Author:

Paul Tero is an experienced PHP programmer and server administrator. He developed the Stockashop ecommerce system in 2005 for Sensable Media. He now works part-time maintaining and developing Stockashop, and the rest of the time freelancing from a corner of his living room, and sleeping, eating, having fun, etc. He has also written numerous other open sourcish scripts and programs.

The Mystery Of The jQuery Object: A Basic Introduction

Have you ever come across a bit of JavaScript like $(".cta").click(function(){}) and thought, “What the $('#x') is that” If it looks like gibberish to you, then please read on. If you think that snippet of code couldn’t possibly be real, then please browse some jQuery examples. They are full of such constructions.

Beginners' JavaScript And jQuery Syntax

This article covers the key concepts that underly such intimidating fragments of code, but we’ll start with a longer example, based on an example for animating a square.

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Part Two How to find out why your website stopped working

Editor's Note: Today we are happy to present to you the second part of the sample chapter from the upcoming printed Smashing Book #4: New Perspectives on Coding, written by Paul Tero. You might want to read the first part of this chapter beforehand — if you haven't already. Also, feel free to download the full chapter from the Smashing eBook Library.

Imagine that you wake up one morning, reach groggily for your laptop and fire it up. You’ve just finished developing a brand new website and last night you were proudly clicking through the product list. The browser window is still open, the Widget 3000 is still sparkling in its AJAXy newness.

How To Fix The Web: Obscure Back-End Techniques And Terminal Secrets

You grin like a new parent and expectantly click on “More details”. And nothing happens. You click again, still nothing. You press Refresh and get that annoying swirling icon and then the page goes blank. Help! The Internet is gone!

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Part One How To Fix The Web: Obscure Back-End Techniques And Terminal Secrets

Imagine that you wake up one morning, reach groggily for your laptop and fire it up. You’ve just finished developing a brand new website and last night you were proudly clicking through the product list. The browser window is still open, the Widget 3000 is still sparkling in its AJAXy newness.

How To Fix The Web: Obscure Back-End Techniques And Terminal Secrets

You grin like a new parent and expectantly click on “More details”. And nothing happens. You click again, still nothing. You press Refresh and get that annoying swirling icon and then the page goes blank. Help! The Internet is gone!

Read more...

Avoiding Pitfalls A Comprehensive Guide To Firewalls

In the construction industry, a “firewall” is a specially-built wall designed to stop a fire from spreading between sections of a building. The term spread to other industries like car manufacturing, and in the late 1980s it made its way into computing.

A Comprehensive Guide To Firewalls

On one side of the wall is the seething electronic chaos of the Internet. On the other side is your powerful but vulnerable Web server. These computer firewalls are actually more like fire doors because they have to let some stuff through.

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All About Unicode, UTF8 & Character Sets

This is a story that dates back to the earliest days of computers. The story has a plot, well, sort of. It has competition and intrigue, as well as traversing oodles of countries and languages. There is conflict and resolution, and a happyish ending.

All About Unicode, UTF8 & Character Sets

But the main focus is the characters — 110,116 of them. By the end of the story, they will all find their own unique place in this world. This story will follow a few of those characters more closely, as they journey from Web server to browser, and back again. Along the way, you'll find out more about the history of characters, character sets, Unicode and UTF-8, and why question marks and odd accented characters sometimes show up in databases and text files.

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Introduction To Linux Commands

At the heart of every modern Mac and Linux computer is the “terminal.” The terminal evolved from the text-based computer terminals of the 1960s and ’70s, which themselves replaced punch cards as the main way to interact with a computer. It’s also known as the command shell, or simply “shell.” Windows has one, too, but it’s called the “command prompt” and is descended from the MS-DOS of the 1980s.

Introduction To Linux Commands

Mac, Linux and Windows computers today are mainly controlled through user-friendly feature-rich graphical user interfaces (GUIs), with menus, scroll bars and drag-and-drop interfaces. But all of the basic stuff can still be accomplished by typing text commands into the terminal or command prompt. Using Finder or Explorer to open a folder is akin to the cd command (for “change directory”). Viewing the contents of a folder is like ls (short for “list,” or dir in Microsoft’s command prompt). And there are hundreds more for moving files, editing files, launching applications, manipulating images, backing up and restoring stuff, and much more.

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Introduction To URL Rewriting

Many Web companies spend hours and hours agonizing over the best domain names for their clients. They try to find a domain name that is relevant and appropriate, sounds professional yet is distinctive, is easy to spell and remember and read over the phone, looks good on business cards and is available as a dot-com.

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Or else they spend thousands of dollars to purchase the one they really want, which just happened to be registered by a forward-thinking and hard-to-find squatter in 1998. They go through all that trouble with the domain name but neglect the rest of the URL, the element after the domain name. It, too, should be relevant, appropriate, professional, memorable, easy to spell and readable. And for the same reasons: to attract customers and improve in search ranking.

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My Favorite Programming Mistakes

Over my programming career, I have made a lot of mistakes in several different languages. In fact, if I write 10 or more lines of code and it works the first time, I’ll get a bit suspicious and test it more rigorously than usual. I would expect to find a syntax error or a bad array reference or a misspelled variable or something.

My Favourite Programming Mistakes

I like to classify these mistakes into three broad groups: cock-ups (or screw-ups in American English), errors and oversights. A cock-up is when you stare blankly at the screen and whisper “Oops”: things like deleting a database or website, or overwriting three-days worth of work, or accidentally emailing 20,000 people. Errors cover everything, from simple syntax errors like forgetting a } to fatal errors and computational errors.

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Introduction to DNS: Explaining The Dreaded DNS Delay

Imagine that your biggest client calls because they are having trouble retrieving their email. Or they want to know what their best-selling item is right now. Or their most popular blog post. Perhaps their website has suddenly gone down. You can hardly reply, “No problem, I’ll get back to you in 24 to 48 hours.” And yet DNS gets away with it! If you need to move a website or change the way a domain’s email is handled, you’ll be faced with a vague 24 to 48-hour delay.

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This is quite an anomaly in a world of ultra-convenience and super-fast everything. This article explains what DNS is, how it works, where that pesky delay comes from, and a couple of ways to work around it. DNS is the “domain name system.” It translates human-friendly website addresses like www.cnn.com into computer-friendly IP addresses like 157.166.224.25. Try visiting http://157.166.224.25 if you’d like to verify this.

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Speeding Up Your Website’s Database

Website speed has always been a big issue, and it has become even more important since April 2010, when Google decided to use it in search rankings. However, the focus of the discussion is generally on minimizing file sizes, improving server settings and optimizing CSS and Javascript.

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The discussion glosses over another important factor: the speed with which your pages are actually put together on your server. Most big modern websites store their information in a database and use a language such as PHP or ASP to extract it, turn it into HTML and send it to the Web browser.

So, even if you get your home page down to 1.5 seconds (Google’s threshold for being considered a “fast” website), you can still frustrate customers if your search page takes too much time to respond, or if the product pages load quickly but the “Customer reviews” delay for several seconds.

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