Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Learn JavaScript with a little TLCC

I can learn clearly now

When I compare this course to a lot of the courses I've taken in person, I'm struck by the clarity of the instructions and the great pacing of the JavaScript course from TLCC. Usually when you're taking a class in person, the instructor can make up for any deficiencies in the course instruction materials and often times has to do just that. In the case of TLCC's JavaScript course, however, it's clear from the very beginning that this course is written and laid out in such a way as to ensure that you'll be able to understand it the first time.

One of the things that really struck me when I was taking this course is that the R5 client really makes the interactive element of the lessons possible. It's easy to navigate through the different course databases and lessons with the R5 feature, which allows you to just click on a link on the open pages bar to switch between different sections. This would just be too aggravating to do in R4, where you'd have to keep going up to the Windows menu or Alt-Tabbing through everything to switch screens.

Another great strength of this course is how clearly it's laid out on the screen. There is plenty of use of both graphics and white space to help make the course more readable on a computer screen. There are also a lot of nice charts and tables like the one in Figure C.

FIGURE C

The Domino Object Events table is one that I've printed out and stuck on my wall. (click for larger image)

Kill a tree, learn some more

Even though this course is easy to read and navigate through online, one of the things that I discovered while taking it is that it's extremely helpful to print out all of the lessons and activities. Put them in a binder and you have a hard copy of everything to take Notes (er, notes) on. I found myself taking extensive notes on my paper copy of the course lessons, mainly just to keep track of all of the different ideas I had for implementing what I'd just learned. Now, instead of having to rely on my memory for what I've learned or what plans I have to improve databases, I can just go to my Notes (really, I mean notes) and get all of the information I need from there.

Sample code and useful tidbits

There's a lot of great sample code and useful tidbits available throughout the course, and it's probably worth the cost based on these features alone. One thing you might've discovered if you've tried to find some sample JavaScript code is that it's not always easy to find clearly written, simple sample code you can immediately copy into your applications and expand upon.

Following is some sample code from the JavaScript course that opens another browser window:

function openWindow (  ) {
winURL = "'http:\//localhost/tlcc/5jav/5jav01/5j01wrkb.nsf/Lookups/OpenWindowDemo?OpenDocument";
winName = "OpenWindowDemo";
winOpts = "toolbar=no,location=no,directories=no,status=no,menubar=no, scrollbars=yes,resizable=no,width=250,height=300";
window.open( winURL, winName, winOpts );
}
     }

To give an example of how TLCC dispenses useful tidbits of information throughout the course, here's a note that follows the sample code given above: "Release 5.0a does not support the window.open method for the Notes client. Release 5.0.1 or higher of the R5 Notes client does support the window.open method." I don't know about you, but it would've taken me a while to figure that out on my own.