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If you’re reading this post, you are probably looking for an idea. You likely want to build a simple app that you can use in a tutorial or in your example project to test a new framework or API. But you can’t find anything that really resonates with you.

It needs to be simple enough not to take up all your time, but at the same time complex enough to be worth doing.

“I don’t want to build another to-do app!” I hear you thinking.

I get it. I wrote this post to help myself, and I hope it will help you as well.

What you’ll find below

Some of the ideas are self-contained (not involving the use of an external API), while some make use of famous public APIs where you can easily grab pre-built data.

Some require a server part, and some do not, which might also depend on your implementation.

But I tried to make sure these ideas are:

  • good for a tutorial
  • good to experiment with web technologies
  • not something that will take a week to figure out
  • not “startup ideas”
  • targeted to web apps
  • easy to explain
  • easy to build (less than 24 hours, if prepared)
  • easy to extend with new features

So, enough talk, here’s the list!

Simple apps without external dependencies

A weight tracker app

  • It accepts a set of manual entries of weight measurements taken at different dates
  • It can plot a graph
  • It can allow you to track multiple entities, for example more than one person’s weight
  • It stores the weights somewhere

A calculator app

  • A standard calculator: numbers, +, -, *, /, and the result

A book database

  • Enter the books you own
  • Enter the books you’d like to buy
  • Store the book info and images

A recipes app

  • Enter a name and a description with the steps
  • Have pictures
  • Have some ranking for difficulty and quality
  • Add the time needed
  • Have different steps with a picture for each
  • Store them somewhere

A bill tracker

  • Log bills, amounts, and dates
  • List bills
  • Have a few graphs (this year / last year)
  • Store them somewhere

An expenses tracker

  • Log expenses and tag them (or have categories)
  • List expenses
  • Have a few graphs (last month / last year)
  • Store them somewhere

A chat application

  • Some sort of stripped-down Slack
  • People enter without authentication and are assigned a name, stored for when they come back
  • Store the history
  • Add notifications

A notes app

  • Add a new note
  • List all your notes in the sidebar
  • Store them somewhere

A personal diary app

  • Add entries with a date and text
  • Show more recent first
  • Attach pictures
  • Store them somewhere

A pomodoro app

  • Enter a time
  • Start timer
  • Alert when the time is over

A meme generator

  • Have 10 popular meme images
  • Let the user add the text
  • Result is image + text
  • Store the history

Tic-tac-toe game

We all know what a tic-tac-toe game is 🙂

The game of life

A great project involving math and graphics.

A blog engine

  • Allow user to login and add posts
  • Visitors can add comments
  • Store the data somewhere

A QA engine

  • Allow user to login
  • Add questions
  • Answer to questions
  • Allow original user to choose the best question
  • Store the data somewhere

A forum engine

  • Allow user to login
  • Add posts
  • Comment on posts
  • Store the data somewhere

An embeddable live chat

Think Intercom or Olark.

  • Have a “backend” where you respond
  • Embed on a web page
  • Let people write to you privately

API-powered apps

An Hacker News client

  • List the popular posts
  • Show a post’s comments
  • Show a user’s profile
  • Search HN

Check out HNPWA and Awesome Hacker News for inspiration.

A Reddit client

  • List the popular posts
  • List the comments of a post
  • Show a user’s profile

An Instagram client

  • Enter an hashtag and get the latest posts
  • Enter a username and get the latest posts
  • Allow to store one or more hashtags/usernames and get all the latest posts from those

A GitHub API client

  • List the popular repositories from today / week / month
  • List the latest commits in a repository
  • Show a person or organization public repositories ranked by stars

An Unsplash API client

  • Search images by topic
  • Let the user enter a term, show relevant images

Start at Unsplash API for inspiration.

Data for your sample apps

Sometimes you start building some simple app, but you’re bored with the data you’ve found that you can use. You don’t have to be bored! You can use real data, or random data.

Public APIs you can use in example projects

Maybe you have an idea for a perfectly nice CRUD app, or something that works with an API, but you don’t want to create the API in the first place.

I recommend that you check out Airtable, which provides a great API for developers. It’s very easy to use, like a database.

Here are some amazing public APIs you can use:

Image placeholders for your sample projects

Image generators

Avatars:

Sample text generator for your sample projects

Lorem Ipsum is boring. Spice it up!

If you insist on using Lorem Ipsum, Loripsum is a good generator.

Other fake data

FakeJSON has tons of fake data generation capabilities.

JSONPlaceholder has fake posts, comments, photos, todos, users, and albums, all ready for REST consumption.

Need fake name/user data generation? Check UI Names and RandomUser.

Wrapping up

I hope this list is comprehensive enough to suit your needs!

Have fun!

Interested in learning JavaScript? Get my free ebook at jshandbook.com