Plug in those cords, Power up the computers and let the nerds get to work.
We walked our Project lead through the concept of the app and asked him to remember that “Few Clicks Away” is our mantra. We truly understand that an idea can be great but if the product doesn’t resonate well with the audience, it has no value. We had a great confidence in him to deliver. He hit the road running and went into full throttle mode.
As we wanted to release Kettle.Lend in Android and iOS platforms, we decided to write API’s to cater to the common functionalities. Now we were looking at 3 streams, Android and iOS development and API.
For the API’s, we wrote down a list of all the functions along with the respective input and output parameters. My first impression that it would be a simple app to build went through its first surprise. Turns out that we needed a lot of API’s and multiple sub functions, to get all the functionalities in place. Close to 45 API’s for the core features and 50 for the other features. There was a need to call a few outside third party API’s like Facebook, Google etc., as well.
First stop, Login Screen. How many of us create user accounts for every portal or app that we use? Very few!! If there is an option for us to use our Google or Facebook accounts, we just opt for that. Hence I wanted our app to support that. And of course you need the basic housekeeping functions like Forget Password, Logout etc. All in all we needed atleast 5 to 6 API’s just for this. I guess now you can understand why I said lot of API’s for the app.
Now that you get a glimpse of what it would entail for us to build the entire app, I’m not going to bore you and walk you thru all the screens and their API list. But I hope you get the big picture idea. We started with the API development and kept the android modules rolling alongside. How else can we test the API’s?
When we got to one of the first modules that’ll help register the user, our next surprise was waiting. Since phone number is going to be the primary identification of a user, we can’t let anyone use any phone number. You wouldn’t like it if I use your number to tie to my Kettle.Lend app, would you? Yeah… I didn’t think so. So this calls for phone number verification. That meant that we had to use one of the paid subscription services that’ll send a verification code to the user’s phone number. After some research we identified the one that’ll best fit our needs and budget, and incorporated it. Now I know why the CupCake store down the road, asked me to verify my phone number with a code :). In the future I’m mentally prepared not get annoyed with such verification codes. It is only one time and it is for my own safety, so I guess I’ll have to learn to live with it. I felt digitally equipped for this era!
Our next surprise hit us when we opened up the floor for Loops module. Creating loops and adding friends to loops was pretty straight forward. When you add an item, the app lets you pick who you’d want to share the item with. So far so good. When it comes to viewing the items in a loop, the user had to individually click on the item and then see the loops the item is shared with. That wouldn’t align very well with our “few clicks away mantra” now, would it? So we had to go back to the drawing board and let the users view the loop items both in the generic listing with a hint that it’s part of a loop and as well from under the Loops menu. When we came out of the design session, the Loops module got beefier. Even though it stretched our timelines, I was happy that we were able to set a good stage for our user community.
Once the API and Android combo took a good shape, we engaged our iOS team. They started to shadow android and kick start the development. iOS being a very different platform with lot of native code had its own challenges. We had to put in lot of coordination, re-visit the drawing board in a few instances and a lot of talk time to get the ball rolling.
With multiple suggestions from our smart developers throughout the course, we buckled up nice and tight. We understood that it is really hard to picturize all the scenarios in your head. Only when you see it in action you are able to relate better and make improvisations.
I have summarized the entire effort and the development work that happened over a period of 6 months, in a one pager here. Trust me, the development as expected, was the most difficult part. At least that’s what I thought then :).
What next…First sneak peek!!