Archive for PHP

Testing Plan

My testing plan shall provide information for my targeted demographics regarding the intentions of my finished prototype. My website is targeted towards people whom share an active interest and/or involvement in urban music culture and fashion.

 

These people will be the representative users of my website, carrying out testing on a number of aspects that ensure my prototype meets professional and industry standard. The plan shall encourage interaction with the intended functions and purpose of the site, providing users with further knowledge on the latest music news and releases in electronic dance music.

 

The most ideal way of testing beta includes an observation of the representative and their interaction with my prototype.

 

From here, I can gain results on:

 

– Learnability

– Efficiency

– Memorability

– Errors; faults + performance problems that may occur during observation

– Satisfaction

– Utility; meeting full requirements and intentions

 

In-order to successfully complete the above, I will need to make arrangements with the representative involved in testing my protype. This can be arranged via e-mail, with a direct URL of my website forwarded. Observation may then occur providing a suitable location has been made.

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Shoulders of Giants Business…

newton_1st_gonicka

During today’s lecture, I presented my SWOT, PEST and risk assessment areas that were completed during last week’s class. This was useful in describing and highlighting key areas of my website for analysis.

After the presentation, I then began looking at existing websites that related to the concepts and ideas of my own project. I looked for specific areas that could well be used for my own project, however designed and completed in my own way.

I looked at the following websites for areas of design and coding that I found appealing:

http://www.uptownrecords.com

http://www.xlr8r.com

http://rwdmag.com

An area on Uptown Records which I found appealing consisted of an animated scroller, displaying the images of recent vinyl releases in the dubstep and grime music genres. When hovering over a desirable vinyl, the scroller pauses, allowing the reader time to take in the information and description of the record. Considering my website will have a large focus area on new releases, this may well be something worth considering.

Areas on the other web pages which I found appealing referred to RSS applications, a key area that I wish to incorporate into my website. In the next week, I shall look at what and how this specific tool does what it does and the principles used to do so. This may take some research into the design and coding elements, as I will need to learn and develop my own skills in-order to achieve the embedment of RSS feeds successfully.

During the last part of the class, I was informed of plagiarism and the serious effects it can have on my work. Scott informed how important it is to understand plagiarism and to avoid doing so within our projects. If I were to copy and paste the code of a similar working concept, taking in mind the principles of how it works, as long as I were to make a new code that works In a similar style, I avoid any form of plagiarism. By keeping a record of all coding I do throughout the production stages of my project, I develop a log book which clearly justifies my progress so far. A comment within coding is also another useful method, therefore highlighting to a reader the construction of your own personal work.

Project Management

Today’s class has been very useful in understanding how to manage my project accordingly. I learnt of how a project is usually defined by time, scope and cost, thus devising a list of processes, SMART objectives, risk assessments, task allocations and more.

 

I shall now provide 3 examples of the project management areas in relation to my website prototype.

 

 

SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analyses for my prototype:

 

S          Good topic, use of web and new media content

W        Not entirely original, lack of skills in some technical areas

O         Gain media interest, concept may be developed further

T          Many competitors within this field

 

 

PEST (Political/Economic/Social/Technological) analyses for my prototype:

 

P          Copyright issues with content information

E          Will it benefit targeted users with new information? Is the content informative?

S          What types of demographics does my site appeal too? What genres?

T          Does my site compete with others in terms of content, usability and layout?

 

 

Risk assessment for my prototype:

 

An unlikely risk of my home server being incompatible, meaning for a negligible seriousness of consequence, would therefore result in a low chance of any risks to occur during the installation of PHP.

Developed Proposal

After completing a draft proposal stating my main technical and professional objectives, I shall now devise a developed proposal that further defines my intentions for my project and the chosen subject area.

Being a fan of urban music culture and electronic dance music, I am a regular contributor to various music discussions online and a daily reader of music news and releases. I feel I am part of a local music scene in Birmingham, having toured in previous bands, a regular consumer of vinyl in various independent record stores and now currently enjoying deejaying within local clubs and events around the city. I frequently read music content online, specific areas discussing; artist news, features, reviews and releases from a selection of websites accelerating in music culture. It is important to keep up to date with the latest occurrences within the industry and so regular visits to appropriate online content is essential. However, with so many websites and forums to visit, I sometimes feel pressured to keep up to date with everything I want to know. This is where my initial challenge for my project came in to play, that being, why not keep interesting and relevant content under one site. This will save time for targeted readers searching endlessly for their desired content, instead finding everything they need to know with minimum effort.

The project will consist of the following:

– Music news
– Releases
– Features
– Reviews
– Forum
– Contacts
– Links
– RSS feeds

As mentioned in my draft proposal, I shall be creating the project through the use of Adobe Photoshop Elements, Macromedia Fireworks and Dreamweaver MX. I shall design most of my content in Photoshop, slice images in Fireworks and arrange tables in Dreamweaver MX. With previous skills and experience in past web design and music online modules, I feel more than comfortable with doing so. This time however, I shall be incorporating the use of PHP coding with HTML, an area I have researched extensively at home.

After a visit to the university library, I found several books that allowed a reader to teach themselves everything they need to know on PHP. Being a personal objective of mine, I learnt exactly how to install PHP on my laptop, discovering the other applications that were needed to complete the installation. After installing a multi-package available for free online, I was able to attempt my first script at home.
When running the script successfully, I discovered exactly how beneficial this form of coding is, with a notably faster production process, allowing my creations to occur quickly without sacrificing stability.
Another benefit of using PHP is the fact that it is an open source, offering users additional support from an accessible and committed community whom offer their own expertise and knowledge on any problems that may occur. As a beginner to this form of coding, I feel this is extremely useful, as any problem I may encounter can be answered easily with little research, saving time on my production. For instance, if I were to experience a bug once my project goes online, I can have the issue resolved as the bug was found. This enables maximum professionalism of a conventional and realistic working website.

After further research on PHP, I discovered that its overall performance is far more superior over other server scripting languages and may also be improved if a caching tool is acquired. I have understood exactly what makes PHP so popular, a favourite amongst many web designers and programmers.

My next set of objectives includes to further research the language of PHP and how to execute my commands accordingly. By completing further secondary research into appropriate literature and online sources, I will be developing my personal skills and abilities. As I will be combining HTML and PHP, I will need to bare in mind such factors as browser compatibilities and accessibility. I have discovered that the examples of coding I have practised conform to Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML), which I have learnt is an XLM based version of HTML that can be pared and validated. This form may be validated, allowing it to be more accessible to lightweight browsers running on small memory devices.

The above examples demonstrate an understanding of technical areas that I have researched necessary to incorporate during the production of my website prototype. I have stated how any problems may be resolved and the strengths of using a technical configuration such as PHP scripting.

I aim to produce a simplistic website that incorporates a large use of images, creating a more user friendly and eye-catching appearance. The name of my website shall be entitled; “dubtime”, a suitable choice for the type of music and cultures that will be covered. Initial ideas regarding my sites layout are currently being designed, a theme that is suitable towards the type of target audience I aim to be attracting.

I have also completed a mock-up of my homepage, an example of which can be found below:

homepage-mockup-copy

I look forward to beginning my production, particularly when incorporating my new skills and objectives that I have developed throughout progression of the web and new media module.

Website Analyses

website-analysis-11website-analysis-21

The above analyses show two similar working websites that discuss the main topic area for my project. I have completed theses comparisons in-order to gain a further in-sight into creative ideas and concepts, that will be worth applying to my own website.

Draft Proposal

My project for this module shall consist of various new areas that will demonstrate an enhanced learning of my personal design skills and capabilities. As previously discussed, I wish to draw upon trends in the new media industries and the skills required by potential employers, therefore creating an original and creative project that will benefit future design I complete.

My idea, although not entirely original, consists of the production of a website that revolves around hot topics of music culture, specifically looking within sub-cultures of urban and electronic dance music. I intend to create the website through the use of Adobe Photoshop Elements, Macromedia Fireworks and Dreamweaver MX, using HTML and PHP as my style of editing codes. I intend to incorporate a sufficient use of media content, in particular a high ratio of images, thus enhancing the visual presentation of my site, avoiding the plain and boring elements that a heavy text page can display.

I feel my main technical objective here will be the combination of HTML and PHP, as discussed above. I have researched how it is possible to incorporate PHP into a HTML document, a simple yet effective tool in creating effective and dynamic web pages. By researching appropriate literature regarding how to use and understand PHP, I demonstrate a keen desire in obtaining my personal and technical objectives. After a sufficient understanding has been met, I will look at creating tables, (through the use of combined coding) in which to display my content. Whilst creating my site, I wish to develop my technical skills in coding, using comments in my PHP codes to my advantage. A code that seems clear at the time of design can often cause confusion at a later date, an aspect I have experienced in my previous designs. Therefore, seeing as PHP ignores any text comments in a script, I will consider applying occasional memos in-order to make my codes more readable. This area refers to how I wish to develop my professional objectives in terms of web and new media design, as I shall be learning new programming techniques in regards to PHP and its language.

I also wish to incorporate the use of RSS feeds into my site, thus allowing a frequent update of content made accessible to users visiting the site. Content may be taken directly from other sources, thus creating an online archive of recent news and events within music culture. In other words, the main objective for my website is to display a collection of news and media associated content under one address, allowing readers to find all the information they need on one site. This will take a significant amount of research into other competitors who provide reliable and interesting information on the topics I wish to discuss. I shall conduct detailed analyses of existing websites, studying the type of news articles and media content they each provide, thus gaining an overall perspective of what is most appealing to a market. This draws upon past research methods I have conducted, specifically secondary techniques that lead to a well researched and valuable new media project.

Site Map Example:

site-map

Wireframe Example:

wireframe2

Another reason to go Mac.

After some further research on PHP, I discovered that Mac OS X comes with Apache server as standard and enabling it is as simple as checking the box next to ‘Personal Web Sharing’ in the ‘Sharing’ section of System Preferences. Once you have done this you can place files in /Library/WebServer/Documents to access them on your server. I also learnt that Mac OS X does come with PHP, however the installation lacks any significant quantity of extensions, so it’s still worth downloading the complete XAMPP package I have previously discussed.

Installing MySQL on Mac OS X

The following information provides detailed instructions on installing a mulit-software package that incorporates the following necessary requirements; Apache, MySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin, and more.

Taken directly from: http://www.keitr.com

1. Go to http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=61776. Choose “XAMPP Mac OS X”.

2. Choose to download xampp-macosx-0.7.1.dmg.

3.  Double-click the Disk Image file you just downloaded.

4. In the window that opens, double-click XAMPP for MacOS X.pkg.

5. Once installation completes, go to your Applications folder, and go inside the xampp folder inside.

6. Double-click on XAMPP Control Panel. This tool lets you start and stop the various servers installed as part of XAMPP.

7. Start Apache and MySQL by clicking on the “Start” buttons next to each item. Note that you will need to repeat these steps if you reboot your computer and wish to use Apache and/or MySQL.

8. Go to http://localhost/. If you are directed to a page with the XAMPP logo, your installation was successful.

You can add or change the files in /Applications/xampp/htdocs to change what you see at http://localhost/ on any local web browser.

Here are the locations of some configuration and log files you may want to view or change:

Type    Location
Apache configuration    /Applications/xampp/etc/httpd.conf,
/Applications/xampp/etc/*.conf
Apache logs    /Applications/xampp/xamppfiles/logs/access_log,
/Applications/xampp/xamppfiles/logs/error_log
PHP configuration    /Applications/xampp/etc/php.ini
MySQL configuration    /Applications/xampp/etc/my.cnf

A tutorial on…creating, uploading and running a PHP script

To begin, open an appropriate text editor. Likewise with HTML documents, PHP files are made up of plain text, thus sufficient for use in editors such as Notepad and BBEdit on Mac OS.

Type in the example found below:

1: <?php
2: phpinfo ();
3: ?>

Save it as phpinfo.php in your web server’s root document directory. If you are using a web hosting server, upload it to the server to where you would place HTML files.
The coding above basically allows information about the PHP installation to be outputted to the browser. I discovered that the phpinfo() part is useful for debugging scripts due to the context information provided.

The extension to the PHP document is important because it tells the server to treat the file as PHP code. The default PHP extension for a PHP document is .php.

After the document is saved, you should be able to access it via your browser. If everything has gone accordingly, you will see the scripts output on screen. Open up your web browser and go to either; http://localhost/phpinfo.php, or http://your-web-hosting-server.com/phpinfo.php if you are using a web hosting server.

(Note: You will need to make sure MySQL is enabled, as you will need this previously installed in-order to complete the test. This can be installed as part of a multi-package available from here: http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-macosx.html)

Background Research

I discovered some information on how different operating systems use different character combinations to denote the end of a line of text. It is essential to save your PHP documents with the correct line breaks for the operating system that runs your server. A document with the wrong line breaks for the operating system might be read as a very long line of text by the PHP engine. This won’t cause any specific problems, however bugs may evolve.

update

After a frustrating week of configuring my macbook with parallels, I can now begin production, using the software needed for design of my draft mock-up. I have spent recent time since last weeks class understanding PHP, however in need of further secondary resources. Therefore, I shall shall visit the university library after todays class, in search for some relevant and appropriate literature.

In preparation for next weeks class, I shall begin development on my pitch, completing a rough mock-up to co-inside with my proposal, thus meeting the requirements of the directed study. I shall look into the software of XAMPP, downloading a package from the following recommended website; http://www.keitr.com

As quoted:

“Officially, XAMPP’s designers intended it for use only as a development tool, to allow website designers and programmers to test their work on their own computers without any access to the Internet. To make this as easy as possible, many important security features are disabled by default. In practice, however, XAMPP is sometimes used to actually serve web pages on the world wide web.  A special tool is provided to password-protect the most important parts of the package. XAMPP also provides support for creating and manipulating databases in MYSQL and SQLite among others”

This program is released under a public license and acts as a free, easy-to-use web server. Fortunately, XAMPP is available for Mac OS X and is ideal for the development of work I shall be starting. I will post a blog update on my progress during next week!

Peace

http://www.jamesarctic.blogspot.com

http://www.myspace.com/arcticuk

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