Creating Top IAmA

Over the past few weeks I worked on-and-off on a side project called Top IAmA.  It’s goal was to present popular Reddit IAmA’s in a more readable format.  There were a few criteria that the site had to meet in order for me to be happy with it:

  1. The site design had to be minimal and lightweight. I want the content to do the talking.
  2. It had to be fast loading.
  3. It had to be able to handle large amounts of traffic, in the event it became popular.
  4. It had to reliably and accurately collect questions and answers.
The design is something I quickly came up with in Photoshop.  Once I had the basic framework up I just went straight to CSS/HTML and added some polish along the way.  Check out early photoshop mockups of the homepage and article page:
Early homepage draft
Early article draft

As I mentioned, it needed some type of heavy caching in the unlikely event that the site became popular.  The content of the site would not change frequently and there is no login system, so I knew it would make things a lot easier.  I thought of creating a new cloud server to avoid any type of issues Top IAmA might cause to FantasySP, but utlimately I decided that it would be safe to host it on the same server.  The easiest thing to do would be to use Cloudflare and “cache everything“.  That means HTML, CSS, Images, etc.  Most HTTP requests will not even reach my server thanks to Cloudflare’s caching.  In fact, it should be able to handle being on the homepage of Reddit.

Once the project was complete, I submitted it to hackernews and much to my surprise the folks there really seemed to like it as it hit the front page.  I will continuly tweak Top IAmA’s ability to accurately collect questions and answers.  That is by far, the toughest hurdle to overcome.  The next phase is to collect comment links and indent questions when they are within the same thread.  No easy task, but then again, it wouldn’t be fun if it were easy.