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chessmsgs.com - Play Chess over social/messaging

Created because I wanted to play chess with others without having to install software, create accounts, etc.. Game play is simple -- make your move, copy and paste the URL to your opponent, etc.

Technical details:

Web browser-side - all chess logic is run in the browser

  • chessboard.js - JavaScript chessboard component - by Chris Oakman
  • chess.js - JavaScript chess library that is used for chess move generation/validation, piece placement/movement, and check/checkmate/stalemate detection - by Jeff Hlywa
  • body-scroll-lock - JavaScript library that makes it easy to manage scrolling on mobile (I needed to freeze scrolling during moves and this library works across almost all browsers) - by Will Po
  • JQuery - the above two chess libraries required it, so I used it too.

Web Server - simple Node/Express server with some super simple templating to create the Open Graph and Twitter Card image URLs, links, etc.  This could have easily been a static website other than this requirement.

  • request-ip - Used for logging IP address of each move to use for future scaling (create additional copies in regions, etc.)
  • nanoid - Used to generate unique Game IDs
  • No database/data store -- all game state info is passed back and forth between players in URL
  • Deployed on Google Cloud Run

Image Server - used to generate the image used for Open Graph and Twitter cards so that when a user posts a game link to most platforms, the platform will show the image with the current board position. I created an endpoint that looks like any other png file url (example).

  • chess-image-generator - JavaScript library that creates a png from a FEN (standard chess board notation) - by Andrew Young
  • I made a copy of generateBuffer() as generateCustomBuffer() and customized it to do padding to match Open Graph requirements
  • Deployed as a route in the web server Node express app

Testing and deploying

The parts

  • Main web server is in project root -- server.js
  • Web content is in ./public

Local testing of serve - run from project root.

# Install all dependencies
npm install

# Run server
node server

Access http://localhost:8080 to test. If you are running this on your own server, you'll need to change the URL hard-coding in server.js (replace "chessmsgs.com")

Deploying to Google Cloud Run

npm run build
npm run deploy

or, build and deploy with a single click:

Run on Google Cloud
You can also setup continuious deployment to auto-deploy when you push to a branch or tag using Cloud Build)

Why Google Cloud Run?

The hosting requirements are simple. I needed support for Node.js/Express, domain mapping, and SSL. There are several options on Google Cloud including Compute Engine (VMs), App Engine, and Kubernetes Engine. For this app, however, I wanted to go completely serverless, which quickly led me to Cloud Run. Cloud Run is a managed platform that enables you to run stateless containers that are invocable via web requests or Pub/Sub events.

Cloud Run is also basically free for this type of project because the always-free-tier includes 180,000 vCPU-seconds, 360,000 GiB-seconds, and 2 million requests per month (as of this writing – see the Cloud Run pricing page for the latest details). Even beyond the free tier, it’s very inexpensive for this type of app because you only pay while a request is being handled on your container instance, and my code is simple and fast.

About

Play chess over Twitter, SMS, iMessage, Facebook, Snap, Whatsapp, Google Chat. WeChat, Telegram, KaTalk, Viber, and many more.

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