Code for the Community

Nikhil Prabhakar, a self-identified “navel gazer” in Brooklyn, gave us a rundown on a tool he built over the summer for young people in his neighborhood. He used Temboo to query a number of civic API datasets from his app, and then displayed the data returned in a set of tables and maps. Here’s what he had to say about it:

“The app is designed to get basic civic and geographic information for any address in the USA. I’m trying to set up a project to introduce programming to kids and young adults in my neighborhood. I want it to be a rich experience. I don’t just want programming to be an end-in-itself; I’d like to try and get them to use it as a means to learn more about their community or neighborhood—for example, the weather forecast or a list of congressional representatives. A map is perfect for this. It provides context and instant gratification, no matter what age you are.”

“This was just a first attempt and it needs a lot more work. I’m still learning about a lot of this stuff myself. I was thrilled to discover Temboo. It’s perfect for what I want to do. It makes development much more accessible. There’s a large selection of libraries in one place and they have a consistent idiom so I don’t have to go learn a whole new API every time I want to do something new. What is particularly helpful is that a number of the libraries are location-aware, such as the ones for NOAA, Data.gov, EnviroFacts, and Wolfram|Alpha.”

“The whole thing is written in JavaScript. It’s all hosted on Node.js. The front-end uses AngularJS. I’m hoping to combine these libraries with another fantastic resource, the Google Maps library for AngularJS, which is very simple to start with and grows with your imagination, which makes it a powerful teaching aid.”

You can find Nik’s own write-up on his project here, and check out the code on GitHub.