6.171, or Software Engineering
Applications, is a course taught by Philip Greenspun
. The course's website claims that its aim is to teach its students how to build amazon.com
from scratch. The course vaguely follows Greenspun's online textbook
of the same name, freely available at his personal website (http://philip.greenspun.com)
Much of the learning in the course is derived from working with actual external clients who sponsor projects revolving around online communities. The end result of the course may seem slightly diminished in value these days, due to the number of out-of-the-box configurable online community toolkits available. However, teams of students working on these projects learn a lot by having to deal with clients and projects bound by constraints outside the proverbial ivory tower. Classwork includes creating subsystems that handle authentication, authorization, content management and site-wide administration. Students can choose any viable combination of a Web programming language (PHP, JSP, ASP.NET et al) and a database (Oracle, Postgres, Microsoft SQL Server et al) to implement their projects.
This course is a revised offering of the Ars Digita software boot camp, which used the Tcl scripting language on the AOLServer Web server and an Oracle database. According to the writers of the course, students with 6.171 experience are usually welcomed warmly at the likes of Oracle and Microsoft.