This week we discuss breaking out of our comfort zone to finally develop an app via a coding challenge.
Segment 1 - The Idea
Our idea needed to be something that was accessible, yet popular enough to get in front of people and actually get downloaded
In order to get downloads we knew the reach had to be decent, it had to be something that people would find useful, but it had to be simple enough in order to be developed quickly
We decided to analyze our previous experiences in launching apps, specifically our Chrome App and Chrome Extension collection
What we found was that, with very little promotion on our end, making a product that compliments an existing popular product gives you exposure through “osmosis”
Specifically speaking, our most popular app is Multiple Accounts for Outlook.com, which allows people to quickly switch between multiple outlook.com accounts and their associated web apps, like OneDrive
From there we took a look at our recent personal app experiences, as well as the Google Play store - our targeted app store
All of this ultimately boiled down to the next subsection “The Decision”
We’ve decided to do a minimalist reddit news app that strips away any distraction from actually reading the news
We’ll get more into what I mean by “minimalist” in the next segment, but generally we’ll take away a bunch of the default reddit features that people can get distracted by
We also have experience pulling information from reddit, via Mike’s joke generator that he used on his Introduction to Vue.js Guide (https://medium.com/html-all-the-things/introduction-to-my-vue-js-guide-ee9f4baad61)
This app is far from reinventing the wheel, but it gets us going on finally releasing an app on Google Play, which we’ve been talking about for years, but never done
The app will be monetized by ads, however, we plan on making the ads non-fullscreen and non-intrusive so that users aren’t bogged down by ads that have issues loading - this will be our first encounter with ads in an app as well so we’ll see how this strategy moves forward, maybe it’ll change, maybe it won’t work at all
This app is rather simple in design and scope, but it’s actually accomplishing a great deal of smaller points that we’ve been aiming to get done specifically...
Accomplishments & Goals
Trying out a community event: One of our goals with HTML All The Things was to get the people involved to some extent if they wanted to try out new things for us. This coding challenge is the first of its kind for us, and we’ll be the guinea pigs to see if it works out - maybe if it goes well we’ll do a public version of some kind
Social media coverage - Right now we post about our podcast episode releases, share people’s work, etc. However, we’ve been wanting to try and “live post” to an extent. Share work as it’s being completed, so we’re aiming to share a bunch of content during this coding challenge’s time window. Things like posts of our progress as they happen, maybe get some videos in there - we’ll have to see how it pans out.
Releasing an App: We’ve been talking about releasing an app on Google Play for a long time and we’ve always brushed it off, this challenge should give us a push to actually get it done - even if we fail the challenge and don’t release the app on time, we’ll have dived into the app development so much that we’ll essentially have no choice but to release the app for fear of wasting all that time - forcing ourselves to take on the risk
Furthering Our Knowledge:We’re planning on using pwa for this project, however, we’ll be needing some plugins and functionality that we’ve never used with it, so we’ll be learning on the fly
Segment 2 - Design, Develop, Deploy
If we assume that our “decision” in Segment 1 is final, and we are actually doing an Reddit News App, let’s dive into how we would take this project on
One of the most important things we need for this challenge is to identify what our MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
Research, Design, Development, Deploy
Research is complete already, app decision has been made
Mission Statement: Simple Reddit new aggregate for people that want to quickly view the news in their area without any distractions.
Parameters of the challenge?
What can we do before/after?
What we need to accomplish during the challenge?
What’s the endgame?
Use a css framework?
Simplistic no bs design to to make the news a quick scroll away
Pull posts from multiple subreddits and display as one multi subreddit
Remove all unnecessary attributes like karma count, comments, etc to display a minimalistic news block
Allow user to select their regions news
Ability to share articles through android/iOS share menu
Ability to view articles in webview without leaving the app
Ability to switch between light/dark theme
Ability to switch between Top, new, controversial, hot
Vuex for state management
No accounts, but local storage and Vuex for data persistence and resource sharing
CSS Grid for layout
Deploy on Nginx through docker on Digitalocean
Web News - Edge going Chromium?
Microsoft announced it will be moving away form EdgeHTML to Chromium for a future version of the Edge Browser
A Project Manager moderately confirmed that most chrome extensions will work
New Edge will be on Xbox One, MacOS as well as Android and iOS
Mozilla is not happy that Microsoft is giving Google a monopoly and has reaffirmed their efforts to provide users a choice
Developers will now not have to support EdgeHTML
Electron played a key role in the decision to switch to Chromium instead of Firefox