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When students are downloading software to set up local development environments, like MAMP, explain clearly why these tools are necessary to prevent unnecessary struggle during class.

  • Downloading the necessary elements can be time consuming and boring but it is important that all students start in the same place with the same environment.
  • To help students understand why they’re downloading everything, use this time to explain important, relevant information.
    • Walking students through all the things they’ll learn and need to learn over the course, the difference between client side and server side, comments, strings, etc, to give them an overview of what they’ll be doing.
    • Once you give students the foundation, they’re able to build off of it independently.
      • Breaking each component down and explaining why it’s important is how you provide the foundation. For example, you may want to go over the difference between server-side and client-side. To do that, you beginwith the basics:
        • There’s a web browser - and it’s able to handle CSS/HTML/JS, and this all happens on the user’s computer and is called client side.
        • Explain that there’s a missing part; that information and connecting to databases happens elsewhere, and are separate components, and those all exist on a server, and those functions are called server-side.
        • Explain that the missing (server-side) portion requires a language to perform those actions, all called server side languages, and one of them is PHP.
        • Then detail how the systems stack on each other, e.g., that a computer has an operating system (Linux, Mac, Windows, etc.) and on that computer all of these things exist and work together. That system often has a program (or series of programs) running a server.
          • While this is all complicated, it is helpful to describe how and why LAMP works. It gets convoluted, but it helps to break it into manageable pieces. The best way to display this is by using a series of graphics, for example, a pyramid so that the students can see how each system relies on the others.
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Interview with Leo Newball

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