For the last 3 years (except last year) Ben and I have participated in the Rails Rumble, this is a competition where teams have 48 hours to create compelling and fun Rails apps. They get judged (No one really knows what the criteria is) and then ten winners are announced and are given prizes accordingly. Ben and I, sometimes convincing other friends took on this grueling task and sacrificing a weekend of partying, not for the free servers and subscriptions you get from Rails Rumble sponsors but we found it as a good way to timebox the creation of a minimum viable product of something we wanted to see in the world. I have an Evernote notebook where I write down all the apps I want to build but I am always "too busy" to build them. This became a time for us to just create and not overthink.
Fast forward to last week. Ben messages me and sends me a link to one of our products Monograph, this was one of Ben's ideas. Ever since I have known Ben, he always got into serious political discussions online, he has never liked the way forums worked when you are dissecting and replying to precise points in the blob of text someone has written. So he had his own ideas of how a forum should work (Which I would explain in another post) but we went ahead and built it. My memory of that time is just filled with stress and for some reason I remember submitting something that was not working properly and not to mention we did not win so we quickly forgot about it. But here I am 2 years later, looking at a program that we designed and coded in less than two days and I am like "Damn dude this shit looks good and it works!" and he said "exactly".
We then realize we have lots of these kind of apps, we have a bunch of apps we have created over the years that work but have just accumulated the equivalent of digital dust, we either never marketed it, got busy with our lives or always felt there is one more thing to add and allowed feature creep to kill our motivation and then kill the project. We took an inventory and we have about 6 apps that are virtually finished that we have never launched. Some of them are broken because the API's we use have changed or someone has killed the server it was hosted or we did not buy/renew the domain name etc. But they are all still relevant and so we have a couple minimum viable products on our hands. Now I am not saying we have the next Facebook or Slack killers, we just have a bunch of apps, some are cool and useful utilities, some are experiments and some are just flat out silly apps that provide nothing but entertainment. Among these is an app that allows you to turn digital documents to physical mail and send it anywhere in the world with a click or a button, another is a leaderboard app that uses the ELO algorithm to rank players in a competition and another app allows you to submit things you overheard or saw on a particular street in Denver, Colorado. You get the gist, it is all over the place.
We have decided that as a side project we are gonna release all these apps. We both believe in the Fuck it Ship it philosophy and in an attempt to practice what we preach we will be giving ourselves one calendar month to release each app but investing a total of about 20 hours shared between us to clean up each product (fix evident bugs and design) and by the end of the month no matter what, release it. Without a doubt I am gonna release things I am ashamed of since I have grown in technical and design skill since we made these products and we have timeboxed the releases...but that's the point.
I will also be writing about each app before its release, if for nothing else just to document the process and decisions made when creating such an app. Hopefully if we just put these things out there, if just one person resonates with it or learns something from our experience, it would be worth our while.