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Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Small steps, Sparks."

You might remember the title ("Small steps, Sparks.") from Contact. It seems like a good way to describe my first couple of "micro-modules" to demonstrate how this teaching thing will work.

I've created three bite-sized recordings to show how to do a relatively simple task with an Apache web server: emit something dynamic via CGI. If you've never touched this sort of technology before, my hope is this will remove some of the mystery surrounding it.

Recording #1: the no-frills CGI program with just a tiny bit of dynamic content.

In this session, I created about the simplest shell script I could think of which still creates variable output on the fly. It just says something and then prints the date and time.

Granted, a "real" web program would do more than that, but the theme here today is "small steps". I intend to show how you can ramp up from these introductory stages to creating anything your heart desires. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Recording #2: the same basic CGI, only this time it's in C++.

I wrote a little C++ program which does just enough output to show the general concept. It's so simple, it doesn't even do the time... yet. It has a placeholder for that.

Recording #3: adding date and time output.

This one returns to the code from recording #2 and makes it actually read from the system clock and build a formatted time string. This string is then used in the output instead of the placeholder. It's supposed to resemble the output from the original script I wrote in #1, above.

I use my build tool to make the C++ stuff happen without having to worry about writing Makefiles. If you'd like to see how to install and use that, just check out this earlier recording in which I download a copy and use it to compile a short test program.

Comments? Questions? I'm all ears.