Case Study: REST API and Web Map UI for Local Tourism App

Locals Know is a social travel application for the iOS and Android platforms. 


Locals Know is a social travel application for the iOS and Android platforms. They provide a multimedia virtual tour guide experience for visitors to a new city.  The user has a map view to see all the points of interest and attractions in their vicinity.  Each location has audio, video, and text content to help users get unique insights into the place they are visiting.


Our client already had robust mobile apps for Android and iOS, which received data from their servers.  However, they were trying to get more users involved who had not yet installed the app.  They needed a way for existing users to share content from the app and have it viewable by their friends in a web browser.


We worked on a web-based RESTful API used by the mobile applications to pull data from the server.  Much of the structure for the API was already built by a previous developer.  However, the existing code base had several outstanding issues.  First of all, the database schema did not match the intended design of the app, and there were some other issues.  We restructured the database, wrote migrations, modified the API responses, and fixed several other bugs.  Beyond bug fixes, we also added additional API endpoints for new features and helped troubleshoot some issues with the API requests from the iOS application.

As well as dealing with the RESTful API, we built a client-facing web interface to allow users to view this content outside of the native mobile apps.  Using the responsive design features in the Bootstrap Framework, we built this web interface to render on desktop web browsers, tablets, and mobile browsers.

In addition, to support this web interface, and the social nature of the app, we built a custom URL shortener system to aid in sharing content via Twitter and Facebook.  The URL shortener created compact URLs, uniform in length, with no discernible pattern, guaranteed to be unique.

For this project, we made use of PHP, MySQL, Yii MVC Framework, JavaScript, jQuery, Google Maps API, and Bootstrap Framework.


With the improvements we made to the API, the mobile development teams were better able to build out new features for their users.  The web UI and short URLs made it easy for app users to share content from the app with their friends, facilitating a form of viral marketing to help grow the brand.

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