In late April of last year I found myself wondering what was the next step I could take in some self educating. I’ve always wanted to have a better grasp of web programming but never got around to it. Then one day when I was just making excuses for myself for being too cheap to hire a programmer I made the choice. It’s time to learn to do some coding!
At first I really didn’t know where to look. I know HTML good enough, but I was looking to be able to actually code some logical awesomeness up. I put out a call on Twitter. Got a few responses and got one from @LukePeerfly that was a really good recommendation, to go with PHP. I see Luke crank out all kinds of awesomeness and figured he must be a good recommendation.
So I picked up the book PHP & MySQL The Missing Manuel by Brett McLaughlin. This was a pretty easy book that I really enjoyed slowly reading a few pages at night or during lunch breaks. I never actually finished the book to be honest. But halfway through I felt I had enough knowledge to start to play with my own items and really begin trying to make some fun stuff. Specifically the book really helped give me a great intro into PHP and MySQL databases. I’ve worked with both before, but really was following step by step guides on how to get what I needed done. It was amazing to actually understand how to connect to a web server database and be able to input records and make requests in SQL (structured query language).
Once I picked up enough knowledge to understand some of the lingo it was really easy to look at things that used to seem like problems and be able to imagine solutions. I can’t explain how often I have an idea and I end up just stuffing it away with the thought of “I really don’t want to pay someone to do that right now”. Trust me, with my novice experiences, those days still happen, but now I have a means at tackling the ideas myself.
Few Apps I Made
The very first thing I did was build a Facebook bulk import tool for use with the FB Power Editor. This has been a really handy tool that replaced my old Excel macros when making FB ads. I’m happy to report that I’ve been tinkering with this App for over 6 months and have decided to do a small product launch with it. It’s got some REALLY great functionality…thats really simple, but really useful for us marketers in it. Keep your eyes open for it!
Next I made a Roulette simulator. I basically programmed in my betting strategies for the casino game, roulette, and let it rip. Its a simple script but it was really useful for recognizing patterns in relation to odds. I’m not saying I have a fool proof system, but it makes it very clear with things like “If I double my bet on a win how many times in a row can I win before I lose my total bankroll”. This was really fun to play with, by the way, after looking at hundreds of tables of color coded and charted data, the answer is 5. 98% of the time I would not have more than 5 successful double downs in a row within a 100 spins.
After tinkering with PHP I can definitely say that at a certain point you realize coding something IS NOT the hard part. Trying to make it look pretty, and provide enough easy to follow documentation is the hard part! My apps were done in very short periods of time, trying to show someone (besides me) how to use it, is the real time investment.
With basic PHP knowledge I was able to really increase my productivity on a few things. For example, I used to have tons of folders on a web server for every variation of a dating ad I would run on Facebook. Once I learned PHP I had one single file that would look at sent variables for sex/age/country and redirect users from there. This has saved me so much time finding files, copying redirects, setting up split tests, etc.
Working With Databases
Working with a relational database is a very complex science. Luckily, its only as complex as your application. When you start building some larger projects your mind is going to hurt as you begin planning out database tables. Realistically I should really go pick up some good reading materials on Database design concepts, it would probably be a much better use of my time then adding columns every time you forget something.
So Bro, You a PHP Pro Now?
Heck no. I have barely touched the surface. However thanks to a TON of generous programmers out there I’ve been able to buy and borrow bits of code here and there to help me on some of the larger projects. I definitely have a new found respect for all my coding internet brethren. I highly doubt I’ll ever be a master by any means, but definitely feel like I know enough to be dangerous!
Danger Mike, Out!