Story

Huh? How did my first app come to being?

Preface

My first grand project, Huh?, is an app I built from scratch at fourteen years old. It stems from desires and needs, talent and effort, will and necessity, all of which have guided me throughout my adventure.

The idea

For me, making an app was an incredible achievement; and that is only an understatement. For a fourteen-year-old kid dreaming of becoming an adult, assembling his fantasies into inventions, and sharing them with the frightening vastness of the world, making an app was more than an achievement.

I did not have to wait long to make that dream come true. I had the willingness, the machine, and some sprinkles of knowledge. So why wait? I thought. No obstacle was big enough to stop me from going forward and grasping my destiny.

I was ecstatic at the idea of launching the editor and seeing the code write itself in whatever shape or form I imagined. But this blob of text would be vague, just characters with no meaning and syntax without cohesion. The code I was fantasizing about had no goal, no purpose. I was missing something.

That’s it! I was missing something! An idea, unique and novel. A unique novel idea.

A product of productivity

In my teenage years, life was already starting to become demanding. I was trying to juggle between my free time and schoolwork. Oh, dear. It was not easy and still is not at the time of writing.

I have to organize myself or work more intelligently, I thought. And so came the cherished idea I was missing all along that would propel me forward faster than the rocket engines on a spaceship!

Not efficiently studying is the problem that almost all students face, including me. Just make a productivity app, take the time to build the app and then regain that time by using the app. Simple. I told myself.

Looking back at my idea, it is eerily similar to every other novice trying to make and publish a new app. It is a painful reminder that although not all thoughts are alike, they all stem from the same reality we collectively live. It seems that either most programmers are obsessed with productivity, or most productivity people are obsessed with programming.

Most newbies, including me, would create a productivity app since it was the easier option. And where some would make a to-do or note-taking app, I would make something like a dictionary. I say something because it was not only a dictionary per se.

Dictionaries

With all the power at my fingertips, and the ideas flowing to my mind, I only wanted to make one thing: more than a dictionary. A multidictionary? With such questions, it seemed convenient to name my future app Huh? because it was fun and fitting, the ingredients for a good name.

I now had my idea and was ready to use it, like I was concocting some ancestral magical potion. The recipe’s fine prints are usually tedious, and so is the app’s creation. Thus, I will not go in-depth down that path. Besides, my memory of the coding, designing, and publishing parts has been corrupted and slowly decomposed with time.

My app would become a portal to an unforeseen dimension where you could effortlessly jump from one lexicon to the other. It would provide access to all popular dictionaries, one swipe away, for everyone’s convenience.

Small yet big

The dear creation of mine had good reasons to see the light of day. Indeed, I sometimes look up definitions only to stumble on non-explanatory explanations. Imagine yourself wanting to look up the meaning of the word “unpleasantly.” You open up your dictionary, your app of choice, or your browser and find this:

In an unpleasant manner.

Oh great! Another useless definition. But hang on! What if you did the same using my app? Well, you would only be one swipe away from choosing another source, another publisher, another dictionary, and so another definition.

That is a niche idea, so niche that I today barely use my creation for that reason!

Besides, I also have two other features: languages and history. You can switch to one of seven distinct languages and conveniently find all the previous words you had looked up.

With all my features combined, and more than three years of continuous updates, my creation now helps more than a thousand people every day, more than the entire population of Vatican City!

Expectations

I know that my app is not perfect and that I have a long way before I make it look and feel useful enough for the majority. My main goal was not to build something out-of-this-world but rather something to make me proud. I did do that. I invented something that made me proud.

With time, my criteria change. What once made me proud now does not, and that is normal. I have to change and seek innovations to appreciate what I do. These continuously push me to update my app and the users to recognize the effort I put into it.

One example of a criteria change is this article itself. Indeed, that same article you are reading was once a very different story with more detail, quotes, and titles. If you were curious enough to read the first iteration of my writing, and if you also read this new version, I hope that you have found your time well spent.

Postface

Thank you for reading this article, and thank you more if you have already tried or are considering trying my app!