Course Overview

This special topics course will focus on the architecture and development of web-based and/or mobile-based applications. Topics will include database concepts, SQL, server-side and client-side application processing, user interface design, and appropriate database, scripting, and mark-up languages, as well as relevant general software development methods and practices, and the responsibilities of software developers.

This course will be conducted as a mixture of an advanced seminar course and a software development work environment. Students will work in teams on various projects (or on different stages of a single, larger project), will research and present various topics, and will document and reflect on their learning and their software development progress throughout the course.

Some of our core activities will include creating dynamic web pages using HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and MYSQL. This means we will go into all of those languages/technologies in some depth. We will also explore other topics, such as AJAX, animation, or mobile apps, depending on time and student interest.


The objectives of this course are to help you:

  1. further develop software development skills (programming & teamwork),
  2. develop familiarity with the issues and approaches in managing the layered, back-and-forth processing involved in dynamic web-based applications,
  3. develop familiarity with some of the tools and techniques used in developing databases and dynamic web sites,
  4. explore design issues involved in web-based and mobile applications,
  5. develop and apply professional life-long learning skills. You will:



You will find a list of useful books and resources in the class bibliography.

Prerequisite:   Data Structures.

General Outline:

(A detailed course schedule will be available on our class web site or on Moodle.)


Grades will be based on:
Full Participation in Project(s) and Associated Journal Reflections 50%
Presentation(s), Associated Journal Reflections, and Final Reflective Essay 50%
Details about the format for presentations, journal entries, and the final reflective essay, as well as reading assignments, announcements, links to class presentations, and other material, will be made available on the COMP 487 home page (or on Moodle or Piazza, both of which will be accessible from the class home page).
Students are responsible for checking these resources frequently.

Attendance and Participation:

Since this class will be a mixture of an advanced seminar and a collaborative software development team, regular attendance and fully engaged participation is crucial to everyone's learning and will weigh heavily in your grade. Please be sure to talk to me in advance if you must miss any class meetings. Active participation in the class means being on time, being prepared, listening to others, contributing ideas of your own, and asking questions as they come up. Student presentations in this course will be as important as presentations by the instructor; you should obviously prepare for your own presentations carefully, but you should also attend to your classmates' presentations thoughtfully and actively.

Meeting deadlines will also be very important -- in a collaborative setting such as this class, it is essential that you be ready with presentations and complete software development assignments in a timely fashion. Programming projects, in particular, are time-consuming and difficult to predict, but time-management skills are as critical in industry as they are in college.

Collaboration and the Honor System:

This course operates in accordance with the principles of the Kalamazoo College Honor System: responsibility for personal behavior, independent thought, respect for others, and environmental responsibility. In particular, academic integrity is a fundamental principle of scholarship. Representing someone else's work as your own, in any form, constitutes academic dishonesty. Unauthorized collaboration and receiving help from others outside the bounds permitted by the instructor are also violations of the College honor code. You are responsible for working within the permitted bounds, and acknowledging any help from others or contributions from other sources.

Software development projects: Most of the software development in this class will be highly collaborative. You will be assigned to groups for these assignments, and working effectively as a team will be an important component. Your responsibilities under the Honor Code include contributing to the team in all ways, documenting everyone who worked on any piece of code, and acknowledging all help you and your team receive from any source, including books, articles, classmates, your instructor, etc. Discussing group assignments with members of other teams is allowed in this class. I may occasionally ask all the members of a group to evaluate the effort and effectiveness of the other members of their group.

Class presentations should represent your own analysis and synthesis of ideas drawn from one or more sources. Your presentation should indicate clearly the source(s) you used or about which you are reporting. You may work on presentations collaboratively or individually, depending on the topic. Be sure to discuss any proposed collaborations with me in advance.

Journal Entries and the Final Reflective Paper must be entirely your own work.

Any student with a disability who needs an accommodation or other assistance in this course should make an appointment to speak with me as soon as possible.