Proposing Like a Nerd

Using Android, Node, Parse, Heroku, Twilio, Swarm, and AR to Win the Girl

How to propose When it comes to popping the question, there’s a lot of thought and panic that leads up to the moment.

If you look on youtube or your morning news, you’re sure to see a constant one-upsmanship of fake muggings, pretending to fall to your death, and even making the girl carry around the ring for a year for no apparent reason.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and give in to the standard of a nice dinner and dropping to one knee but I knew there had to be some way to make a creative proposal that was unique to both me and my girlfriend.

Since we both work in tech and enjoy puzzles, I thought an elaborate scavenger hunt app taking her through New Orleans during our upcoming vacation would be perfect.

You can read about the actual proposal here, but the purpose of this post and the ones to follow is to detail how I built the infrastructure, app, and integrations (relatively) quickly with just a one man team.

How to propose


I had a very elaborate proposal. It included:

  • A native android app for a scavenger hunt with different types of puzzles that would unlock one-by-one.
  • A back-end originally built with Parse but migrated to Parse Server and hosted on Heroku.
  • An html puzzle also hosted on the same node server in the vein of Notpron or Harry White’s Puzzle of Doom (both great ways to lose hours and hours of your life)
  • Sendgrid integration for automatic and dynamically-sent emails throughout the scavenger hunt.
  • Swarm integration to allow check-in based puzzles.
  • Twilio integration for both an automated SMS-based puzzle and a voice-based puzzle in multiple languages.
  • AR using the Viuforia SDK with custom built models.

Articles (coming soon)##

If you’re looking to propose to a special nerd in your life or if you’re just learning some of the technologies I used, I’m going to share some of the biggest lessons I learned in the following series of posts.