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Computational Thinking on the Internet

Chapter 9: Publishing Webs

After completing Chapter 9, you will know how to:

End of Chapter Labs

Lab Project 9.1: Web Publishing Strategy

When employees can create their own Web pages and publish them to the Web, a school or company becomes much more efficient in posting and sharing information. Hyperlinking enables the Web page author to link items on the page to other information that a coworker, student, or customer might be expected or encouraged to access as related information. This kind of information publishing, linking, and search capability is the very reason Tim Berners-Lee gives for inventing the Web back in 1989. In his 1989 proposal for creating the Web, Berners-Lee (1989, ¶ 5) said his goal was to help his coworkers keep track of things in a large project. Imagine that your employer wants to empower your coworkers to take advantage of the power of publishing, linking, and searching school or company information on the Web. Your employer wants you to recommend a Web page creation strategy that is appropriate for your workplace. In developing a recommendation for the best approach for your school or company to take in creating Web pages, consider these issues:

  1. Technical support. How much technical support is available to coworkers in your school or company? If your company has an IT organization with a support staff that helps employees troubleshoot technical problems, you may be able to recommend a more technical solution than a small company or school that does not have a lot of technical support staff, if any.
  2. Other software products. Take into account other software products that your school or company is already using. If all of your coworkers are using Microsoft Office, for example, that might direct your choice toward a FrontPage solution. If your school or company has adopted Netscape as its standard browser, on the other hand, Netscape Composer may be the obvious choice.
  3. Training. How will your coworkers learn how to use the Web page creation software you recommend? If you recommend Dreamweaver, for example, you could use the Adobe online tutorials. If you decide upon Google Sites, you could use Google’s printed tutorial along with these online videos. If you adopt Atom, on the other hand, you could consider using the Web page creation tutorial in this book as training material.

Use a word processor to write up your answer to this assignment in the form of a two-part essay. In the opening paragraph, tell what Web page creation strategy you recommend and briefly state the reason for choosing it for use in your workplace. Then write another paragraph or two describing the other approaches you considered, and state your reasons for rejecting them. Conclude your recommendation with a paragraph describing how empowering you feel your recommended strategy will be, and give examples of a few ways in which creating Web pages in this manner will empower your coworkers and improve operations in your workplace. If your instructor asked you to hand in this assignment, make sure you put your name at the top, then save it on disk or follow the other instructions you may have been given for submitting this assignment.

Lab Project 9.2: Google Maps JavaScript API

Google Maps is an excellent example of computational thinking at work. Under the cover, Google Maps consists of a library of named procedures. When disciplines create libraries of code for solving problems like this, they often make an Application Programming Interface (API) which organizes the code into named procedures that you can call upon for use in your own projects. In this lab, you will call upon procedures in the Google Maps API to put maps into your Web and thereby you will experience the power of making these named procedures available for public use on the Internet. As you will experience, the Google Maps API is powerfully ingenious. Google continues to develop the API by brainstorming ways of making it better. To see how this process of continuous improvement works, follow this YouTube video link to Google Maps brainstorming.

As the video explains, the Google team uses three stages of computational thinking to approach the problem of mapping the world and visualizing the entire planet. The first stage is decomposition, which breaks a large problem into smaller pieces. Then Google uses pattern recognition to identify similarities and differences that help organize the pieces into components that can be worked on. The third and final part is algorithmic design, in which a step-by-step strategy emerges for coding the procedures that the Google Maps API comprises.

This kind of computational thinking created the Google Maps  JavaScript API. Follow this link to developers.google.com/maps to see the broad range of mapping functions you can add to your own Web pages and thereby leverage the power of Google Maps at your own website. As you will see, the Google Maps functions are immense. This lab gets you started by teaching you how to put a map onscreen and position it at the GPS coordinate around which you want it centered, make it display at the zoom level you want to start out with, and provide options you would like users to have while interacting with your map. After trying the sample code provided in the lab, you can create your own project by adding a Google map to a page at your website.

Due to its length, the Google Maps lab is not provided here in its entirety. In your course eBook, the complete text of the Google Maps lab is at the end of Chapter 9.