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A story of the amazing developer tools and services available today

nagyviktor profile image Nagy Viktor ・3 min read

My past two days were simply amazing! I created a website. Let me tell its story, and why were these days amazing!

I've moved from web development to product management 6 years ago. Since then, I'm developing only occasionally. This led me to focus on a single, ubiquitous language, Javascript. I've started my software development carrier with Javascript around 20 years ago. I remember reading a book about HTML on the 40 minute train ride from school to my home town, then sitting down in front of the family computer, and checking out the source code of some pages for the very first time.

In between these events, I've been coding on a dozen of languages. I've faced how ugly my initial codes were, I've learned the importance of standards, and I know how useful great frameworks can be, and how terrible some "frameworks" are, and I've proposed my girlfriend a few months ago, and as the event approaches I could not find any suitable gift registry.

We needed something very simple in terms of functionality and design. It should be so simple that even our aunts and uncles can use it who have never heard about PayPal, and some of them never made an online purchase. At the same time, it should accommodate my friends at GitLab too, and other people fluent in online transactions. So, I set down, and wrote it.

I was amazed by the super tools available today to put together working prototypes that are ready to be shared by the many guests! This post is to say thanks to everyone who created and maintains these services!

Requirements

What were the features that I needed?

  • the site should be multi-lingual as our relatives speak only Hungarian
  • we are fine sharing our bank details, the worst to happen is that we will receive unexpected money; we don't have hard requirements on transaction handling
  • we want to please the relatives who want to send us "meaningful" money, but want to support the ones who know us a bit better, and prefer to support organisations that we support too
  • the gift list should be easy to maintain
  • guests can contribute to a gift or buy it, or just send us or an NGO some cash

Final tech stack

The 3 most important elements of the stack are:

Nevertheless we are thankful to the many other developers too who made this site possible.

The story

In under 2 evenings, I've managed to put together a fully functional site that looks just fine, dynamic content can be administered by my bride, and is available in Hungarian and English too.

Remembering the ecosystem 20 years ago, this seems totally impossible. At that time, I'd have to use a web hosting company. Given the price of dynamic hosting, my only option would have been to create all the pages statically, and load them to a free hosting provider. If, I'd have found a provider who offers PHP and MySQL, I'd still have the struggles of getting language detection right, writing the admin interface and ... were there any web frameworks back in 1999? WordPress started in 2003 only!

Today, I could write everything in JavaScript. Using React for all the view layer, having a super simple API to add server side logic. NextJS provides an amazing backend, AirTable's slick API is great for as an admin interface, and I can host the final app on VercelJS as part of an automatic CD process that works seemless.

As a result, I've had enough time to show my partner what Lottie files are, and we could even select some animations to the website to make it even friendlier.

Conclusion

Our industry has improved tremendously. Sometimes, it worth the time to realise where we started, where we are now, and whom should be thankful. Thanks to everyone who drove me to became who I am today, and especially to the ones who accompanied me on my journey, by building the amazing tools I'm allowed to use every day, that make my life (and work) so much fun. Thank you all!

P.S: If you are interested, this is the website: https://gifts.nagyv.com/

Cover image photo by Foto Pettine on Unsplash

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