Sunday Mar 18, 2007

Nothing like a personal project to re-energize you.

So, NASCAR season started a few weeks ago. My wife is an AVID fan. I'm not as interested as her, but it is decent to have on as background when you are putzing around the house on a Sunday afternoon, playing with your kid, or whatever.

Anyways, before the season started this year, and coming off playing an NFL Pool with my extended family last season, my wife and I started thinking about how we could run a simple NASCAR Nextel Cup Series pool. We didn't want to go whole hog fantasy league or nothing, just something simple.

What we decided on was a simple pool where you picked the top 10 drivers to complete the race, and you got points for what position they came in relative to your picks.

As we talked it out, I started thinking about how I could manage something like this. A database seemed natural for managing the information. So I worked out a little schema, and decided to play with the Apache Derby database.

Probably a day before the first race, I had a basic schema all in place, that had a list of all the races and times, a list of pool players, a table for the race results, and a few other things. And enough SQL to automatically calculate the weekly scores.

But it didn't stop there. I started thinking about the Fanpool NFL site we had used, how it manages multiple pools and seasons. So of course I had to augment my schema to handle that as well. No, it doesn't matter that it might not be used for the next season or by another pool, it just needed to be done.

Then I started to wonder how difficult it would be to wrap a Web front end over the data. I hadn't used JSTL for a while, but I figured it had all I needed. I never really even used the SQL taglib at all so I was particularly interested in playing with that.

So started working on a web app, I don't recall what I worked on first, probably just a results display. But it came together pretty quickly. Easy enough that I was getting jazzed and started looking at enhancing it to allow me to log all the players picks.

About this time, I had one of my brother's in law playing with us. And my father too. So Of course now with four people playing, I needed to create a authentication mechanism, and a way for them to enter their picks themselves.

So you can see where this is going. It just ballooned from there. Now I even have it set up so it can display results realtime by pulling down some stats from ESPN during the race.

Its all been kinda fun to do. And now we even have 8 or so people playing in our pool. And since a few people started just last week, I even threw in the ability to spot people points.

Anyways, if you want to check out a demo, go to The NASCAR Pool and check out the demo pool I have set up. It makes the Nextel Cup pretty fun to watch when you throw some personal competition into it.

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