Thursday, November 24, 2011

Working on Skyrim Stories

So I've been playing a lot of Skyrim lately. I mean a LOT. It's interfered with my coding schedule a bit, but I've also been working on a Skyrim-related project.

Take a look:

Skyrim Stories

Basically what this site is doing is searching Twitter for tweets tagged with #skyrimstories, and displaying the 15 most recent Tweets. My friend @netshade sent me the javascript for it, and my friend @jqr got the domain set up and (gently) harassed me to work on it.

So far I've had a lot of fun with this project. It's been good for me for a few reasons: first, the time between thinking of the idea and having a working first version was about 2 hours or so. Within a few minutes of calling @jqr for advice, @netshade had already sent me the code and @jqr had set up the domain. It feels good to get work done really quickly, especially since I sometimes feel like it takes forever for me to get ANYTHING done. It's also been a good opportunity to get my hands dirty with some CSS and I always enjoy styling. And lastly, it's reinforcing what I've known for a long time: programming is programming, and it doesn't make sense to use Ruby or Rails for every project, especially if there's an easier, more elegant solution.

A few notes here: First, I've got very limited experience with Javascript. I can typically take some code, figure out how it works and manipulate it to do things I want it to do, but I can't write my own. For example, the code @netshade sent me worked pretty well, but it was displaying user names instead of users, so instead of displaying a tweet from @illbzo1, it would display it as being from Tyler Moore. The code also displayed retweets by default, but a quick look through Twitter's Get Search API and I was able to fix that. Especially at this stage where I'm not paginating older tweets, I don't want the entire feed to get populated by retweets. And retweets don't really fit with the idea of this site, anyway.

I didn't invent #skyrimstories, but it's already (kind of) popular, so I think with a bit of promotion and some more polish, this could really be a fun site. At least until everyone gets sick of Skyrim, but that'll be another few months, at least.

I've still got a few things I want to do with it. First off, I want to strip out #skyrimstories when the tweet is posted to the site, because I think it'll read better without that Twitter-specific language. I'd also like to make the username displayed with the Tweet a link to that user's Twitter account. I'll also want to look into a way to paginate older Tweets, displaying 15 per page or so.

Anyone with more Javascript powers have any advice?

Here's a link to the project on GitHub:

Skyrim Stories on Git

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