The third week of our workshops has come and went. I have solicited comments from folks that attended to find ways to improve the methods I am using to teach. So I'll toss a couple of those out now, and I'd like further suggestions from anyone that would like to offer their views.
The most consistent suggestion is that we definitely needs HANDS ON time. With that in mind we decided as a group to work on a project together. I suggested a simple CMS* I had hacked together, in a rush some months ago. Like most rushed projects, it filled a need, but it also has some weaknesses that can be rectified with planning proper coding. So we'll be using some of the ideas from this very small project as a springboard to create our own CMS. Throughout the life of the project, the source code (and any documentation, images etc) will be released with a FLOSS** License (likely the GNU GPL v2 or later, v3 or later, or the GNU Affero v3 or later, which will be worked out through agreement of the initial participants in the project).
Next week's meetups will be dedicated to the planning stage. We won't be focusing on code at all. Rather we will be concentrating on discussion. What would we want in a CMS? Who is our software's target audience? How should we implement security? Should we use a database, or text file system for content? What kind of screen do we need? What data structures should we create? These and many other questions we will be asking, and resolving for this project over the next couple of weeks.
After that we'll begin the process of creating code. The code will include an HTML/CSS front end. PHP will be used for the business logic and then be used to output the HTML. Certain parts of the program might include access to a database. In which case we'll be using MySQL as our DB of choice.
As part of our process we'll be dividing into smaller groups as teams. This way, more experienced persons, can help those with less experience. (Eg. those with no php or mysql experience can help those with no html experience, while I help everyone with the php). This will add some more balance to the class, allowing me at times to move forward faster, and then others can explain the gist to their groups. So join us next Sunday (please RSVP) and get ready to dig into some intense hands on serious learning.
I'd also like to thanks those that have contributed donations to help us with these classes. The donations have ranged from equipment we need, (chairs, a ramp, a router etc) to cash (for rent, other equipment), to helping me with technical explanations, to food (woohoo donuts, oranges). I'd even like to thank in advance those who will help create this FLOSS CMS. Adding software to the Free Software ecosystem is a large donation, as are all of the other donations, and all are greatly appreciated. It definitely helps make it easier for me to continue these workshops without charge.
Finally, depending on when a couple of financial things hit, I'll be taking a weekend out of town in two or three weekends. So when that happens we'll either be pausing the workshops for that week, or I'll be having someone else let everyone in for an open forum discussion (though I will be available for short periods by phone or email).
* Content Management System.
** Free, Libre and Open Source Software
Aoirthoir An Broc The Pringles and Donuts Eater With The A&W Cream Soda After The Coca Cola Drinking Type Thing.
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