Design Thinking and the Return of PHP

Reflections on the Homework

This week’s homework was a good reminder of how fast a skill can atrophy in the face of Spring Break. While searching for the simplest PHP features I could find, I realized that I still don’t really know how PHP interacts with the base of a website’s HTML. I understand that PHP is a server-side language that can create functionality on a website that HTML can’t do alone. But  I never stopped to consider how the two languages “talk” to one another.

I took to Google, hoping for a quick bit of code similar to the one that you use to link a CSS stylesheet to an HTML page. No such luck.

What I found were forums with varying opinions on whether you could code PHP directly into your HTML file. The conclusion I drew was that it’s best to keep files separate (hello, Separation of Concerns), but, like CSS, PHP can work when referenced directly in an HTML file.

I also learned that in order to get the PHP functions to show up, you need to be hooked into a server (makes sense) or server software like Apache. I’m assuming this is where something like MAMP comes into play, but to be honest, that’s where my train of thought ran out of steam.

So, here are some questions I still have: What’s the best way to set up a local server for simple websites like our homepage repos? What’s the best way to test the specific functions of a PHP script? And how do you reference your PHP file in an HTML file?

Readings on Design Thinking

Switching gears to focus on the future, for a moment. I’m grateful to have had these reminders about good design and user experience as we begin to plan out our final projects. I found the Medium reading, “Shh! Don’t Tell Them There’s No Magic In Design Thinking,” particularly interesting, because I hadn’t thought about the tenants of Design Thinking in that way before—i.e., the concepts have been part of good development forever, but now people are starting to pay attention. Here are my favorite mantras/takeaways, which, consequently, are the ones that I think will be the hardest for me to master:

  • We’re going to do things differently from how we’ve always done it before.
  • We’re going to study problems before we jump to solutions.
  • We’re going to diverge on our best ideas before picking the one that matches the solution best.

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