I was feeling kind of meh last week, so I decided I’d take a day off from the paid projects and hack out an ‘app-in-a-day’ microapp. If you know me, you know that this is something I talk about doing all the time and publicly advocate, but rarely find the time to actually execute on ;-). I’d really like to change that, and devote more time to my own projects this year.
Of course, the hardest part about doing this sort of thing is coming up with a concept that can be created and deployed within the timeframe you have available. For the Rumble, we gave teams of 4 people 2 full days, and lots of prep time. But in this case I wanted to see what I could do with a designer in, say, an afternoon, without any advance planning at all. Just for fun. So I chatted up my designer friend Ty and we came up with the concept of a really simple Twitter-based dream journal, that would display random tweets that had to do with what people were dreaming about. Nothing fancy, sort of a rip off of OhMyScience but without the science. Because who needs science, right?
Ty whipped up a fun single page Goodnight-Moon-inspired design and I wrote a tiny amount of code to morph my Sinatra app template into a Twitter keyword aggregator, and about 3 hours later tweetdreams.org was ready to go. It may not be the most innovative or featureful website you’ve seen this week, but it’s cute and was fun to build and a few people have said some nice things about it. Frankly, that’s enough for me.
The moral of the story is that you don’t have to do something earth-shattering, massive, or insanely innovative to enjoy doing it. If you’re feeling kind of down or like your current work projects are neverenders, block out a day and bang out a microapp. Just shipping something will often make you feel better about yourself, regardless of the complexity involved. Don’t be afraid to call it ‘v1.0’ and move on to the next one. On the web, nothing is every finished. And that’s a good thing.