Process behind Travelbook

30 October 2014

I created a website to display my photos and tell the story of my trip to the U.S East Coast with my brother at the end of August 2014.

Go check it out:


This post explains my process around this website.


I’m disappointed with (free) photos services on Internet such as:

  • Flickr: confusing as hell, I’m never able to find an album or photos.
  • Picasa: old, ugly and more and more integrated with Google+.
  • Facebook: even if it’s possible to share an album with people not having a Facebook account, the UI is kind of simple.
  • Exposure: probably the closest I could have use but I feel like it’s limited to few photos and not a whole trip.

Maybe there are good services out there that I didn’t heard about, let me know. I needed to define my needs now.

How could I show my photos?

I’m a developer so I can (theorically) create a service that fits perfectly my needs. I asked myself the following question: What describes a trip? and the answer was:

  • Where: map
  • When: timeline
  • What: text
  • Why: text
  • How: text
  • and the photos of course.

How to build it?

As I learned by working in a startup:

create a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then interate on it.

It’s where usually my side projects failed before: I wanted to create the whole project at once but then gave up in the middle of it by lack of motivation.

Mandatory features

Features needed before the website would be viable:

  • a map with markers where photos were taken
  • a timeline: one page per day
  • a slideshow for the photos
  • a way to generate blocks of photos (auto resizing depending on the photo sizes and number of photos per block)

None-mandatory features

  • a “day” generator. Edit manually a JSON file is enough.
  • email webhook. I wanted to be able to create a “day”, by sending emails with photos
  • internationalization, my audience will be mostly French. English people will have to satisfy themself with the photos.

What I like about this project?

I was able to try React. Usually for most of frameworks I try, I’m expecting the worth but I have been pleasantly surprised. The next step is to update the code with Facebook Flux architecture.

Another new service/framework I wanted to test was MapBox. I was confused with their JavaScript SDK (layer on top of Leaflet). I need to spend more time reading the documentation and understand the different notions (Feature, Layer, Marker, etc.) in order to grok1 it.

And for a none-technical point of view, the temporal notion of the website allows me to relive my vacation by sorting my photos one day at a time (I was too lazy to make the whole trip at once) and also keep improving the website piece by piece.

And most importantly, it’s accessible to a vast majority of my friends and family (compare to my others projects which are more technical).

What’s next?

Besides small bugs and improvements I can/need to do, I would like to create a backend where I could create a “day” with an user interface and keep the current project for the frontend part. It may wait my next long trip.


  1., I’m reading Stranger in a Strange Land while writing this post.