Saturday, May 30, 2009

GamesByTeens Contest

The GamesByTeens contest is over, and concluded today with an awards ceremony for the participants. You can see the list of winners over at the GamesByTeens contest site.

The contest was a trial run, to see if that sort of thing would do well in this area. My budget was pretty low, so I could only support 15 contestants this time around. I ended up with 14, and 10 of those submitted games. That's a pretty good percentage for game writing competitions.

The contest was a success, so we'll be doing it again next year, hopefully with a higher budget.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Blog

Okay, so I've created a new blog.

"What, another one!?" Yes, another one. Here's why:

In the spring of 2010, I'll be teaching a course on developing web applications. I wanted to go beyond the simple HTML/Javascript/PHP model that many such courses use, and give my students experience with something more advanced.

So I decided to go with the Google Web Toolkit and Google App Engine. Both are tools that can be used to develop enterprise level web applications, and they're both free. Even better, they both work with Java, which is a programming language my students already know.

I'm not opposed to forcing my students to learn new programming languages, but if I'm also asking them to develop a complex web application, I figured I'd better leave them some level of familiarity.

When I'm going to be teaching a new course, the first thing I do is to start getting review copies of text books. GWT has been out long enough that there are texts on it, so I had a few sent. The most recent version of GWT covered in the texts is 1.5, while the current version available is 1.6.

That was my first clue that I might have trouble finding a text. The second was that the texts that covered exactly what I wanted covered (the development of a complex web application) all had to make choices about the tool stack used. And their choices were great choices for an enterprise application, but not so great for students who haven't done a project this complex before.

The more general books didn't cover enough detail. And probably by the time spring of 2010 hits, GWT will have had another release or two.

So I decided to use a blog as a text for the course. The new blog will follow my development this summer of an example web application. The web application will be complex enough to be suitable for the course, and gives a good baseline for the students.

The blog won't be a complete text book; I'll point to existing tutorials for some of the material that's well covered elsewhere (I'll cover some of the tutorials in class). In the blog I'll stick to the topics that are specific to web applications.

If that's the sort of thing you're interested in, here's my GWT & App Engine Development blog.