Syllabus for COMP 388/424: Client-side Web Design

Course Goals

  • General course description:

    This course provides an in-depth study of the concepts and methods required for the design and implementation of the presentation layer of a web application. Topics include visual design, usability design, multi-channel and multi-modal applications, markup of static and dynamic content, content transformation, client-side executable content including client-side scripting and embedded applets, and web-based content management systems. Coursework includes several substantial programming projects (using technologies such as XHTML, XSTL, DHTML, JavaScript, PHP/ASP/JSP, Flash, and Zope/Plone).

  • Specifics of this course:

    The goal of this course is to make everyone familiar with the most common and effective tools of creating web content. Specifically, this course will be relying on client-side web principles and projects, with brief mentions of server-side web development to enable more advanced client-side strategies. The changes that new standards like HTML5 and new UI needs for mobile and tablet browsing will be an integral part of the course.

  • Course mechanics: Most days of the course will have the following components. Although attendance is not required (quizzes will be made available online), it is of course encouraged.
    • Discussion of past readings, quizzes, or assignments review
    • Today’s Topic with a brief lecture overview and expectations from assigned readings
    • Current Assignments and Projects
    • Breakout into individual or groups for help on assignments/readings

Course Details

  • Time/location
    • Thursday 4:15pm-6:45pm, Water Tower Campus, Corboy Law Center room L08
    • COMP 424: Client-side Web Design, as well as
    • COMP 388: Topics in Computer Science: Client-side Web Design
  • Instructor: Dr. Mark V. Albert
    • Contact: (much preferred).
    • Office hours: 3-4pm, monday, 415 Cudahy science building, Lake shore campus.
    • gChat/gHang and skype available under the name markvalbert, video available.
    • Otherwise, available by appointment: Dept of Computer Science 5th floor, Room 524, Water tower campus, 820 N Michigan, Lewis Towers.
  • Textbook
  • Course mailing list:

    Feel free to use the mailing list to ask questions of the group, check who might be interested in particular projects, or to make comments that the rest of the class might find useful. Contact the instructor if you are not on this list after the first week of the course.

Readings, Quizzes, and Exams

Course Philosophy: In this course you will be evaluated more often than other courses, with weekly quizzes, assignments, 2 exams, and overarching projects throughout the semester. Consider the points given to each as a guide to the effort expected. Of particular note: most quizzes will be “light-weight” and you are allowed to take them at home, while the project will count more than the exams. Readings, homeworks, and projects will be a part of every week, but emphasis will generally move from assigned readings and tutorials to self-directed projects as the course progresses. It is suggested that for assignments and quizzes you focus on being succinct, and for readings and tutorials you focus on the main issues

Readings/tutorials: quizzes will be given based on the readings as well as additional tutorial material from the previous week. As will be clear in the first few weeks, quizzes will primarily be based on the most important aspects only. Keep in mind that quizzes and readings in this course are secondary to projects and assignments, which is reflected in the points given to quizzes. Also, the exams are based primarily on the quizzes and lecture slides, so you should use them to find what to focus on.

Sakai quizzes: In trying to make attendance optional, all quizzes will be on sakai. On the day of an assigned quiz it will be posted on the course webpage. You are free to take the quiz in any extra time after class is over, or on your computer at home. However, all quizzes are to be taken closed book, closed notes, and no outside Internet, and they are time-limited, usually to 20 minutes. This is on your honor. These quizzes will be open on the class day one week after the reading material is assigned, and due at the end of the day on the next day.

Interview quizzes: Periodically throughout the semester, time slots will be made available to take cumulative video quizzes interactively with the instructor. Although this is expected to be through video, accommodations can be made by phone when necessary. A portion of these quizzes will be done in groups. Details will follow. The expectation is that most students will prefer these quizzes, and they provide a much clearer indication of your knowledge.

Exams: Exam days are already posted and are considered fixed. Prior arrangements in all cases can be made without loss of points, but have to be discussed. Missed exams: Exams cannot be missed without prior arrangements or later proof of extenuating circumstances.

Assignments and Projects

Assignments and Projects are designed to engage you in your learning, so you can begin to apply these principles in practice and tailor them to your needs.

Assignments are due at the end of the day one week after they are assigned, by email preferably as a PDF, unless stated otherwise. They can be turned in later for a reduction in points at the discretion of the instructor. Generally 1 point per day (~0.1% of your final grade) for minor assignments.

Collaborative projects: After a few weeks into the course you will select among a small number of class-wide collaborative projects. The focus will be on enabling technologies, demonstration of capabilities, and directly using concepts learned in class. You can work on your own project by permission of the instructor, but it should either tie into one of the chosen technologies in the course or enable others to apply what you have done for their final projects. You will be required to explain in detail to others in the course how they could follow up on your work (which is easier if you work as a group from the beginning!).

Individual/pair Projects: This is your opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned in a way that reaches beyond this course, without the need to involve others in your work. You can use technologies developed during the collaborative projects, but this is not a limit. Essentially ask yourself what you would want to show an employer (or brag about to others) demonstrating what you have learned in the course.


Grades are determined by a simple points system. Roughly we will be aiming for 1000 pts total (each point is ~0.1% of your final grade).

  • Projects and Assignments: 60% total
    • Collaborative Project: 20%
    • Final Project: 25%
    • Assignments: 15%
  • Quizzes and Exams: 40% total
    • Sakai Quizzes: 10%
    • Interview Quizzes: 10%
    • Exam I: 10%
    • Exam II: 10%

Grading Scale 90, 80, 70, 60 with a ‘+/-’ if within 3 percent of the border. Points needed to get each grade: A=93.0, A-=90.0, B+=87.0, B=83.0, B-=80.0, C+=77.0, C=73.0, C-=70.0, D+=67.0, D=63.0, D-=60.0. Don’t expect this scale to change. If class grades are low (I expect the vast majority of students will get A’s and B’s), extra quizzes or homeworks will be given to add points.

Class grade distributions are here

Extra credit: It’s all about points so any credit is equivalent to “extra” credit. Assignments above and beyond the requirements may receive credit beyond 100%, but this will be rare, with an emphasis on creativity and quality, not quantity – if you think of something fun to add to an assignment – go for it! but if it requires significant extra effort, ask beforehand.

Academic Dishonesty: You are free to discuss anything freely and openly that is not a quiz or exam, including looking at each other’s code, but you are NOT allowed to copy and paste or any thoughtless equivalent. Cheating on assignments or quizzes can result anywhere from a zero on the assignment to a zero for all assignments/quiz points for the course depending on the severity. Students caught cheating on exams will receive an F for the course and the matter will be discussed with the appropriate dean.