Sprint 3 Retrospective Blog

For the third sprint, I was assigned to create a REST API for the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service’s FoodKeeper Data (located here:
https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/fsis-foodkeeper-data). Prior to starting this assignment, I felt I had a poor understanding of what a REST API was, let alone how to go about making one. Fortunately, the resources that Professor Wurst sent me were a very helpful step in understanding what one looks like. I also read several other resources and followed many other tutorials while making it. By the end I had over complicated things by storing the data into a MongoDB database and ended up switching to data stored in memory, but despite this I think it was still very useful to work with MongoDB as well integrating it with the REST API. I had also considered trying to use a relational database such as PostgreSQL, as the data seemed to lend itself well to it given that each data type already contained keys relating to the other data, however it was a bit harder to set up when compared to a document database.

This sprint began before spring break, and during that time I felt that the project was at a much earlier point than was initially assumed, so I spent a good chunk of my break working on it. As I said I started with a poor understanding of REST APIs so I felt that there was some catching up that needed to be done. By the end of the break I had something that was mostly working but was a bit complicated to set up since it required installing MongoDB locally at the time. I imagine we may have run into similar issues when trying to host it in Heroku, but fortunately it’s since been simplified. I don’t think that it would necessarily be a bad thing to store the data in a separate database, however, given the relatively small set of data as well as the fact that changes aren’t made very often, it didn’t really make much sense to go that route. Changing the code that I had already written to no longer use MongoDB was pretty trivial, as not many changes needed to be made. At this point, the REST API Order System example (located here: https://gitlab.com/worcester/cs/kwurst/rest-api-order-system) that was sent to me was particularly useful, as the was it was set up was almost one to one, with a few changes here and there.

Currently the project is almost at a point where it’s ready to be used, as far as I’m aware at least. I feel that it was much simpler than I had originally thought it would be, but since I hadn’t had any experience with doing something like this before it took longer than it should have. I think one of the most important things that I’ve learned from this is how to start working on a task in which I’m unfamiliar with. It was definitely useful to learn how to make a simple REST API, but I’d say being able to work on something you’re uncomfortable with is a skill that will help me greatly in the future.

Links:
https://github.com/LibreFoodPantry/FoodKeeper-API
https://github.com/cs-worcester-cs-448-sp-2019/FoodKeeper-API

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