BluRayFriend.com

January 19, 2011

I’ve owned DvdFriend.net and DvdFriend.us for many years. I occasionally try to acquire DvdFriend.com, but someone is squatting it. I’ve offered $50 more than once, to no avail. I won’t offer any more just on principle.

Not too long ago it occurred to me that Dvds are old, and we have this new exciting format called Blu-Ray. That domain was available, so I grabbed it.

Now I am tasked with rebuilding the site yet again. DvdFriend is hardly functional at this point. The APIs used to hit amazon and other vendors no longer work. Amazon now requires signed requests. The other screen scraping capabilities have gone stale.

You may recall that when I started NOODB it was because I didn’t feel like writing a ton of database code again. I haven’t worked on NOODB for quite a while for three reasons:

  1. I started writing a service bus called “SomeGuy Bus”. I never blogged about it because I was primarily just experimenting. This ended up being a good project, though, that I may continue time permitting. I’ve looked at several technologies and approaches over the last year, and I wanted to put my hat in the ring with something that combines all of the features that I was hoping to find but couldn’t. (That project is blog worthy. It does some neat stuff, but like everything else, is far from complete.)
  2. The kids at Microsoft are working on CODE FIRST EF. I haven’t looked into it too much out of fear that it is their NOODB equivalent. (I’m sure I could find out easy enough, but purposely haven’t)
  3. Just needed a break. The point of doing this stuff is to learn new things and have fun with the eventual goal of maybe coming up with something useful. I got to a point in NOODB where I had to rewrite a SQL view generator, and I just didn’t feel like it, so I started the bus.

Anyhoo, since DvdFriend.us is in such a sad state, and I was between projects, I started development of BluRayFriend.com. Its using these technologies:

  • Asp.Net Mvc 3 RTM – I started with a preview version, I think, and have updated all the way to release.
  • EF4 – I did database-driven rather than model-driven.
  • Service Layer – everything on the site goes through a service layer. This minimizes the significance of the model part of MVC. The controllers call services, so maybe the services are the model. I don’t have a good handle on that. But, the result is that should I choose to expose the API at some point, anything the site can do, a client can do. That’s important to me. I’d hate to have to write things twice to support two different types of consumers (the website, then service clients)

I have a good handle on MVC 3 basics, but haven’t dabbled with advanced topics. There’s a MVC3 book coming out in April. I preordered that and will read it cover to cover, which may result in some reengineering of the site. But, I’m making progress.

The first release of BluRay friend will be a modest effort:

  • Import all reviews from dvdfriend
  • Import products from dvdfriend; only import those that have a review.
  • Search Movies – search algorithm is extremely simple to start. will use something more robust as it evolves. – Simple is Done
  • Write a Review
  • Set a Rating – used the star approach like netflix. Close to done.
  • Login using your facebook credentials
  • Use the amazon api to retrieve product information including the image – done
  • RSS Feed

That’s just to go live. There’s a whole list of other features after that, but I’m making a serious effort to pace myself. Right now, both users of the site (chris and I) do two things: Write Reviews and read each others reviews. BluRay Friend just needs that parity for now.

As always, the GUI is horrid. Its less horrid that DvdFriend, but that’s not saying too much. I really need GUI help, so if you’d like to work for free, welcome aboard!

Here it is, the first screen shot. Behold!

blurayfriend1