Sunday, October 11, 2009

Learn by Example

Discover how code generators can help you to learn web development faster.

Learning to program web applications might seem like a brilliant idea. With hundreds of educational repositories on the Internet and many companies giving away tools practically for free, it seems that you can easily build the next Facebook. However, once one starts to dig deeper, they realize that it isn’t quite what it seems. With the Internet being such a hodgepodge of information, the student has a difficult time sorting it all out. Many go about copying and pasting code snippets found on the Internet, and assembling them into an application. Other alternatives are to pay for costly educational programs that teach you the basics.  None of these are great options for starting your next killer app.

People learn by example. The Internet provides tons of examples of all types of code. However, this code is not designed to work together. It’s like building something with different parts. A head of a donkey, the body of a lion, and the legs of an antelope were not designed with compatibility in mind. You need an integrated example in which all parts are working together perfectly, and organized in a thoughtful way. Instead, get a quality code generator. Point it to your database, choose your settings, and it will generate a complete framework and application in minutes, doing what many programmers take years to learn. Through examination of the generated code, many secrets of the trade can be learned, and methods of creating database applications can be acquired.

Let’s say you want to build a customer relationship management (CRM) database web application. This requires you to display customers, contacts, addresses, and activities, among others. You will need to provide means to sort and filter, display the records, and show a record detail view. Search for any of these on the Internet. For example, google “display grid of records ASP.NET”, and you will get nearly a quarter million results. How can you know which one is right for you? Let’s use a code generator. First, create a database for your CRM. Then, point your code generator to the database, select the desired options, and start code generation. Shortly, you will have the perfect instructional material. Some code generators provide you with the bare basics and create a simplistic web application. Others, like Code OnTime’s ASP.NET Code Generator, can create a highly sophisticated and thought-out application, complete with sorting and filtering, AJAX integration, reporting, and many other great features. It is also very easy to maintain. The generated professional-grade web application can impress the best programmers. The entire source code is available to examine and modify, and can teach you the most advanced methods of creating such an application.

The generated code has the advantage of being designed to work together, unlike “cut and paste” samples, which can be unwieldy and may not integrate successfully. This code doesn’t need to be used in your final project, and can be entirely thrown out once you’ve learned what you can from it. Or, you can decide to borrow some sections of the code for your own application, or just keep the whole thing and build your code on top of it.

Additionally, you can impress your friends and coworkers with a professional looking web application, and tell them about the great skills you acquired over the weekend just before the football game.

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