Introduction and Learning Goals
Incorporating a new technology into your application that isn’t explicitly taught will give you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from other Turing grads and give you a great story to tell in your job interview - employers love to hear about your experiences being self driven and learning new technologies outside of the standard Turing curriculum.
No one hires a junior dev based on what the junior already knows. Instead, junior developers are successful when they showcase their ability to learn and ask questions. This project will provide tangible, demonstrable anecdotes for you to bring up during interviews to show your ability to struggle with new material and problem solve!
You have a lot of freedom with this project, but there are a few requirements listed next.
As a group, you need to decide on:
- A minimum viable product (MVP) idea that solves a problem for your users
- The use of at least one external API
- Choose one category from the “Stretch Technologies” section below
Your application needs to be summarized with a minimum viable product. What is the smallest set of features to give the user a way to accomplish the goal of the application?
The project is very open-ended in that you can make pretty much anything you want. However, we have some requirements to follow:
- The application cannot simply be a display of data - there needs to be some way for the user to work with or manipulate the data (think favoriting at the very least, but be more creative than favoriting)
- The application should be a multi-page application using React Router
- Be able to answer: What problems are you solving? What features must the solution include to solve this problem?
Create a summary (MVP) of what your application will do and who your application is made for - be specific with your audience because it will give you direction in your work and make your project more interesting.
Here is a list of some data APIs that are open to the public:
- Cat Facts
- Dad Jokes
- Covid 19
- IQAir - Real-Time Air Quality Forecast
- Dog CEO - Pictures of Dogs
- The Cat - Cat Pictures and Info
- New York Times
- Dandelion - Semantic Text Analytics
- Jemendo Music - stay away from editing a private user’s data as this will require OAuth, which is too much to take on for this project
- Board Game Atlas - stay away from writing data for a user as this will require OAuth, which is too much to take on for this project
- Dungeons and Dragons
- Song Lyrics
- TasteDive Recommendation Engine
- Harvard Art Museums
- Rijks Museaum
Some of these APIs require API keys to consume the data. You’ll have to go to the documentation for that API to find out how to get an API key and how to use the API key in your network requests.
You can also take a look at this list of APIs for some more ideas. However, stay away from APIs listed here where “Auth” is “OAuth” and where “CORS” is either “Unknown” or “Yes”. If you find an API in this list or from somewhere else that you are interested in using, then let your project manager know so they can help you see if it will be relatively easy to work with.
In addition to an API, you must choose a new technology (or set of technologies) to work with. Here are the possibilities for technologies you can explore for this project.
Note: For all technologies except for “Another Framework” listed below, the expectation is that you are using React.
Global State Management
As apps begin to grow and grow, state management via
this.state and passing props down through dozens of components gets kind of tangled, messy, and confusing. There are some tools invented to alleviate that issue:
- React’s built-in Context API
Companies with large apps are likely to be using a state management tool like the ones listed above. If you’re interested in this, you should pick one tool from the list and use it within your React app.
Writing bug-free code can be made easier by adding some very common workflow tooling. Here are just a few you will see on the job, and learning these will make you productive in your job sooner. If you’re interested in this category, then you must complete all listed here:
- Continuous Integration (using Travis CI or Github Actions)
- git hooks (add pre-commit hook to check for linter error and forgotten
console.logs and deny the commit until those are fixed)
- Deployment to production with Heroku
- Automatic deployment to Heroku when a PR is merged to
For those who just can’t get enough testing, there is another testing subject we haven’t touched on: end-to-end testing. This is another type of testing that loads your app in a browser and clicks on buttons/types in forms automatically. The technology we would like to see used here is called Cypress, which is a very popular E2E testing tool.
If you choose this, then all of your large/important integration tests should be done with Cypress. Unit tests should still be done using React Testing Library.
React “hooks” is a way of writing React components that are all functional - no class components needed. Lifecycle methods and state are wrapped up into hooks. Choosing this means you will create your application in React, and all of your components should be functional. You should be utilizing hooks to manage your state and lifecycle needs.
React might not be the framework you end up working with on the job, and employers might want to see that you can be flexible in the technologies/frameworks you work in. Choosing this category means that you would use a framework other than React - there are two you can choose from for this project since they have a similar feel to React:
Some things to note: Instructors will not be able to give in-depth feedback because most instructors do not have a lot of experience in each of these frameworks, and you will still be required to test the application even though you are choosing a framework other than React. You will not be able to use React Router with these frameworks, start with a single-page application and add a routing tool once you get moving in the new framework.
Some apps allow you to sign in using your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account - this is called user authentication. If you made this yourself, you would need a back-end server to store the user’s data and it gets complicated, which is too much for this project. Use a third-party library like: PassportJS, Auth0, or Google’s Firebase to enable a user to login to your application via Google, Facebook, and/or Twitter. The user should be able to stay logged in even after refreshing the page.
create-react-app, start here.
Building a Backend
Not feeling excited about any of the free data APIs? Build your own! If you choose this category, you would be responsible for building your own server in Express, connecting it to a PostgreSQL database, and hosting it on Heroku. You would not use a separate data API (at least in your MVP).
If you choose from this category, then you must pick at least two of these options:
- Styled Components
- Localization and Internationalization (would recommend using a library for this like react-i18next)
- GSAP Animations or WebGL Animations
- 100% passing accessibility testing using an accessibility analyzer like A11y or Axe
Create a private Slack channel with your team members and instructor project manager. Submit the following by 3PM of day 1:
- MVP summary with a description the problem you are solving and your audience
- The API you will use
- DTR (be as actionable, detailed, and specific as you can)
- Wireframes of your application (using any electronic or hand-drawn tool you would like)
- Project management tool (with some cards filled out and assigned to team members)
- A plan for how you will learn the stretch technology together as a group
Your instructors will do a stand-up meeting in the mornings to see where the group is at, and give a chance for each group member to talk through what they’re working on or where they have blockers.
Your instructors will do a formal check-in with your group. At this check-in, instructors expect to see:
- A very quick demo of your application so far detailing the progress made toward your MVP
- Your testing suite running
- Progress you’ve made on your Stretch Technology category
- Any blockers you’re experiencing
- Your plan going forward for the next few days
Share your app progress with the class for Show and Tell! Be prepared to tell the story or what your app is, why you’re making it, and share a quick demo of your app so far. In total, the show and tell for your app should last no longer than 10 minutes.
- 4: Project has a fully flushed out MVP, and a completed stretch goal (extra stretch tech, stretch feature, etc). Evalutator has no recommendations for design changes.
- 3: Project has a fully flushed out MVP. At least one external data API is used, and any stretch-technology dependent MVP features are completed. Users can interact with the data. Evaluator has minimal recommendations for design changes.
- 2: Project comes up short of proposed MVP. Stretch technology is not fully implemented.Evaluator has mutliple recommendations for design changes.
- 1: User interaction is not present in the application. No external API is used. Developers did minial to no styling.
- 4 - Codebase has zero linter errors/warnings and README is well documented with images of different pages, setup, purpose of application, and group members. Evolution of the project is evident through consitent code review. Issues and project board cards are assigned to group members.
- 3 - The codebase has less than 5 linter errors and README has been updated with all group members. Project utilized wireframes from the outset and updated them as changes were made. A project management tool was continuously used from the beginning of the project. All git commits are atomic, made first to branches, and use descriptive and concise commit messages.
- 2 - README has been updated but is missing group members, setup, tech used, application images, or etc. Wireframes are included and a project management tool was started, but are not utilized throughout the entire project. Project has more than 5 linter errors. Project team makes large infrequent git commits.
- 1 - Either the README is incomplete, wireframes are not used, no project management system was utilized, or more than 10 linter errors are present. Git history does not show evolution of project with many large and inconsistent commits.
React / Project Architecture
- 4 - Functions including fetch calls have been refactored to be reusable for multiple queries. Frontend data always matches the backend data. Data fetched from API is run through a cleaning function (which lives in a separate file). Implements excellent error handling if server is down or fetch fails. This includes loading images as well as error messages on the frontend. All appropriate routes are visible on each page.
- 3 - React architecture is clean and organized. Logic is kept out of return statements. There are some issues with the asynchronous JS where the frontend is not matching with the backend. There are multiple functions (including fetch calls) that are doing similar pieces of functionality that could continue to be refactored. Data fetched from API is not cleaned before being set to state. A router is used for navigation.
- 2 - Type checking functionality is complete. There are no unnecessary props being passed down to child components. However, there are still methods that are being created inside of functional components instead of being passed down through props from a class component. File structure is modular but API calls have not been broken out into a separate file.
- 1 - Type checking (proptypes or otherwise) is substantially unused. Project shows little understanding of React and significant refactoring is required including but not limited to component structure, knowing when to use class vs functional components, mutation of props, or etc. Unnecessary data is being passed down to child components through props. File structure is not modular.
- 4: Project demonstrate deep underatanding and sophisticated implementation of chose stretch technology, and implements a second new piece of tech. Group members can speak to best practices of chosen technologies.
- 3: Project demonstrates deep understanding of chosen stretch technology. Group members can think critically and speak to understood best practices of stretch technology.
- 2: Project demonstrates partial implementation of chosen stretch technology. Any stretch-tech-dependent features are functional, despite the MVP not being met.
- 1 Project demonstrates no implementation of stretch tech, OR stretch-dependent features have major bugs.
- 4 - All async functionality is mocked. Asynchronous tests cover happy paths as well as multiple sad paths. All pieces of functionality have been tested and are passing and run efficiently. Evaluator has no recommendations for testing.
- 3 - All Redux functionality (if using redux) is tested (actions and reducers), all components are unit tested in units and integration, and a valid attempt was made to mock async functionality.
- 2 - Nearly all unit tests are in place. React components are well tested with a diverse set of tests including but not limited to unit testing display of the component, event simulation tests, and unit tests for functions passed as props. There are tests in place for actions and reducers. No attempt to test async functionality was made.
- 1 - A valid attempt to test this application was made, but there are obvious gaps with missing unit tests for Redux and React.