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Coding for GOOD Office Hours: Answers from Our First Installment

This content is brought to you by GOOD with support of Apollo Group

Yesterday, we announced Coding for GOOD office hours and invited users to send us their coding questions. For those of you following along, GOOD and Apollo Group have teamed up for Coding for GOOD, a free online program that teaches the basics of coding in sixteen easy-to-follow lessons. Plus, one lucky participant who successfully completes the program will have the chance to work with the tech team here at GOOD. (For full details, click here.)

Below are the questions we received yesterday from users, answered by the GOOD tech team.

From briantstephens: My friend says Yahoo has a javascript framework that is better than jQuery. What do you have to say about that?

YUI (Yahoo User Interface Library) is the toolkit your friend is talking about. At the end of the day, both YUI and jQuery accomplish similar goals, though jQuery is arguably more commonplace. The important thing to be aware of is that both libraries should be viewed as toolkits, and not as a replacement for learning the fundamentals of JavaScript.

They do not exist to replace writing JavaScript, rather they exist to make writing JavaScript faster, easier, and less error-prone by abstracting away repetitive, commodity-type tasks (e.g. element selection, DOM traversal, event binding, AJAX calls, common modules for user interace patterns). This frees developers from worrying about various (but not all) browser inconsistencies and compatibility issues. Many will argue that jQuery is more accessible to a beginner due to its high adoption rate, and subsequently, a plethora of tutorials and examples are now available online.

From TomJackson: So there's all these different ways to 'position' elements in CSS. They all do similar things but how do you know when to use it which one?

This question has been the subject of much debate, one of the trickiest things to get the hang of with CSS, and the answer depends on whom you ask. At GOOD, we choose will float over absolute positioning whenever possible, but others may tell you differently. Here's a great a wiki page that outlines the pros and cons of each.

From Pradeep_vision: I always had an interest in learning to code, but the initial inertia needed to get pass all the basis has been hard to come by. Any ideas on how to keep focused and the type of dedication needed to follow through? Had class room experience in various languages like (C and object oriented programming), but never got confident in solving big problems or thinking outside the box.

The best thing to do is start with something in mind and build towards it. Start simple and keep working towards your goal. Take a break when you get stuck and don't give up!

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions and stay tuned in next week for another chance to ask our tech pros your coding questions. And remember, we'll start accepting final project submissions on December 3, but we'll be keeping all the lessons available during this period and indefinitely for anyone who wants to continue learning. For more about Coding for GOOD, click here.

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