Assignment: Build-a-Blog

In this assignment, we will build a web app that displays blog posts on a main page and allows users to add new blog posts on a form page. After submitting a new blog entry on the form page, the user is redirected to a page that displays only that blog (rather than returning to the form page or to the main page). Each blog post has a title and a body. To get an idea what the finished project should look like and how it should function, check out this video:

We'll build this app incrementally and refactor as needed along the way. The general steps we'll follow are:

Project Setup

Create a new directory called build-a-blog, and then set up a local Git repository and a remote repository on GitHub. See the Web Caesar setup instructions if you need to review that process. Then set up a user and database in phpMyAdmin for this project. We recommend you use the name build-a-blog, but the password is up to you. Just remember that you will need to put all of that info into your database connection string. For refreshers on these parts of the process, re-visit FlickList 6 and Database Configuration. You'll also want to activate your flask-env virtual environment.

List and Create Blog Posts

If you think about it for a minute, the behavior of creating a blog post, saving it to the database, and displaying blog posts is essentially what we did with tasks in the Get It Done! example app. The main difference between the two is that the blog post submission form and blog post listings will be on separate pages in our Build-a-Blog app. Go back to your code for Get It Done!, or use ours, and use it as a model to set up the beginnings of your blog app.

First, set up the blog so that the "add a new post" form and the blog listings are on the same page, as with Get It Done!, and then separate those portions into separate routes, handler classes, and templates. For the moment, when a user submits a new post, redirect them to the main blog page.

Make sure you can say the following about your app:

  • The /blog route displays all the blog posts.

  • You're able to submit a new post at the /newpost route. After submitting a new post, your app displays the main blog page.

  • You have two templates, one each for the /blog (main blog listings) and /newpost (post new blog entry) views. Your templates should extend a base.html template which includes some boilerplate HTML that will be used on each page.

  • In your base.html template, you have some navigation links that link to the main blog page and to the add new blog page.

  • If either the blog title or blog body is left empty in the new post form, the form is rendered again, with a helpful error message and any previously-entered content in the same form inputs.

By the time you've checked off each of these, your app should behave like this:

Now you're ready to dive in to the next step. Nice work!

Display Individual Entries

Let's add the ability to view each blog all by itself on a webpage. Instead of creating multiple HTML files, one for each new blog post we create, we can use a single template to display a given blog's title and body. We'll designate which blog's data we want displayed by using a query param containing the id for that blog in the url. Then the request handler can dynamically grab the blog that corresponds to that id from the database and pass it to the template to generate the desired page.

There are two use cases for this functionality:

  • Use Case 1: We click on a blog entry's title on the main page and go to a blog's individual entry page.

  • Use Case 2: After adding a new blog post, instead of going back to the main page, we go to that blog post's individual entry page.

For both use cases we need to create the template for the page that will display an individual blog, so start by making that. All it need do is display a blog title and blog body. Next, we'll tackle the use cases one at a time.

But first, a reminder! It's been a little while since we used query params and GET requests, so it will be a useful reference and review to look at the lesson Forms in Flask, especially the section Accessing Get Request Parameters.

Use Case 1

One of the first and easiest changes is to make the header for the blog title on the home page be a link. But what url do we want it to link to? Well, this is the format that we want the url of a single blog entry to have: ./blog?id=6 (Here 6 is just one example of an id number for a blog post.) So using jinja2 templating syntax, how can you make sure that each blog entry that is generated on the main page has an href with a query parameter corresponding to its id?

The next thing we need to determine is how we are going to handle an additional GET request on our homepage since we are already handling a GET request there. Of course, the difference is that in this use case it's a GET request with query parameters. So we'll want to handle the GET requests differently, returning a different template, depending on the contents (or lack thereof) of the dictionary request.args.

Finally, we need to think about how the template is going to know which blog's data to display. The blog object will be passed into the template via render_template. What are the steps we need to take to get the right blog object (the one that has the id we'll get from the url) from the database and into the render_template function call?

Use Case 2

After solving Use Case 1, you should have the confidence to take on Use Case 2. For this use case, it's all in the timing. You've got to create a new database record for the blog entry that has just been submitted, but before redirecting, you need to grab the id for the record you just created. That way you'll know what url (i.e., what number to put on the right side of ?id=) to redirect the user to after they submit their new entry.

At this point, your web app should display the functionality in the demo video below:

Bonus Missions

Note: Be sure to commit and push your changes before proceeding to these extra tasks. That way you have a snapshot of your code when it met all the criteria above.

  1. Add a CSS stylesheet to improve the style of your app. You can read about how to do so here.
  1. Display the posts in order of most recent to the oldest (the opposite of the current order). You can either use the id property that has been created using auto-incrementing, or - a more sophisticated method - you can add a DateTime property to the Blog class (and drop and re-create the table) that will store the date the post was created in the database. For an example of an app with a DateTime column, check out this quickstart guide.


To turn in your assignment and get credit, follow the submission instructions