The story of mynextvape starts with the death of a vape mod. You are sad, but quickly start looking for that next new shiny mod with all the latest tech. In particular, I was interested in finding mods with USB Type-C (because it's supposed to be the future). But finding good, unbiased information on mods in one clear place was painfuly difficult. And new vape mods are like mushrooms, so you end up scouring Google and come up more confused at the end. So I decided to do something about it.
Some more research was done, and I was looking to learn about this fancy new web dev thing called React, so a match was made. Learn react by building a solution to the problem that is faced. Something where I had zero experience in + a completely scattered world of vaping information, what could go wrong?
FFS this was difficult AF. The data sheets of products are all over the place, for some mods it's nearly impossible to get good technical specs. On top of that I was just starting to understand the intricacies of React. I probably wasted a few weeks on just figuring out how to start (there's like a billion packages that all do almost the same thing). But at some point the first stone was set in place, and slowly things started to come together.
Fired up a first version on Heroku and voila, my next vape was born:
Now getting started was easy, but making this work properly had it's own challenges. How is this site maintained? Where do I put the content? What server do I use? Etc, etc. A first trial of doing everything yourself kinda worked, but was not really maintainable (note: don't try to build your own CMS).
There had to be an easier way, and that way was the combination of React Static + Contentful + Netlify. Together it allows you to focus on the website first, and don't worry about servers and backends and all that nasty nasty. Any changes to the site automatically go live, and any changes to the content (new products, brands, prices, ..) would also get automatically deployed.
By this point, the site started to look like actual proper:
But the main issue was there were only a handful of vape mods to check out. So a data gathering mission was set up. Sites were scraped, Google was raided and the handful of mods quickly doubled, tripled then quadrupled in size. At the same time, automation started helping with big parts of this tedious work. Now we're in a place where mods get added frequently, prices get updated automagically and the focus can go back to what we should do with the site.
I've realised by this point this isn't an About Us page anymore but a How We've Built It page. Aaanyway, mynextvape.com is far from done. The good news is that the large chunks of work are locked into place, and we can focus on making more smaller and incremental changes as we go.
This website was built as a side project by a part-time pseudo-code monkey and full-time data sewage plant operator.