Boy, that was a long time!

Yeah, months since an update, well it’s been a busy time.

New websites, new training, new certifications, a new house and trips back to my home country all took up my time, and to be honest this blog is mainly just for me to scratch out a few words when the mood takes me!

So what are these new sites?

My biggest job was the completion and launch of a wholesale site for an existing client. The site was built on the Shopify platform and incorporates password-secure customer accounts to prevent retail customers accessing wholesale information, https://www.williamwoodtrade.co.uk

The principal of an existing client asked me to put together a simple online resume/page for him at http://www.philipalanhowecreative.co.uk a pleasure to do so for him and a refreshing simple design to his requirements.

We built a website last year for a newly published author, Jackie Togwell, to help promote her first novel, last week she asked us for a major update with fresh content, new pages and clean, responsive interface that’s easy to navigate. http://www.squattersrights.uk

And the new certifications and training?

I spent quite a few months up to my neck in the MongoDB University, I completed courses in No-SQL fundamentals, administration and development using .NET and Node.js. My results were close to 100% across the board so I was happy with that!

As part of expanding my skills I also took the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam and passed with flying-colours so I’m now a certified Google Analytics specialist.

At the moment I’m part way through my next set of goals, to become a certified Shopify Expert after having been a Partner for the last 12 months.

I’ll also be doing extra training in Angular, Vue.js and Python/Django before the end of the year to round out my development skills and bring ComDotty up to date with the latest tools…

Will I be successful in all this training?

Who knows? I’m game, lets give it a go and see what happens!

To finish this update, a brief note about PWAs, or Progressive Web Apps…

Progressive Web Apps are a fairly new but rapidly growing concept, creating web applications and sites that can be installed, and behave, just like a users favourite apps on their smartphone, I decided to have a go myself by using the ComDotty website as my “lab-rat”.

I added the necessary files and JavaScript, extra icons, a manifest file and a few other tweaks and voila, if you load the site in Google Chrome on your Android device you’ll be prompted to add it to your home screen, give it a go and post a message here to tell me what you think.

https://www.comdotty.com

“I’ll be back” – T101

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Maps are OK. But social media?..

So there I was, time on my hands, looking to add a bit of techy pizazz to the ComDotty site, not that I really needed to, but because I wanted to try some new things, play with some new tools and stretch the old grey matter a little.

Two things stood out, the first was my location map.

When I built the site using Bootstrap I added a simple Google iframe map with everything wrapped up in one monolithic lump. the problem with that approach is that the map isn’t responsive to different screen sizes like the rest of the site… Ho hum!

To make it responsive meant implementing the map using the Google Maps JavaScript API!

It is a task not aided by the convoluted Google documentation but it is achievable and following an afternoon of coding, screwing-up, coding, starting again and more coding, I finally got what I was after, a responsive map that scales to the screen size its being viewed on.

With that out of the way my thoughts turned to social media, the second item on my list.

I’ve featured a single Facebook review on the site since I launched it, every so often, or when I get a new review, I update or swap the content around.

This time I was, inexplicably, drawn to adding a Twitter feed to the grandly titled “Social Media” section of my site so off I went to Twitter to see how to do it…

Long story short, easy-peasy, lemon squeezey… Pretty much anyone should be able to drop a feed widget into their site without any particular coding skills or special knowledge. OK so a bit of experience with CSS is helpful in making said widget look nice but, as I’m prone to saying, it’s not really rocket-science!

No, the issue with adding a Twitter feed, which only really struck me after I’d put it in, was, what purpose does it serve? Apart from making the page look cluttered by being stuffed awkwardly into the section next to the Facebook review what benefit does it provide?

I suppose you could say that it offers site visitors a way to engage with me, but why would they even read my tweets, and more’s to the point, what about the Twitter feed would encourage them to “engage” more than they already have, they’re visiting my website, I don’t want them reading tweets, I want them sending me messages giving me paying work!

There is another point people tend to forget, if you don’t tweet 4 or 5 times a day your users are going to get the impression you can’t be bothered, or your away, or your dead! A Twitter feed that hasn’t been updated in a week is akin to hammering the nails into your own coffin!

I have a Facebook review featured so potential customers, people who’s money I want, can read what existing customers, peoples who’s money I already have, say about my business, why would I want to clutter up my page with tenuously related¬† bits of mental flotsam that only serve to distract?

Bottom line, I wouldn’t, I want them to look through my site, come to the conclusion I’m kosher and ask me if they can give me money in exchange for my time and effort.

Anything else is just a waste of resources.

Social media? Just because you can do a thing, it doesn’t automatically follow that you should do a thing.

“I’ll be back” – T101

Try and keep up at the back…

So, here am I getting my head around Node.js and template engines and Angular and MongoDB admin and all the rest…

Except it doesn’t stand still, the Jade Template Engine is now known as Pug, as in the little flat-nosed dog(?!), AngularJS is up to Angular 4 but now Angular 5 has been released and don’t even get me started on MMAPV1 compared to WiredTiger!

I guess it’ll all be worth it in the end but at the moment I do feel like I’m running to keep up!

“I’ll be back” – T101

So, the plan is…

I have a small mongoDB based web application that I use for practising in different coding languages, its a simple contacts database with CRUD functions, originally it was written in VB.NET before I ported it across to C#.

In order to build up my new skills in MEAN and Python/Django my plan is to port the application to these two new development environments, iron out the inevitable bugs and then host the whole kit-n-caboodle on Heroku so people can see the results of my efforts.

“Aye, and if my Granny had wheels she’d be a wagon!” – Lt.Cmdr Montgomery Scott.

“I’ll be back” – T101.

Not too shabby!

So the mongoDB training went really well, 100% on the M001 introductory course and 95% on the M101N Developer course. Overall I’m very happy with that!

Kicked off upgrading my development skills with the next stage of learning the MEAN stack, I have mongoDB out of the way so now it’s Nodejs and Angular.

To wrap things up I’ve also taken the plunge with my Python/Django training and tutorials, some wasted hours debugging a poorly documented tutorial but ultimately progress in the right direction.

More to come!

“I’ll be back” – T101

Maybe I’ve bitten of more than I can chew…

Filled with misplaced confidence and certain I cannot fail I decided that I’d write a duplicate of my example C#/MVC/mongoDB contacts application on the same backend database but using the MEAN stack instead, mongoDB, Angular 4, Express and Node.js… It’s another learning curve not made any less steep by¬† half-arsed tutorials and poorly documented features, ever-changing version numbers, dependency installs and functions that seem to have been created and written in Klingon!..

I guess this is what I get for not attending staff meetings!

More to come…

“I’ll be back” – T-101.

It’s not like I’m trying to learn Urdu!

So this past few weeks has been a flurry of training, starting with online courses on mongoDB, which will be complete in about two weeks time.

Working from the premise that those who say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks are talking nonsense I decided to take the plunge and signed up for some new Python/Django courses at Udemy, one course was free, or I wouldn’t have bothered, and one was reduced as a special offer from $200 down to $10!

As I recently received a, much delayed, payment from Shopify on my partner program account we’ll have to see if the course was worth the admittedly small fee I paid!

To round out my 2017 development skills overhaul I also took on a short tutorial in Angular, seeing as everybody is raving about it, it also puts me three-quarters of the way down learning the MEAN stack!.. MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node.js.

One I’ve upgraded the hosting arrangements for ComDotty I plan to publish some demos and examples of what I’ve been up too…

“I’ll be back” – T-101.