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Warm Up Those Spinnerets!

Shawn Powers

Issue #204, April 2011

Instant gratification is quite gratifying. Because I haven't yet perfected the Arduino Wetwired Electronic Semi-Omniscient Memory Enhancer (A.W.E.S.O.M.E. for short), we figured the best way to serve our fast-paced world was to have a Web Development issue. Let's face it, if you want to see the weather forecast, you visit a weather Web site. Waiting for the six o'clock news takes too long, and I'm not willing to admit I'm old enough to watch The Weather Channel. The Web, along with its Twitter-esque companions, is currently the fastest way to get information to the masses. And we want to help.

Reuven M. Lerner starts things off with the back end of the Internet. No, I don't mean my personal Web site; I mean databases. This month, Reuven looks at PostgreSQL 9.0. Even if you're a MySQL fan, PostgreSQL is hard to hate, and Reuven explains why. Dave Taylor is hard to hate as well, and this month, he takes us back to our youth with the second part of his series on creating Mad Libs. I did my first Mad Lib when I was [ANY_NUMBER] years old, while I was [ACTIVE_VERB] in [PLACE], and it was really [DESCRIPTIVE_ADJECTIVE].

Kyle Rankin and Mick Bauer teach us about servers this time around. Kyle describes creating a DNS server as part of his series “Building Your Own Personal Server”. DNS can be complicated, but Kyle walks through setting up the industry standard, BIND. Mick is on the opposite end of the spectrum with his “Interview with a Ninja”. What Kyle shows how to build, Mick and his ninja talk about hacking into—good information from both guys.

We've all been 37 steps into an on-line form, only to have a click of the Back button completely ruin the form on which we worked so hard. Creating desktop-like Web apps is popular, but sometimes the sites we visit don't work the way we expect. We want the Back button to take us back a page, but with Web programming, that's not always as easy as it sounds. Avi Deitcher addresses the problem and explains how to make AJAX applications honor the venerable Back button. Avi also shows why JavaScript itself is so awesome in another article, “Simplicity and Performance: JavaScript on the Server”. Go get a cup of java, and check out his JavaScript articles. You'll be a better programmer for it.

Some of us aren't hard-core programmers, but we still need to get information onto the Web and have it look good and perform well. That's when content management systems are awesome. Michael Connors introduces Zotonic, a content management system based on Erlang. If you're new to the idea of a CMS, you'll want to check out Zotonic, which is a CMS, but also a Web framework. Drupal, on the other hand, is a traditional CMS that is used in thousands of Web sites across the planet. Our own LinuxJournal.com Web site runs Drupal, and this month, Webmistress Katherine Druckman interviews Angela Byron, the co-maintainer of Drupal 7. Reading the interview will teach you a bit about Drupal, but even more than that, it will give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse at managing a large open-source project. Drupal 7 sounds like a huge step forward in usability, and it's Angela's job to make sure that step doesn't trip and fall along the way.

I know some of you are annoyed by the Web and its dependence on mouse clicking. I suspect Kyle Rankin and his terminal window are as well. James Walker feels the same way and introduces Drush, a command-line interface for Drupal. Sure, a nice GUI is great, but sometimes it's hard to beat a simple command line. James demonstrates a click-free way to interact with Drupal. It's pretty cool for those of us addicted to the command line.

If you're not interested in the Web at all, we haven't forgotten you this month. Whether you want to make a quick user interface with Qt (Johan Thelin shows how) or manage and convert your e-book collection with Calibre (Dan Sawyer explains the process), this issue is bound to please. We also have a review of D-Link's Boxee Box by yours truly, and we have instructions on how to find yourself—with Google Maps (Mike Diehl shows how to manipulate the API).

This is a very fun issue, and until my A.W.E.S.O.M.E. is fully developed, turning the page and reading is the best way to assimilate the information. I'm not sure whether my Arduino brain implant will be ready for the Cool Projects issue, but those interested in beta testing should feel free to contact me. Just think real hard and the message should get to me, assuming my A.W.E.S.O.M.E. is working correctly. Until then, have a [DESCRIPTIVE_ADJECTIVE] [TIME_PERIOD], and we'll [ACTION_VERB] you next month!

Shawn Powers is the Associate Editor for Linux Journal. He's also the Gadget Guy for LinuxJournal.com, and he has an interesting collection of vintage Garfield coffee mugs. Don't let his silly hairdo fool you, he's a pretty ordinary guy and can be reached via e-mail at info@linuxjournal.com. Or, swing by the #linuxjournal IRC channel on Freenode.net.

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