Inspiration

For our team, the main inspiration for Book It came from the realization that as we all grew up over the years, the motivation and interest for reading began to fall off. So then, what was the issue? As we grew, the time we had to read shrunk as we became more focused on work and our studies. More importantly, there was a lack of a community to sustain that interest - seeing that our peers and friends also started reading less and less, so did we. But if we were able to see that they were reading, in addition to what kind of books and how much they had read, then it would become much easier to rekindle that interest. Thus, the idea for Book It was born.

What it does

Book It allows users to:

  • Record current progress in books (pages read)
  • Keep track of previous books they have read
  • Join or create a community of their friends
  • See what books members of the community are reading/have read, as well as their progress on each one

How we built it

  • Prototyping of UI/UX → grayscale to color to image iterations, added movement prototype to plan flow
  • Creating an API with core functionality → structured to be easy to use and scalable
    • Python + Flask — lightweight and simple backend, very little boilerplate
  • Built skeleton of the frontend → authentication and global state
    • React for versatility + Redux for communication across pages
  • As designs and assets for various pages were created, the frontend expanded
    • Iterative process — handing off to different team members
  • API grew to accommodate final feature set, and design finalized → polishing frontend and connecting pages together smoothly
    • Lots of parallel work on different aspects of the product

Challenges

  • Managing asynchronous calls to the API and unpredictable timing of state updates → difficult to debug and keep track of
  • Translating design and prototype to actual CSS → sometimes hard to be faithful to the design
  • Figuring out which features were feasible to include in the given timeframe and which we would not be able to finish: time management and forecasting

Accomplishments

  • Create a brand/mood for the app through interface
  • Created an interactive prototype using Figma
  • Used cookies to persist sign-in state

What we learned

  • Flask with python
  • Extending off of translation of design prototype to CSS, learned to compromise/adjust on both sides → communication of prioritization

What's next for Book it

  • Recommendation feature
  • Publish to dedicated server
  • Interface w book database (covers, summary, tags based on genre + interest) comments feature on specific books, available to see for community only
  • The ability to see the details of other people's books
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