Sunday, September 21, 2008

BaristaReview site build

logo160.pngI'm pleased to report that I've built a real application in Django on Google App Engine.

BaristaReview is a site that I've always wanted, specifically to let me find (and review) coffee shops near where I am.

Although it's loaded with Australian cafes to start with, it's not localised except for it being in English.

The great benefit to me of Google App Engine is the low cost of entry and ultimate ability to scale right up to whatever success we might achieve without having to supply any hardware ourselves.

It's been a fascinating little project with lots to learn about:


  • Google App Engine

  • Google Maps and geocoding

  • Django 1.0

  • Serving images from a database

  • memcache(d) for caching images

  • integrating blogger into a sub-domain



There's still lots to do, not to mention the iPhone version people keep asking for, please let me know if you see bugs or unexpected behaviour.

Google App Engine is a little new and I do run into a few issues deploying sometimes, but generally the site seems to perform pretty well.

Please look up your favourite cafes and if they aren't there, go ahead and add them!

4 comments:

Alastair said...

Hey Peter, congrats on launching, it's a great idea and looks really good so far.

Here are some rambling thoughts as I went through the process of logging in and adding my favourite local cafe.

* Login is though Google accounts only. I know this is a freebie with GAE but it would be great to support other types of authentication as well, specifically OpenID. This is important for me because my gmail account is my personal account and I try not to publicise it.

* Would be good to get a pre-populated list of cafes from somewhere? I suppose Yellow Pages is off limits, but what about google local search?

* Are you going to want to allow the cafes themselves to authenticate separately? Get them to add their own promotional material, logos etc.?

* Adding a cafe manually seems harder than it should be; I would like to just type in a name and possibly click on the map.

* CAPTCHA? No thanks. Serious turn-off. Can you not handle spam through Akismet or something instead?

* What am I putting in the "description" field? A review?

* It seems useful to be able to tag the cafe at the same time as adding it. Also some sample tags would be helpful...

* Something went wrong with the address parsing and my new cafe was placed about 500m away from its actual location. Some way of correcting this would be good. (BTW in my experience Google's address parsing is pretty unreliable).

* My cafe has a website but there doesn't seem to be a way for me to link to them.

* A 'recently added' section would be good.

* You can tell Google Maps your favourite locations (eg home, work etc). Would this not be good info for the "near me" feature?

More thoughts as I play some more...

Peter B Marks said...

Thanks for your detailed comments, greatly appreciated.

Don't know if you noticed, but I managed to kill the site this morning when I deleted a test cafe but had forgotten to deep delete the comments, photos and tags related to it. D'oh!

Your suggestions are excellent, I will investigate. On "recently added", the front page kind of does that.

Best wishes,

Peter

geo said...

Yep, great site Pete.

I uploaded a couple of photos ok. But I then expected to see them in the natural size (bigger than the thumbnail shown), perhaps by clicking on the red blob on the map.

Rating 1-5, I didn't know which is "best", so maybe this should be "number of stars" as a rating.

You should capitalise the address that lazy people like me enter.

mouse hover over the photos on the front page should popup a balloon of the cafe name, rating.

more whitespace required between the two columns on the front page.

In the "recent comments" section, the word "About" is redundant for each entry. Just use the cafe name/title.

Use bold/bigger text more for your section titles : Recent Comments, Photos, Cafe's



great effort. Now for the iPhone app!

geo

Peter B Marks said...

Many thanks.

GAE has a 1Mb limit so I'm not sure what to do about photos, I've been thinking of storing them elsewhere, which is a bit of a pity, but might be required.