Coding a random generator
July 26, 2014 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to create an online idea generator but have no coding knowledge. Is there an easy way to do this or do I need to learn a bit of programming? If so which language would be best?

Let's say this generates snack suggestions. User would specify a few options (sandwich/soup/dessert; vegetarian/vegan/omni; one ingredient that has to feature) and they would then receive a suggestion created from a database of variants eg brown bread + cheese and tomatoes + mayonnaise.
Is there anywhere these exist preprogrammed but I could populate with my own variants? Or does it have to be baked fresh?

posted by KateViolet to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you are at all technical, you could most likely write this from PHP tutorials in a weekend. If you have a friend that does web development, they could write this in an hour - you might be best off just offering to pay them for a little of their time. There's undoubtedly something that does this sort of thing out there but I'm not aware of a specific one. PHP is not a good language but it is ubiquitous and for things like this is usually good enough.

Be aware that using an actual database is both overkill for what you're describing and vulnerable to an important class of attacks called SQL injection (and most of the tutorials you'll find won't show how to protect against it). For relatively small amounts of data, you can do this easily by just storing the information in text files.
posted by Candleman at 4:26 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a pretty trivial app. I'd suggest doing it in plain javascript so you wouldn't need any server-side support (using php might require more computer wizardry at the front end than you are prepared to tackle, while with javascript all you need is a text editor and a browser). There are lots of JS tutorials out there.
posted by dis_integration at 4:40 PM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you want a general idea generator, go to the and read someone's random idea.

If you want a recipe list tool, using tools you know already (i.e. a handwritten doc and a set of dice for randomization) is probably the easiest way to go.

It's a trivial app only if you already know a lot of programming. Learning programming is not trivial.
posted by sninctown at 4:52 PM on July 26, 2014

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