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How TikTok Gave Me the Perfect Coding Side Project


Benjamin Carlson / September 01, 2020

3 min read––– views


As a computer science student, I am always looking for another cool side project to keep me busy. These ideas for side projects can come from anywhere; sometimes from the places you least expect.

The other day I was scrolling through TikTok when I can across this video. Basically, it’s about how there are people in this world born on the same day and were in the same hospital are you were. Neat, right? I then looked at the comments and multiple users were saying there should be a website for this. Immediately I knew what I had to do. In this post, I will talk about how I was able to build and deploy this site in only a few hours completely for free by using various popular coding technologies.

The Idea

Before I talk about the technology, I want to quickly discuss what I am trying to build. Essentially, it is a website where users can create an account and input their information like their name, birthday, hospital name, and snapchat username (for a way to contact). After they do this, they can see a table of every other user who has inputted their information. They can then (hopefully) find others with the same birthday and hospital!

Over time I plan to add new features (because right now this is essentially an Excel spreadsheet clone), but for the moment that is the idea.

The Technology

Now for the interesting part. Let’s look at the technology I used to build this.


Right off the bat I knew I was going to build this in Next.js. I had just finished uploading a tutorial series on YouTube about it and I built my personal website using it so I was confident I could quickly and easily get this site up and running with Next.js.

Next.js gives you the best developer experience with all the features you need for production: hybrid static & server rendering, TypeScript support, smart bundling, route pre-fetching, and more. No config needed.


My next challenge was deciding how and where to store the data. For this, I turned to Google’s Firebase. I had worked with Firebase before in various forms, including with Flutter and Vanilla JavaScript, but not yet with Next.js. No problem though, because Next.js has amazing documentation and example projects. I was able to clone this firebase auth repo and get on my way. As seen by the repo name, Firebase also helped in another way; providing a means of authentication.

Bootstrap + react-bootstrap-table-next + HTML/CSS

To quickly build a UI for this site, I turned to Bootstrap, specifically react bootstrap. Using it, I was able to code the Nav bar and the Modals quickly. Then, I used npm package “react-bootstrap-table-next” to build the table for the data. This allowed be to dynamically generate the data and add a search bar easily (see code below). Both of these technologies accounted for 99% of my UI.

I also used HTML and CSS for some basic markup because, let’s face it, you can’t build a website without them.

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Hi 👋 I'm Benjamin Carlson, a senior college student studying computer science. I post weekly tutorial videos on my YouTube channel and build cool open source projects!