Computer Doings

I had recently discovered that my old copy of Filemaker Pro 12 wouldn’t run on my main computer (Macbook Pro OSX 10.14 Mojave) since my latest round of upgrades and it kept crashing on my old Mac Mini server (10.13 High Sierra). I don’t use Filemaker for much anymore but I do have two databases that get used  about once a year: a boating log and a Blackboard quiz maker. The quiz maker wasn’t important but I had all my sailing resume stored in that Filemaker database. So it looked like I had a bit of a problem.

But every problem is just a new opportunity. I decided to break down and actually learn how to use Mysql and php. I’ve dabbled. This website (and most of my other sites) is run on WordPress and that is based on Mysql/php—so any modifications I’ve done to them have definitely danced around the edges.

Mysql is an open source database related to the professional standard SQL database. Sort of a linux to unix relationship, although not really. Php is a scripting language for web development. Since mysql has no interface, php is used to bridge the gap and provided a web-based GUI to access the database. My Mac Mini has a testing version of mysql/php I use for  my own wordpress work so that was set. All I had to download was a gui to help me see what it was doing. I settled on Mysql Workbench which is the “official” mysql gui.

I started here: tutorialrepublic.com/php-tutorial. Eventually I got to the section about CRUDs (an acronym for Create, Read, Update, and Delete) and then dumped all my work to date to make my own crud and use it to develop the Blackboard quiz as a test project. Then it was a week of learning, trial and error and discovery. I even had to delve into javascript which was a whole other learning curve.

Javascript..Oh MY!

At the end of the day I got it 90% there. There are still some issues with error checking and security. It really isn’t ready for use in the wild, but then again I doubt any of my Filemaker DBs ever were either. But it works and we are setting up for a live test to see if it’s actually practical for L to use.

Features

Some things I managed to add to the crud tutorial:

  • changing the placeholder text in a field based on the question-type dropdown menu
  • changing input types (box, radio buttons etc.) with defaults based on question type
  • export to tab delimited file, with ability to choose file name
  • javascript loops through variable names so I didn’t have to repeat the same code for all 12 possible answers
  • ability to delete all records with error checking
  • and a few other tweaks

I also learned about Bootstrap. Which was so cool. Wikipedia says:

Bootstrap is a free and open-source CSS framework directed at responsive, mobile-first front-end web development. It contains CSS- and (optionally) JavaScript-based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, navigation and other interface components.

Bootstrap, originally named Twitter Blueprint, was developed by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton at Twitter as a framework to encourage consistency across internal tools. Before Bootstrap, various libraries were used for interface development, which led to inconsistencies and a high maintenance burden. 

It was renamed from Twitter Blueprint to Bootstrap, and released as an open source project on August 19, 2011.

I certainly appreciate the way it makes for a beautiful looking website without much effort. And it’s something more to learn…

What’s Next

As a result of all this I am going to attempt to recreate my much more complex Boating Log DB. And the realization that I need some “official” training rather than just the hit and miss, trial and error, flavoured with random googling method that characterizes so much of my computer work. So the next step is to find some courses…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *