Zero to hundred

I didn’t completely abandon my original intention, but it did turn out a bit different.
I wanted to do short blogs about my progress, both as a way of motivating myself and creating a guide. But I kept feeling like I didn’t have something worth reporting on.

Several weeks later, the app is in the Windows Store without a single post about it.

So a quick summary of where I am at is in order:

  1. I used GitHub Pages to host the product website
  2. I put the source code up on GitHub
  3. The app is named homebased
    1. It has an unlimited trial without any limitations, so don’t worry about the $0.99 🙂
      1. I didn’t make it free, because I want to keep the psychological option of sales and giving it away for free to promote it

What’s next

iwillmakebettermistakestomorr

As you can see, the app is the very bare minimum in all sense of the word.

I see it really needs to:

  1. Improve usability
    1. I developed a first time user experience, that guides you through the setup, but I admit it’s not dummy-proof
    2. Because I wanted something generic that supports different services, it actually turned out a bit clumsy to use with the single service it does support
  2. Improve user interface
    1. although the app does its main job in the background, it could be a bit more inviting visually to set up
    2. I wanted to follow the default Windows Phone settings screens and style, but maybe that’s just an excuse 😉
  3. Add features
    1. You can only connect to IFTTT, there’s more relevant API’s out there
    2. Support multiple users, because if there’s more than one person that lives in a household, you don’t want to lights get turned off just because you are out

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Zero to hundred

Back of the napkin

So although I symbolically titled the first post in this series “File > New Project“, I definitely look at this initiative as a product.

Not a product in any business sense, but in the sense that there is no outlined path of what’s going in and what will come out of it.

napkin

This is how I currently see the minimum viable product, an app consisting out of:

  1. First-time user wizard for a dummy proof setup
    1. Should configure your home location
    2. Should connect to at least one smart service or device
    3. Can configure what to do when leaving home
    4. Can configure what to do when arriving at home
    5. Explains how the app will help
  2. Home screen reports performed actions that were configured
    1. This includes failed actions
  3. Settings screen that allows customization of the initial settings

I forgot to mention I already tried out a basic proof of concept before I started these blog posts, just to make sure it has some chance of working out. So I have some confidence this is conceptually feasible.

Next step is sketching some mockups and developing a first draft.
I should be able to get in the more technical details by then and share some code.

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Back of the napkin

File > New Project

Spare time is the best time

If you are a software developer and occasionally daydream of quitting your day job with a bang like Dave Chappelle, it makes sense to spend some time on a pet project. That’s how humanhuman started and now it’s a promising company.

Mark Heath from NAudio made a convincing argument on this topic, about why you should create a digital product and sell it online. Specifically the point about being able to do it in your spare time, takes away all the reasons not to do it.

So this is where I’m at right now, in my spare time and ready to journey from idea to pet project and if the stars align, to digital product.

Billions and billions ideas

Now when you share an idea for a digital product with a friend, they will very most likely point out that it has already been done. This used to be reason enough for me to abandon an idea, until I realized:

  • there are billions of people, having a truly original idea is like winning the lottery
  • ideas are not even half the battle, it’s the execution that counts
  • there’s always room for a different take on an idea

If you are investing money in an idea, different rules might apply. But in your spare time, the stakes are so low that an abandoned idea is a missed opportunity.

App store or bust

I have had countless exciting ideas that quickly simmered down and then quietly fizzled out. So the number one priority is minimizing any hurdles of completing this endeavor.

That’s why I’m sticking to what I know, which is .NET development. As a result of this, I’m picking the Windows Phone Store as the platform to sell my digital product.

I feel this sets the bar at a realistic height. The goal is to remove any excuses of not completing it, making money in a store of which I haven’t heard many promising stories about is not the point.

Elevator pitch

This is the second unoriginal idea I pick, the first one turned out not to be technically possible on Windows Phone without a backend (app that sends email or SMS in the background before you battery dies, for example to notify your significant other you can’t be reached in case of an emergency or for teens out for the night to give their parents a heads up so they don’t panic just yet)

Anyway, step in the elevator, going up:

  • Do you have your phone on you all the time?
  • Do you have any connected smart devices in your home?
  • You probably commute to work and back five days a week following a pretty regular pattern
  • I’ll build you an app that upgrades your comfort at home by suggesting and letting you customize what your smart devices should automatically do when you leave and arrive at the house every day
  • Left for work? Any running devices get turned off, the heating gets turned down and any other thing you configure
  • Back at home? Well, welcome, we already saw you coming, the heating has already been turned up

*ding*

First floor, please step out.

Ideas on paper are harder than they appear

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On this journey from idea to app store, I will share sketches, mockups, technical diagrams, code and depending on how far I get, a working app.

Subscribe if you do not want to miss my upcoming irregular and infrequent updates.

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File > New Project