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Source code for my defunct startup,
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This is the source code for Custómica, my defunct startup (

Custómica was an online t-shirt store for the Argentinian market where anyone could design their own t-shirt right from their browser. You can read the post-mortem here.

It failed to gain any significant traction, so I'm releasing its source code. The application is still running in read-only mode on a free Heroku dyno.

Custómica was written entirely by myself, from the database persistence code up to the user interface.

About the code

Custómica is composed of two major components:

  • A Play application written in Java.
  • A t-shirt designer component written in Flex.

The t-shirt designer produces an XML description of the design that is stored in the database and used by the Java code to generate PNG images of the designs used in the rest of the application. The designer is also able to read the XML description of an existing design, so that users can modify their t-shirt designs.

I started developing Custómica using a different stack (for the curious, it was based on Wicket and Guice). At some point in mid-2011, I decided to gradually migrate to the current stack. Unfortunately I never completed the migration. There's a lot of code from the old stack that never made it to the current version, mainly a test suite for the t-shirt design rendering code and a bunch of admin screens.

Custómica is no longer being actively developed. The last code changes were the modifications needed to make the app run on Heroku, specifically a quick and dirty read-only config switch to prevent the app from writing to the filesystem.


MIT licensed.


Play framework

You need to download Play version 1.2.4 in order to run the app.

A PostgreSQL database

Custómica is currently running on Heroku using a shared PostgreSQL database, so you need a local instance of PostgreSQL to run the app from your computer.

Facebook app ID/secret

Custómica uses Facebook as its login system. For it to work you need a valid Facebook app ID/secret. You can register a new Facebook app here.

How to run it

You can start the app by cd-ing into the app directory and executing play run (assuming you've added the Play installation directory to your system PATH), but you need to define a few environment variables first:

  • DATABASE_URL: URL for your PostgreSQL database (e.g. postgres://username:password@hostname:port/database.)
  • FACEBOOK_ID: Your Facebook app ID.
  • FACEBOOK_SECRET: Your Facebook app secret.
  • ADMIN_USER: Your desired username for the administrative dashboard (details below.)
  • ADMIN_PASS: Password for the administrative dashboard.
  • READ_ONLY: Whether the app is running in read-only mode or not. Possible values: true, false.

You can easily do this as a single command:

play run -DDATABASE_URL=postgres://<user>:<pass>@<host>:<port>/<db> -DFACEBOOK_ID=<your app ID> \
-DFACEBOOK_SECRET=<your app secret> -DREAD_ONLY=<true or false> \
-DADMIN_USER=<dashboard username> -DADMIN_PASS=<dashboad password>

The app will be available at http://localhost:9000/ after running the command above.

If you're starting with an empty database, the first thing you should do is create a default t-shirt category from the administrative dashboard as explained below. If you omit this step, your users won't be able to save their custom-designed t-shirts.

Note that you need to run the app from the same domain that you've specified when you registered your Facebook application, otherwise the login system won't work. You can edit your /etc/hosts file as explained here.

Administrative dashboard

You can log into the administrative dashboard by going to <your app url>/admin and entering the username/password combo that you've specified in the ADMIN_USER and ADMIN_PASS environment variables.

From the administrative dashboard you can create t-shirt categories, edit/remove t-shirts created by the users and review your orders and regenerate the t-shirt pictures from the designs stored in the database.

Default t-shirt category

If you're starting with an empty database, go to <your app url>/admin/crud/categories/new and create a new default category for your t-shirts. Don't forget to check the "isDefault" option.

Read-only mode

Every time a user creates a new design, the application generates a couple of PNG images that are stored in the app's public/designs directory and used to display the new t-shirt design across the website.

Custómica used to run from a paid VPS before going belly up, but now I've moved it to Heroku where it's running on a free dyno (Cedar stack).

Given the way Heroku works, it's not possible to persist data in the filesystem, so instead of rewriting the code responsible of rendering and storing the t-shirt images, I decided to just code a configuration switch to run the app in read-only mode and check some of the existing designs into the Git repository (images in public/designs were originally ignored by Git.)

If you want to run Custómica on Heroku, remember to set the READ_ONLY environment variable to true.

Final words

I'd like to thank all my friends who encouraged me to pursue this project. It was a terrific learning experience and I'm a much better developer and aspiring entrepreneur because of it.

If you'd like to get in touch with me, I'm @LeandroLovisolo on Twitter.


-- Leandro

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