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Why I released a crappy todo app that no-one will ever use (moreofless.co.uk)
69 points by rhubarbcustard 1861 days ago | hide | past | web | 33 comments | favorite

A lot of the programmers/devs/engineers I talk to don't ship much code. They just re-work some existing code base to add X or Y feature. These people don't have a clue to what it takes to design something from the bottom up and hammer it into something that resembles the original idea. Shipping code, which is my favorite passtime, is just damn difficult. Not because the code itself is hard. No. Its because we procrastinate, change our minds, focus on early optimization, decide to to talk to others about it, and just do everything expect shipping the damn thing.

That is why you shoul dno tcall your project crappy. Hell no. You went ahead and shiped something. You started a project and saw it through. You know how many people go through life without ever finishing something? A lot! But you managed to do something. And to be honest, it is quite handy. Its is a nice project that could be setup on an intranet so people would stop using email attachments to keep track of their todos.

Keep hacking and shipping. Good luck.


Do you mind listing your email on your profile? I'd like to get in touch with you.

This is good to read. I am one of the people you alude to who come up with countless ideas, start any number of proejcts, but never get through to shipping anything at all.

I think this sentiment will help me to Just Do Itâ„¢

For every personal project that I start three to four are left unfinished. Though this does not apply to professional work, where I have a perfect record. I deliver. Always. :) But unfinished projects are good too. They always contribute to our skills and are a good way to learn new stuff.

As long as you keep hacking, there is no way you wont ship.

Thanks for the comment, I never for a moment expected anyone on HN to react positivity about the app so comments like yours are a real confidence booster.

You can get in touch with me through twitter (@steveify), or uk.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-claridge/4/219/934

I don't use Twitter, nor do I have linkedin. But thanks for taking the time to answer.

Will you be opening the source for the project? Seems a lot of people want to see how it works.

Good for you, OP (site is down so I can't try your app at the moment).

orangethirty: as someone who is learning programming and trying to ship something as well (but running into the difficulties you alluded to), your post is very encouraging.

It's really encouraging to see someone ship something despite all the doubts. I agree with parent and find this really encouraging.

I've built a similar prototype as well, but just kept it locked up because honestly I was afraid to really put it out there since I shared the same doubts.

So to get past that fear I'm just going to put it out there. http://app.iammako.com

I went there and found a log in wall. Why do that if you want me to test it out? Make the demo work without me having to register. Email me when you do that and Ill poke around the app and give you some feedback. I liked the background in the log in page, though.

Sorry about that. I made the app so that you can organize your todos into projects (so more of a pm app), and invite others to work with you on projects. What I could try and do is just set it up so you're logged into a test account by default to poke around.

I'll let you know when I've taken care of that. Thanks for showing interest!

Thank you. Keep hacking. Don't stop because you somehow feel less of a hacker for whatever reason. Shipping is what we (aspire to) do. So get over the fears and dont look back. Let me know if I ca nbe of assitance. Email in my profile.

Thanks. I really appreciate it.


I think it's an important milestone to build something end to end, no matter how simple or imperfect.

On a related note, I was recently looking for a todo app for my phone and found myself wondering how it is that there are so many (hundreds) apps, many of which have their own ardent fans.

When there are so many competing apps and such parity between them, what's the lure for using one over another?

In my case, I tried several and ended up using the one which felt most intuitive to me - the app which allows me to record and organize things the way I think of them with the least effort.

So...I wonder if the relatively low barrier of entry to creating sufficient functionality in such an app has worked with the myriad, individual ways of thinking about time and tasks to feed multiple many successful apps in the same space.

If this is the case, how different would other spaces, which are currently dominated by just a few players look and feel if the mechanics were easier to implement?

It's really hard to get a todo app right because the information you juggle is so small, and individual user preferences are so vast that even competing in efficiency with a text editor and a plain text file, or a paper and pen, is hard.

So in one way the mechanics are trivial. In another way they're an immense challenge.

A good friend with 20+ years of programming experience once told me "even putting a form that collects basic information, and sends it as an email, is hard." Shipping a software product, no matter how lightweight, is freaking hard.

I felt the same way when I released my todo app (http://benrhughes.com/todotxt.net - a windows implementation for http://todotxt.com). I mean, who's ever going to use this little PoS that I wrote basically so I could update my task list at work? The last thing the world needs is another todo app.

That was a bit over a year ago. Now I have ~500 active users and a half a dozen of contributors. I get random "thanks" emails, the occasional donation, and something nice to put on my resume. And the satisfaction of actually shipping something.

Site is down. Cache:


Link to the actual app (when it comes back up):


It's back up now, had some emergency firefighting to do - never expected to get onto the HN front page, my poor old server never saw it coming!

I like hearing these stories of released apps. It's one reason I like the Show HN threads. I enjoy reading about how they overcame the problems they encountered. As somebody who is working on a project, it helps to distract me from frustration and (hopefully) fix a problem I will stumble across in the future.

Well it would seem that the logical next step is going to be giving it a way to provide permanence to the data. That generally means online storage, but there might be other ways that are more in keeping with your offline approach... or maybe you could give the user an easy to remember token that they can use to fetch their todo list from another computer. I like the shopping list aspect of it. I would focus my energy completely on the usability side. Keep optimizing for convenience.

I've just launched a todo list sort of an app too, but it borrows heavily from open source components, much hairier, different audience to yours I suspect (alouy.com).

Seems like you have the right attitude! Shipping a "crappy todo app" is more than many will manage, best of luck with releasing more and more projects in the future.

Hey, thanks tommoor, appreciate the kind words.

Well done!

I know the feeling of working on things and never shipping. I recently decided to actually see a small program (vim plugin) all the way through from idea to documented, installable release.

It's also highly bare-bones (around 10 lines of vimscript, although it started as many more). But I don't want to get side-tracked talking about it. I guess my real point is:

Congratulations on shipping. God knows it can be harder than it seems.

I was expecting the first comment to be something like "because you are a jackass" but then I realized that I'm not reading Reddit.

Congrats on shipping.

Looking at these comments, I can tell HN is doing its best to re-discover its positive attitude towards "shippers" -- I kind of feel bad for anyone who tried to post a "Show HN" a month ago, only to hear crickets in the comments section. ;)

To be honest, most people will never ship something by themselves their entire career. Also, most people will ship something that they think is crappy but it turns out it's the next big thing.

So, kudos for trying. Keep it up!

Maybe I should have titled my app submission this morning "A crappy list of good domains that no one will ever use". A provocative title seems to be good for at least 28 more points than I got.

(To add: My point is that sometimes "shipping" isn't enough -- you need something else to grab attention).

heh, totally agree. I'm totally shocked that I made it onto the first page. Posting the todo to HN was just part of the "lets just ship this thing" process and I got real lucky.

Hey Steve, great projects dude. You've got my upvote. Keep it up! I especially loved Squareleaf and PicStrips. Even NotForest has a pretty sweet hypothesis and design.

Thanks! Readability kinda stole Notforest's thunder but I still use NF every day, so damn useful.

This is cool!

Feature creep: add some neat keyboard shortcuts for the power users ;)

I love RTM for that reason.

+1 for shipping code

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