This is just to welcome any COMP249 (Web Technology) students who might visit following my link from the lecture notes. You’re all welcome to look around at my truly random thoughts.
Having taught COMP249 for some time it’s very interesting to watch the change in experience and knowledge of the Web as the years have gone by. When we first started in 2001 part of the job was to introduce people to the Web, or at least to the more advanced things that were going on there. Now the students are all very sophisticated Web users most of whom have written web pages and many of whom have authored websites of their own. Almost everyone has used more than one web browser. Still though, the fundamental point of COMP249 is to convey the core workings of the Web; HTTP, HTML, URI; to change the students from being consumers to being producers and engineers on the Web.
Back in 2003 Tim Bray noticed traffic arriving at his site from Macquarie and posted his Condolences to COMP249 Sufferers: he thought our assignment (writing an RSS aggregator) was too much to ask. Back then our students managed to complete this task, some producing excellent pieces of work. My view then and now is that working with the core technologies is the best way to learn how they fit together. That assignment included writing code that requested RSS feeds, parsed them and displayed aggregated results. All the ingredients of a modern web application. We still try to give the students a good meaty web application in the assignment work but one that’s doable with very basic tools and a clear understanding of the web. This year, we’ll build a ‘social’ application listing the units that students are studying. Should be fun.</p>