Why database should be taught before programming in universities

Learn Database before Coding

Often students from initial semester ask me how do we store our data in our programming project? When students join university to learn about computer science and technology they are usually taught programming first in courses like introduction to programming. As part of coursework students are required to work on a project. Majority of the projects, in fact almost all projects involve data handling and that data needs to be stored somewhere.

Problem students face

As a novice students don’t know how to store data. One option is to store data in plain text files if filing is taught to them but in that case their project becomes too complex for them. In my opinion, file formats is an advanced topic for students that have just started learning how to program. So, students get stuck where and how to store data. They create variables and arrays to store data in memory but that is not very useful until they have option to store their data somewhere permanently that they can retrieve later. Otherwise, every time they run their project they have to feed data from the beginning.

Teach Database before Programming

If universities modify their courses and add database in first semester and replace programming course with it then it would be easier for students to get started in computer science degree. Introduction to database is relatively easier course then programming and students will know what is database, how to store data in database, and how to retrieve it later using SQL. Then in next semester if they do a programming course then it will require only one lecture to teach them how to access database from your code and how to store and retrieve data. That will not only make their projects more valuable but will make more sense to them and they can take it to advance level in forthcoming courses.

Your Take?

What is your opinion? Please, let me know in the comments.

Mark parent category menu active on single custom post view in WordPress

Recently I developed a theme for one of my client and I had to highlight the menu item of parent category in main menu when one of its associated single custom post is viewed. For that I had to add an action in my functions.php file for nav_menu_css_class. What is does is it returns the ‘active’ class which WordPress adds to the parent category menu item in the main menu. You can see the code at Gist here.

Displaying Titles in Multiline in WordPress

When title is written it is usually displayed in single line on front-end until it is too long to display in one line. But if you want to write title in multiline and want to line break the title after a certain word how can you do that.

It is pretty simple. Since, we know the fact that when title is displayed it is a heading which is displayed using HTML tag off course. So, taking benefit of HTML we can just insert a HTML line break element <br/> just after the word in our title where we want the line break. Like this:

“This is my title <br/> with my own line break”

multilinetitleinwordpress.png

This will be displayed in two lines when you publish the post.

Different color for each menu item

In a recent project I got a requirement that each menu item should be highlighted in different color when visited. The menu items and their required active colors were:

  • Home – Green
  • Portfolio – Blue
  • Team – Yellow
  • Contact – Red

These colors were to be applied only when that page is being visited otherwise color of menu item should be default black color.

So, if user is visiting home page then menu item should something like this

home_menu.png

And if user is visiting Portfolio page then menu should be something like this

portoflio_menu.png

Considering that this was a WordPress theme project where we were using Understrap as a base theme which is based on Twitter Bootstrap. So, when user visits, for example a home page WordPress will attach a .active CSS class to it. Taking advantage of that we added different classes for each menu item and then used following rule to make menu item colors different:

.navbar-nav > .home.active > a {
    color: green!important;
}
.navbar-nav > .portfolio.active > a {
    color: blue!important;
}
.navbar-nav > .team.active > a {
    color: yellow!important;
}
.navbar-nav > .connect.active > a {
    color: red!important;
}

CSS Class Chaining

We utilized the class chaining method here. If you note that .home.active classes are chained together without space and which means it will select an element with both these classes.
That did the trick and all menu items were in different color.