TweeterDiet.com and CakePHP

First things first. As of 11:45 PM last night, my latest project launched. Go take a look at TweeterDiet.com Go ahead. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Yes, I know it’s very minimal right now. I’ll be remedying that over the next week or so, by adding in some sample screen-shots and more features. But for now, it at least functions, and I’ve been using it personally for the last couple weeks. Here’s a basic rundown of the idea for the site. As you may know, if you read my blog regularly, or happened to glance over to the right sidebar, I’m trying to lose a lot of weight. To help me out, I’m going to the gym, but most importantly, I’m tracking my weight. I’m using a method borrowed from The Hacker’s Diet, which is quite simple: Weigh yourself once a day, and calculate a trended weight from that. The trended weight smooths out the daily fluctuations, and gives you a much better picture of what’s actually happening with your body. From that trend, you can calculate your daily calorie deficit, and know if you need to change things to lose weight faster or slower.

I’d been using a couple (1, 2) purpose-built Hacker’s Diet trackers, and they work pretty well, but I wanted something more. Peer pressure is such a great motivator, that I’ve made it 100% public what I’m trying to do, and how well I’m doing at it. But I was getting tired of having to go and post the update information on my Twitter feed every day. I figured there had to be a better way, but I didn’t immediately see anything when I looked for other websites that solved that problem. So I decided to create one myself. Since someone had snatched up the more obvious domains, I ended up with TweeterDiet.com, but that’s okay It’s still a great domain, and it works well for me.

I spent the first couple weeks after I got the initial idea piecing together the base elements I’d need. I decided to write the project in CakePHP, a framework I’m very familiar with from my day job. From there, I had to build out Twitter integration and some kind of graphing. Once those pieces were in place, the rest was just making the front end pretty, and creating a user registration and login system. Fortunately, I’ve built all of those things before, and was able to quickly piece it together. A week ago, it was about 75% complete, and just needed the finishing touches put on it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to work on it during the week, and ended up not getting it done until this past weekend. But that ended up providing a bit of beautiful irony.

I worked late on Friday, and then worked most of the day on Saturday and Sunday as well to finish the system up. I had to change out the menu system for the theme that I’d gotten, since I couldn’t figure out what the designer had done to the PSDs, and I was tired of waiting to hear from him. I replaced the image rollovers with a pure CSS solution, and I think it turned out very well. I realized partway through Saturday that if I launched on Sunday, not only would by diet website be based on CakePHP, it would be launched on Pi Day. I resolved to launch on Sunday, just to take advantage of that irony.

As Sunday wore on, I was getting very close, and I was eagerly anticipating announcing the launch on Twitter. Then disaster struck. Around 10PM, my login form stopped working, and I couldn’t figure out why. I spent an hour and a half fighting with it, and I’m still not sure what exactly broke. But I finally got it working again, and at 11:45PM on Pi Day, I announced to the world that TwitterDiet.com was up and running. It still needs a lot of polish, but it’s functional, and I’m looking forward to hearing what the community has to say about it. If you have any feedback, please either use the feedback form on the website, or post your responses here.

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