Two Very Contradicting Ideas June 22, 2005
Recently, I had two very contradicting ideas. Keeping in the moment and thoughts of wanting to create a very good website with as little programming as possible, I had one idea. But then, looking at every website out there, I had another idea. Judging by these very short preludes, the second idea would be more of a revolution. So let's start with the first one.
Going back to the second class I had in college on Computer Science, we learned about "templates" in C++. "Template" is an overused word. In C++ it was probably misused. The basic idea then was to be able to write a container class, like a linked list, and use the same code to hold any type of object, be it integers, characters, built in objects, or your own objects. Anything. Converting this idea to a website could prove to be interesting. But it would add confusion for explanation, because I will use the word "template" in a completely different meaning, perhaps its designed meaning. So imagine having a list, and being able to add calendar events, downloads, news posts, links, pictures, etc to it. The web adds a need for "forms". Input forms, output forms, perhaps list forms (when shown in a list, which columns to show), among any other imaginary forms. These just define how the object translates from a piece of data to a viewable form, and vice versa. You would potentially have mounds of data, all in a list, and any of those objects could be placed onto a web page, modified, searched, linked, etc. You would just define the templates, the forms for viewing, inputting, and listing these items.
I never heavily considered this idea, simply because that's not the best way to store data. Searching would be a nightmare, the list could potentially become gigantic, and it would just be really difficult to do anything special with it. It would need tons of programming, something I'm not up to do :) Then came my very contradicting idea that says data should not be in a list.
Thinking about my first idea, it seems very hard to manage. Imagine giving someone permission to edit one record. Imagine, if everything is in one list, showing just downloads, or downloads under "Home Movies". You would have to search all of the data inside each record. What a pain in the butt. This other idea, then, doesn't have to do with making the best web page with as little code as possible. It is completely unrelated, except for the fact that an actual list is a bad way of showing information. Everything is a list. When you read the newspaper, articles, whether you realize it or not, are sorted in an order, in this case, an order of categories, and then an order of what's most important, and what should show up on the front page. On my website, news posts are only sorted by date, and I only show the first 5 on the front page. Some of these posts are really just thoughts, and they should all be read, not just the first five. So, there must be some way of keeping everything in context. I've had a hard time describing this idea, even to myself, and have had an even harder time thinking about how to represent this idea in what would eventually become a web page.
Obviously, a list on a web page is meant for sequential ordering, which means sequential viewing, which translates to most of my posts not getting read. Taking these items out of a list and showing them in another way is the key. But how?