Project Details

Type Mashup
Client John Price
Duration April 2010 until June 2010

Technologies, Languages & Frameworks Used

Services Used

Related Blog Posts

BookSnippets Beta

Creates a guide to just about any book

  • Case study by John
  • October 14th, 2010
  • Updated on March 27th, 2011

UPDATE: There are stability issues with BookSnippets, which I'll be fixing in the near future, as well as adding some new features.

BookSnippets is a remake of my third year project while I was at the University of Manchester. Although this mashup is slightly different to the one I did then, it shares many of the common ideas and features with it. As a result of it being my third year university project, I wrote a fairly extensive report on the mashup, which you can read if you'd like by downloading it here (PDF, 2.8MB, 62 pages long). Enjoy.

The idea

The idea for this mashup was to allow somebody to type a book name in (or keywords, etc.) and then be presented with a guide to that book, created on the fly. The guide would be more than the standard information, reviews, buy mixture that online guides quite often are. Instead, the guide would contain information about the themes, topics, people and places (where applicable) of the book, as well as the standard information and reviews. Additional information such as articles, images, maps and so on would be made available to the user. The information would also be made available for download (and print).

The design

The layout and design of this version of the mashup is very minimalist, so as not to distract from the information being presented. As most of the information is textual in nature, there is little need for over the top graphics. In fact, the only graphics on the mashup are book covers and images relating to various topics, themes, people and places.

The mashup itself is split into three different pages; the 'splash' page where a user inputs a search term, the results page which shows a user the search results for a particular term, and the guide page which contains the actual guide to a book. The splash and results pages both appear as a user would expect and have grown accustomed to. The guide page is split into tabs representing each section; Overview, Reviews, Related, Topics & Themes, People, Place, and Get This Book. Each tab is fairly self explanatory. The Topics & Themes, People, and Place tabs all show a list of items which the user can click on to load the relevant article and imagery (and maps in the case of the Places tab).

How it works

The search works by searching both Amazon and Google Book Search (using their public APIs), combining the results and displaying them to a user.

The guide page works by requesting a lot of data from Amazon, Goodreads and so on simulataneously. This is a departure from the previous method of requesting all information asynchronously. Once all relevant data has been downloaded, the page renders. There is an AJAX element to the mashup with the on demand content used in the Topics & Themes, People and Places tabs which pull data asynchronously from Wikipedia, Flickr and in the case of the Places tab, Google Maps. This is accomplished using a Yahoo! Pipe to retrieve Yahoo! Search results, then retrieve the first Wikipedia result, parse the page with a PHP parser, then display the text to the user.

More information

If you would like more information on this mashup, you can contact John using the Contact page, or alternatively read the original mashup's report (link at the top of this page).