Mission: From pretty pictures to useful pictures
April 19, 2009 8:58 AM   Subscribe

What are the best resources for me to look into if I want to create websites that support user-created information?

Here's what I want: users to be able to login, upload data, be able to see newly-updated data in a chart.

Here's what I know: I know xhtml and css. I know absolutely nothing about programming, have pretty minimal knowledge of APIs.

What programming languages will serve me best for web-specific development? Where should I start (books, websites, etc)?
posted by ttyn to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you can CSS, you can PHP. If you can PHP you can SQL. There are other routes to take (different languages, frameworks, CMSs) but the amount of free, accessible, quality resources for web development with PHP/SQL can get you up to speed rather quickly.

Where to start? Anywhere.
posted by crustix at 9:42 AM on April 19, 2009

crustix's recommendation of PHP is probably good for handling the login and upload of the data files. And it would probably be easiest to go with a pre-built product in PHP like Drupal. But his mention of SQL is, I think, a suggestion to store the uploaded data in a database on the server.

I would disagree; I would say that you want to have as little code running on the server as possible. I think you ought to have the upload process transform the data into flat JSON files and you should then write javascript code to do the charting, which will do all of the calculations and graphics work to generate the charts within the visitor's web browser instead of on your server.

Doing this will reduce the load on your server and probably make the whole web application run more smoothly (unless the visitor has a ten-year-old computer.) For doing charting you might use the dojox.charting library (demo, demo, demo), Raphaƫl (demo, demo, demo) or MIT's SIMILE Widgets (demo, demo, demo, demo.)

For starting with javascript or PHP, as crustix indicates there are so many tutorials and other resources available that simply Googling and looking through the results for ones that fit your learning style is best. I would say, however, that javascript is going to be most easily learned with the accompaniment of a comprehensive modern library like Dojo Toolkit, which will abstract away the quirks of different browsers and of javascript itself: Dojo online books, DojoCampus web site.
posted by XMLicious at 11:04 AM on April 19, 2009

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