Building a billion dollar app

Earlier this week, Natalie and I had a chat with Rob and Enrique about when the low points of positivity tended to be for students at Makers Academy. Week 8 and 9, they told us. This was funny for me, because I’m currently enjoying myself the most here. My lowest points were weeks 4 and 5; for Natalie it was as early as week 3. Why does the low point tend to be right about now? It’s often the case that students get stressed about how little time there is left on the course to understand all what you’ve learnt and come out of the other side being the best junior developer you can be. Rather, I’m seeing approaching the finish line in another light: soon, I’ll have the freedom to really dive into all the areas that we’ve only touched the surface of  and have a chance to refine the skills that I’ve built up.

This week the task was to build a clone of the Instagram application. I was working with Darrell and suggested that we add a twist to our app: rather than just having tags and comments, we should make an app based around caption suggestions, and people rate them based on how funny they are. We took our pre-coding phase very seriously, spending an hour plotting on a large whiteboard. I told Darrell that this was a good move being that Facebook would probably eventually want to buy us out for a billion dollars one year from now.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll be aware that every day at Makers Academy a lot of information is presented to us and it’s our job to incorporate it all into our weekly project. This week seemed even more packed than the previous ones. On Monday, we were shown the importance of wire-framing, where you make  sketches of your webpages to guide their design. We also covered Paperclip and ImageMagick, used for easy image attachment and management. The next day we looked at deploying our applications using Amazon S3, which enables storing images in the cloud. Later in the week, Alex demonstrated how we could incorporate Bootstrap into our sites in order to take advantage of the grid formatting and we were also introduced to Websockets, which sets up a connection between the client and server and allows for real-time features.

Darrell and I didn’t get round to using all of these technologies, directing our focus towards image manipulation, but these are definitely things that I will go back and practice once the course is over. At the moment, we have a site where users can create an account, log in and log out. Whilst logged in, they can post photos, adding a description and tags. This image is then added to a stream on the homepage, and visitors can filter them down by their tags. With our captions, we wanted it so that when a user submitted one, the image was formatted in the style of a Polaroid, with the caption imposed on top in a comic-book style. We made a lot of progress on this front, but haven’t quite got the captions to change dynamically as a visitor cycles through all submitted entries. Perhaps it was too ambitious a project to complete for the week, but hopefully we’ll revisit it next week to get a basic working version deployed.

We have one week left of classes before we begin our final projects. On Thursday our whole cohort got together to discuss the various ideas people had and the feasibility of completing them within two weeks. On one hand it was rather exciting thinking about what we had the potential to build to showcase what we’ve learnt, but on the other other hand it made me realise how unprepared I felt for entering this phase. What would be perfect right now would be a couple of extra weeks for revision and consolidation. Too bad that’ll never happen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s