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General Programming Concepts


These articles introduce you to computers, computer programming, computer networking, and programming for the Web specifically.

Computer Organization and Architecture

Programming Languages

  • What is the purpose of a programming language?
    • Easier to read and use than Assembler
  • How are programming languages categorized?
    • 1GL, 2GL, 3GL, etc.
    • Families (languages derived from, inspired by, or related to other languages)
  • What programming language should I use?
    • Different languages for different purposes
    • Different languages for different people

Networking and the Internet

  • What is the Internet?
  • What is a protocol?
  • What protocols do websites rely on?
    • ARP, TCP, IP (v4 and v6), HTTP, FTP, SSL
  • What is Http?
  • What is NAT?

Basic Programming Concepts

  • How do I store information?
    • Introduce scalar variables
    • Assignment operator
  • How do I do arithmetic?
    • Math operators (add, subtract, multiply, divide, modulo)
    • Logic operators (bit-wise and, or, xor, not, maybe shifts)
  • How do I make decisions?
    • if...else if...else
  • How do I repeat instructions?
    • do...while loops
    • while loops
    • for loops
  • How do I group instructions?
    • Introduce functions

Basic Development Concepts

  • Where should I start?
    • Design
    • Pseudo-code
  • What is the "application life cycle"?
    • Iterative cycle
    • Design, prototype, development, maintenance
    • Stress the amount of time and effort spent on maintenance
  • How do I get from start to finish?
    • Bottom-up design
    • Top-down design

Basic Web Development Concepts

  • What do I need to write a website?
    • Minimum: simple text editor, FTP client (Windows Explorer, ftp command-line)
    • Freeware and shareware solutions: WYSIWYG editors, Eclipse, Notepad++, GUI FTP clients
    • Commercial solutions
  • How do I get started with HTML?
    • What is HTML and what is a simple example?
    • Stick to basic formatting: p, br, hr, h1...h6, ol, ul, em, strong, a
  • How do I get started with CSS?
    • What is CSS and what is a simple example?
    • Stick to basic selectors and properties (tag names only, background-color, color, font-family, font-style, font-weight, text-decoration).
    • Maybe introduce span tag.
  • How do I get started with JavaScript?
    • What is JavaScript and what is a simple example?
    • Keep examples simple: Hello world, simple arithmetic and string operations

Intermediate Programming Concepts

  • Do I really need to understand math and physics?
    • How does algebra help? Finding different ways to do the same math.
    • Unit conversions (em, ex, pt, px, in) and proportions/ratios (screen size, etc.)
    • Specific applications need trigonometry and physics.
    • Theory uses differential and integral calculus, multi-variable calculus, series mathematics, sometimes higher mathematics.
  • How do I group information?
    • Structs, arrays
    • Basic patterns: queues, stacks, linked lists
  • What is object-oriented programming?
    • Introduction to objects and inheritance
    • Private and public
  • How do I put instructions and information together?
    • Objects
    • States
    • Methods
    • Why should I use getters and setters? (Value validation and access.)
  • What is different between server-side and client-side programming?

Intermediate Development Concepts

  • How do I reduce my workload?
    • Design tools: flow charts, pseudo-code, prototypes.
  • How do I reduce my future workload?
    • Design with maintenance in mind.
    • Readable code.
    • Look forward, plan for expansion and integration.
    • Black-box mentality: good or bad?
  • How can I work as part of a team?
    • Coding conventions.
    • Documentation and documentation conventions. (Introduce JavaDoc?)

Intermediate Web Development Concepts

  • How do I progress with HTML?
    • More tags: table (caption, thead, tbody, tfoot, tr, th, td), div, dl/dt/dd, form (fieldset, input, button, etc.), abbr, acronym.
    • Encourage documentation.
    • Use div for layout, table for tabular data.
    • Attributes: id, alt, title.
  • How do I progress with CSS?
    • Expand selectors: class, id, descendant, child selectors.
    • CSS 2.0.
    • CSS files.
    • Encourage documentation.
  • How do I progress with JavaScript?
    • Script files
    • O.O.P. with JavaScript.
    • If not already done, introduce JavaDoc.
  • How do I reach the most people?
    • Designing an accessible website.
    • Setting compatibility standards.
  • How do I get started with server-side programming languages?
    • What are the benefits of a server-side programming language?
    • Examples of server-side programming languages: ASP, ColdFusion, JSP, PHP, etc.
  • What are SOAP and AJAX?
    • Introduction to SOAP and AJAX (and other similar technologies or protocols).
    • How are they used?

Media, Multimedia and Plugins

  • How do I go beyond text on my website?
    • Add images to your website.
    • Basic layout (float img and div).
  • How do I make a site that works well?
    • Basic design concepts.
    • Basic UX.
    • Include links to UX references (Nn/g, etc.).
  • What are plugins and how should I use them?
    • Any additional software (beyond the browser) is a plugin (PDF, Flash video, audio players).
    • Accessibility requirements.
    • When to use them and when to avoid them.

Introduction to Databases

  • What is a database?
    • Introduction to databases, tables, fields, and relationships.
  • What is SQL?
    • Introduction to SQL.
    • Basic CRUD statements.
  • What is normalization?
    • Define 1NF, 2NF, 3NF, 4NF, etc.
    • Recommend 3NF?
  • How should my database reflect my application (or vice versa)?
    • Define tables as they relate to O.O.P.
    • Introduce views and stored procedures.

Advanced Programming Concepts

  • What are design patterns and how do I use them?
    • Introduce some common design patterns (singleton, factory, template, etc.).
    • Include links to design pattern reference pages or useful books.
  • What are frameworks and how do I use them?
    • Introduce different frameworks, such as MVC and specific examples.
  • What are state machines and how do I use them?
    • Introduce FSMs.
    • Examples of how FSMs can be used to parse text.
    • Examples of how FSMs can be used to handle business logic.
  • What is application integration and how does it help me?
    • Define application integration.
    • Examples of importing, exporting, and non-proprietary file formats.

Advanced Development Concepts

  • What is requirement gathering?
  • What is quality assurance and how to I make it easier?
    • Introduce unit-testing.
  • What is usability testing?
    • Best practices.
    • Include links to reference pages or useful books.

Advanced Web Development Concepts

  • How do I progress with SQL?
    • Introduce JOIN, UNION, triggers, constraints.
    • Writing faster queries (benchmarking).
    • Writing more efficient queries. When to use SQL and when to use server-side code.
  • Is there more to CSS?
    • CSS 3.0.
    • Compatibility concerns.
  • What is Web 2.0?
    • Introduce social networking.
    • Introduce browser-based MMORPGs.
    • Introduce other web applications (banking solutions, shopping carts, etc.)
  • What is a CMS?
    • Blogs, webcomics.
    • Include example sites, particularly web development blogs.
    • Include examples of software (WordPress, Plogue, Drupal, etc.)
  • What is jQuery and how do I use it?
    • Benefits of jQuery.
    • jQuery libraries and plugins.
  • How do I use AJAX?
    • What are the benefits?
    • Using a JavaScript framework (like jQuery) with AJAX.
    • What are the shortfalls? Accessibility.
  • What is responsive web design?
    • Introduce RWD and mobile-first design.
    • Include links to reference pages.

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