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GA WDI Project Two - Bookclubr

This was the second project assignment during my time on General Assembly's Web Development Immersive Course (week 5-6). I built a community product around reading books (think of it as a virtual book club). The app allows users to:

  • Create user profiles.
  • Post their favourite books.
  • Comment on and 'like' their favourite books.
  • Follow other people in the community.

image width="700"

Visit the website to check it out (the app is not yet fully responsive. For best experience open on laptop).


Design a full-stack Node app that must include:

  • At least two models.
  • At least one embedded or referenced schema.
  • A persistent database (with all CRUD actions on records).
  • User authentification (registration and session creation).
  • RESTful routes.
  • EJS for template creation.
  • A CSS framework on the front-end.
  • Deployed on Heroku.

Build Process


In order to gain inspiration for my web app I:

  • Listed my areas of interest and brainstormed how to build useful apps.
  • Listed communities I am part of and thought of what I could build to serve them.

image width="300"


From the experience of my first project I knew it was crucial to get to MVP as soon as possible. With that in mind, I:

  • Created a list of all the features I wanted to create.
  • Split the list by component parts of the app.
  • Organized the list by which elements were crucial for MVP (phase one features) and which could be added in later (phase two features).
  • Began to think about how to create those features, making notes of methods and data types that would be useful
  • Tried to make sure each point on the plan was small enough that it could be solved indepedently (or googled easily).


The build phase involved simply getting in front of my computer and tackling each element of the plan one by one, with a focus on getting to MVP as quickly as possible. It felt very satisfying to tick these off and mark them as done (in green).

image width="700"


A key milestone was to get to MVP. For me this meant:

  1. Have a User model and controller that allowed for user registration and session creation.
  2. A Book model and controller that allowed for book creation.
  3. Commenting functionality on the books.

I managed to get to MVP by day 4. This meant I had a couple of extra days to work on CSS - making the site look a bit smarter as well as add some of the extra community features I desired (followers, likes, etc).


In my first project, I spent a big chunk of time refactoring the first version of my code. In this case I didn't, but some ways I would refactor in the future:

  • I currently have the registrations controller handling other functions that relate to users in general. I'd move these to a separate users controller.


  • After I deployed my web app, I noticed that occasionally when trying to follow a user, the follow wouldn't register. This was because I had a validation on the user profile bio to be at leats 100 char. When the whole record was saving, this validation was failing. I removed the validation (as in hindsight it was an unneeded restriction).


  • Populating Embedded Schema - In order to create comments I have an embedded comment Schema on the Book model. Initially, I found it difficult to populate this schema and make the data available in the relevant views. I managed to solve this by installing the Bluebird plugin and using promises.
  • Silly Mistakes - It wouldn't be learning to code without some silly mistakes. In this project, I had two particularly frustrating errors.
  1. I was creating an if statement to check two object IDs, but didn't convert them to strings first, so they were not returning as equal.
  2. In one function I had res and req the wrong way around as arguments, causing it to break. Didn't spot it for ages!
  • Time & Stress & Productivity Management - Always a challenge, but gets better with each project. Here are the hours clocked in on Rescuetime.

Moving Forward / Future Features

Some features I could add moving forward:

  • Clean up restrictions around user functionality when logged in vs when not logged in.
  • Make more thorough errors messages and user feedback throughout the site.
  • Allow users to search the site for books to see if it has already been posted.
  • Allow liking/upvoting on specific comments.
  • Allow sorting my comments.
  • Create a user 'community score' that gives users points based on how they contribute with comments etc.

Lessons Learned

  • Plan is just a plan. My experience from two projects is to not get too attached to a plan. They always change (and generally extend).
  • Console.log everything when big fixing!!! Can't stress this enough.

Other GA projects

Contact Me

Feel free to ask me questions about this project or anything else on twitter.

You can also find me on LinkedIn or over on my personal site.