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24 ways to impress your friends

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Chris Heilmann

@brucel cURL – – is a piece of software that is ubiquitous these days – any unix (or mac) computer comes with it (just go to the command line and type “curl —url” for example). What it allows you to do is to make requests to the web and get back the data – much like a browser does, but from any other programming language. It is a very basic tool that anyone who wants to play with APIs should know about. A simple google search gives you lots of examples how to use it. I’ve talked about it 2 years ago in Sweden and Gareth Rushgrove’s a first class web citizen is probably the best introduction to using cURL to work with APIs” I’ve seen.

@kylefox – I used PHP as this is the server-side programming language that is the most common for people to use. You can use YQL in any other language – as it is a web service, but doing the same in JavaScript for example is not safe as not every user has it enabled and you don’t want a web site that is JS dependent. Almost every hosting package comes with PHP – had I used Python or Ruby it would be harder to use this code.

I’ve always been very annoyed with for example Ajax tutorials that totally glossed over the server-side component of Ajax solutions. We cannot be arrogant about the backend and just see it as something that just happens. This is why we have a lot of insecure web sites out there and this is why people put data in JavaScript that shouldn’t be there and wonder when others steal their data.

Using PHP is easy for anybody with simple HTML and JavaScript or indeed programming skills. And the benefits of using it are quite outstanding – from using simple includes for re-use to generating dynamic navigation menus. JavaScript is cool (and I have written several books on it – that is how much I like it) but it is not a language to build crucial web content with.