Project: Book vs. Movie

James and I have been looking to build something together and learn to collaborate better as programmers. James came up with a great idea: people often wonder which is better the book or the movie? So, we built a small app to find out.

Book vs. Movie queries the Goodreads API and the IMDB API to fetch movie metadata and rating, and displays them to the user, highlighting the winner.

We built the app with Node and Express, with some jQuery on the front end, sitting side by side at Think Coffee near NUY. This wasn’t our first collaboration, but it was the first time I’ve ever really pair programmed with anyone – we took turns writing code, both of us focused on the code in front of us. We both learned to work with a few different APIs and parse XML to JSON, but more importantly, I picked up a whole bunch of small techniques and tips on how we set up and build projects. James likes to use as few libraries/packages/external tools as possible, so we were both a bit out of our comfort zone – he was trying to thoroughly understand how the NPM packages and libraries that I picked up on the fly, and I was trying to use as few tools as possible, and really get what’s happening under the hood.

It was great to watch James work on the front end as well – something I’m not great at or feel as comfortable with. I learned about CSS animations, and picked up a few neat tricks

The main issue we ran into – that we chose to bypass for the sake of building faster – is that movie/book pairs often have different titles. A great next step would be giving the users an opportunity to tell us what movie pairings are correct – and then displaying these pairings first in future searches.

The end result is a finished – albeit simple – website, and a desire to build more. In the end, we hooked up the app to a Mongo DB to track incoming searches, and let it out into the big wide world. It feels good to build for people.

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