Making Function Plots fun using Ajax while solving a real-world problem

Intro
I learned an awful lot from this exercise. I wanted to plot the trajectory of a foam basketball through the air. You know the kind of thing where you can vary the initial conditions to see what differences the results will produce. Finally, finally a good excuse to learn some Ajax. Ajax is a natural fit because you can work within the same web page and the feel is more interactive.

High level description
There’s so much here to describe I hardly know where to begin. I may never get through describing it all.

At the highest levels I had to learn some of the following:

  • php
  • Ajax
  • DOM
  • Javascript
  • jquery
  • flot
  • json

Perl and basic physics are not on the list – they are used but I already know those!

I basically only learned as much as I needed to accomplish the task. This saved me quite a bit of time as you can get bogged down for months in any single one of those topics above. I’m pretty good at “programming by analogy” and this really put those skills to the test because, as is usually the case, analogies were indeed present, but they weren’t very exact so I needed a scary amount of extrapolation from what samples were easily available.

The net result of all this? I think it’s pretty neat if I say so myself. This web page follows the trajectory of a small foam basketball from a given set of initial conditions. The trajectory is plotted. You tweak the initial conditions and a new trajectory is plotted on top of the old one so you can see the differences. Here’s a link to the application.

To be continued in great detail, hopefully…

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One Response to Making Function Plots fun using Ajax while solving a real-world problem

  1. Pingback: Help with the NPR Weekend Puzzle – and Learning Python | Dr John's Tech Talk

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