My Challenge To You: Build Something In 30 Days

because that portfolio isn’t going to build itself

It’s 2020. We’re almost officially halfway through the month. If you’re anything like me, you might have started some sort of resolution. Maybe you started off strong — until you skip a day, and then another day.

The next thing you know, the month is almost over.

Last night, as I was laying in bed contemplating my life choices and was still thinking about how I can improve on how things went in 2019 in 2020. Then I came up with an idea.

Why don’t we do a community coding challenge?

The writing community has November Writing Month. YouTubers have vlogtober and vlogmas. 

Sure, there’s already the #100DaysOfCode — but learning is not the same as making.

If you want to be noticed by employers in job applications, learn a new skill or discover something about the space you’re coding in, you’re going to need to create. Completed projects are what moves your learning journey forward. 

Why I’m starting this challenge

I’m going to be honest — it gets lonely sometimes working as a remote dev and technical writer. When people make comments on my posts, I feel less lonely.

Over the past few months, I’ve been seeing a trend for the tech pieces I’ve encountered. Maybe it’s the algorithm. Maybe I’m just filtering out content through my settings. Whatever it is, the spaces where I hang out in is starting to feel a little homogenized because everyone is writing about the same thing. 

In short, the community’s original spark for creativity is starting to feel dim. 

When everyone seems to be writing about the traits of a senior developer, you kinda get bored reading the same thing over and over again.

Or jumping on the bandwagon of a topic that seemed to do well. 

It was cool the first few articles, but now it’s just boring.

That’s why I want to build something but I don’t want to do it alone.

What are the rules?

  • you have 30 days, starting on the 15th of January to come up with an idea, MVP wireframe it, build the app using your chosen technology stack and deploy it either to the play store/app store or your own website
  • you have to document each step to keep yourself accountable to your progress
  • Submit your final app by 15th February 2020 in one of the community spaces below.

Community Spaces

Everyone has their platform of choice so I’ve created the spaces below:

Facebook Group

Everyone seems to have Facebook — so I made a Facebook group. You Can join up here. 

The aim of this space is to be a nurturing space where people can ask code related questions, share progress updates and get design critic. 

LinkedIn, Dev.To, and Medium

In these platforms, you can write articles and stories to document your challenge progress. Use the tag Challenged By Squirrel for Medium and #ChallengedBySquirrel for LinkedIn and Dev.to so I know where to look.

Documenting your progress is one way to keep you accountable, but also makes explicit your learning journey. It doesn’t have to a 2,000 word essay — screenshots and a few points about it is enough. How detailed you want to go is up to you. 

I would do at least one progress post a week to keep you on track. 

Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok

Not everyone is a writer. That’s why I’ve included short form social spaces as well where you can post as frequently as you’d like — or at least once a week. Use #ChallengedBySquirrel so I know where to find you.

If you want to connect directly, I’m @dottedsquirrel on Twitter, @dotted.squirrel on Instagram and @dottedsquirrel on TikTok.

Yes. I like squirrels. It’s just easier to continue with the squirrel theme than try to think up a new one. 

Additional notes

I’m working on a loot pack for the winner and on the hunt for a community judge. 

The point of this challenge is that you walk away with a completed app. The loot is an acknowledgment for the best app that’s submitted on time. 

Last year, I promised myself that I would complete an app but never did. The year before that, I did the same. It’s a trend that’s been happening for as long as I can remember.

Sometimes, making something public can help you commit and make it to the end.

Why 15th?

15th seems like just a weird date to choose. Most people just start on the first of the month. 

But how many times have you made it through the month and decide to wait until the beginning of something?

15th start and end dates are a good pair. It’s close. It’s not the beginning of something in particular and stops you from stalling because it’s not the 1st.

Although the length of time is the same, the way numbers and dates work inside our heads makes it easier to properly gauge time. 30 days is not a long time but it’s a decent amount of time. 

When you look at 1st Jan to 30th Jan, it feels like a long time. But when you check your calendar for 15th Jan to 15th Feb, the tone is a bit different. It lets you see the real number of weeks and days you’re working with. It makes you feel less inclined to slack off. 

Yes, I know 15th Jan to 15th Feb is 31 days. You can take that extra day as a cheat day. 

App ideas

When you’ve only got 30 days, it really forces you to MVP your app to the barebones minimum. Also, if it’s your first time submitting to the app store, make sure to provision some additional time for the submission process.

It’s one thing to build an app and letting it sit on your localhost forever. It’s another to deploy and make it live — especially if it’s your first time.

That’s why deployment is a component of this challenge.

Here are some app ideas to help you kickstart the challenge:

Budgeting App

It’s the new year and chances are that a lot of people blew their December budgets. A budgeting app can be a good way to get good at linking your views, perform calculations and play with graphs. 

Private Chat App

Sure, the idea has already been implemented by big companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and every possible social network.

But the point of this idea is that you get to play with real time updates and streamed data. Imagine having that your resume without actually darting around your weak points in interviews.

News Aggregator App

Sometimes you just want certain things to be arranged in certain ways. With a news aggregator app, you can have a newsfeed that’s relevant and displayed in the way you want it to be displayed. 

Who knows, others may find what you find interesting useful too.

Food and Fitness App

There are a lot of free APIs out there that’s to do with food and fitness. RapidAPI is a space where you can access some of these completely free or on a free tier. 

Language App

Want to learn a new language but don’t want to pay the $2.99 for the app? Here’s your chance to make your own using open-sourced APIs or program in your own flash-card style designs.

Just a thought. You might end up learning a lot more about the language and have it stick in your brain longer because you’ve spent a few hours with the data. 

Final words

If you’re reading this post as soon as it’s out, then you have two days headstart. If you’re reading on or after the start date — you can still join in.

Your app might need to be a little more stripped down than what you originally thought. 

The point of the challenge is that you have something working and available to the public. You never know when it might come in handy — or it might take off. 

So come and join me and be part of #ChallengedBySquirrel

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