Laravel. And Docker. 

This is going to be really short, but I wanted to let the community (we do have a community here, right?) know that I have been spending a LOT of time the past couple of weeks working through some technology that I think is pretty cool. One is Docker, a containerization tool useful for establishing and maintaining Web development environments on your local machine without the overhead of a full blown VM. The other is Laravel, a free, open-source PHP Web framework, created by Taylor Otwell and intended for the development of Web applications following the model–view–controller (MVC) architectural pattern. 

I want to write more on each of these at some point. Laravel will probably constitute the main focus at first. I’m using a Laravel feature called Valet for managing my development environments. Valet is even lighter than Docker and has some nice features like a share option that allows you to send someone a secure tunnel link to your site on your local machine. A “down side” is it only works on a Mac. Valet uses the Apache Web server and other infrastructure built into macOS. The Laravel framework currently supports four databases:

  • MySQL
  • Postgres
  • SQLite
  • SQL Server

I’m currently having difficulty with MySQL so I’m sticking with SQLite. Hopefully we can work out those issues here. 😬 

Open Source Project

As a parallel process to my Laravel education, I’ve been working on a school management Web app starting with an MVP of a simple quarterly grade input screen for teachers and a companion report card creation module. I envision/dream of a complete budget “ERP” system for small to medium sized private schools. This could either be installed on premise or subscribed to in a(n) SaaS application, ala QuickBooks Online or Office 365. I think I have decided that this would make a good open source project. The development would (hopefully) go more quickly and quality would (hopefully) be improved. Then besides the commercial implementations that I am planning, anyone could install (and support) the software on their own. 

OK. Maybe not VERY short. But I can still talk a lot more about all of this in future posts. All of this has been keeping me pretty busy lately. But I would rather be busy with PAID work. Something I’ve only had for two months in 2016. Things may be looking up though. I have a technical interview tomorrow (Saturday) for an ABAP contract gig in Mexico City with about 50% travel estimated. That could start remotely as soon as next week if the interview goes well. I also made first contact with a consulting company today (Friday) about another ABAP contract gig just outside of Atlanta. And a friend MAY have an opportunity for me to get my feet wet with some real Web front end development work. 

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. 

Mark

Tool Users vs. Tool Makers

Listening to these John Morris podcast episodes yesterday. John talks about “pure coders” and the future of Web development. He was debating with a listener about the pros and cons of using tools such as WordPress and Bootstrap vs. hand coding Web sites from scratch. In the end, he boiled things down to two groups of developers. Tool users. And tool makers.

I believe (and John has agreed with me on Facebook) that a tool user who also has the skills to be a tool maker would be the ideal developer. Using the right tools makes you more efficient. Understanding what’s going on under the hood can help you use the tool more effectively. Using WordPress and being able to “roll your own” plugin if you can’t find one that suits your needs should be golden.

It’s like a corporate pilot who is also certified to work on the jets he flys. Very valuable. He’s able to recognize potential issues sooner and in a pinch could fix them himself rather than wait to fly in a mechanic to some remote area.

As a developer, you know that you rarely write anything from scratch. No good coder does. You find something that you have used in the past that works and is close to what you need, copy it, and tweek it to meet your current requirements. This process is the most basic developer tool. Object oriented development has taken this to the next level. As you gain experience as a developer, your class library grows and your reuse tool becomes more valuable. I becomes your “code DNA”.

I always get a kick out of news that some new tool or class of tools (like WordPress) will allow clients to develop a system “without programming”. And some developers are threatened by this and think their job is going to go away. That may be true for the simple boring projects. But for the more interesting and complex situations the tool is simply going to end up being a new “language” for a knowledgeable developer. And maybe the tool allows you to turn the finished product over to your client to keep it running while you concentrate on newer bigger better things. A good developer will add value based on his experience, both in coding from scratch and in using the tool.

I’ve been a developer for probably longer than sone of you have BEEN… alive. Over 35 years. Using languages and tools that most of you have never heard of. Like PL/1, Telon, and ABAP. First IBM mainframes and then SAP ERP. Now I’m transitioning to Web development and tools like WordPress and Bootstrap should allow me to make the transition and get up to speed more quickly.

What do you think. Let me know in the comments.

I hate being sick!

I have been sick for the past 2-3 days. (“Summer cold” kind of thing.) So I haven’t been up to posting anything. I have been able to do some work on my Websites and do some Lynda.com training.

I realized over the weekend that I could save a lot of money by consolidating my Bluehost “basic” accounts into one “plus” account. Bluehost’s basic service only allows you to have one website. Their plus account allows “unlimited” Websites. (This is what it shows on their signup page anyway. I’ve been told that it’s really ten, and that’s what’s showing on my account at the moment. I’ll cross that bridge with them when/if I get there.) I already had three basic accounts with Bluehost and I wanted to add this one. The plus account costs about three time as much as the basic account. So I upgraded one of my accounts, move the other two domains to that account and canceled the two basic accounts. I was charged ~$48 for the upgrade and refunded ~$59 for each of the canceled accounts. Sweet!

So besides adding MarkWhitted.com, I was able to add my independent IT consulting company MWWConsultingLLC.com which was just being parked for now, as well as ILike2.bike, a pretty much dormant cycling blog that I was hosting at Squarespace (Another $76 refund there. Ka-CHING!).

I also added RubyandPearlTheGemSisters.com. I had purchased this domain a couple of weeks ago for my mother and her best friend. Mom lives close to me here in Texas and her friend Ruth Ann lives in North Carolina. Mom and Ruth Ann are a couple of fun ladies. (I want to say crazy, but won’t, out of respect; although they wouldn’t object. And I guess I just did.) They have traveled extensively together, including three cruises. And I found out that they have journaled all of their trips thoroughly. I want to help them start blogging and eventually start a podcast where they can get together and talk about whatever. I think it would be a hoot. I also feel like they just need to organize their journals and they’ve really already written a book.

Finally, one of the consolidated sites is LivingAGratefulLife.com. This is a blog site that I set up for my wife Tracy. She’s new at this and isn’t exactly sure what she’s going to do with the blog; but it will probably be mostly inspirational musings like she’s been so good at on FaceBook as well as information about health and wellness, especially addressing Ehlers-Danlos syndrome aka EDS, which affects her and our youngest son. One of the items on our todo list is for me to sit down with her and introduce her to WordPress.

Well, that’s probably enough rambling for one post. I’ll try to make the next one an update on my training. Please share your thoughts in comments.

Thanks!
Mark

Code Editors

What’s your favorite code editor? For Web development. Handles HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP… Line numbering. Auto indentation. Syntax checking and highlighting. Code completion. Responsive. Reasonable priced. Mac is my priority, but go ahead and let us know about Windows and Linux too.

Welcome!

I’m SOMEBODY!

From the 1979 Steve Martin classic The Jerk, we get the now outdated quote “The new phone book is here! I’m SOMEBODY!”. Today, phonebook readership is way down, but as DNS servers around the world refresh over the next hours and days, I will be SOMEBODY! MarkWhitted.com is born. It’s not much right now. Just the default WordPress Twenty Sixteen theme and this post. But my hope is that it will become a place for exchange of ideas and mutual learning.

Who is Mark Whitted?

I am a fifty-something year old software developer and IT consultant. (Currently unemployed.) I’ve been programming for over 35 years, the last twenty-plus years as an SAP ABAP consultant. It’s looking like the time may be coming to go in another direction or at least switch gears. Over the past month or so I’ve been researching “Web development”. And I’m finding that to be a wild and sometimes confusing world. I’ve decided that for now I want to focus on WordPress. I’m making my way through Morten Rand-Hendriksen‘s Lynda.com WordPressMaster Class playlist.

What is MarkWhitted.com

I’m currently on HTML Essential Training and at the start of the course, James Williamson recommends blogging about our experience while learning Web development. So here we are. This blog should accomplish at least three goals:

  • Share my knowledge gained as I progress.
  • Gain additional knowledge through the community that I hope to establish.
  • Serve as a “playground” to apply my new skills as we learn.

So please join me as we learn to be new Web developers together. Please share your thoughts in comments. And fell free to spread the word and share on FaceBook and LinkedIn.

Let’s be Somebody together.

Thanks!

Mark