Web Development Projects

I spent much of my career in technology, so it was not a surprise that I decided to set up a family website when I retired.  Most of my working years were focused on SQL and application development, but I soon discovered that I really enjoyed the challenges of web development. 

Originally, I had envisioned a simple site for sharing my genealogy research but once our grandson Jake made his appearance the whole thing just got out of hand.  Then I volunteered to design, develop, and manage a couple of websites for Gary (Naval Surface Warfare Center's Alumni Association and Radford High School Class of 1960).  That is when I really started learning!  Now I am also responsible for a commercial site,  Pendére, a project management company headquartered in Austin, TX.

I use Microsoft FrontPage for the basic development and Adobe Photoshop to edit and size graphics.  I also use javascript for special functions like the menu bar above and the picture rotation in the photo album header.  PHP comes in very handy for hit counters and statistics, and for Jake's game project.

The game project began -- as many things do -- as a simple idea; to build a little application that would help Jake understand about the keyboard (hit one key at a time!) and the mouse (keep it on the desk and just roll it around!). 

For the keyboard lesson, the idea was to present him with a new picture each time he touched a key, but I wanted it to be data driven -- to be designed so that I didn't have to change the code each time Greg (Jake's father) or I added a new picture (I'm lazy!).  So, I needed PHP to read the directory on the server and write a javascript include file each time the games menu is loaded.  I also didn't want to have a separate file for the picture labels and I needed a way to sequence the pictures.  I accomplished both of those by manipulating the file names with javascript.  For example, the first picture is a lion and the file name is 01-lion.jpg.  Once the file names are loaded into an array, they are sorted.  I've left "spaces" between the numbers so that I can add new pictures in between.  Then I parse the file name to get the label that is then uppercased and shown below the picture.  Of course, I couldn't just leave well enough alone -- I decided that the name of the object should be spoken and a sound played to match the picture.  I named the sound files the same as the picture file (01-lion.wav).  It works pretty well and Jake loves it!

For the mouse lesson, the idea was to have something happen on the screen when he moves the mouse.  I came up with the idea of a graphic of a lion (his favorite animal at the time) sitting in a 5 x 5 grid.  When you move the mouse over the lion, he roars and moves to another part of the screen.  This is all done with javascript, using a random function to get the new cell address.

These were both fairly simple projects but the techniques I learned have been very helpful.  If you have any questions or comments about any of these pages, please contact me at the link below. 

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