Fundamentals of Web Applications (Fall 2013)

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Course Information

  • Course Number: COMP 2406
  • Term: Fall 2013
  • Title: Fundamentals of Web Applications
  • Institution: Carleton University, School of Computer Science
  • Instructor: Anil Somayaji (anilsomayaji at Tues. 1-2 and Wed. 1:30-2:30 in HP 5137
  • Teaching Assistants:
    Ann Fry (afry at Thurs. 2-4 PM in HP 1170
    Michael Bingham (mbingham at Mon: 12-2 PM in HP 1170
  • Lectures: Mon. and Wed. 2:30-4 PM, SA 518
  • Tutorials: Friday 11:30-1 PM, HP 4155
  • Course Website:

Official Course Description

An introduction to Internet application development that emphasizes the computer science fundamentals of the technologies underlying web applications. Topics include: scripting and functional languages, language­based virtual machines, database query languages, remote procedure calls over the Internet, and performance and security concerns in modern distributed applications.


Grades for this course will be divided as follows:

  • 20% for four assignments
  • 20% for tutorial participation
  • 25% for the Midterm Exam
  • 35% for the Final Exam

Optionally you may do a project in lieu of the assignments. This project may be individual or a group project. To do this you must inform the instructor that this is what you are doing by the due date for the second assignment.


This wiki page is the canonical source of information on this course. Please refer to it for updates. When significant changes are made to this document it will be either announced in lecture and/or posted in the course discussion forum.

Course discussions will be on cuLearn. While you may discuss assignments there, do not post answers to assigned questions.

You may get an account on this wiki so you can edit content here. Email Prof. Somayaji to get one with your preferred username and email address to which a password should be sent. (Note this is not a requirement.)


Collaboration on all work is allowed except for the midterm and final exams. Collaboration, however, should be clearly acknowledged. Further, all submitted work should be your own. While you may get help from others and even collaboratively solve technical problems, the code and answers should all be your own work. For example, you may not divide an assignment into parts, give a part to another student or anyone else to solve, and then submit that work as your own. You have to have participated in the creation of every part of your submitted work.

An easy way to make sure this happens is never share files regarding coursework or copy and paste answers into email. Instead, meet together to work on an assignment and then separate to write up your solutions.

Similarity between submitted assignments that has not been appropriately documented will be treated as plagiarism - the same as copying on a midterm or a final- and will be submitted to the Dean for disciplinary action.

Required Textbooks

There are two required texts for this course:

These books have been ordered by the University bookstore. You may also buy them online in paper or ebook form. They are also available through Safari Books Online. There is even an interactive version of Crockford's book which includes an embedded JavaScript interpreter. You can get access to Safari Books Online through the Carleton Library (four concurrent users only) or partial access by becoming a member of IEEE Computer Society.

Course Software

In this course we will be developing web applications using node.js and mongoDB. You are welcome to use whatever operating system and development tools you like; however, we will supporting the use of a course virtual machine appliance running Lubuntu, a low-resource variant of Ubuntu Linux distribution.

In the labs

In the SCS labs you should be able to run the course VM by starting Virtualbox (listed in the Applications menu) and selecting the Lubuntu virtual machine image. After the VM has fully booted up you can login to the student account using the password "tneduts!". This account has administrative privileges; in addition, there is the admin account in case your student account gets corrupted for any reason. The password for it is "nimda!".

We highly recommend running your VM in full-screen mode. Do all of your work inside of the VM; it should be fast enough and you won't have any issues with sharing files or with firewalls/network connectivity.

You can save the work you do from the course VM (in the student account) to your SCS account and restore it to any other copy of the class VM (on your machines or in the labs) by running using the following commands:

 save2406 <SCS username>
 restore2406 <SCS username>
 compare2406 <SCS username>

If you use these commands, use them consistently. That means run restore2406 when you first log in, and run save2406 just before logging out. If you don't do this, you will erase the work that you had done previously when you save.

If you forgot to restore and you want to save, try running this:

  rsync -a -v --progress ~/ <SCS username>

This is the same as the save2406 command minus the options (--delete and --force) that deletes files in the destination that don't exist in the source. As a check, you may want to add the -n option to do a dry run.

Running the VM on your own machines

If you want to run the VM appliance on your own system (running essentially any desktop operating system you want), just download the Lubuntu.ova (alternate source) virtual appliance file and import. The SHA1 hash of this file is:

 f79dc19f76247957e7216e7227891ffe8a74761f  Lubuntu.ova

On Windows you can compute this hash for your downloaded file using the command <a href="">FCIV -sha1 Lubuntu.ova</a>. If the hash is different from above, your download has been corrupted.

If the application is not VirtualBox, you'll need to:

  • Have the VM platform ignore any errors in the structure of the appliance;
  • Uninstall the VirtualBox guest additions by typing starting a terminal application and running
  sudo /opt/VBoxGuestAdditions-4.2.16/
  • Install your platform's own Linux guest additions, if available.

Configuring Linux

If you already run Linux and you want to use the same packages we do in class, you should do the following:

  • Install the latest node.js version using a package manager. (You generally don't use the version that comes with your distribution, it is probably too old.)
  • Install mongoDB - it probably goes by mongodb in your package manager. The version doesn't matter too much.
  • For the same editing experience, install Geany (or just use your favorite editor).

Note that the binary of the node.js executable may be node, nodejs, or something similar.

That's it!

Other Resources


The easiest way to get started with JavaScript and get basic understanding of web technologies is to go through the interactive lessons on Code Academy. I suggest you go through their JavaScript, Web Fundamentals, and jQuery tracks. They shouldn't take you very long to do given that you already know how to program.

Crockford also has a lot of online resources on JavaScript, including videos of talks he's given that cover much of the content in his book. Look at his JavaScript page and this page of his videos.

Another good book is Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming by Marijn Haverbeke. A version of this book is available online for free. The for-sale version is apparently updated and edited.

The standard reference for JavaScript is JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan. It is a big book, but it is comprehensive.


Another introduction to node.js is The Node Beginner Book by Manuel Kiessling.

This page by Evan Hahn has a good overview of the express/connect/node software stack.

Lectures and Exams



Sept. 9

Lecture 1

Sept. 11

Lecture 2

Sept. 16

Lecture 3

Sept. 18

Lecture 4

Sept. 23

Lecture 5

Sept. 25

Lecture 6

Sept. 30

Lecture 7

Oct. 2

Lecture 8

Oct. 7

Lecture 9

Oct. 9

Lecture 10

Oct. 16

Midterm Review

Oct. 21

Midterm (in class) (solutions)

Oct. 23

Lecture 12

Nov. 4

Lecture 13

Nov. 6

Lecture 14

Nov. 11

Lecture 15

Nov. 13

Lecture 16

Nov. 18

Lecture 17

Nov. 20

Lecture 18

Nov. 25

Lecture 19

Nov. 27

Lecture 20

Dec. 2

Lecture 21

Dec. 4

Lecture 22

Dec. 9

Lecture 23

Dec. 12, 12:30-2 PM

Review session in LA C164

Dec. 16, 9 AM

Final Exam in AT 302 (solutions)


Each week you will get a progress grade from 0-4, given to you by a TA. If you are being diligent, you should be able to get 4's every week. The easiest way to get your grade is to come to tutorial and meet with your TA; alternately, you can meet a TA in their office hours or, at their discretion, discuss things with them online.



Sept. 6

Setup VMs, Run node.js

Sept. 13

JavaScript basics

Sept. 20

Web Form basics

Sept. 27


Oct. 4


Oct. 11

Simple Adventure

Oct. 18

Small Adventure

Oct. 25


Nov. 8

AJAX Adventure

Nov. 15

Simple Blog

Nov. 22

Authenticated Sessions

Nov. 29

Database Demo

Dec. 6



Due Date


Oct. 3

Assignment 1

Oct. 17

Assignment 2

Nov. 18

Assignment 3

Dec. 9

Assignment 4

University Policies

Student Academic Integrity Policy

Every student should be familiar with the Carleton University student academic integrity policy. A student found in violation of academic integrity standards may be awarded penalties which range from a reprimand to receiving a grade of F in the course or even being expelled from the program or University. Some examples of offences are: plagiarism and unauthorized co-operation or collaboration. Information on this policy may be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.


As defined by Senate, "plagiarism is presenting, whether intentional or not, the ideas, expression of ideas or work of others as one's own". Such reported offences will be reviewed by the office of the Dean of Science.

Unauthorized Co-operation or Collaboration

Senate policy states that "to ensure fairness and equity in assessment of term work, students shall not co-operate or collaborate in the completion of an academic assignment, in whole or in part, when the instructor has indicated that the assignment is to be completed on an individual basis".

Please see above for the specific collaboration policy for this course.

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

The Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC) provides services to students with Learning Disabilities (LD), psychiatric/mental health disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), chronic medical conditions, and impairments in mobility, hearing, and vision. If you have a disability requiring academic accommodations in this course, please contact PMC at 613-520-6608 or for a formal evaluation. If you are already registered with the PMC, contact your PMC coordinator to send me your Letter of Accommodation at the beginning of the term, and no later than two weeks before the first in-class scheduled test or exam requiring accommodation (if applicable). After requesting accommodation from PMC, meet with me to ensure accommodation arrangements are made. Please consult the PMC website for the deadline to request accommodations for the formally-scheduled exam (if applicable) at

Religious Obligation

Write to the instructor with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website:

Pregnancy Obligation

Write to the instructor with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website:

Medical Certificate

The following is a link to the official medical certificate accepted by Carleton University for the deferral of final examinations or assignments in undergraduate courses. To access the form, please go to