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jawtheshark's Journal: On the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app" 9

Journal by jawtheshark
In the past few weeks different people came to me with the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app". If you feel targeted, you probably are, but you're not the first, and you won't be the last. Some even trusted me enough to tell me what their great idea was. Many, though not all, couldn't code their way through a paper bag and thus they look for someone "to code the app for free".

You even might find someone like that, and if you do, it's someone with a lot of time on their hands like a student with not much experience.

What those ideas (if I get to hear them) all have in common is that they need infrastructure behind it. Uploading pictures, movies, heck, even simple text need a place to be stored. That's definitely not your phone, especially if others need to be able to access it. Yeah, you can start off with hosting a little database and web front end on your DSL line (if you have one), but in the long run this will require some serious money. I'm not even talking about the people managing and creating it for you. I'm just talking about bandwidth, storage, electricity.

So, if you have an app idea, assess where you want to store what: if you have no concrete answers to those questions, shelve your idea until you do.. An app is nothing magical, it requires real resources, real work and thus real money.

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On the dreaded phrase: "I have an idea for an app"

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  • They like to assume that if people bought it once, there will be a constant stream of income to keep it rolling. That's definitely not a given.

    • Yup, good point... Especially true for apps bound to online services, which most app ideas seem to be these days.
  • But if you sign an nda and work for me 80 hours a week for the next couple years - I'm pretty sure we'll both be filthy rich. I figure even with an 80/20 split, there will be such huge mountains of cash that you'll be able to retire if you want.

    It seems to be a very fair trade, you do the coding grunt work and I've put in the truly valuable imaginering. I'd just hire an Asian for cheap, but I like you.

    • Well, people know I'm too expensive and know better than to ask me. Yeah, but pretty much, that's how they see it. There was a large article once on slashdot that said pretty much this, but I couldn't find it.
      • I see accounts of similar proposals constantly on Hacker News.

        Shoot - I see a similar attitude from non-technical people within my org all the time. They aren't looking to make money though. They just think, "Hey, we need this tool and you are a technical guy. Why don't you knock it out in a couple weeks for us so we can roll it out to 20 different countries."

        It makes me a little crazy sometimes that people don't realize the work it takes to make something well and then to support it over time.

  • People don't even seem to grasp the idea that there is any state involved, much less its shape; string, binary, tree, graph, etc.
    Half the development process is figuring out the shape, and even past experience is usually just a few initial breadcrumbs.
    • Yes... I know... That's because they have a conceptually finished app in their head. Not the way to it.
      • by rk (6314)

        The unaware go apeshit over simple things, but the things that are most difficult are almost impossible to see.

        "This document manager lets you customize a workflow and collaborate with others on mobile devices." *snore*

        "And you can change the background to your corporate logo" *squee!*

      • by kesuki (321456)

        some people are good at imagining things -- others are not as skilled. and writing good code takes a good imagination. when i was learning pascal i was able to easily come up with ways to write code from the reading materials i had on it. in a way i found it easier to code than to actually write. alas i dislike coding and writing long books is not something i have confidence in.

        i have had a few good ideas in my days, but like the people who seek others to do the heavy lifting i have not yet used my good ide

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