Announcing indiehackers.tv

Published on Aug 18, 2020

I’m a big fan of Indie Hackers.

I’ve been reading the interviews for years, listen to the podcast and been involved in the forums since they launched.

I wanted to work on fun side project recently and so I decided to build indiehackers.tv

What is indiehackers.tv?

Being a frequent visitor to the Indie Hackers forums, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of videos being posted. Many people are recording and sharing their indie hacker journey as videos, with some people doing live streams.

Personally I’ve gone back and forth on video content vs written content.

While I prefer the ability to scan and quickly consume written content, the nature of making/creating software and online businesses, is often easier to consume in video format.

I’ve found myself watching more videos for indie hackers.

indiehackers.tv makes it easier to find the video content posted on Indie Hackers.

What’s in the MVP?

The MVP for indiehackers.tv is relatively straightforward:

List all the videos posted on the IndieHackers forum. Instead of happening to find videos.

Most of the publicly shared videos are hosted to YouTube, so I focused on finding the videos hosted here.

Once I got into the build I found I could easily associate the videos when posted to the group they were posted in. So I included in the MVP the ability to list the videos posted to a specific Indie Hackers group.

How was the MVP built?

Since Indie Hackers doesn’t have an official API, my initial thoughts were that this would have to be manually curated site.

I or some other kind volunteers would have to keep an eye on the Indie Hackers forums and post any videos they found. This is obviously not ideal.

The amount of time required to curate the content, and the delays in adding new videos would have made the site very difficult to maintain, and keep relevant.

Indie Hackers is hosted on Firebase, and powered mostly by front end technologies. This makes it inherently API based, even if that API isn’t officially supported.

There is an Indie Hackers mobile app being developed by community member @levid that uses the same APIs.

I started to explore using these unofficial APIs to gather the content I needed.

After digging a little more into how the Indie Hackers forums work, I found a short cut to getting the information I needed.

Rather than trying to list every post that users make, and then parse the content of the post to find youtube links, a process that might require taxing the Indie Hacker resources, I decided instead to use the search feature.

Indie Hackers search is powered by Algolia, and thus again provides an official API.

Rather than having to index all the content myself, it was much quicker to leverage the work that Indie Hackers have already done putting their content into the Algolia database and providing a simple search to search that database.

Using the existing API I was able to quickly find the videos posted to Indie Hackers, and build a list that could be published.

In analyzing the data being returned from the API I found that the group, post and the user who posted the video was included.

This allowed me to link back to Indie Hackers for these attributes, to provide more context and encourage people to participate in the forums.

What is the MVP stack?

I stuck with my preferred tech stack for this build.

I used Laravel PHP to build the website, hosted the site on Digital Ocean.

The front end is very lean Tailwind CSS build. The images are all sourced from YouTube.

Launch

I did a soft launch over the weekend, as I continued to make some adjustments, but I’m pretty happy with where things are at right now, so I’m officially opening the doors.

About 150 users visited the site over the weekend. I got some great feedback, and I’m looking forward to receiving more.

Post MVP

The MVP has all the things that I wanted from this project, there are however some things that could be added.

I have not created any kind of mailing list/newsletter offering. If this could be automated I think it would be a nice feature to add. A weekly summary of the new videos posted sent to people mailboxes, could I believe be fully automated.

Before implementing this however, I’d like to monitor the site for a few weeks to see if the amount of content makes this a good idea. If the amount of content remains low the email may not be worthwhile. If there are many videos posted each week, there would need to be a way to sort the content and limit which videos are included in the email.

I would in general like to provide more filter/sorting options to the videos. There may be a way to access more information from both the Indie Hackers, and YouTube side to help users find the best videos posted.