App Misadventures: Part 0 - Beginnings

App Misadventures: Part 0 - Beginnings
Photo by Hello I'm Nik / Unsplash

2020 has been quite a year, there has been a lot of lows some highs and an awful lot of change. I have accomplished a good amount that I didn't expect to this year and also failed to achieve others I had in my sight, it has been a wild and unpredictable time. Writing this as the US election is in full force I can't help but feel we will be in for a few more turns before the end of the year, and no doubt before the end of this new decade...

At the end of 2019 I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to achieve this year, I visualized it and looked over it a fair amount I was very much ready to push myself further this year and then things kinda got away from me. Starting with having a baby in December that of course threw me behind a bit, that was expected, I knew I could come back from that quickly. The next blow was Corvid, this changed a great deal of how we would interact with the outside world, how we would work it was  challenge and with more work from home I wanted to spend less time at my desk which also worked against me a lot. The next blow was the company I worked for Hooq became insolvant and well we all lost our jobs, this meant a frantic look for new work admist the lockdown and the world around crumbling, so, it goes without saying this all pushed me back a great deal. I was lucky that I managed to land a job rapidly but this presented a whole other bunch of challenges as it is a totally different stack it meant a lot of my time and energy was directed into my work, this put me further behind.

After a few months working, it has been a very busy work period as we have been delivering a lot to some huge clients in short periods of time, I started to feel myself pulling ahead of the work and starting to feel that this is now becoming somewhat more standard. This is the point at which I had hoped to reach as once I reach this point of course curve balls come along the way that is expected but by and large my work week is fairly formulaic and I no longer end the day exhausted mentally. This must have been around early September when I started to feel that I once again had the bandwidth to start working on projects in my own time and I slowly started to get back into the goove of working on things outside of work once more. I started to write more for my blog (here) and setup some basic goals to get me moving in the right direction.

The idea was to start slowly tinker with my site and put out some posts, play around with some technology, nothing too stressful. I even forget about Hacktoberfest which in 2019 I was amendment I would do this year before forgetting about it due to life and then actually on the 1st of October just throw myself into it, and it was a deeply rewarding experience and one that has helped fuel my passion once more. One of the big issues I have always had, however, has been the lack of any meaty idea that I could really sink my teeth into without feeling like it was a bit directionless or pointless in someway.

I have my site, and ideally I didn't want to once more rebuild it again this year which seems to always be my fall back mode, it is safe of course and stable to do that but I feel it's also pretty limited overall and doesn't help me grow in other areas considering it is a bit limited in scope and there is not really a viable way to ever consider making it into a business either. Although I am not one of those people looking to setup my own startup or anything anytime soon I am looking more and more at ways to solve problems people have to hopefully grow into something that will become a business one day, no rush.

To help fuel my growth I know that I can create any small project in a day or two, or spend a week building out something fairly rudimentary that is fine, but it also doesn't really push my abilities out into something bigger something that I really need to start working on in my own time to begin rivaling some of the size and complexity as I see in my day job. I believe this is the next key to me levelling myself up and moving further up I need something that I can dedicate all my freetime to and for it to feel rewarding.

What has compounded this feeling for me is that being mainly a frontend developer my current job doesn't tax my frontend logic, we are using outdated tech and I have an ever growing dread that if I don't do something sizable I will start to fall behind on my frontend and that was an area I had started to feel really good about, I can't let this happen. This along with submitting some PRs for some React projects in Hacktoberfest made me fall back in love with modern frontend development, but, I was still missing an idea.

I didn't want to just waste mytime with some Amazon clone or Facebook clone, blah blah it is so uninspiring. I would of course learn a lot from it and would build my skills out but really what problem is it solving? They are solved problems and really a waste of time and energy on a large scale. The idea that I have decided to run with for at least the next year with a big chunk in December being dedicated to it came from a random conversation with my youngest brother. This was around the time that in the UK the Tory party reallly messed up the Test and Trace stuff they outsourced when it was found out they used Excel to hold the data that really should be in a database, even Access. We talked about this a bit and then he started to tell me about the organisation and such he has to deal with as a teacher, grades and keeping trace of homework and student progress.

Now all these things sound like they can be solved with an app, and whatsmore it would make most sense to be a desktop app, at least to start with. I have some experience in the teaching realm myself giving me a bit more insight and from my experience teachers normally just store these things locally on their own computers no real organisation or program to handle it all. This gave me a pretty good inroad into what I should focus my attention to and provide me with a small focused goal that has almost infinite posabilities to grow in any direction that makes sense.

This sparked something in me and I started to consider what needed to be done with my plan to be using Electron and React as the core technologies for the app using a SQlite and pouchDb for data storage and no doubt a ton more inbetween. My goal is to also document alongside my work this blog detailing what I am doing problems, successes etc, I am very comfortable with React, Electron is something very new for me, it has been an area I have wanted to work in for a long time but it is also an area that I don't know anyone who works with Electron making it a bit more challenging as well. My aim will be to release one of this each week to sync up what I have been doing over that week with regards to my app be it development or anything else related to it, it will be here!

Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash