CS200: Computer Science, Spring 2004
Problem Set 8:
Make a Dynamic Web Site
Out: 29 March 2004
Team Requests: Wednesday, 7 April 2004
Proposals Due: Monday, 12 April 2004
Design Reviews: 14-21 April 2004
Final Due: Monday 26 April 2004
Collaboration Policy - Read CarefullyFor this problem set, you will work in assigned teams. Unlike in previous problem sets, you should divide work among your group members in the most efficient way. It is not necessary for everyone in the group to work together on all parts of the assignment, but every student should contribute equally to the work. All students should also contribute to the overall design of your site.Purpose
You are encouraged to discuss this assignment with other students in the class and ask and provide help in useful ways. You are also encouraged to seek help from people outside the class on the content, use and implementation of your site.
You may consult any outside resources you wish including books, papers, web sites and people. You may use the code from the example sites in any way you see fit. You may also incorporate any open source code you find into your project so long as you follow the licensing rules for that code, include its copyright information and credit its authors. If you use resources other than the class materials, indicate what you used along with your answer.
- Learn to build a software project from start to finish.
- Gain experience with some useful languages for making web sites: HTML, SQL and PHP.
- Make a useful and interesting web site. I hope all groups will produce web sites that will continue to be used and developed after the course ends.
Problem: Make an interesting dynamic web site.
Your site must be more interesting than just unchanging text pages — it must involve computation. Most sites will also involve a database (but it is not required if you think of a computationally interesting site that does not). Your site can be anything you want (so long as it is consistent with the University's policy on public computing resources). You may incorporate anything you want from Problem Set 7 into your site, as well as any other open source code you find.
Your site should be as accessible to all web users. That means it should be obvious to any visitor what your site is for and how to use it. You site should be designed so it works well even for for visitors who have slow network connections (that is, its function should not depend on unnecessarily large images), small monitors with poor color contrast. You should even strive to make your site accessible to the blind (that is, it should be possible to use your site using a text-only browser).
If you are having a hard time thinking of a good idea for your site, you may want to look over the projects from last year's class. Keep in mind that last year, Problem Set 7 was about metacircular evaluators, so students had much less background on building dynamic web sites before PS8, and that according to Neil De Grasse Tyson we should expect this year's students to be 4% better, so your web site projects should be even more impressive.
You will be assigned teams for this assignment, but I may honor team requests. You must send these by email or communicate them to me directly before Wednesday, 7 April 2004. In order to increase the chances I honor your request, your email should not only list the team members but should give a brief description of the web site you have agreed as a group to build. Students who do not request teams, will be arbitrarily grouped into teams.
The size of your team may be between 1 and 27 (the whole class) students, but the impressiveness of the web site you intend to build should scale as the square root of the number of people on your team (e.g., a team of four students should build something twice as impressive as a team of one student working alone). If you have a large team, you will need to figure out carefully how to divide your project into smaller, independent pieces.
Instead of lab hours for PS8, each team will be assigned an assistant coach as a consultant. You should view your consultant as a highly paid expert (you needn't actually pay your consultant, of course, but giving them Krispy Kreme's is encouraged) who can help a limited amount with your project. Do not place unreasonable demands on your consultant — they are students too with their own assignments and exams to worry about (some of which are even harder than CS200!). You should expect have at most two short meetings with your consultant. Use those meetings wisely to bounce design ideas off your consultant and to work out the trickiest programming issues for your site. You should definitely not expect your consultant to write any of the code for you.
In addition to your consultant, you may, of course, take advantage of Dave's office hours and schedule meetings with him, in addition to the required design review meetings.
Due: Monday, 12 April 2004
Turn in a document that describes:
- The dynamic web site you propose to build. It should make it clear what a visitor to your web site will be able to do.
- A plan for how you will build it. This plan should describe how you will divide the work among your team members, and the order you will do things. It is important to have a strategy where you can start testing pieces as you develop your site. You want to have ambitious goals for your site, but be able to get something working even if you don't accomplish them all.
- A list of questions you have. These questions should clearly identify anything you will need to do to build your site that you don't know how to do yet.
Design ReviewsSchedule on Friday, 9 April for week for 14-21 April
In class on Friday, 9 April, each team will sign up for a time slot for a design review. All team members must attend the design review, so it is important that you select a time all members can attend.
At the design review, you will describe your ideas for what your site will do and how you will build it. You will also be expected to show your progress so far. We will discuss the questions on your Proposal document and how you are dividing the work among your team.
The design review does not need to be a formal presentation, but you should prepare for it to make it as useful as possible. In particular, you should come to the design review knowing what you think the toughest problem for your project will be and having some preliminary ideas how to solve it.
In class on Monday, 26 April, you will have an opportunity to present and demonstrate your web site. That class will be open to anyone, and you are encouraged to invite friends and relatives to see your (and your classmate's) presentations. Inviting students who might take CS200 next year is especially encouraged!
Demos and Presentations
Each team will get (+ 1 (* 3 (sqrt n))) minutes (where n is the number of team members) to present the motivation and idea for your website and demonstrate it.
To be eligible to present your site, you must submit a zip file containing all the files for your site to 10:55am on Monday, 26 April.
Teams that do not produce a site to demo must instead submit a final project report containing:
If you present your site, you do not need to turn in a paper project report.
- a short text description of your site
- the URL for your project site
- a URL to a zip file containing all the files in your project site
Recommended Reading and Browsing
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- Envisioning a Site That Won't Be Featured in suck.com from Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing by Philip Greenspun.
- www.useit.com — Jakob Nielsen's web usability site (how well does his site satisfy his own usability guidelines?) You should make sure your site does not make any of these Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design or Top 10 New Mistakes of Web Design.
- Other sites on the web. Visit them and judge critically how well they work. Are there interface ideas you can adopt for your site? Are there mistakes they made that you should be sure to avoid? Can you find what you are looking for quickly? Would the site work with a slow connection and no images?
- http://www.virginia.edu — Try this one without images for find out how much UVa's web developers care about blind people and people from poor countries with slow Internet access. With Internet Explorer, you can do this by selecting "Tools | Internet Options" then from the "Advanced" tab, under "Multimedia" uncheck the box for "Show Pictures")
- http://www.cs.virginia.edu — Can you guess which two popular sites were used as a basis for our design? Is it easy to find which Computer Science courses you should take next year? If you think you can do better, consider joining the CS Web Team.
- http://www.wherethestreetshavenoname.com/ — Site made by Gordon Peters and Portman Wills about their travels in Africa and South America. Portman Wills was a CS200 Assistant Coach in 2002.