Cover image for What are some side project suggestions?

What are some side project suggestions?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

So let's say you have ideas, but don't have the time or energy to see them through, I'm sure there are a lot of folks in the opposite camp!

They could be for portfolio, free open source, or business ideas.

Don't be shy, drop some thoughts.


Editor guide

Here's an evergreen project:

Highly specialized search engine/filterable directory. Something that could be more valuable than Google in one specific category. Ideally one that doesn't have a lot of existing commercial appeal. So, for example, there are a lot of search engines for real estate listings— because there is obvious money in that. But there are probably fewer search engines for, say, Abbot and Costello movies.

Pick a super niche hobby or passion you are interested in and combine it with your coding skills to come up with something super neat to a small group of people. As a Simpsons fan, frinkiac comes to mind as a great example.

This is the kind of project which is hard for "the big guy" to compete directly, even if it's Google, just because specialization affords opportunity to perfect certain nuances.

It's nice to have projects which don't require "initial users" to be worthwhile. This is the kind of thing where the information is already out there, but it's up to you to figure out how to structure the information in a way that makes this tool uniquely valuable.

If this seems like highly specific advice, I'll say that I already built something like this for comic book characters. I essentially took information available in existing databases and presented it in a way that was delightful and approachable. The UX was better than the old sites I found the info on. I had real daily visitors and people liked it. I was working on this around the same time I was hacking away on DEV, so DEV kind of took over and I let the other thing die.

Happy coding ❤️


I remember doing a search engine for youtube video metadata as a takehome project once. That project was perhaps my first exposure to inverted indexes, and made me a believer in project-based learning. Turns out inverted indexes are like real indexes but for words; you'll develop super human intuition on database indexes by doing a project like this. Also I found the project, if you're curious



I've always wanted to learn more about any given culture by exploring the lyrics of their mainstream/non-mainstream bands. Just sayin', if Bangladesh, Belize, or Brazil has a Mandolin Orange dropping tracks about something as important/complicated as immigration reform or the birth of a nation, I'd want to learn about it.


That’s a fantastic piece of advice! I instantly had a light bulb. We order hardware at work from a Siemens, a very very large industrial company. They sell so many different things to so many different types of customers, the user experience isn’t even a consideration. Also, their primary language is German and things get lost in translation often for us. I call it a bit of a miracle that the information is even there - but it’s not for the faint of heart. People at my work come to me any time they need a data sheet from them, typically a few times a week. I may explore building something like that for the types of hardware we use. I’ve had some new stacks I’ve been itching to try out. :)


That's exactly what I thought, when I was creating search engine for dance events! I noticed that I could analyze descriptions for keywords and add some meta information for google and build some useful filters on top. I am planning to do same thing for dance videos, meanwhile trying to find developers to form an outsource community for dancers.


This is a short list of some of my ideas:

  • VR App for data analysis like the explosion on Iron Man 3
  • Smart landscape lighting
  • AR driving assistance
  • Twitter like for devs to post code, not pics of code
  • Puzzle like game based on Apollo 13 re entry power on sequence
  • Dotfiles management github.com/kodaman2/dotzilla
  • YouTube comments app with translation features

Your twitter for devs already exists! dwitter.net/


I don't know about a good side project but something that I am working on is the
Dev.To Self Blog...

About It

It is the simple react app, which will let user insert there user name and it will generate a copy of your blogs and hosted on Netlify

Something you can add to your Portfolio, half of the work is done by me
Look here: hemant-blog.netlify.app/

I will call it poor CSS Application...
I am unable to complete the CSS, because of less time and other works and poor CSS😼,

If someone would live to contribute by making a Interactive Desgin, can contribute to my github. Would really Appreciate the help🙏🙏🙏;

The App is built In React with React-Redux;

If anyone like to contribute, please contact 🙏🙏🙏,

And I belive this is a good project idea, a dev.to static blog generator with Netlify hosting.

Thank you🙏😼❤️;

Please contribute with your Awesome CSS❤️❤️


Hi! I would like to help :)
DM on Twitter ir you like @elseraa


I usually go for "Solve your own problems".
What's your hobby? Maybe photography? Try writing a light meter with the sensors API.
Or mountain biking? Track and visualize the height profile of your route.
Movie buff? I'd love to have an X Ray app. Snap a picture of the screen and get the actors' name and bio.


I was actually just discussing with someone building an activism app. With the everything about the world right now it's hard to keep track of active initiatives and petitions and protests and rallies and all of the amazing educational content being produced and conversations happening. I thought it could be cool to utilize some government API and maybe some web-scraping to put together an app to organize local info. So you can plug in your location and get all the contact info for your local representatives, petitions appropriate for your location, and information about protests and events in your area, with links to relevant resources like articles about each situation or movement.


Yup, this is a really good idea. I think what's critical with stuff like this is to avoid the urge to have to "capture the moment" and build for the long haul, because it can take a while to get software working just right, or hitting enough adoption to make ongoing work worthwhile. If you try to rush things, it's easy for those involved to be demotivated.


I love this idea!


As a non web dev I like to make various API wrappers with Go and Python. (I have one for DEV too 😎).


An auto poster for dev to post changelists on open source projects, I would be very interested in that. Any takers?


This is a great idea. Would this be posted as a sort of "bot" account? I'm interested in making this an officially allowed concept, but where the accounts are explicitly labelled as such.

The way the feed works, this would mostly show up for folks who follow these accounts, so it's not like bots would gum up other folks' feeds.


Well I think you might have filled in the detail. I know that didi would certainly benifit from didi bot. Taking in commits and somehow releasing the highlights based on commit rules I suspect that sort of thing, maybe some new account options. Absolutely a whitelist bot account would work. Would I need to setup an organization?

I really like this idea as well. I had done some work on a github action awhile back for automatic posting from a markdown file to dev.to. (github.com/tylerauerbeck/publish-t...) that you might even be able to lean on . I realize this is a bit github specific at this point, but in the end it’s just a python script so you can just pull that and plug it into source control of choice. So from that point it’s just publish changelog as .md and then push to the DEV.to API.

Fantastic this should give someone a leg up, I wish I had time to do it.


Could specific tags be targeted towards bots? or require -bot in the tag name.

Ex. #github-bot


Shopping scheduler that reminds me, say every week, to get bread and milk, every month to get toothpaste, etc and then learns by when/what I actually buy (scan receipts or something) what my actual schedule is for these items and remind me when it thinks I’m running low (or better still, hook it up to an actual supermarket API and order in the shopping at the right time, if that’s a thing!!)


Great idea, it is definitely a thing.

I'm thinking for me it will be for my prepaid electricity, I recently moved to a house where the electricity is prepaid and still trying to figure out my average usage so that I know when to reorder before I run out.


Sounds great! Keeping the scope more focussed will likely result in a better product too :) If you build this I'd love to see it :)


How about helping me with my favorite side project?? Maybe it becomes yours as well :)



As someone who has never touched Electron but has Angular experience, do you think I'd be able to contribute?


Yes! The electron part is not really important. The angular part is the heart of the whole thing. İf you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask (ideally in the discussions section of the repository).

Wonderful! I'll install the application (I should be able to install on Fedora 32, right?), take it for a test drive over the next few days or so and go from there.


Dev post scheduler 💛


Dev auto updater. If a post was published from RSS then updated later it updates on dev.


Oh thanks, nice trick 🤘👏


Hey folks, want to drop a few cents from me. But before, I truly want to say that I appreciate everyone sharing their ideas for projects! It would be so much easier for me to follow my path of becoming a more proficient engineer (from frontend and backend perspectives) if I found a subject like this years ago!

These days, I'm taking a similar approach as many people choose - doing side projects that solve my own problems. And recently, I decided to share a project idea (or rather a project assignment) for junior frontend developers that they could build to add it up to their portfolio and get interesting, challenging, and at the same time well-paid jobs.

So I'd like to share as it junior devs may be coming to the subject (like we all once were) as well and many of the mentioned projects are quite advanced in terms of skill level.

The project is called "Housework Todoer" - it is an app that you could build to solve the problem of parents looking for ways to encourage their kids to help with the housework.
Hopefully, working on a project that has a background story (like a user story in agile) and a nice-looking design will be quite interesting and fun, while still providing a challenge to hone your skills. Having one more (or the first) project is in your portfolio is a huge bonus, in my opinion.


Just discussed this with someone the other day! To be honest... Game development is the best project I can think of to flex your programming skills. You just run into so many problems (and solutions) you wouldn't expect: state management + state machines, sprite design, user input, algorithms... Heck, even databases and websockets for multiplayer experiences.

Building terrible arcade games in Java was kind of my dev rite of passage, so I'm definitely a fan of it! Plus, it's super easy to find inspiration. Maybe start with flappy bird as a beginner project, and slowly add more features depending on your interests (aka if you care about databases, algorithms, networking, design, etc).


A true social media management application where you post what/when/where to the app, and it does exactly what you tell it to do. It should work for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Mastodon, Gap, uhh and whatever else there is. Sure there are good paid versions of this, but an open-source variant for developers would be cool.


Something like cross of your community and stack overflow. People ask questions, there's some moderation but no down-votes or haters (they get banned). Just simple Q&A where you get note that your question is duplicate if it's actually exact same question which can be answered by documentation or such. I find it really hard to find solutions as most of the people jump to conclusions and don't even read the question.


These aren't wholly original ideas but they're things I come back to when I'm out of ideas:

  • Plugins for your text editor of choice. All the mainstream editors I can think of have a means of extension and it's usually pretty straightforward. Good way to flex your JS / TS muscles too when writing plugins for Atom or VS Code.
  • Make a Lisp. I'm a programming language nerd so maybe I'm biased, and I know Lisp isn't the newest or sexiest language, but implementing a Lisp interpreter is easier than you think. Weirdly I feel like I learned a lot about how JavaScript is interpreted by doing this. Plus you get to say you implemented a programming language!

GitHub Actions are a great way to build a highly useful, re-usable, and fun side project! There are great templates for building them, and it only needs to solve a very simple problem since the community tends to interleave them (the intention) to accomplish a larger goal.

GitHub Actions
Template Repositories and Starters


An open source bloroll app for personal websites and blog, with high customization (choose blog/websites styles). You can choose to use the hosted instance, or to host your own application.

Maybe create two versions (python and php) :)

I miss the old "next blog" feature on blogger that allow you to discover new websites and people :)


Remote whiteboard interview app

Everything went remote because of covid-19, even whiteboard interviews. So I thought it is good if there is an app that has a collaborative code editor with compile/run functionality, a collaborative drawing board, and video chat at the same place. Those are the 3 main things we need for an interview, in fact, to teach code online as well.

I wanted to learn a new tech this year, so picked up MEVN and started working on this project. I completed the Code editor, drawing board part. Looking into video chat. You can check my progress collab.keencoder.dev/


Note: If you are checking out the app, please be patient, it is very slow as the backend is hosted on Heroku free dynos, it goes to sleep mode.


FYI, Hackerrank recently released a similar product, which is really good.


Something small, common and straightforward, just to get you started. Something that will automate something of your monotonous tasks in your daily routine. It doesn't have to be the next big thing, it doesn't have to make everyone go "WOW". I feel like everyone nowadays hits the wall at the very start deciding what they'd build. Always thinking google levels of complexity, architecture and also not forget "IT MUST SCALE TO THE MASSES". And they.. stop.. right then and there. It's quite wholesome to see a friend of yours or just some random person on GH start building something at this point, as long as they enjoy it without the remorse of it being mainstream. Especially for new people in the field that aim at the key aspect of being unique, but as we all know you need to start out somewhere.. At this point just start..

Got sidetracked.. I'd say not much as a side project but a mentality. Go on your preferred poison (language) of choice's community slack channels, github open repos, forums, stackoverflow questions etc. and just start contributing. Maybe once a week, maybe in the evening for an hour or so while you're drinking your hard earned glass of good whiskey. It's likely you know something that the other Joe doesn't and you're likely to build some strong connections helping others and the marvellous aspect of that is that one also learns how to better express themselves and expands the topic they're talking about.


I'm currently working on a campaign management system for roleplaying games. For now, it's just going to support dnd, but eventually I want to add more systems. It's not going to handle video or interactive mapping (at least not now) since Roll20 already does that and my group doesn't use the mapping. This app will be more like a gamified dropbox to help groups manage characters, notes, maps, and other files. That way it's a sort of "single source of truth" for a campaign with information that's accessible from anywhere so DMs can write and run from anywhere, and players can play from anywhere without worry of forgetting notes, character sheets, etc.


Education. Not only does this help others, but teaching is a great way to reinforce your own knowledge (and when you don't have an answer, to find it).

This might be through mentoring, teaching at a coding camp part time, or contributing to learning repositories.


I am working on my own side project runsoncoffee.xyz. Although I am a developer myself, I strongly believe a person who has been developing e.g. a calendar component can create a new custom calendar component better than me. There are so many nuances with each component, so better have it done by the right person. On the other hand, if it takes off I might get a list of burning issues from none-tech people so we could solve some real-life issues.


There is a famous repo with a collection of app ideas. I didn't find it here in the comments, so I'll just drop it here. Maybe it'll be helpful to someone:


The ideas are categorized in 3 tiers: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.


a roguelike


I'm working on a self-hosted Calendly alternative written in Rails :)


That is really cool!

So by self-hosted I imagine it'll be open source? I am very interested, want to share more info?



The idea is to have a calendar/auth agnostic solution to sharing a public calendar.

  1. Deploy the app (e.g. Heroku)
  2. Put in a CalDAV URL so the app knows when you are "busy"
  3. Share your public calendar link
  4. When a meeting is scheduled, an email is sent to both you and the participant with an .ics file attached

I've been stuck writing JavaScript for the past few years so this project is getting me back into Rails (which is a good thing) 😆


Not a big project but it should allow the blog owner to randomly share the posts on various social media sites without any user intervention. The owner has to just provide the URL of the blog.


Full emacs localization.