Post it note reminiscing

It’s 8:30pm, and like most nights over the last 6 weeks, I’ve just managed to get my 2 year old to fall asleep, and am about to settle into my new nighttime routine: writing code. Tonight is different; however, for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I’ve actually managed to follow through on my plan to start blogging (lucky you, reader), next is that this morning marked the beginning of my first full stack development team project: a web app currently being referred to as GrillBer.

Now that I have you fully hooked, and before I give you all the details on the events of the day, I suppose I must provide at least a little context for my documented day of discovery and challenge. Almost 6 weeks ago, I began my course of study with a coding school in Atlanta called DigitalCrafts. Without getting too much into the path that led me here (I hope to do a decent blog entry about that sometime soon, and will make sure to link to it when I do), I can say that the program has been everything that I hoped it would be and then some. A huge part of why I selected it over some other online programs was for the experience that began today: a group project build with 3 other team members.

We’ve had about a week to be thinking about the project itself, and despite having taken time to firm up ideas, goals, even roles about the project our team was forced to reckon with and overcome a number of new unforeseen challenges over the last 12 hours, many of which I don’t think we would have even anticipated until actually being thrown into the fray.

Having had lectures on Agile development practices can get you prepared, but this morning was a crash course in sprint planning, refining our goals, and having to realistically consider just what an MVP looks like when we essentially have about 48 hours until deployment. Features that seemed like sure fire bets have now been pushed into hopeful additions for versions 2 or 3.

Here’s what I mean by all of this. First, our web app, which we selected after someone found this article on absurd web app ideas, is essentially a grill rental service. Yes, you read that correctly. Is a grill rental service a viable business idea? I suppose that’s open for debate, but we loved the idea of building this for our first project, as there seemed to be a lot of components that would push and challenge our newly budding skill sets.

Whittling down this grandiose wonder of a revolutionary web app into something we could build in a few days took some discussion, maybe some crying, and honestly a lot of focus and persistence. Would it be great to create something that links grill owners to potential grill renters as sort of a peer to peer rental service? In practice, who knows, but as a web app, it was something we all originally wanted to try. Step 1 was realizing that for MVP, that might actually need to change in a big way. Initially, setting up the service to rent grills from the company, using a set stock of inventory made more sense, and was way more realistic for our MVP deadline. If we have time before the final project deadline on Monday, we can and will certainly shoot for that, but for now, what can we actually build that will work by Thursday’s deployment?

This was the question we continued to ask ourselves all day long, as detours involving styling and features continued to come up, which kept getting redirected back towards items that kept us on task: what can we do today that puts us that much closer to a working product? In the end we focused a great deal on thinking about the basic content of the page, along with how the booking system (arguably the most complex feature of the page) would operate. A shell of HTML with some hints of Bootstrap were pieced together, the first iteration of the database was designed in Postgresql, and using Flask we started piecing things together for a solid end to day one.

Ultimately, I hope that my teammates, like myself, are confident in the coding skill set that they’ve been building, and feel certain that we’ll be able to overcome any programming related challenges that we’ll face over the next few days together. Beyond that, I hope they’re equally appreciative of the skills that we’re building by working together in this environment, one post it note at a time. Here’s to team Apollo XIII (our team name, of course) and to GrillBer!

Our first crack at Scrum methodolgy