So I had my idea, felt energised to get started, and it was time to turn talk into action.
My idea, or at least the very beginning of it, was outlined here.
Even from the very beginning, I was working with the idea that I’d like to release this and give other people a new way of tracking their headaches. So my goals were designed with what I hoped other people would appreciate, as well as my own personal requirements.
My goals: A brief recap
Quick and easy
I’m not going to use a tracker if it takes more than a few seconds of my time. A few clicks is all any modern Internet-enabled mammal can really handle nowadays, and I’m no exception.
Able to track the headache as it happens
I wanted a form structure that would allow for ‘live-logging’ my headache. Adding one complete record at the end of the headache was not what I wanted at all. I could argue that a lot of my headaches don’t really ‘end’. So a more flexible system was needed. Live-logging like this means I’d have to be able to access the tracker from anywhere. This kind of goes back to the previous goal, whereby I’m not going to track anything if I can’t do it right there, wherever I am, in a few clicks.
Able to export the data to something like a CSV
I noticed alot of the apps out there didn’t offer ways of exporting data, which was a big problem for me. If I lost my phone, then that would be months of data out the window. And if I wanted to do some analysis on the data that the app couldn’t do, I’d be out of luck.
So once I’d decided on these goals, I tried to think of the broad strokes around making this a reality. While the end goal was to have an app of some kind, I decided to produce the tool as a website first. The barrier to entry was lower with web development, as I’d heard that iOS/Android development was très difficile. And for someone coming back to coding after a long hiatus, that kind of shock to the system might scupper the whole project before it had even begun.
>>>> fast-forwarding through time when actual work happens >>>>
After months of learning, coding, learning, learning, coding, I had a headache-tracking website up and running. I was really proud of my efforts. I started using it immediately. It was quick, it was easy, and I could track each point of my headache as it happened.
Negative points were that there was no app (yet), and I couldn’t export to CSV (yet). I had the theory down for CSV export, so I wasn’t worried about that. Besides, it was just me using it at this point. For the app, I knew that daunting task was looming down the road, and we’d cross paths soon enough.
The ideas keep coming
During the coding phase I had a growing realisation which:
- excited me greatly
- complicated things greatly
As I was making the headache tracker, I realised that tracking my headaches in isolation was useful to a point, but if it was tracked in tandem with other health information, like alcohol intake, exercise, weight etc it would be even more useful. And what about other people who had different health questions or issues? I could see a way to update the system and allow people to track a whole variety of weird and wonderful things. If it could be quantified, it could be tracked.
So, this was equally exciting and concerning. Concerning because of the mountain of work I saw rising before my eyes, but exciting because I could see something truly useful for a lot of people (and me) coming out of this.