages come together. PHP was a bit difficult but it wasn’t the worse.

I’d like to think that I have a good ideas for my portfolio. I’ve seen other people’s portfolios through WordPress and I think that I could make something similar that I would be proud of. It would take a great deal of effort, but I think I can put the effort in.

It would feel a bit self liberating if I was able to make a functional website that portrayed all my thoughts and ideas. I’m looking forward to finding other modifications that will stand out on my portfolio. At this point though, I do feel a little lacking in my skills, but I’m still confident I can make something work.

It is nice to know that I will be versed in a different aspect. I am so far, happy with the progress I’ve made as a “coder” yet, I know I have more to go. I just hope that I won’t disappoint myself with my final project. More to learn, but still satisfied.

 

Week 10: Still Trying To Understand How the Web Works

APIs — Application Programming Interfaces — are waiters. What does that mean exactly? Well, MuleSoft explains it like a restaurant. You sit down at your table, persuing the various delicacies available for your choosing. You know the kitchen will be able to make your order, but how do you let the kitchen know what you want? And how does the kitchen get you your food? Surely, you can’t do it yourself so this is waiters (or APIs) come in. An API is a messenger that takes requests and tells a system what you want to do. Then, the API will return the response back to you.

Real API examples are third-party travel sites. When you use services such as Kayak or Priceline, they are interacting with airlines’ and hotels’ APIs. You tell them what you want, they tell the companies, and then they give you the companies’ responses.

In essence, APIs rule the internet. The web (did I use those right??) would be far less connected that what we see today. They connect the web, allowing developers, applications, and sites to tap into databases and services (or, assets)—much like open-source software. APIs do this by acting like a universal converter plug offering a standard set of instructions.

Get it? Got it? Good! Now you have a basic (emphasis on basic) understanding of how APIs work. You can try out our example below to get a better understanding of the mechanics behind APIs or watch our video about getting started with APIs.

Click the button to go to the next lesson!

 

Click Here for "REST APIs & JSON"—>

 

Side note: often on like third-party travel sites, there aren’t Southwest flights. I usually use Google Flights, so I can’t speak for everyone, but does that mean Southwest doesn’t allow third-party access to their APIs? And what would be the motive for doing so?

Collaboration Is Key

This week’s readings encouraged me to reflect on my time at Apple this summer. I was lucky enough to be a marketing intern on the Apple Music team. My role was focused on retention efforts, with some dips into acquisition efforts as well. I particularly liked the Aigle Manifesto.

Business people and developers must work
together daily throughout the project.”

It’s probably obvious, but very true. On the business/creative end we tend to get ahead of ourselves — leaping to fantastical updates or new ideas without first consulting our engineering counterparts. I like this part of the job. It’s fun. I got to make recommendations without a care about the thousands of lines of coding it would take to get it done.

Anyway, back to the quote at hand. I remember this summer we were working on a large project with 10 external and international partners. We had a lot of ideas we needed to get engineered for us. Unfortunately, each entity also had to be individualized for each partner. Needless to say, the two engineers leading the back-end of things weren’t very happy with us. But collaboration is key. All we really had to do was explain why all of their labor would be needed and how it would benefit our customers. Oh, and keep our partners happy. Part of the reason I took this class is to be better at these types of conversations. And have a better understanding of what software engineers do.

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.”

This manifesto is brilliant. From beginning to end all principles should be followed by start-ups and large companies alike. Adding to the brilliance, it’s concise! We’ve all seen lengthy manifesto err to the way of redundancy (*ahem* the racist/misogynistic Google engineer guy that wrote a 10-page manifesto last year). But this manifesto epitomizes the very essence of its subject matter.

“Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount
of work not done — is essential.”

PHP + Design Thinking

This week, I struggled with PHP. I think it was more of a conceptual struggle. I didn’t know what to add to my homepage with PHP. I thought of it as a background language. I don’t know how to differentiate between languages that have functions that just spit out an answer, and languages that have clear functionality. I don’t understand the functionality of PHP. On web searches, I discovered how to make it spit out a date, and I saw that people used it to create forms but not how they implemented it into a page to do something.

Anyhoo, I added some PHP functions that I saw on the Internet and felt could be useful but didn’t see how they’d incorporate. However, on another web search I found resources like this one  that showed me a couple different uses.

Something that stood out to me in the readings today was the design thinking piece. I thought it was especially interesting because at ONA, one of the workshops we participated in was focused on design thinking. We were brainstorming different disciplines within journalism. We wrote each discipline on a sticky note, and then categorized them. Later, we tried formulating a new way to tell a story incorporating four stories from different categories. That workshop was helpful for me because having the problem and the solutions set out in front of me made them so much easier to conceptualize.

I thought it was interesting that designers have been harboring their way of thinking and the rest of us are just now catching on because some of it gave a new name. The piece and my experiences at ONA both made me want to delve deeper and find more creative ways to tell stories as a journalist.

Thinking Outside the Box

This week, I had a tough time thinking of what I want my final project to be. I definitely needed a refresher on the languages I’ve learned and what I can do with each. It’s also been an experience learning what I can do with plugins and with PHP.

I felt like I had a lot of ideas, but also no ideas. Creating the portfolio site feels like a metaphor for my life. I have a grand vision, but the details are fuzzy. I want my site to be a revamped version of my current e-portfolio that gives a holistic view of Daja, the person (rather than Daja, the journalist).

I’m interested to see what I can do with plugins. Eventually (can’t promise it’ll be with this portfolio site), I hope to build my own plugin. The functionality is what excites me about web development. I guess if I became a web developer, I’d focus on front-end development (if not full stack). This class has really expanded my thinking.

I was looking back on the course description this week and something that stood out to me was “we do want you to come away with some coding skills and greater technical fluency.” Eight weeks in, I feel that I will definitely walk away with greater technical fluency. I find myself examining everyday processes that I see when I browse the internet and being that annoying friend that tries to explain how everything works.

Cheers to new knowledge.