Ankit Ahuja

PollBol, a Polling Web App

Update: PollBol is currently down due to server deployment issues. Take a look at the screenshots instead.

Pollbol is an exciting web app that adds a twist to conventional polling by adding an additional social aspect to it. After making FriendComparé, which was a mashup making use of the Last.fm API, I wanted to make a more independent app that maintained its own data.

Even so, I fully support the idea of making use other apps’ APIs. It makes it easier for the users to adopt since it builds on the functionality of the more popular app. And so, FriendComparé has had comparatively far more visitors as compared to PollBol due to the popularity of Last.fm.

With PollBol, I had to think of a development platform that would allow me to complete the project within my summer vacations. And what better for agile development than Ruby On Rails. It was exciting to use Rails as it divides the entire project into three parts: Models, Views and Controllers. And this makes it easier to plan on the various modules of the project.

I started out with the basic models of Questions, Answers and Users and then added modules as I started getting more comfortable with Rails. It makes it very easy to create models through migrations. You don’t need to know much of Sql in order to be able to manage data in a database.

Rails also makes it dead simple to create views for your app, though eventually to make your app look better, you need to have decent CSS skills. Usually, for each Controller, there is a corresponding View. The controller acts as a glue between the model and the view. The Controller performs all the programming part whereas all the formatting information is contained in the View. Rails also provides Helpers, which help to make Views even more simple and less complicated.

Google Charts API came in handy to display the results of polls.

Though PollBol hasn’t had as many users as FriendComparé, only a handful of people who I really had to convince to help me test the app :p (thanks Sameer, Neha, etc.), it was a fascinatingly learning and fun experience developing it.

Some of the unique features in PollBol are:

  1. You can add additional answers/choices to a poll if you don’t like the available ones

  2. You can be friends with other users so you can follow their activity

  3. RSS Feeds for public activity, latest polls, popular polls, etc.

  4. Commenting on Polls

PollBol hasn’t been tried by too many people yet. Maybe its because I haven’t tweeted or blogged about it. Also, unless its an app as popular as twitter or last.fm, with the social webapps overload, people normally cringe at the thought of registering at a new website ( including me ). Maybe in future, I will allow non-registered users to participate in polling as well as integrating it with OpenID.

Meanwhile, here are a few screenshots for you to chew on: