First - a brief introduction! I'm Jake, an Australian-born coder currently living & working as a front-end developer in Berlin, Germany. I've been coding for the past 4 years and over that time I've found that the best way to learn how to become a better coder is simply by building things that you think would be cool / useful. I've built a bunch of small apps including a chat program and a couple of chrome extensions, and this time I decided to have a go at a web-scraping project. I'm a big fan of Reddit and also book lists, and after hearing about Hacker News Books via Indie Hackers I decided to give it a go scraping book recommendations from popular subreddits. It took around 4 weekends to get the first version up - the total time I tracked via Toggl was ~50 hours. Anyway - my core motivation was to get a nice little project up & running that pushed some of my technical skills!
The short answer is yes :) I wish I could say that I'd had this idea while meditating on a mountain in the Himalayas, but the truth is that I read about Hacker News Books on Indie Hackers and thought that it sounded like a cool idea. I started working on the project without searching for any other similar apps, and I'm glad that I didn't because soon enough a couple of other coders popped up on Reddit pretty much doing the same thing. Sometimes it can be a bit demotivating when you find out that someone else is doing (or has done) the same thing that you're working on, but I figured that the journey was worth it and also that I could make Reddreader look a teensy bit slicker 💁. In fact, building Reddreader was such a good exercise in terms of the different technical challenges that it entailed that I'm starting to think that building a book-scraping web app should be the new 'todo list', at least as far as frameworks go.
The foundation is Node JS with Express & MongoDB on the backend and Angular 4 w/ Angular CLI on the front-end. Of course a lot more plugins and libraries helped me get the project live. Instead of listing them all here you can check out the Reddreader package.json on Github, or read more about how I built it on Medium.
One of the things that caught my eye in the Indie Hacker story on Hacker News Books was that the developer was making referral revenue by using affiliate links on Amazon. I'm not sure if I'll reach the same levels but I figured that it's worth a try as a small side-project and also doesn't hurt to make a fee for each book sold via links on the website. I don't have any other plans to generate revenue on Reddreader so if it manages to pay for the server time and a cup of coffee each week I'll consider it a success!