Disclaimer: This is a draft.
- I’ve been working on an app idea that has been in the back of my mind for a few years now.
- The idea is to have a web app where you can save articles that you’d like to read, and it saves an audio version of those articles and gives you a podcast feed to listen to.
- I’ve been drawn to the idea because I always prefer to listen to audio content, rather than read. I’m a big fan of podcasts and audiobooks.
- I’ve tried to make this a few times. I’ve experimented with different combinations of frameworks, languages and deployment options. But I’ve finally landed on a solution that I’m happy with.
- It’s an Astro web app, backed by a SQLite database and BullMQ for handling background tasks. I’m using the Azure TTS API for the text to speech. It’s deployed on a DigitalOcean VPS server, using Nginx to route the requests through to the web app, and PM2 for handling the Node processes.
- You can view the source code on GitHub if you’re interested.
- Aside: I’ve extended the web app to also support downloading media using
yt-dlpand adding to the podcast feed. I’ve written about that in this other post: Hooking up yt-dlp to a podcast feed.
What I’ve learned building this app
- In making this app, I’ve learned a lot about SQLite. In the past I was intimidated by SQL and always used ORMs, sticking to frameworks like Django. But with GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT, I’ve been learning to write simple SQL and it’s not too hard! The resulting web app feels a bit simpler, because there’s less abstraction.
- I’ve also learned quite a bit about handling background tasks with BullMQ and Redis. Again, this was something I was previously intimidated by. A few years ago, I made a Rails app that had background tasks using Active Job and I thought it was like magic. I thought it was weird there wasn’t an equivalent library for NodeJS that made it feel that easy. But after learning more about how Redis works in the backend, I understand it a bit better now, and I’m more confident with it.
- One more thing I’m getting practice with is deploying NodeJS apps on VPS servers. In the past, I’ve experimented with different deployment optiions like serverless (Netlify and Vercel) and Docker containers. But I’m trying to make things a bit more simple. It feels good to have my own web server with less abstraction.