Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lois and Clark have nothing on this!

So I just had a major break through in my web-authoring career.

All semester, I have been working with PC to make a site for Good Hart Bible Church. Until now, I was using HTML and CSS to make the 'twas a very basic site. I then implemented JavaScript in a Photo Gallery. I used LighBox, so it's not like I all the coding from scratch...that would be time and life-consuming...but I did have to go through the code and adapt the JS set to what I was doing. That was an interesting experience to say the least.

All was going according to plan...until PC decided that he wanted a different color scheme...2 days before a module was due anda week a half before the final site was due. I had to come up with a new color scheme and logo layout in 2 days...this process usually takes weeks.

But I did it and rolled with the new stuff. I was doing pretty good too. I then stumbled upon my next hurdle: making the contact forms requested at the beginning of the year. This was all in PHP and, up until tonight, I had absolutely no experience with PHP. Luckily, I had gotten a really cool program for Macs called Rapidweaver a few weeks earlier from JMullens. It's like DreamWeaver, but it practically does it all for you. One of the many things it does is make PHP forms that spit out emails to a person...exactly what I wanted to do.

I created a site in RW and built a Form. The only problem with RW is that it mothers the user a little bit too much. It took me forever to figure out how to view the workable code of the form and figure out which files I actually needed out of the seemingly endless files RW created for my faux-site. Finally I did and I set off on my quest to discover the secrets of PHP forms.

Only then did I realize that AFS does not allow PHP to function. I have discovered the limits of AFS...and that is PHP! Desperate, I scrapped my brain for any possible solution to this problem.

Remembering that JMullens has his own server which hosts sites for some extra clients, I called him in a panic. He was able to set me up with my own partition and FTP where I was able to host and test my PHP forms. It worked beautifully.

About 20 cups of coffee, 1 Menna's Break, seemingly endless headaches and 1,000,000 screams later, I am happy to say that I have successfully made 2 functioning forms that send emails containing the feedback of submitted forms to a predetermined eMail address. The forms have contingencies for successful submissions, failure to complete all required fields, a SPAM deterrent, check boxes indicating a users want to stay anonymous, a telephone call or email reply and a reset button if the user needs to start over. All of this was done while adhering to the template used throughout the rest of the site. Aside from the FavIcon changes and the change of URL (which cannot be helped), the user cannot tell the difference between the form pages and the rest of the site.

To most any other web author, I'm sure this is nothing new and I'm basically telling the world that I discovered electricity today, but to me, this is a monumental occasion. I learned basic PHP on my own...that's pretty freakin good

1 comment:

RJD said...

There's nothing wrong with congratulating yourself for accomplishing a difficult task!