Triple App Challenge – The Process

The following three steps will be my guide posts as I build, and re-build, this web app.

A) Build out UX wireframes.

First I will look up some tools online to help me spec out the site, page by page, feature by feature so that it’s easy to visualize exactly how the simple app will flow, I’ll know how many “pages” I need to build and I can get a sense for the overall complexity. I’ll determine what are my minimum requirements to call it version 1.0 and I’ll have a general sense of how the design is going to go.

Keep in mind, I am NOT a UX guy, so this step is going to be clunky and foreign to me. But since I’m going to be building the same thing three times, it makes the most sense to spend the first week or so just plotting out exactly what the “what” is.

2) Draw up the design comps.

Enter the Photoshop. If doing some wireframes was foreign to me this step will be another planet. But I’m working as a one-man band for this operation so design by me it is. I’ll have the UX wireframes to reference so likely I’ll first take a look around the web for some similar apps, or some folks with a good design aesthetic in general and see what I can glean from that.

Once this stage is complete I will have fully visualized the exact pixel look and feel of the app for both smartphones and for tablet/desktop browsers. I’ll probably slice up, optimize, and save out all the image bits on this step. Additionally, I’ll mock up a very simple style guide for the project.

D) Code, Commit, Repeat.

Just code it, right? I’ll probably break this step up into further pieces later on down the road but for now let’s keep it simple. First I’ll spend a day or two diagraming up the data schema, since that should be consistent throughout whichever frameworks and languages I’m using. Then it’ll be time to crank it out. I will keep a careful log of time spent and assess how easy/fun/efficient each method was.

Estimated Timeline:

UX Wireframes – 1 week
Design Comps – 2 weeks
Data Object Modelling – 2 days
Build 1 – 3 weeks
Build 2 – 3 weeks
Build 3 – 3 weeks

The weeks are in real time but if I had to venture a guess, each “week” would wind up being no more than 20 hours.

Coming up next: Kick-off and Livestreaming.

The Summer Programming Challenge

I have a simple web application that I want to build (don’t we all?) but I run into the familiar problems of having a day job, not being sure what language or platform to build it in, and carving out the time for myself to actually build the thing.

The application itself is nothing world changing. Elevator pitch: it’s a session time tracking, budgeting, invoicing helper for my wife’s private practice therapy business with a few personlized features that would make it extra valuable to her.

So then I sit there and in my precious few moments between working with a software team during the day and putting the kids to bed at night I twiddle my thumbs reading Hacker News or other gossip rags about that latest and greatest Javascript framework or Google’s newest coding language that’s going to change the world guaranteed.

Well, that indecisive waffling ends here today. I’m going to build that app. Actually, I’m going to build that app THREE times. Enter the Three Month App Challenge. Each month I will put code to paper and write the application from the ground up using a different backend-frontend pairing.

If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it probably is. There’s no sound business sense in doing things three different times three different ways and having roughly the same thing to show for it. But what it will do is force me outside of my comfort zone to learn new ways of programming, with no mindset other than “execute and deliver”.

The Challenge:

Build one web application three different times using three different languages/frameworks/methodologies over three months.

Candidate Backend Languages:
PHP
Python
Node

Candidate Frontend Javascript Frameworks:
Angular
Backbone
Ember

This sounds great. I’ve got myself all amped up and ready to rock and roll. But it doesn’t solve one primary trouble – the time, energy, and motivation factor. Changing habits is hard. Really, truly difficult. And that’s why I’ve got a secret plan up my sleeve this time!

I’ll see you at the starting line next week.

_Kit