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Last active Aug 29, 2015
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Project #3: Building Your Own API


Project 2 had you working with Ruby, SQL, and Rails to build a full-stack application that was integrated via an API. For Project 3, you'll be working in teams to build one of several exciting projects, with a back-end API that's built on Node, Express, and Mongo.

This project is meant to push you both technically and collaboratively. In many ways, it’s a lot harder to work in a team than to work by yourself, but that's most likely you’re going to find yourself doing in your first development job after WDI, and it's important to learn how to work together.

At a high level, here's what we're looking for with this project, irrespective of which prompt you're working from:

  • Use Mongo & Express to build an API and a front-end that consumes it
  • Create an API using at least 2 related models, one of which should be a user
  • Include all major CRUD functions in a RESTful API for at least one of those models
  • Consume your own API by making your front-end with HTML, Javascript, & jQuery
  • Add authentication to your API to restrict access to appropriate users
  • Craft thoughtful user stories together, as a team
  • Manage team contributions and collaboration using a standard Git flow on Github
  • Layout and style your front-end with clean & well-formatted CSS
  • Deploy your application online so it's publically accessible

The Prompts

Each team of students will be assigned one of the following projects to complete. Though the broad bushstrokes are laid out for you here, the details are up to you, so feel free to get as creative as you like!


Create an ecommerce site for famed retail giant,! Naturally, the site will need to allow customers to see all of Nozama's products, add those items to a shopping cart, and purchase them using Stripe. In addition, by logging in, customers should be able to keep track of their purchases by looking at their past orders.

Reach goals:
  • Build a search feature so that people can search for specific products.

Necessary Deliverables

  • A working API, built by the whole team, hosted somewhere on the internet
  • A handmade front-end that consumes your own API, hosted somewhere on the internet
  • A link to your hosted working app in the URL section of your Github repo
  • At least two git repositories (front-end and back-end) hosted on Github, with a link to your hosted project, and frequent commits from every team member dating back to the very beginning of the project
  • A file in the repo for your front-end app, with:
    • A short description of what your application does.
    • Explanations of the technologies (modules, APIs, etc) used.
    • A couple paragraphs about the general approach you took
    • Installation instructions for any dependencies
    • Link to your user stories – who are your users, what do they want, and why?
    • Link to your wireframes – sketches of major views / interfaces in your application
    • Descriptions of any unsolved problems or major hurdles your team had to overcome

Feedback + Evaluation

These are the things that instructors will be looking at, and giving you feedback on, after you've submitted your project.

Project Workflow

  • Planning : Did you complete user stories and wireframes before you started writing code? Did you create (and follow) a schedule for your team to keep the project on track?
  • Source Control : Did you use source control to keep track of changes in your project and make regular 'save points' for yourself?
  • Teamwork : Did your group work together effectively?
  • Group Contribution : Did you meaningfully contribute to your group's project?


  • Technical Requirements : Does your project meet all the technical requirements outlined above? Does it run?

  • Software Design/Problem Solving : How did you break up the functionality of your application? How did you solve the problems that you encountered along the way? Do the solutions you came up with make sense, from the perspective of industry best practices? How well can you defend the choices you've made?

  • Code Clarity : Did you follow code style guidance and best practices covered in class, such as spacing and semantic naming? Did you comment your code as your instructors as we have in class?

  • Creativity : Did you added a personal spin or creative element into your project submission? Is the finished product something of value to the end user, in addition to being functional (not just a login button and an index page)?


Your instructors will give you a total score on your project as an aggregate across all the categories:

Score Expectations
0 Does not meet expectations.
1 Meets expectactions, good job!
2 Exceeds expectations, you magnificent creature, you!

This will serve as a helpful overall gauge of whether you met the project goals. But more important than your overall score is your feedback, particularly in individual categories - this will help you identify where to focus your efforts for future projects.

Getting Started

Eager to get moving? Here are some good resources that you might want to refer back to.

Some other suggestions and best practices:

  • Don’t hesitate to write throwaway code to solve short term problems.
  • Read the docs for whatever technologies / frameworks / API’s you use.
  • Write your code DRY and build your APIs RESTful.
  • Be consistent with your code style. You're working in teams, but you're only making one app per team. Make sure it looks like a unified effort.
  • Commit early, commit often. Don’t be afraid to break something because you can always go back in time to a previous version.
  • Keep user stories small and well-defined, and remember – user stories focus on what a user needs, not what development tasks need accomplishing.
  • Write code another developer wouldn't have to ask you about. Do your naming conventions make sense? Would another developer be able to look at your app and understand what everything is?
  • Make it all well-formatted. Are you indenting, consistently? Can we find the start and end of every div, curly brace, etc?
  • Comment your code. Will someone understand what is going on in each block or function? Even if it's obvious, explaining the what & why means someone else can pick it up and get it.
  • Write pseudocode before you write actual code. Thinking through the logic of something helps.
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