5 Amazing Programming Project Ideas to Try

Are you starting to code? Are you searching for amazing programming project to try? Learn more about this in this article

Share This Post

If you are starting to code but don’t do that for a job, you may need some programming project ideas. In fact, working on a real-world use is the secret to become a good software developer. In this quick guide, we give you several good programming project ideas so that you can develop real-world skills, even on your own, and even if you are quite a junior developer.

Before diving right into the programming project ideas, we briefly present the way we selected ideas, and how you can choose which one is better based on your need.

How to Select Programming Project Ideas

Selecting the right programming project idea depends on what you want to get out of this idea. Specifically, you should think about what do you plan to accomplish when the project will be implemented and working. Below, some guiding questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I want to do this to improve my skills on a technology I already know? For example, get better at your favourite programming language.
  • Do I want to do this to learn a new technology?
  • Will this project help me develop team skills by working with other people?
  • Can I sell this project once it is complete?
  • Do this project showcase domain expertise that can help me get the job I want? For example, if you want to work for a bank, a programming project idea about accounting can be good.
  • Can this project help me develop my skills at a different scale? For example, a project designed to serve millions of concurrent users can be great if you have only experience with few users at a time.

Additionally, considering that programming is in part creative work and in part only a chore. No matter the project, you want to maximize the time spent on creative work that requires intellect, and minimize brainless tasks such as data entry or creating many forms to perform data entry.

In this guide, we tried to select programming project ideas that can address as many as the previous questions as possible, in a positive way. Nonetheless, take a look at them and decide which one is good for you.

List of Programming Project Ideas

Inventory Management System

The first of our programming project ideas is an inventory management system. This is something that can show business acumen, operations management domain-specific expertise, and that can go quite deep on technical complexity depending on what you want. It can be done with any programming language, and does not really need a complex infrastructure (such as microservices), so the technology exposure can be limited at first and expanded later.

Programming Project Ideas: an inventory management system to manage a warehouse can be a good idea
Automating Inventory management could be helpful for small and big businesses.

For a company, the inventory is the bulk of products they keep in stock and on shelves waiting to sell them to customers. Managing inventory is critical for a company because they need to buy the products to keep in inventory in advance. Then, these products are sitting on shelves doing nothing until they are sold. Only at that point the company can make a profit. Having a large inventory means customers get what they want, but the company has to spend a lot to keep it (because it will be a long time before all products are sold). Instead, having a small inventory contains costs, but you may run out of some products, losing potential sales.

In short, the size of the inventory (how many units of each product) to be kept in stock is to be carefully balanced. You can create a software that does that. That software should have the following features

  • It must be able to keep track of how many units you have of each product (a product is technically called SKU, stock keeping unit). Also, it must be able to increase the amount (when you receive shipment from supplier) and reduce it (when you make a sale).
  • It should collect statistics on sales (reductions for SKU) to forecast inventory need for a given period
  • It should take into account the fact that there is a lead time: a time lag from when you order restocking to the supplier until you actually get the product
  • It must consider order-size from the supplier. That is, each supplier can accept an order for a minimum amount of units, which is typically never 1 but much larger

You can extend the features of this system if you want to go full blown:

  • It should be able to handle multiple warehouse, each with its own inventory management
  • It can manage the entire supply chain (restock from another warehouse)
  • It can account for volume-based discounts from the supplier
  • It can consider that the same product may be sourced from different suppliers at different prices

This is quite an enterprise application, and if you do it right, you may even be able to sell it to small businesses, if you custom-tailor it to their needs. Large businesses tend to prefer more enterprise-grade solutions like SAP.

Library Management System

If the inventory management system feels too big for you, then a library management system can be a better place to start. This is the usual college project: make a software to manage the books in a library. It has the following features:

  • Manage an inventory of books, each book is identified by author, title, publishing house, ISBN code
  • There might be multiple copies of the same book
  • Users should be able to borrow a book, and the system should be able to tell who is borrowing which book as well as all the leases done in the past

Unlike in the inventory management system, here you manage a list of users. If you want to extend it, implement a good user interface to search books. It is unlikely that you will be able to sell this project, however some local library may start using it for free if you let it – which would stand quite good on your resume.

Restaurant Table Manager

Large restaurants use this type of software all the time to better manage their service. Such a software is generally running on the cash register and on some handheld devices given to all waiters. This system allows to see which tables are occupied and which ones are free, and associate orders to specific tables. If you’ve ever been in a restaurant, you probably know what I am talking about.

Optimizing restaurant activities could be one of the most helpful programming project ideas to realise.
Restaurants use this type of software to manage reservations and orders.

Here, great emphasis is also placed on the graphic interface, as you want to represent in the app the map of the restaurant with all the various tables. Just like in real-life waiters can rearrange tables as needed, so the app must allow for an easy reconfiguration.

This app should include the following features:

  • Ability to draw rooms and add tables to each room. Tables should be of various sizes and shapes, and the user must be able to specify how many people can a table seat.
  • Possibility to mark a table as occupied or not
  • Have a list of item on the menu, associated with a price, and then allow waiter to log orders on a given table
  • View of orders to cook and possibility to mark them as ready (for the kitchen)
  • See the summary of a table at the cash register, and release table as newly free

If you want to take this to the next level, you can add extra features. For example, you can use machine learning to identify patterns of items that are often purchased together, or what type of product do the most paying customers buy.

You can also expand this system in term of security, for example ensuring that no order can be logged to a table that is not occupied, that no one can be seated to a table that is marked as already occupied and so on.

Finally, you can go in even more advanced features such as rearranging the priority of orders to cook in the kitchen so that people at the same table are served together, based on predetermined or historical time needed to prepare a given dish.

This is probably one of the best programming project ideas because it can be as simple as a web app and as complex as a large combination of a backend REST API, an iOS and/or Android frontend, and maybe even some cloud service such as AWS SES to send notifications to the handheld devices.

Route Planner

We continue our list of programming project ideas with a route planner. This is a software that should be able to compute the best path to follow from point A to point B. It is the same kind of logic that you find in software like Google Maps.

If you want to test yourself with amazing programming ideas, creating a route planner could be an easy way to start.
A Route Planner could help people navigating in space.

This programming project idea is particularly nice because it involves significant creative work. To be more specific, you will have to work with graphs extensively. Imagine a street map: every crossroad is represented as a node in a graph, and each road going from a crossroad to the next can be considered an edge.

Your skill will be to implement the correct weight on each edge, which should represent numerically the value of a path (lower is better or higher is better, up to you). For example, highways are generally preferrable because they are faster. Then, you need to develop an algorithm which finds the best path from any node (crossroad) to any other node, taking into account those weights.

As key features, you should consider:

  • Possibility to add, remove, or modify nodes and edges
  • Given two nodes on the graph, identify the best path that connects them (identified as a series of edges and other nodes)

Here, a good approach is to time the execution of the function that finds the best path. You want to reduce it to the lowest amount possible.

If you want to go even deeper, a good idea is to implement a function that randomly generates the graph, adding nodes and edges to it in a reasonable way. You can also take into account multi-dimension weight on edges (for example to account for distance and speed) and represent graphically the graph that you have.

Math Expression Parser

Our list of programming project ideas wouldn’t be complete without an expression parser. This is also a complex programming project idea with tons of creative work. Taken a mathematical expression, this project should resolve it and simplify it, returning its final value.

Here, of course, the feature would be to solve any potential math problem. However, mat is big, and you should tackle features in order, from the simplest to the most complex. Here is your set of challenges. Implement one feature, then move on to the next.

  • Addition, subtraction
  • Multiplication and division, considering order
  • Parentheses
  • Square root
  • Variables (letters) inside the expression
  • Exponents
  • Logarithms
  • Limits
  • Derivatives
  • Integrals

This may sound complex at first, and the more you dive into it the more it feels more complex. To give you a hint, you should start by creating two main parts in your programming project. One part of the code, the “parser” is dedicated to converting a string of text into a tree with operations on intermediary nodes and values only on child nodes. The other part if the “solver”, which processes the tree to solve the operation.

Programming Project Ideas in Summary

You can have as many programming project ideas as you want. However, the ideas we presented here are good learning opportunity and create something that you can showcase in a resume. Not to mention, you may even be able to sell some of those. Let’s recap our programming project ideas, in order of complexity this time.

  1. Library Management System
  2. Inventory Management System
  3. Restaurant Table Manager
  4. Route Planner
  5. Math Expression Parser

Here, you have quite a few programming project ideas to try yourself on. However, if you are just starting to program, we have the right course for you. In fact, you can read our free Python course or our free Full Stack Developer course. Have fun!

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded ICTShore.com with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded ICTShore.com with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

Join the Newsletter to Get Ahead

Revolutionary tips to get ahead with technology directly in your Inbox.

Alessandro Maggio