/ Journalong

The background to Journalong

Over the weekend I put the finishing touches to my first product, Journalong. I thought it would be a good idea to go over what led me to building it.My decision to journal was originally started by a little nudge from Patrick Rhone.

His idea is to keep a personal log of accomplishments is a great tip, especially if like me, you're constantly critiquing yourself for even the smallest decisions.I kicked open a text file on my Dropbox and put the first entry. Then I wanted to record something else, "I'll just stick it in here as well" I thought. Finally after a few lines later, I looked at what I had written. A journal of sorts. Well, the start of one at least.I kept the journal in my Dropbox and then started writing to the file over the next couple of weeks. Ideas, thoughts, completed projects all got dumped in here. Then a couple of weeks later, I wanted to write to my journal but I didn't have it set up on my phone. After a few minutes of pain, I finally managed to get Dropbox on my phone and then update my journal.

With Dropbox installed on my phone, I thought it should be easy to update my Dropbox when I want. Not so, because while the Dropbox app does a great job of syncing files across devices, the default editor on my phone wasn't ideal for appending an entry to my journal.Then the thought landed. Being able to update my journal from anywhere, without having to install Dropbox on my phone. Now that's something I would like to be able to do.That weekend I started jotting ideas down for a journalling application that is hosted on your Dropbox account. What I wanted was simple. An interface that allows me to post to my journal without having to sync my Dropbox journal on the devices that I post to my journal.

On the Sunday night I had what was a very rough sketch of the main interface to the application I wanted to build. Over the next few days, I started hacking together a very rough outline of the application to prove that it could work. All I needed to do was pull the current journal file I am writing to from Dropbox, append my journal entry to it and then upload it back to Dropbox. With the help of the Dropbox SDK, I managed to put together a small prototype using Sinatra that proved it could work. Sure it was rough, but it was a start.

Over the next few weeks I started building a more refined version of my journalling application that revolved around the idea of having one screen to update your journal. It had to be simple, non-distracting and quick. And that's how Journalong was born. I wonder if anyone else would use it? So I started building Journalong out to be an application that anyone can use.So what's in the future for Journalong? Who knows, it's only a small product but it's opened my eyes to building more products in the future. Already, I'm thinking of something along the lines of an application that aids in the process of decision making.Anyway that's the background story to Journalong. It's a small application, but a big step for me in the world of building products.