Portfolit: an exercise in rapid prototyping

Last night around 6:30pm I decided to spend part of an evening building and deploying something neat. I've been employed full time as a software developer now for close to 6 months and have a lot more experience with Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and deploying applications, so it was time to try something out! San is re-doing her website and wanted something to display her Flickr images in a more professional looking portfolio idea, so that served as the inspiration for this project. At 6:40pm, I purchased portfolit.com and added it to my DNS server which replicates to EveryDNS. Last year, I would have done this as a PHP app on one of my servers, but I instead decided to do this with Ruby on Rails. I don't personally own any Rails hosting infrastructure yet, so I chose to deploy on Heroku and in under 30 minutes, I had a rough design up and running on Heroku. Both the basic hosting and the use of a custom domain name on Heroku are free, which is pretty great! I took several major steps:
  • Basic Rails 3 app with jQuery
  • Talking to the Flickr API using flickraw to get a list of recently uploaded photos
  • Displaying thumbnails from Flickr in 5 columns
  • Lightbox effect when clicking on photos
  • Dynamically loading the photos with Javascript instead of on server-side
  • Loading more photos when scrolling to the bottom of the page
  • Allowing /username to pull a users photos instead
  • Reverting to search when a string passed in that isn't a valid username
  • Search box on front page
  • Opacity fading in and out on mouse hover over photo thumbnails
And that's it! By 10pm I was showing friends the finished product. Portfolit screenshot


Let me know what you think! Hopefully I'lll spend a few more days on this in the future, especially if there is interest and feedback. Net cost: $8.57 for the domain name, ~3.5 hours to build and deploy the app. The internet has come a long way over the past 10+ years!

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