morgan herlocker

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Oakland Tonight

I recently moved from Washington DC to Oakland, California. To help get to know the area better, I decided to create oakland-tonight, a simple site for tracking upcoming shows and other events around Oakland.

The original concept was created by @tmcw in the form of dctn, a nightly event scraper for DC. I liked the simplicity of the idea: instead of showing a packed calendar full of events, dctn displayed only events happening that evening. @drdemsyn built on this idea with chs-tonight -- an event scraper for Charleston, South Carolina -- with the addition of weekly event summaries for those who would benefit from a little bit of planning ahead. oakland-tonight is mostly a fork of chs-tonight.

How it Works

Similar to dctn, and even more similar to chs-tonight, oakland-tonight uses a mix of cron, node.js, and Github Pages. A node script is periodically run that dynamically loads and runs a set of source modules; scrapers that parse structured show data from unstructured venue website calendars. This source data is then used to generate a new version of the static site, and the result is pushed to Github. This architecture works well, because the scraper can do the slowish downloading once in a while on a tiny server, while serving the static site stays lightning fast and robust with no effort on my part.


Thirteen venues are being tracked to start, but around a dozen more are planned. Most are music oriented, but I made an effort to include venues with less of a booze+music focus as well.

The main limiting factor here is my knowledge of the lesser known venues around town (still exploring!), and the overall awful quality of many of the smaller venue's websites. A robust text summarizer and metadata extractor that works with unstructured content will be necessary to hit the long tail of indie venues.

If you want to report a bug, request a feature, or add a new venue let me know on Github or on twitter @morganherlocker.