MyGeode on the Android Market and Startup Weekend Boston



MyGeode, a location-based todo list app I had the pleasure of developing is now available on the Android Market for the reasonable price of $0.99.

MyGeode was a project I pitched last week at Startup Weekend Boston and developed largely over the weekend with the help of Amir Banihashem (design), Ryan Newton (website), Judith da Silva (business) and Mike Gioia (business). I've spent the last week finishing up the app and getting it ready for publishing.

I think the app has potential and I plan to continue developing it, it's based around the idea that tasks should have locations associated with them and using that location can help make you more productive. Imagine if your task list could alert you when you're near the grocery store, or when you get to work, it could know that, and remind you of your high priority tasks for the day. If that sounds attractive to you, take a look at the app and let me know what you think.

The version I released today is a solid todo list with the core location features: notifications when you near a task, a map view that dispalys all your tasks on a map and a task view that gives you all the information you need to know about a task. I'm excited about it and I've got a great list of features I plan on adding to the app, including routing capability to help you plan the most efficient route to complete your tasks.

I feel it's important to give a plug to Startup Weekend, since this is the second time I've gone and it's been an amazing experience both times. This time I have an app in the market a week after the event and I'm still actively working on the project from last year's event. If you're at all interested in startups or building a software product, you owe it to yourself to check out an event like Startup Weekend. It's 54 hours of insane fun and a great opportunity to connect with the local startup scene. If you do go, make sure to take advantage of the mentors available; it's very helpful to talk to people who've done it before and get their feedback during the early stages of developing your idea.

To conclude, you should buy MyGeode from the Android Market and let me know what you think!

Startup Weekend Boston and Developing PocketRoster

Last weekend, Startup Weekend Boston took over a whole floor of the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge and for 54 hours, entrepreneurship, development and lots of caffeine were the rule. This is my experience over the weekend and how the PocketRoster app was developed.

The weekend started on Friday evening with around 50 ideas presented in rapid fire succession, with 60 seconds being given to each idea. There were a lot of ideas, but after a round of discussion and voting on each idea only about half remained. Among them was the idea for an mobile organization directory app presented by Howie Hecht. That idea piqued my interest and I joined his team. Unfortunately, no one else shared my interest and we ended the evening with only two members on our team. After a quick meeting we decided to go ahead with the idea and got a basic plan for the app hashed out before leaving for the night.

Saturday started at 9am in the morning with and we spent the day working out the fundamentals of the application and strategies for making a profitable business out of it. From a development point of view, two days is a pretty short time for developing a working mobile site, but by paring down the required features to the bare minimum and by using a number of relatively new frameworks and technologies we were able to get a good looking and functional mobile app completed.

The first of the frameworks I used was Silex, a new PHP 5.3 micro-framework based on components from Symfony2, a popular php framework. The way Silex works is by binding closures (functions) to url paths like:

$app->get('/user/{username}', function($username) {
return "User profile for $username";
});


Combined with a powerful templating engine like twig that supports template inheritance, you can rapidly bind variations of a template to different url patterns. Using a base template with a standard page structure you can move all the common code for analytics, ads, etc... into it and you only have to write the page specific elements in each template. For storing data I ended up using Mongo for it's flexibility and because I could reuse components I've previously written for my foundry-core library.

For the front end I chose JQuery Mobile and was impressed by it's ease of use. It's pretty quick to get up and running with very little code required. They also have a decent amount of documentation on the basics which helped immensely when putting together the structure of the app but was lacking when it came to troubleshooting issues that popped up during development. My overall impression is definitely favorable, but I don't think it's quite good enough to replace native apps. There is a lot of loading time involved between pages that really slows down the experience. I think I could probably get around a lot of it by pre-loading templates and with some caching of content, but the effort required is probably better spent writing native apps. In it's current form it's a great tool for prototyping, but not yet a viable long term solution.

Unfortunately, we didn't win the contest on Sunday, that honor went to CaseReportal, a medical reporting/collaboration tool. But we do plan on pursuing our project since it has great applications and we were able to confirm the demand for such a product. If you want to learn more about it you can sign up for an account at http://pocketroster.me and try it out on your mobile device. If you think you'd like to use our product for your team or organization or if you have feedback for us you can contact us at [email protected].