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Designing User Interface Pages

edited November 2005 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
Hey all... I was wondering if any of you guys could give me some suggestions on a little problem as I'm sure all of you guys are way more experienced than me. Basically, i've been asked to design an online learning database. A user (the student) would go to the online learning page, enter a username and password, then select the desired subject and navigate through the available content. I have coded the username and password, using sessions, so that the user has to login. I was just wondering how you guys would go about designing the subject pages. I have produced a design that uses frames (obviously, there is a lot of content that would need regular updating and frames is a relatively easy option). I was looking into ajax, would this work? Sorry if this post is a little unclear, and thanks in advance for any suggestions.


  • Firstly I wouldn't use sessions, or at least I'd use a combination of sessions and cookies. Sessions are basically temporary and the user would have to login alot. Secondly don't use frames, use php includes or even javascript includes. That way you can just include a text file or template into your main template and update one file to update all of them. As for using AJAX, is there really a need to use it? I know it's gotten really popular lately but really I don't really see a huge need for it except for it just cutting back abit of time off the user (and abit off the server). It's up to you, if you think some features would be good ajaxified then go for it.
  • lechlech Chicagoland
    like ADM mentioned, simple index of topics catagorized neatly and include all the rest of the related data, no need to go out of your way. Best method could also be just setting up a wiki if you plan to have a ton of organized content and restrict reading/editing to only your students. Ajax would only over-complicate the simplicity by adding an extra interface burden which to some degree is over-kill on learning pages.
  • Cheers guys. Agreed about the frames, i've never really liked them and they are a hassle (imo) to use. As for the sessions, it seems to work ok for what I need. Basically a student would login (everyone uses the same username and pass), use the content needed, close the browser window and that session would then be ended - so when they open the window again, they would need to login again. I don't know much about Ajax, it just looks interesting and wouldn't mind learning more about it. Navigation for all the content is still a pain though... obviously, within each subject there are years, then that is split into modules/units etc. *heads to dynamic drive* I will look into a wiki though, good idea!
  • Yeah I really suggest using a wiki if everyone uses the same username and pass and you just need people add the content. A wiki will offer you everything you want and the only thing you will need to do is just customize it to your liking. I suggest using MediaWiki for this, it's the script that runs Wikipedia and all it's sites.
  • Will 10 students try to modify the same page at the same moment? With one account, it won't do the work I think ... Apart from that, no frames no flash (still used in e-learning eeerk). Is your course material already written, sorted in a manner or another? You should have content organised from basics to expert level, subjects well separated one from another (less messy) and then with links connecting them when appropriate, etc Then will come styling and website (same trick that for XHTML and CSS in fact)
  • edited November 2005
    Thanks for the link ADM, I'll take a look. Students will not modify the page at all. The admin (me) would modify the pages, the students would simply view the page. The course material is already written, and sorted into modules within year groups. A tree menu idea would work well, but I find tree-menu navigations messy and ugly. I will probably use php includes for the menu (so that it is easy to update), and style the menu using xhtml :)
  • Yeah mediawiki allows you to control who can edit your pages. You can have it so noone except the admin(s) can edit it, or only registered people .. or everyone.
  • I am using mediawiki now, i've set it up on my server and it looks good fun... some stuff to get my head round but should be good from here onwards. Thanks for your suggestions :D
  • I have played around with mediawiki and its great... although, would DokuWiki be more suited to the job? Looks slightly simpler, which is pretty important.
  • I havent used mediawiki (though i appreciate it's the one in use on wikipedia) but i'm mighty impressed with my experience of dokuwiki on the lussumo documentation site - from a user perspective atleast.
  • dokuwiki looks quite good. I was thinking of setting one up here at work but I know that it'd be only me that uses it. Despite it being incredibly useful.
  • edited November 2005
    I will be the only one using it more than likely, but its better than doing it all manually. I downloaded dokuwiki earlier, uploaded it quickly (100mb upload rate! :P) and it wasn't even displaying in my browser... wierd.
  • i think what giginger meant (or assume, atleast) is that he'd be the only one who even browsed it not who added content. And i can see exactly where he's coming from. Convincing people to use new things is a difficult job.
  • Ah, yeah sorry. Agreed, convincing people to try new things is difficult. Hopefully I won't have that problem!
  • Mini is right.

    I work in a hospital and trying to get information is a joke.

    I'd love to think that a Wiki would encourage people to give information but I know it's not going to happen.
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