ACROSS AFRICA “Telling The African Story From The African Perspective”
What: For my final project as mentioned earlier, I am going to develop a unique but interactive news website that will focus mainly on stories about Africa’s culture, politics, arts, business and other pertinent stories from my beautiful continent.
Why: This will provide an alternative to the usually different stories we hear from Africa’s wildlife and how a rare lion or elephant was found. While those are important and significant stories from Africa, often the culture and lifestyles of its people is either ignored or rushed through.
Who: I am excited to see how far this will go in reaching out mainly to Africans in the diaspora and anyone interested in African stories. I am looking forward to build a website like this or better.
1 Code Customization 1 (TO-DO)
- What – Main News tab
- Why – will add versatility to the content on the website and leave the viewing control in the hands of the viewer.
- How – Use Pseudocode/HTML, CSS
- Timeline -Research code, feedback review, modification and finalize.
2 Code Customization 2 (TO DO)
- What – News Ticker
- Why – To be able to display multiple headlines at the same time allowing audience get a sneak peak into other news items while reading other stories.
- How – HTML/CSS
- Timeline -Research code, feedback review, modification and finalize.
3 Code Customization 1 (TO-DO)
- What – Subscription form
- Why – To help gain insight into people who visit the website and get user feedback for potential improvements.
- How – Use a Pseudcode
- Timeline -Research code, feedback review, modification and finalize.
4 Backup- Breaking News/Happening now
5 Backup -Trending News on Social Media
6 Backup-Video News
PHP was a lot of fun to learn and I really enjoyed it. I did, however, find the logic behind it a little bit redundant. I had to go over the code multiple times to understand the logic. I ended up copying the code from the top into the exercises most of the time and running it in order to see how it comes out and why. The language is also aesthetically ugly and has a slow speed. Most recently, however, there have been many changes to PHP and a tremendous speed gain. Generally speaking, PHP is an easy language to learn and tutorials are very common and often quite good, so I was not sure why I had a hard time with it.
I was curious to learn why software developers used PHP so I started reading more about it. Many developers like it, but others really do not. The language is mostly used on the server side, so it runs on the web server software. The name PHP initially stood for Personal Home Page and then later it changed to Hypertext Preprocessor.
You can do anything with PHP including blogs, scripts to process data, writing desktop applications, etc. The bottom line with this particular language is that PHP is everywhere, so a lot of extremely popular software is written in using it. WordPress is the biggest example that uses PHP. It is low cost and accepted globally, so you can use it in all website development. It also supports a wide range of databases.
I want to take some time to explore WordPress and see how PHP is utilized there. I have never worked with WordPress before so this is a great opportunity to put the two together in order to understand the bigger picture. I am going to start using Drupal more often so I want to see how PHP is used there as well.
We are getting closer to the due date of our final project, but I am still having some difficulty with somethings. Fortunately, I have been able to add a little color to my child theme. I tried to add color to the theme both though adding the color code to the code files but also on WordPress. I am not sure which of the two made it work, but I am not too concerned I am just excited that my site has a little color and no longer reflects the sterile walls of a nursing home. I have also decided to incorporate a poll as a plug in. I am pretty excited about this addition to the site, because polls are one of my favorite things about Instagram’s latest story update. So of course, it would be the perfect addition to my finsta site. I have looked up several different strings of code for online polls, some of them do not exactly align with the things we learned in this class, but I plan to use a piece of each of them to create sort of a Frankenstein of polls. I am also thinking about incorporating a ‘poll’ tab to my side bar modification if I can get the code together. If I am able to combine the poll code and make it work, I would like to have a page of a bunch of different polls people can take. Some of them would be your typical four option poll and others would be two option polls, sort of like a ‘would you rather’ poll. My theme also calls for a header without a menu bar, so I am going to try to see if I can incorporate some of the new fonts I downloaded to used there. If anyone has any suggestions about either of those things, please let me know. Help would be greatly appreciated.
Very slowly but surely, I am making progress on my site. I have decided to stick with my ‘nursing home’ theme and try to spruce it up a bit. Some of the things I plan on doing is downloading a few different fonts and try to incorporate them into the child theme’s code. Also I plan on going into the style sheet and manually changing the color code of certain traits of the site, like the side bar, menu bar text and site buttons. I have done some research and looked at some sample code for other sites that I was able to find online, and it seems easy enough for me to tackle. One thing I have learned is, anything that seems simple enough probably will be the exact opposite, but I will still try. The one thing I am afraid of is trying to do too much manipulation to the child theme and it break and then therefore so will my site. I have also been looking for some possible modifications to incorporate with my site. I haven’t committed to any of them just yet but I am leaning towards changing the sidebar and a possible ‘contact me’ plug in. I am not particularly sold on that plug in, so if anyone has any good plug in suggestions, please let me know. Also if you know any ways to tweak a child theme and not have it break, please let me know. Right now I feel like very unsure about tweaking it because I always get an error message in my code. Should I make my changes in the files that came with my child theme when I copied it (.html, .css, .etc) or should I create new pages and then replace the old ones? None of the sites I have read mention anything about it.
So, one of our tasks this week was to add our final project site from local hosting, just unique to our computer, but to outside hosting, so that everyone could access it. This has been an uphill battle for me, I think partially because I never fully grasped the concept of hosting and multiple servers. So, it was not something I knew how to do, and I also did not know enough to ask the right questions, because I struggled a bit with the terminology. Thankfully both Jess and Prof. Greg were able to recognize my struggling and help to walk me through how to set up my hosting so that I could share my wonderful site with the world. Outside of having difficulty with hosting, I also had difficulty with a few other things with my site. My beloved child theme did not turn out exactly like I hoped. I thought I chose a parent theme that had a template which allotted for lots of space for color and photos, but I actually picked one that is kind of bland and reminds me of a retirement home, which most definitely isn’t the vision I have for my final site. Currently I am trying to do some tweaks in the code, but not too many because I do not want to break the theme. But I do want to make it more reflective of my personality. I am also trying to remember what was the name of the ‘Book List’ Prof. Greg told us about in class, I would like to create one as a modification to my site. I have googled almost every ‘name + book list’ combination and have not had much luck. Speaking of modifications, if anyone has a modification suggestion they think would work for my site or a child theme I should adopt, I am open to any and all suggestions.
Just when I thought it was finished, I had 10 issues on my site. I was so glad to be done and then boom. 10 issues.
One of the most frustrating mistakes I made in my the post-development stage when I was attempting to fix my issues was editing code on the actual live site instead of in sublime text.
When I fixed my issues, I bypassed the customization feature. I clicked edit to access the code and I got a scary warning message telling me of the impending doom my site would face if I opened the code (format may be lost, etc.). This time, I bypassed the message. I made all my changes. I looked at the website and everything was shifted and unaligned. I tried desperately to restore the site to before I bypassed the message, but to no avail. I actually just shut my laptop and decided not to show the website to anyone ever again.
Now, I know the issue is that I should’ve edited in the files and in Sublime Text. Thankfully, my site’s format went back to normal and my website is worthy to be shown to other people again.
I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, though. I can actually say I’ve taken some tangible skills out of this class,
My biggest challenge with my final project was that WordPress made everything seem too easy. I get it, programmers are lazy. Every time I tried to make a customization, I found out that there was a plugin that did all the legwork. Also, there was a customizer (pretty sure it came with my theme) that worked through all the code and gave me a scary warning message when I tried to access the code manually. I was brave and bypassed it, which allowed me to customize the front page code.
Most of my code ended up being shortcode (that I did still customize) so I felt like I didn’t do the work on my site. My interactive map, which I feel is the pride and joy of my site, took the most work. I spent a lot of time inputting the photos, creating markers and linking to photos. I could not figure out how to make the photos on the markers bigger, so I had to settle with linking to larger photos. Between creating the map and the child theme, I feel like a real coder.
Overall, I found myself scrambling to create more customizations. Some things I incorporated were social media feeds, my interactive map, my resume, a custom meta box that allows to select which publication an article was written for and a contact form. My favorite feature on my site is the hero video. It makes me feel like my site is very modern.
Aside from the difficulties I had throughout the process, I have one major issue. My site still isn’t up because I can’t access the SFTP client. 🙁
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.
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?
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.
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.