Trello-Powered Movie Reviews

2016, May 02    

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Ever since I started using Trello a few years ago, I’ve been finding new ways to use it for organizing and tracking things over time. I’m a huge fan of how versatile yet structured it is. One of my many personal boards is a Movie Reviews board. I started this board because I wanted to keep a running list of movies I wanted to see and how much I liked them. I’m not really any good at writing movie reviews, but as I compiled more and more of them, I started wondering if there was a good way to display them on a website somewhere? Sure, you could read them in Trello, but Trello is not optimized for readers, so I started looking into their API.

Trello as a backend

Trello’s API allows you to grab all the data on a public board without authorization, so this is a perfect backend for a frontend Angular application. I started off thinking maybe I would write it in Angular 2, but the documentation was pretty sparse and reading source code isn’t something I love doing in my free time. Instead I spun up an AngularJS 1.5 app using Babel and Browserify to allow me access to ES2015 (or ES6? I’m not sure what they’re calling it these days…) features like modules. While the improvements are ultimately just syntactic helpers, I still think they help Javascript look much cleaner and more readable. I also like how they abstract away Angular, making it much easier to write true unit tests.

Turning a Trello Board into a website

So, after a few weekends hacking away at this thing, I finally came up with “Mellow” (a mashup of “movies” and “trello”), which I’m hosting at movies.khughes.me. On its own, this isn’t that exciting of a website. It’s not super pretty, and there isn’t a ton of content there yet, so it’s got room for improvement. But, what this project did get me thinking about was the broader uses for Trello as a CMS.

Trello as a CMS

This isn’t a completely original idea. I read an article in The Changelog a few months back about how they use Trello to build their email newsletter, and there’s even a service someone set up called “Websites for Trello” that seems to be doing this. Still, I think there’s probably use cases that would benefit from an open source framework that leans on Trello as a CMS. I can definitely imagine hosting simple blogs, recipe lists, book and movie review sites, etc. with Trello as a backend. If you’re interested in picking up a project to build an open source CMS around Trello, let me hear about it or fork my project on Github. If not, keep your eyes open because I might be tackling this project on my own soon.