IP352W14A Programming Basics – Session One Notes

Consider this picture.
Learning Cycle

Can you see how this applies to what you are doing before our sessions and while we are together?

Please reply with a comment about our first session.

Highlights / Metacognition

  • What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?
  • What did you learn from that?
  • What will you do with that knowledge?

Questions?

  • Now that we’ve had our first session, what do you want to know?
  • What could we have done better?

If you spot a question from someone else and you can answer it – please do.

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41 thoughts on “IP352W14A Programming Basics – Session One Notes

  1. Carmen says:

    What did I learn from that: I finally understood exactly what the difference was between a script and HTML–I was hazy on this before. It was also helpful to know how different types of webpages could affect loading speed depending on how many times a request has to go back to the web server.

    What will I do with this knowledge: I’ll definitely keep all this in mind when designing future webpages eg. at what point do I want to sacrifice speed for presentation and at what point do I just need to focus on having my page load as efficiently as possible

    What do I want to know: What exactly that entire system: browser, web server, process application server, etc is called?

    What could be done better: Not sure–I’m liking the course so far.

    • Carmen says:

      [sorry I forgot to enter the first part]

      Most valuable thing that happened: Learning about what’s happening when you load a webpage.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Carmen,
      Thanks for writing. This was one of the major objectives in the first session. While we are talking about designing for the future here is some reading for you:
      Sustainable Web Design.

      “What exactly that entire system: browser, web server, process application server, etc is called?” – That’s basically… the Web. We can talk about that more next week.

  2. Courtnae says:

    What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?

    I learned how to create a Wiki account and had a glimpse into how valuable a tool it really can be. I have had some ideas on how it could be utilized at my place of work (Helping our students keep up to date with class changes, topics – for example) but did not possess that initial piece on how Wiki works, how to get started etc. Now I do. I am sure as we get further into the course this knowledge will broaden even more and I will get a clearer understanding on how to use this technology.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Courtnae,

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      The wiki software we are using is MediaWiki that was originally developed for use on Wikipedia. So now you know the basics for wreaking havoc on Wikipedia too.

      We will continue to use our wiki for assignments and helping each other as we progress through the course.

  3. What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?
    I appreciate how the course is designed to mimic the work environment of a programmer – the wikis force us to collaborate; the assignment time allotments force us to approach a problem in a disciplined way and meet deadlines.

    What did you learn from that?
    I learned that programmers always work in teams. Your work will be modified by other people! I sort of knew that, but going through the wiki environment really brought it home.

    What will you do with that knowledge?
    I will try harder to “let go” of my work product and accept that whatever I produce is probably just the starting point of a much larger project.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Elena,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the group this way.
      Here is discussion:
      How do programmers work together on a project.
      There is a lot of new terminology in that discussion but I refer to it to give you a sense of how there are systems to support teams of programmers working on projects. You don’t have to know this in detail for our course.

      Further discussion of this is outside the scope of our course, but I hope that it will give you some more insights.

  4. Sergio Vera says:

    For me all this is new. I think the first class was very interesting and helped me to understand how is the communication access track to internet.
    The evolution in how the web works between the early 90s and the late 90s.
    Before was in one direction, now the interactivity is the main issue.
    I hope learn a lot about this kind of communication, and how can I participated in a most active way, to take the control of my future web projects.
    I only ask you, go a little slower, so i can hear everything what you say.
    And if is possible, I would like to work in HTML script, because that is the programming langauge that we are use on the other courses.
    Thanks! and see you in class.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Sergio,

      Thank you for pointing this out, “Before was in one direction, now the interactivity is the main issue.” That’s a valuable insight and key to understanding how programming has become an essential part of working on the web.

      With respect to “go a little slower”, let me ask you to let me know when I am going too fast, or if you are having trouble following what I am saying. You are probably not alone.

      With respect to “HTML script”, let’s talk about that next week.

  5. […] IP352W14A Programming Basics – Session One Notes […]

  6. Liz Gosselin says:

    Highlights:
    The graphical depiction of how information flows from and back to the browser was very useful for me. I kind of knew how it worked, but this really solidified it for me. Also, I liked the analogy to a restaurant, and how each process could be related to what happens when you ask something from your browser/server. Coincidence that a computer that delivers information is called a “server”?…

    I learned that various components handle specific types of information and requests, and the HTM file that gets back to the browser can be a combination of static (hard-coded) and dynamic information.
    I’m not sure what I’ll do with that information at this point, but the graphics used to demonstrate the flow of information was a great visual aid.

    Questions:
    What’s involved in getting the components to speak with each other, to create a final coherent response to the browser?

    I felt the time spent on getting to know the wiki environment was a bit rushed. I realize I’ll become more familiar with it as we go through the assignments, but I would have liked more time to play with the formatting syntax in class.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the group. It looks like the discussion “The Big Web” really worked for you. That’s great.

      Coincidence that a computer that delivers information is called a “server”?…

      And we call customers “users”…

      What’s involved in getting the components to speak with each other, to create a final coherent response to the browser?

      This should be clearer next week.

      … getting to know the wiki environment was a bit rushed.

      Yes it did feel a bit rushed.

      All that we REALLY need to know is on your wiki page at the top right. Click Editing… or Discussion Pages
      Remember that you use
      == equal signs == to make headings
      * (asterix) to make a bullet points
      # (number sign) to make numbered points

      For more information on what you can do (but it’s not required for the course) look for the link on your wiki page, top right, beside the graphic, there is a link to WikiText Help

  7. Jules Brazeau says:

    What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?

    I enjoyed starting this course with the use of he “Big Web” diagram.

    What did you learn from that?

    You can visualize and see the different components that make up the web. Knowing the fundamentals of what is going on is a good starting point before proceeding to getting into programming.

    What will you do with that knowledge?

    I will apply it to subsequent web projects by drawing an idea (what you want to do, what you want to happen) and then proceeding to breaking it down further so that, hopefully, the programming is easier. This would also save time when you get to the programming phase.

    Questions?

    I knew of Wikepedia, but was not aware of MediaWiki. Did we set up a Wiki account for the purpose of learning/using HTML and for accessing other users work? Wiki HTML tags are different than standard HTML tags? (i.e ~~~~ for inserting a signature). Is MediaWiki just an editable CMS by many users (administrators) compared to Joomla which only has one administrator?

    Now that we’ve had our last session, what do you want to know?

    It’s still too early to answer this question.

    What could we have done better?

    Nothing. Jim’s approach to teaching this course is excellent. I’m enjoying the experiential learning cycle approach.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Jules,

      We will continue to use the Big Web picture to understand where various kinds of programs execute so I’m glad that you enjoyed the model.

      Did we set up a Wiki account for the purpose of learning/using HTML and for accessing other users work?

      We are using our wiki (using MediaWiki software) to allow us to create, share, and edit content without having to know HTML. We’re here to learn about programming and strictly speaking HTML is not a programming language. We’ll learn more about that distinction next week.

      Wiki HTML tags are different than standard HTML tags? (i.e ~~~~ for inserting a signature).

      The markup language we are using in the wiki is called WikiText and it is not the same as HTML. I happen to have our wiki set up so that if you know HTML you can use it, but if you don’t then it’s MUCH faster to use WikiText.

      All that we REALLY need to know about WikiText is on your wiki page at the top right. Click Editing… or Discussion Pages
      Remember that you use
      == equal signs == to make headings
      * (asterix) to make a bullet points
      # (number sign) to make numbered points

      For more information on what you can do (but it’s not required for the course) look for the link on your wiki page, top right, beside the graphic, there is a link to WikiText Help

      Is MediaWiki just an editable CMS by many users (administrators) compared to Joomla which only has one administrator?

      We are using MediaWiki as a tool because the interface is already known to anybody who has done edits on Wikipedia. In that model, all users can contribute and edit content (without having to be administrators). It allows peer-review and peer-edits.

      For a quick comparison to Joomla, I found this: MediaWiki vs Joomla

  8. Olga Frolova says:

    Highlights / Metacognition

    What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?

    The understanding what is happening when you click the bottom on your browser, where the information go and how it comes back. Also what is web server and process application server.

    What did you learn from that?

    I believe that understand a whole picture (or Big Web) is a great start. It is essential to know the basic before start to do programming.

    What will you do with that knowledge?

    It will help me with my study. It is all new for me and I am happy that I start to understand how Web works.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Olga,
      That’s astute of you to understand “where the information goes and how it comes back”. This is often called a post back. We will explore that idea in a few weeks. If you do a web search for the term application server, you should find that the explanations make sense. Let me encourage you to do that – dig deeper into the terms that come up in our discussions in the lab. It will help you with your study and understanding.

  9. Elvina Balcyte says:

    The most valuable thing. It was a great introduction to programming jungles. I always enjoy stories how was the web back in old good days when it was basically text and pictures.It is fascinating how everything evolved.After this lecture I will imagine The Big Web as a Big Restaurant. As well I never used MediaWiki, so it was helpful to to know few tricks about it.

    I learned a lot about learning. I really liked the “Expert and Novice” learning cycle. I see myself as a novice and hope after finishing this course i will move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence about programming.

    I register for this course because I wanted a starting point. It is so much information about programming. I want to to be able to pick what is valuable for me.

    Now that we’ve had our first session, what do you want to know?

    I am still at an unconscious incompetence stage. I need some more time to know what i want to know.
    I think you did great. I am looking forward for another lecture.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Elvina,
      It’s funny to think that “the good old days” were all within the last two decades.

      “Expert and Novice” – Interesting to ponder: You are certainly an expert at something (your field). Understanding how you perceive things as an expert and how that differs from how a novice perceives things can be extremely valuable in programming.

      Looking forward to next time too.

  10. Heather Mitchell says:

    I signed up for this course to learn the basics of programming but it’s turning out to have the added bonus of learning how to learn. I’m starting to realize that programming makes use of a wide array of skills and view points rather than being simply about code. I have a social science background and was wondering whether or not programming would be a good fit for me. This new perspective helps me feel like I’ll have enough to bring to the table. I’m looking forward to the next class and starting down the path toward conscious incompetence.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Heather,

      I’m glad you picked up on the “learning how to learn” aspect of the course. That’s a core skill for a modern programmer. There’s so much more to this than being simply about the code. I’m sure that you will have plenty to bring to the table.

  11. WordPress just erased my entire entry, so here it is again… 😦

    Thanks Jim, I really enjoyed your class.

    It was really useful to get an easy-to-understand overview of what happens in the back-end side of computing, and to understand that web development is all about collaboration.

    I wanted to learn web development so I can help my clients better, and, help a particular non-profit organization I am involved with. I want to build a good info page for them, and the corresponding applications to capture and analyze information and feedback.

    If there is one thing I’d like UBC to do is to provide each student with a wiki in which all teachers can vert all documents and assignments. As it is now, each teacher has their own online room and we have to consult multiple places. It is time consuming and a bit confusing. I think your wiki is the answer to this!

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Sonia,

      Sorry that you lost your first entry. Sorry to say, that is one of the risks of editing online. There are some tools to minimize that risk but it looks like WordPress has not implemented those yet. When I’m writing a big entry, I’ll often do that offline (text editor like notepad or even Microsoft Word) and then copy/paste it into the web application.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the class. I like to think that we learn best when the experience is enjoyable. Not everybody agrees with that of course, but I will stick with that premise for now.

      About a wiki for students that all teachers can view … Great idea. I’ll pass that on the idea to the University.

  12. By the way, after going over my peer’s wikis, I realize I don’t think I fully get the logic behind wiki entries and editing 😦

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Sonia,
      I just took a look at your wiki discussion page where you were experimenting. It looks like you are doing fine.

      I added some more tips for editing WikiText.
      Go to your wiki page. In the top right corner you will see three triangle bullets. Click them for more information about what you can do in the wiki. The third bullet is new information.

      Don’t be concerned about perfect formatting. Focus on content first. You should be able to do everything required for this week’s assignment by using symbols that we discussed (briefly) in the lab.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jim,

    The most valuable thing from the first night of the course was walking through the “Big Picture”, although my favourite thing from the night was the reference to expert vs. novice scale.

    The big picture images, and the restaurant analogy, helped clarify the process for me. Specifically, the idea of the basic html being “something prepared yesterday”, compared to the dynamic process application server stuff.
    I’m currently taking HTML5 intro, and this course helps me think through what I want to say before I just work on a web page.

    I’m still sort of along for the ride and assuming each week will provide new ideas, so I don’t know what I want to know (consider me a consciously incompetent person).

    I don’t currently have recommendations for how to improve, but was curious about a comment you made regarding email not being a preferred method of contact. I’m guessing it’s because you’d like the class to be of an open-minded shared mindset, and share all course relevant info on the wiki-pages, etc.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      although my favourite thing from the night was the reference to expert vs. novice scale.

      This is great and I hope that it is an idea that you will be able use well beyond the scope of this course.

      I’m guessing it’s because you’d like the class to be of an open-minded shared mindset, and share all course relevant info on the wiki-pages, etc.

      You’ve got it. I use email for first contact, and to distribute confidential information. Once that’s done, we will use the blog and the wiki to share information.

  14. Vanessa Legazpi says:

    What do you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?

    Like many of the other students, I think the most valuable thing I learned was the process of how a web page loads. Because information appears on our computer screens generally in a matter of seconds, it is an interesting thought thinking about what the process actually is.

    What did you learn from that?

    Besides learning the sequence of events of loading a webpage, what I took away or learned from this class was the difference between script and HTML. This was also something I was quite unsure of or even perhaps something I thought that was synonymous with each other.

    What will you do with that knowledge?

    This is knowledge that I will keep in mind during the class and the remainder of my courses as part of the Certificate in Multimedia and Web Development.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Vanessa,

      or even perhaps something I thought that was synonymous with each other.

      When things happen in a matter of seconds the processes going on in the background are opaque. Creating static HTML and scripting (also programming) are activities done in advance, in the background. People will not give either much thought and tend to lump all that background activity together.

  15. Dusanka says:

    What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?
    Learning about the big picture was definitely the most valuable thing that happened during our first session.

    What did you learn from that?
    I learned what happens between a user-submitted request and the response. It’s interesting and valuable to know all the steps involved in receiving a response to something you requested on your screen. From browser to database and back, including all the steps in between, and what happens at each step, it’s good to know where the information is coming from and the path it takes.

    What will you do with that knowledge?
    I will use this knowledge in the future when designing web pages to make sure the requests can receive prompt responses. I will also think about this when I am on the user end and when I am the one submitting requests, I will question where the response is coming from and what path it has taken.

    • JimUBC says:

      Hi Dusanka,

      I think you’ve taken the material from last week’s session and incorporated it into how you think about the web, and your interactions with it.

      “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” ~ Arthur C. Clarke
      “Profiles of The Future”, 1961 (Clarke’s third law)

  16. Alpha Lam says:

    What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?
    I don’t have a clear understanding of how I learn and these metacognition exercises are a huge bonus in this course! For me, it was really valuable to draw the internet programming path and connections in a draft format before mapping out a final draft.

    What did you learn from that?
    I realized that I need to see the entire picture, ask questions about possible outcomes, and relate abstract information with real world examples, before summarizing in my mind what I have just learned.

    What will you do with that knowledge?
    I will honour my need to test ideas and make mistakes by having draft paper on hand, write down questions to ask, and make sure that if I do not understand a concept to ask for an analogy.

  17. What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?

    I definitely appreciate the larger perspective on how the internet functions. I started using the web at a young age, but I never took the time to understand how it functions (maybe a bit here and there, but not much). I’m very excited about the direction of this course.

    What did you learn from that?

    Well, that I have much more that I want to learn! I don’t think I’ll ever be an expert programmer, but I would like to be comfortable working with and editing code.

    What will you do with that knowledge?

    At the least, I’ll be able to work more efficiently with developers. At the most, I’ll be able to design and build my own websites. A lack of knowledge has held me back from starting some interesting projects, and I don’t want to have that ignorance constraining me in the future.

  18. Demian says:

    The most valuable thing that happened for me during the first session of this class was learning about the concept of web-services. I love the idea of never having to discuss the colour of the background. The discussion about web services helped me understand how web based assets can be woven together. I think I will be more attentive to the activities of web services in the future.

    After our first session, I now want to know what it’s like to write a small program.

    The first session was a lot of fun, maybe it could be improved by extending the story all the way back to ones and zeros to demystify the context.

  19. pamelakimlee says:

    What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?
    Clarity was provided for the web’s big picture.

    What did you learn from that?
    I now have a visual of what the different parts of the web are and how they interact.

    What will you do with that knowledge?
    Build on it.

  20. John Jacob says:

    As with many of the posts, the most valuable thing I learned from Wednesday’s session was the fundamental aspects of how the ‘internet works’. It was interesting and insightful to hear about how the primary building blocks (web sever, processes application server, etc.) interact with each other. What I also learned from this was the various components involved along each process, which helps to understand lag times, speeds, etc.

    This knowledge helps me in discussing these elements of IT with colleagues and clients. I look forward to learning more about these areas (and programming in general) for this exact reason.

  21. Shane Janssens says:

    What did I learn?
    Well everything starts with the basics. I think it is important to know whats under the hood before you try and drive the car. The first session was very enlightening. It had been a long time since i had learnt this stuff before and it helped me see how the relationships between users, servers, data and delivery worked. Having a visual of what happens after you enter a request into the user interface was great. The use of the restaurant as an example of the relationship between all the moving parts was very helpful.

    What will i do with this knowledge?
    I can apply this to the progression through this course and understand the basics of the internet. This is a great base for further understanding.

    What could we have done better?
    I don’t think anything could have been done better really in the first class. I like Jim’s teaching style and I like the pace of the class… for now 🙂 Lets hope I can keep up.

  22. […] IP352W14A Programming Basics – Session One Notes […]

  23. Tony Koo says:

    What did you think was the most valuable thing that happened for you tonight?
    Learning at a high level how the basic structure of the web based world works. I enjoyed the analogy to the restaurant in terms of explaining how everything works, it really helped me relate to something we all know. I also am a huge fan of the visuals used in this course, the pictures really help a lot and colorful things keep things interesting 😉

    What did you learn from that?
    I learned what goes on behind the scenes when I use my web browser.

    What will you do with that knowledge?
    With this knowledge I hope to be able to suggest improvements to the existing web site that is being redesigned at my company by the end of the course.

  24. […] Please read and add a comment to our shared Session Two Notes […]

  25. Sergio Vera says:

    Hi, Jim!
    I want to share my opinions with you about the last class (number 3). As the other classes, I think was really interesting. But I´m a little worried about Java script. For my goals in this program I prefer HTML5 language. Is more direct and specific. I think Java is ineteresting but pretentious (you know…if…then…else… instead, write and that´s it). It is just the opinion of a photographer who has an “art mind” and try to do his own web pages. Thanks for have this feed back court!

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