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Lab 3 – List App/Web Server Integration

November 1st, 2007 Categories: Uncategorized

I got off to an early start on lab 3, and had most of my code working in a couple hours. The thing that hung me up for two weeks was trying to figure out how the step “Register with the SSLB” fit into this lab. I finally asked Sam about it and he told me it was a mistake. Looking back I realize that I deserved to wallow around in confusion for not having asked the question sooner.

I used PHP again, I think I’ve pretty much given up on Python this semester… there’s always next semester. The template engine I’ve been using, Smarty, is pretty powerful. Not that I need to exercise its full power for this project, I really like it though. I actually like it so much that I’ve switched to it from XSLT on another project I’m working on.

One of the other challenges I had during this lab was figuring out how to do the URL rewrites, as the keyword /submit had to go to the submit page, and /everything-else had to go to the idea list for the domain ‘everything-else’. I’m sure there are Perl gurus out there who could have whipped up a regex in 5 seconds to handle that… unfortunately I’m not one of them. What I did was rewrite all URLs to go to a driver script that parsed the original URL, and then used PHP objects to generate the appropriate response in each case. These PHP objects were converted from the scripts I originally planned to redirect to for each action.

Testing this lab also turned up a bug in my listing app server. It was a subtle bug that manifest itself by returning only 1 idea for a given domain (even in cases where there were more than 1). Once I identified it, I feared the worse. It took me 30 minutes to track down the source, which turned out to be a missing ‘$’ on my loop variable (which was used to address an array). I won the book in class for the PHP quiz (for identifying the MySQL wasn’t enabled by default in a PHP installation)… but I don’t know enough to understand why $myarray[i] (should have been $myarray[$i]) didn’t cause a more visible error. I’ll have to check my error reporting settings in my php.ini file.

I have to say I’ve been having a great experience in this class, overall. The greater emphasis on architecture and design, and lesser emphasis on KLOCs has been an effective approach. I can think of 2 other CS classes (off the top of my head) I have taken that could benefit from this model.


One Response to “Lab 3 – List App/Web Server Integration”

  1. Chris
    November 1st, 2007 at 21:48

    John, I agree with you on the emphasis on design and not on KLOCs. Sometimes I get the feeling from some professors that if we aren’t forced to write insane amounts of code we don’t learn. I think this class shows that just isn’t the case.

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