Author Archives: Jennifer Gribnau

What’s Next For Web Development

As this semester comes to an end this week, the next topic of discussion regarding myself and web development comes into play as I move forward with this information. This semester in terms of this class has been one of the most challenging subjects to understand and have a grasp on learning since one of my first years during pursuing my undergraduate degree. I was hoping that it would be fun and slightly challenging in a new concept or manner. It was definitely both of those things — something I had not encountered before and absolutely challenging.

In terms of what I foresee next for myself and my journey to understanding web development and coding, I am grateful that I took this class and actually stuck it out to successfully make it to the end of the semester. After viewing what I have completed with my WordPress site, I am disappointed in the fact that I know that it has the potential to be SO MUCH more. However, I am very proud of what I have put forth regardless, especially knowing how daunting this assignment seemed to me when first presented and understanding the time and effort I put into trying to make this a functioning site that adhered to my proposed theme.

I think I will not completely abandon my WordPress site following this class, absolutely not. I think that realistically I will come back to it and tweak it here and there or actually use it as a podium for my thoughts as I finish completing my level one sommelier this summer in July. It can host itself as a nice site to refine my thoughts, general or granular, in regards to wine — especially since I have the domain name for a year, I don’t see why not. The hardest part that I was struggling with following the destruction of my original laptop mid-semester was re-doing the back-end installation of programs and I think that was the ultimate setback that frustrated me and discouraged me at times.

WordPress long haul

For the last couple weeks of the semester, I am just going through the final pieces of getting my WordPress up and running. After getting my new laptop, I had so many issues — primarily, it was dealing with the back-end installations. It was really difficult to move forward feeling that even if I had customizations done, I would not be able to visibly see as I made adjustments to code. I had on my local site the themes I wanted, posts, a customization of a wine list instead f a reading list. I tried exporting my local host as a file into my downloads folder, then going to my WordPress site via my domain name from the admin page, accessing Tools, then importing the file that I just exported.

However, I was not able to see anything except for the posts that I made. This was frustrating to say the least, so in order to be able to have something for others in the class to look at, I did go onto my live site from the domain and made some adjustments and slight customizations so that the theme and concept of my WordPress site was something that others were able to look at. Next, I have to reply all to the email with everyone in the class to relay that information to everyone. One of the things I was having issues with beside getting my local to my live site was some simple CSS that I just have to spend more time on to figure out what will work the best. I have this idea for the widget area in WordPress to stylize and customize it. Specifically, I could not get something as simple as the text in the widget area to change to a different color even though the rest of my CSS was working.

Deja Vu

So for this past week, amidst everything coming to the end of the semester, I have been completing the setup and installation on my new laptop. At first, things were going swimmingly — I was downloading everything I needed on my computer to pickup where we had left off for the WordPress final project site.

I did this by scouring the class syllabus and schedule to make sure that I had everything in order. However, some of this setup we had completed in class (which was wonderful) and I had minimal to no memory of what specific files to download or link or create databases for. I ended up Googling solutions and instructions for step-by-step setup and was feeling pretty abysmal until I read that MAMP is inclusive of phpMyAdmin and Apache (duh). So I spent a great deal of time exhausting a search of how to download these things that were already taken care of, it was relieving but frustrating.

When setting up my WordPress development environment, I was posed with the same problem I encountered when Laura was substituting — my child theme was not appearing. I redid the entire process about four times. I did read that there is a “Going Live” set of instructions via Smashing Magazine and I think that this will serve as a solution to my confusion. At this point I needed a break from continual failure and will try this tomorrow and move forward by starting on some CSS I plan to implement.

I have been rewatching the video from Laura regarding child themes and the reading list plugin, and by doing so I am starting to find a little bit of clarity (yay) as this projects comes to an end. For some reason there was a disconnect in my understanding as to how GitHub and WordPress related to one another for the project, but now I realize that it is just being used to document my progress as I complete it. Anyways, heres to finishing strong and sorry for the multiple emails, Professor Greg.

Getting Everything Prepared

For the past two weeks or so I feel like I have been kind of stuck in regards to the final project on WordPress. Having my laptop experience minimal, yet catastrophic, water damage from some rain definitely came at a time that was least desirable since we are coming towards the end of the spring semester shortly. However, I have received my new laptop today and am working towards downloading MAMP, Sublime Text, GitHub and all other files that we have used in this class so far.

For my final project site on WordPress I have been looking into what items I have chosen to do as my code modifications. Personally, I am creating a wine-based site, derived from my deep interests surrounding wine and wine knowledge. I have been looking at different WordPress sites that feature wine, design and such just to get a look and feel of what kind of CSS I want to implement, or at least try to, on my own personal WordPress site. I was looking into some posts made by people from previous semesters who were in this class and posting on their final projects. I came across two others who had used wine as their preferred subject for their final project website and I was hoping to be able to see what they created and compare that to what I have envisioned thus far. Alas, I was unable to find that, but read that they were experiencing issue or difficulties with things such as meta boxes.

Aside from that, I have been looking up how to change the reading list on my WordPress to now a wine list that will better align with the subject I picked. I have written and researched some elementary pieces about wine and specific knowledge so I am excited to brush up and incorporate that into my final site.

Learning about APIs

For this week’s readings, we went over application programming interface, or API. I like how the video used a waiter-kitchen analogy to go over what an API was. It seems to me that API is an integral part in processing interactions and requests online. This was something I had never heard about previously, so it was interesting to understand how interactions happen between computers and devices.

Representational state transfer was discussed in the second video, and they used social media examples like Twitter and Facebook as examples. When he started going over Facebook API requests, things took a turn for the more confusing. When he introduced parameters an an example, it made a little bit more sense — how he plugged in the parameters and ended up with coordinates.

I know that there are lots of different types of possible API requests available, but I think that how they interact and are directly used within my code is kind of the things that I am having a difficult time comprehending. For myself, I have noticed that once I understand how aspects of code relate and function with one another is when I can best understand and employ the types of code myself.

In the video when he started discussing authentication requests, it made me wonder if using API requests override normal access from one user to another, even on something such as WordPress because he mentioned Twitter posts from one account to another would be possible without the authentication.

To touch on the readings specifically, we read about JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation. I understand that JavaScript-looking objects will be returned from an API request, but I not exactly sure why this is, the benefit of it and what it looks like. Routes, end points, requests and responses seem very straightforward. However, schema and controller classes in terms of web development I need some further explanations to understand.

Updated final pitch post

What: For my final project I will do a personal site; specifically, a blog-type of site that will have content focused on wine. It will be an informative, yet general and approachable blog that will serve as a place to learn nuances to specific varietals and their profiles.

Who: The main audience for this site will be geared towards younger adults, but not exclusively. This will be made for people who are interested in wine, but don’t know too much and want to learn more.

Why: I want to do this kind of site because I think the voice and style is something that best fits my interests and will be something I could see myself using. This audience is near my wheelhouse and I chose wine because I’ve studied wine before and plan on taking it up once again to hopefully get my Sommelier 1 this summer.

Proposed customizations:

1. Customization 1 (to-do): create child theme and update design with CSS
a. What: create child theme and update design with CSS
b. Why: to design site to align with content
c. How: download/use existing theme, make child, add CSS customizations
2. Customization 2 (to-do): create wine list instead of reading list
a. What: create wine list instead of reading list
b. Why: customize site to align with purpose-wine, not books
c. How: write code to create custom
3. Customization 3 (to-do) plugin for categories/varietals of wine
a. What: plugin for categories/varietals of wine
b. Why: to align with site content-wine
c. How: write code to create custom

  • create child theme and update design with CSS
  • create “wine list” in place of “reading list”
  • gallery plugin
  • plugin for custom header
  • use CSS to change design
  • create plugin to adjust theme functionality

Reflection of midterm and agile

For this past week’s overview, I put most of my focus working on my midterm with a web developer. Overall, the experience was interesting. I was probably a bit too shy and awkward initially since I was the one leading the conversation and was not really sure where to start the conversation. It was reassuring to go over the rest of the class’s midterms with their own developers as well. It ended up going well and, despite my initial kind of confusion, I felt reassured afterward that it was not necessarily just me feeling lost. It is common for everyone, but sometimes I just think that my natural thought process does not function in a natural web developer process, so I have to check myself before I start a task and plan things out more efficiently.

As for last week’s discussion with Laura while she was substituting, we definitely covered the agile manifesto and the sort of chain of command that takes place in different work environments that web developers are a part of. While some are more beneficial than others depending on the workload, number of participants in a group and so forth, it was interesting to see such how there are many distinct structures in the work environment taking place.

Circling back to my web developer profile for the midterm, I was not surprised at all to learn that Emmett Jacobs had come from a deep-seeded interest in computers and technology. This kind of lead me to believe that yeah, this is something that I would be too late to take an interest in and such. However, after we went over everyone else’s midterms in class I was surprised to learn that a couple our our classmates had talked to people who still didn’t consider themselves “real” web developers due to their late start.

Midterm with Emmett Jacobs

For my midterm project I had a discussion with Emmett Jacobs, who works at DoorDash in San Francisco, CA. I originally found him because my older brother works at the same company with him. I started off by asking if he had always had an interest in web development and whether or not there was a triggering moment in his life that led him onto this path.

Telling me that he had always been drawn to technology and computers since a child, he was not surprised that he pursued it and it came to be his career. Specifically, he recalled first learning how to modify websites in middle school and had hosted GeoCities websites. From my own memory, I briefly recalled hearing that name but just as a blip of a memory and nothing I had sealed with first-hand. So this initially sparked Jacobs’ interest, that and his deep-seeded pastime of developing his own AIM icons when that used to be a real cool thing to express individualism. It was then in college that he had learned more legitimate applications of that kind of technology and processes. So Jacobs has experienced self-actualization about his interest in computers and technology in his early teenage years, but really attributes more serious learning about web development to his time in college. He says that college and his first job right after graduating really helped him develop skills and the ability to learn more complex and complicated tasks.

We then proceeded to discuss what aspects of web development were the most difficult at first. He immediately recalled a few things that stuck out in his memory that were not the easiest to comprehend at first. Jacobs said that the most difficult for himself was trying to fully understand how different aspects of web development flow and eventually and hopefully link together. As I asked him to elaborate, he mentioned specifically how the back-end functions and things such as jQuery preface the HTML. To break it down even simpler for someone like myself, he mentioned this is regarding how the data flows from the back end to the front end. It is hard to believe that someone who does this as their job everyday and makes it look and sound so easy that he would have ever had difficulty with web development.

Additionally, Jacobs spoke about some instances in which he struggled or more directly, would get frustrated with CSS. He mentioned that CSS and placing an image perfectly on a webpage can be annoying — how just about placing anything on a website with visual perfection can be frustrating at times. I found this interesting because out of all the coding languishes we have gone over this semester, I have personally found CSS to make the most sense, be the easiest and most interesting compared to the other languages, which have been a little short of killing me. Overall, Jacobs says that he finds the most enjoyment in back-end tasks more, especially things that deal with processing data. He says that the computations are more enjoyable, and that it’s naturally easier for him and makes the most natural sense out of all the work he does.

I asked if Jacobs had specifically had a project in mind when he was first starting out that was memorable. He told me about a project in college where he had to build a basic shopping cart experience. This involved things such as including how much items cost, how many items you had, the user experience with each click, how the cart processes commands and so forth. He told me that this was the first time data kind of clicked for him — learning about jQuery, CSS and other languages. He said this experience was when he learned the basics of everything involved in building a website. He mentioned that the debugging was frustrating at first because when data is showing you what you want, there are multiple things to consider and multiple places that things can go wrong.

Lastly, I asked if he had any advice and best practices for a student like myself first being exposed to web development. He really hammered in the concept that examples were crucial to learning web development without getting too discouraged. Jacobs mentioned that examples go a long way, and that is what he did and does in order to figure things out. I’m addition, he recommended that when dealing with projects, you need to break down a problem into very small steps. By doing so, you can learn each small step at a time and that way you’ll achieve more success and more understanding. He describes how he thinks about how to get data from the back end and how to break it down even further — what he would like to display, what CSS he wants to use, how he should format it and so forth.

WordPress and PHP

For this week’s assignments when we were going over WordPress more in depth and touching back on our previous lessons regarding PHP, I felt confident at first. However, that quickly waned as I realized that it was true, everything is getting harder as the semester progresses on. I will add that I was personally unable to attend the class session this week in class and reviewed the lecture with the substitute Laura via her shared video.

I followed along while watching the video as we reviewed the readings regarding making a child theme and felt successful initially, but for some reason I have yet to figure out, could not make my child theme from my folder via wp-content —> themes to appear on WordPress itself. I tried restarting the programs, my computer, WordPress, make sure I had no spelling errors, played around with the text on the lines and Google searched solutions to no avail. I spent more time on this than I’d like to admit but cut my loses after multiple hours. This is absolutely one reason why I wish I could have made it in-person this week. However, I did feel still relatively confident in my ability to figure out WordPress — because I appears very user-friendly and more simple than it could be.

Regarding the PHP assignment this week to make five PHP features and commit them to GitHub, I literally have no idea what I am doing and feel like I have lost my mind. Initially I was unsure of where to actually write PHP — WordPress, GitHub homepage or gallery assignment? So I settled on GitHub, the first homepage attempt from weeks prior. I didn’t see my text change colors to recognize functions and command in Sublime text, which was unsettling. I watch numerous YouTube videos and Google searched how to include PHP an reviewed the lessons on learn-php.org again. I read online somewhere while Googling that GitHub only hosts static material and doesn’t read PHP or similar code. So here I am confused and will try to make sense of it in-person tomorrow, apologies.

Never used WordPress before

Reading about themes and how they interact with WordPress seemed relatively straight-forward. When I think of a theme, I think of it as something similar to the different themes available on PowerPoint of Word documents — they do all the design or color schemes for you. Now with the templates, those appear to be a bit more intricate on WordPress than choosing a different theme. Index, home single and so on .php seem like elements that strictly control posts in WordPress. To be honest, I have never had any experience on WordPress before. Even though I have heard of it, I know that it is one of the most widely used hosting sites, so this will be interesting and hopefully not too frustrating for me to learn alongside employing PHP. When reading about child and parent themes, the concept of discerning the difference between the two is reassuring since that it something I can understand without re-reading.

As for reading about plugins, I like how sincerely they start off by stating that there is a “cardinal rule” for WordPress — not to touch the core. This is good to know for someone with no existing experience because I will remember that statement. So it seems that plugins are what allow WordPress to add any additional functionality to my site, which is cool. To my understanding formats, they change the layout or display of certain elements such as images, gallery, videos and such. Also good to note that when concerning post types, that it is not recommended that I do custom post types along with a theme, but should instead use a plugin. The custom data in the form of meta-data seems to be a fun/interesting way to incorporate more tidbits of information on my WordPress site. It reminds me of the same available stuff you would see on Facebook.