Tips for the Boss Machine project (Express.js): Installation, start local server, access index.html, and using Postman to test all the routes

Hi all,

Initially, I had quite a lot of difficulties with this project. It was hugely frustrating in the beginning until I figured out a process to faster test my code. In the end, I learned a lot from this project.

Here are some tips if you are just getting started.

1. Installing the project

The first problem I got was getting errors when I tried to run the npm install command after downloading the project.

Running the following commands worked for me:

npm install --force
npm audit fix --force

Not all errors was removed but still the app was functional (see next point).

2. Start the local Express web server

After running the commands in point 1 I wanted to see if the local Express web server would actually run.

I added the following code to the end of the server.js file:

 if (!module.parent) { 
 // Add your code to start the server listening at PORT below:
   app.listen(PORT, () => {
   console.log(`Server is listening on port ${PORT}`);

After this in the terminal, I used the command: node server.js

The Express web server started and in the terminal, you get the expected message:
Server listening to port 4001

I think it would be nice if the Codeacademy team would add this explicitly to their “How to Begin” description of the project.

3. How to access index.html in the browser

My next problem was accessing the main application i.e. the index.html file which is the starting point for the entire application.

I entered this in the browser: http://localhost:4001/index.html

I hit Enter and it resulted in the following output in the browser: Cannot GET /index.html

After searching through the Codeacademy forum I found different proposals on solutions for this.

The best (in my view) is this:

In server.js in line 6 (just after module.exports = app) add this line of code:


This line of code enables the Express web server to serve static files (index.html is a static file).

In Express terminology: It adds a middleware for serving static files to your Express app. You can use the express.static() middleware function to make it possible to access files from this folder via HTTP.

The __dirname is a global object in Node that provides the name of the directory where the executing script (server.js) resides. In this project, the index.html file is in the same directory as server.js i.e. __dirname will allow Express to server static files in the same directory as server.js.

Based on what I read in the forum it appears that without this middleware function, the index.html file must be loaded manually from the local file system in the browser by for example using “Open file” in Chrome.

That doesn’t make sense to me as we are learning web development and surely the application we built should be served via a web server infrastructure.

Again, could be nice if the “How to begin” section would provide some tips on how to access and use the index.html page.

4. Using Postman to test and debug routes

When I started the work to implement the API routes I found it frustrating to use the index.html app to test the code for the routes. Especially I found it frustrating with the PUT and POST requests.
Their new/updated resources must be sent in the request bodies and for me to fully understand what is going on I would like to see this code.

So I started to experiment with Postman:

Postman is an application that I have used before to test the API’s we are building in the Codeacademy exercises and projects.

Here you can code the PUT and POST request bodies and define what format they should have.

Here is a screenshot of my setup in Postman:

As you can see I created all the requests for the different routes (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE).

How to use Postman to create the “Get all minions” request:

You can start by clicking the plus (+) sign in the upper left corner called “Create new collection”. Give it the name “Boss Machine”.

Then click the three dots (“View more actions”) for the newly created collection and select “Add new request”.

Give the request a name: “Get all minions”.

Go to the text field called “Enter URL or paste text”.

Enter “http://localhost:4001/api/minions”

Click “Save”

Click the blue button “Send”.

Voila !

Below in the section called “Body” you see the response from your local Express web server.

Be aware:
You need to start the local web server first using the terminal (node server.js or npm run start)
You need to have implemented the ‘/minions’ route in your code for the above request to work.

It was a tremendous help for me to use Postman throughout the project.

Here is my entire set-up in Postman for all the routes including sample URL requests and sample content for the bodies in the PUT and POST requests.

To define the bodies in the PUT and POST requests:

  • Click Body (below the URL)
  • Select raw (send the data as plain text - Postman doesn’t touch the string)
  • select JSON (the raw data is formatted as JSON)

You can replace all the sample numbers (ids) with something else. Use the “Get all” requests to see what ids are valid.

Get all minions
GET http://localhost:4001/api/minions

Create new minion
POST http://localhost:4001/api/minions/
Body raw (json)
“name”: “Santa Purdy”,
“title”: “Internal Communications Analyst”,
“weaknesses”: “Will not build open-source open architecture, Unable to execute open-source system engine, Will not build wireless core, too bluetooth”,
“salary”: 40000

Get minion by minionId
GET http://localhost:4001/api/minions/1

Update minion by minionId
PUT http://localhost:4001/api/minions/1
Body raw (json)
“id”: “1”,
“name”: “Santa Purdy”,
“title”: “Customer Usability Executive”,
“weaknesses”: “Unable to execute vertical ability, Unable to execute open-source methodology, Cannot do synergistic migration, too digital”,
“salary”: 40000

Delete minion by minionId
DELETE http://localhost:4001/api/minions/1

Get all ideas
GET http://localhost:4001/api/ideas

Create new idea
POST http://localhost:4001/api/ideas/
Body raw (json)
“name”: “Uber but for markets”,
“description”: “The name says it all!!!”,
“weeklyRevenue”: 58393,
“numWeeks”: 69

Get idea by ideaId
GET http://localhost:4001/api/ideas/10

Update idea by ideaId
PUT http://localhost:4001/api/ideas/1
Body raw (json)
“id”: “1”,
“name”: “Uber but for markets”,
“description”: “The name says it all!!!”,
“weeklyRevenue”: 58393,
“numWeeks”: 69

Delete idea by ideaId
DELETE http://localhost:4001/api/ideas/1

Get all meetings
GET http://localhost:4001/api/meetings

Create new meeting
POST http://localhost:4001/api/meetings/

(be aware that no body is required to create a new meeting. The createMeeting function in db.js create the meeting for us with no body content)

Delete all meetings
DELETE http://localhost:4001/api/meetings/

Get all work for minion by minionId
GET http://localhost:4001/api/minions/1/work

Create new work for minion by minionId
POST http://localhost:4001/api/minions/1/work
Body raw (json)
“title”: “Close deal #3”,
“description”: “Close the biggest deal!”,
“hours”: 1,
“minionId”: “1”

Update work for minion by minionId and workId
PUT http://localhost:4001/api/minions/1/work/1
Body raw (json)
“id”: “1”,
“title”: “Close deal #5”,
“description”: “Close the biggest deal!”,
“hours”: 8,
“minionId”: “1”

Delete work by workId
DELETE http://localhost:4001/api/minions/1/work/1

5. Download the project solution code

I choose to download the Boss Machine solution from the beginning. It helped me (a lot). This approach might not be the best for all - but for me it was a necessary help when I got stuck.

Boss Machine Project solution (click “Next” on the project start page to get here)

Cheers :wink:


You are a savior! I just started the project and I couldn’t figure out why I was getting the CANNOT GET error… I even tried running the solution’s server to see if it worked, and of course it didn’t, since it doesn’t have the “app.use(express.static(__dirname))” line :') Thank you for all these hints!!!

Seriously, you are amazing! I was completly stuck with just the first npm install because of all the errors. I didn’t know how to handle them I felt completly stupid when I didnt even were allowed to start the project. Thanks thanks and thanks

I cannot thank you enough!! :cupid:

You’ve saved a lot of us from tons of time lost running around trying to understand what was missing, and also explained it very throroughly.

Thank you again!