This is the advice I can give to anyone who has a side project. Get to the point where you can show something to the users and just start adding stuff.
Even if it's just two lines of code or changing the favicon - still worth it. In practice, it's harder to do than it sounds, but I've been doing it for some time and it's been going great.
In reality, you won't have millions of users on day 1 no matter how great your product is. If you start small and keep adding stuff you will have more success.
In fact, the biggest challenge for side projects is marketing and not the tech or infrastructure.
However, it also depends on the goal - if you want to build the project that makes money it's completely different story to experimenting with tech. In the end, you get the experience.
For example, a few years ago I managed to build an overengineered CDN product that compressed images on the fly (almost on the fly). I shipped the project and it even worked great for testers, but I didn't get to the point where it makes money, so I shut it down as with half unfinished features as it was taking too much time.
While building it I managed to learn Go, improve my AWS skills, plus some other tricks. Now it sounds like a great investment even though I feel that I haven't completed the project.
Because yeah, by hand, even deploying my webapp would take a couple hours. it took me maybe 8hrs of labor to setup my deploy script but given as I've deployed maybe 50 times so far it's paid off.
For me, that would be:
1) provision VM
2) configure the new VM (security hardening, install utils)
3) download app from git and configure it
4) take image of vm
5) install new image into my autoscaler
6) hot-replace live instances of previous version with new version.
doing each of those commands by hand and waiting for each to complete could easily take 1.5 or 2 hours of work. I did it by hand the first couple times but once I figured out my workflow I automated it (bash script) as fast as possible.
I spent a couple days looking into ansible, but as I have a very specific need I didn't want to spend 2+ weeks adding another chunk of "technical debt" to my product.
You can automate all steps for building an application but the signing to make your life easier. You can also automate things locally if you're worried about what you're signing.
The bottom line is that this applies to all apps (though your users might be irritated if they need to keep downloading updates).
Receiving daily updates for desktop apps would suck because it typically requires the app to quit and start again. A good compromise would be updates every four weeks. At the same time you as a developer always leave your app in a state were you could push an update anytime. So you still work incrementally in daily units of work.
Daily updates for libraries … if it's only publicly available code, I don't see a reason not to push daily. Anyone interested can check the commit logs. For compiled binaries on the other hand I can see update fatigue for users (other developers). Once a month or longer seems fine.
In the end, push regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, whatever fits you) without annoying your users by spamming them with updates, while at the same time reduce work units to a size that does not feel overwhelming.
This is so true. I, as well as a few others I know, have built some pretty cool things that have never gotten the attention they deserve.
I've built a good base for mplyees in about 4 months. Marketing it and getting it out there will take a lot more time unless I get lucky.
Shipping can be the result of, or one way, to do the right things. But if you look at projects on Github it's usually not a lack of "shipping daily" so much as a lack of packaging it as something useful. Often you see daily commits until the motivation wears off and the project stops. But the software is still buggy, there's no screenshots, it's not straight forward how to build it, lacks documentation etc. They haven't made it into something that is easy for other people to appreciate, so they don't get much positive feedback.
This is great advice, but when it's not possible to ship daily, I find that even just committing once a day is a good micro-goal to keep projects moving. The GitHub streaks feature can help motivate you too.