Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

48 - And now we wait

I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time. It was ten months ago when we first had the idea for Story. And now we've almost completed its first chapter.

So it's a real surprise that I'm not enjoying it at all. Neither's Paul.

Filippo is uploading Story today. Me and Paul are at our day jobs. We're both ill, I have a whole iPad magazine to design and publish by the end of the day and Paul is launching his company's website in two other countries.

9am

Paul: Filippo, the app still switches to landscape.

Filippo: Yep... on my list! Could you please remove the stories without authors from the database?

Paul: Yeah.

9:30am

Simon: How are we going to publish stories from a 'Story' account? We can't use the facebook page cause it screws up the facebook app and the Story app. I tried to make a normal person account called 'Team Story' but it knows it's not a real name.

Paul: I'll have to make a web page that bypasses Facebook. 

10:30am

Simon: I feel like the app should load 24 stories at a time. So you get a nice bit of scroll before it starts to load again.

Filippo: Well I load 9 per page to fill one screen, 24 seems quite a lot to me, what about 18?

Simon: 9 fills an iPhone 4S but not an iPhone 5. Yep 18. Also, the images in stories are still low res. They don't look retina.

Filippo: I can implement the retina images, the only concern will be that all the image upload and download will be double in size. Is it ok for you? and Paul I don't think you have to do anything for this, can you confirm?

11:30am

Simon: The background texture is missing from inside the stories...

Filippo: I can see a background texture… Can you explain please.

Simon: Look at this screen shot. No background!

Filippo: LOL I can see a texture on your image too. But the texture is a layer of dust on my screen... Okay adding background.

12:50pm

Filippo: New version of Story app available. For the submission I'll need the story icons in these four sizes; Four to five screen shots of the app; And then: Application description; Application category; Application keywords; Url for website; Email for support.

Would be great if you could provide all this by the end of the day so that I'll be able to submit the application!

1:30pm

Simon:  The story icon spacing for Following and My Profile still doesn't match the Discover screen. Create screen texture still the old 10x10 - should be the 100x100.

Everything else is looking greeeaaat!

2pm

Filippo: Regarding the app spacing... it's fine?

Simon: Horizontal spacing, not vertical.

Filippo: Ah yes.

Simon: Paul can you delete all the bullshit stories from the database so the screenshots look good?

Paul: I'm ramped. Will get on it.

2:30pm

Simon: I've written the app description, have a look. Paul? My head is screwed today... input please.

Paul: Sounds shit. Try this. Filippo what do you think?

Filippo: It's not bad!

Simon: Yeah that's better although it says 'story' a billion times. How about this?

Paul: Yes. I've deleted some of the bullshit stories.

Simon: Hmmm, a lot of stories about chicken on that first screen.

Paul: Yeah. Lemme clean some chicken out.

3pm

Filippo: Sending a new version with new spacing. By the way what are the app categories?

Paul: Social.

Filippo: There are two...

Paul: Lifestyle.

Filippo: Can you add me as an iTunes Connect user so I can submit the app on your behalf?

Simon: I can't add you because you're already registered!

Paul: DENIED!!!

Filippo: Hmm, I see. Okay let me think... Okay try this email address instead.

Simon: Done

Filippo: Great thanks. Could you please create the application in iTunes Connect. The first step is decide the name of the company that will be displayed in the app. Since that name can't be changed I prefer you do it. If you go in ManageYourApp>add New App and then follow the instructions.

Paul: Shall I?

Simon: Yes!

Paul: Team Story, right? What's a SKU number and a bundle number?

Paul: Argh!

4pm

Paul: Fuck me this is taking fucking ages. Now I need to upload everything like images n that. Like is it gonna ask me for the app too? 

Filippo: Can you save your progress? I'll pick up from there.

Paul: Doesn't look like it. Wanna do this over Skype with me?

Filippo: YES.

4:30pm

Simon: Here are the new App icons

6:30pm

Paul: Are these the icons?

Filippo: Guys I'm submitting. No more changes unless we do it right now.

Simon: Yes they're the icons.

7pm

Filippo: Done! And now we wait.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

47 - Monday

From: Filippo
To: Simon, Paul
Date: 14 December 2012, 18:34
Subject: StoryApp

Hei Guys,

Released a new version.
We all here had a good test, we will keep doing it during the week end.
Would be good if you could do the same and let me know on monday.
If we submit the app on Monday we can hope in a release on the app store before Christmas.

Let me know…
Cheers
Filippo

---

From: Filippo

To: Simon, Paul
Date: 16 December 2012, 14:26
Subject: StoryApp

All looks good. With your blessing we ll go for the store hopefully tomorrow!!!
Thanks a lot for your help!

Filippo

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

46 - I see you


That's it. Go on. Have a look. I see you. Looking straight forward but eyes straining down to the side. I can see you. In the reflection of the Tube carriage window. Eyes angled on my iPhone. 

Don't know what this app is do you? Like the look of those icons though don't you? Yeah me too. Let me swipe through a load of them. I know you like that. Let me just tap this gorgeous tab here and you can watch the icons zoom off the screen. 

Tap. Look at that. Did you just flinch? That's just a little article I wrote. A picture at the top followed by a load of text. I'll just pretend to read it for a second so you can have a look. 

That's not all. Let me just get back and, tap, look at that! A recipe! About some kind of tasty looking chicken pancetta dish. It wasn't working yesterday but our coder has fixed the bugs and now it works perfectly. But you don't know that do you. He's called Filippo. 

Here's a photo story of Paul's son. That's right, this app can really do a lot. I see you, pretending to look at your phone but really looking at mine. I'll edge my phone out so you don't have to strain so hard. I see you. You'll love playing with this. Soon.

We can't wait for you to play with this.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

45 - Crash

Paul texts me saying the publish story button doesn't work. I'm not sure what he means. Works for me. Whatever, I'm trying to make my first proper story. A recipe.

I have a dish I cook. It's a chicken and pancetta thing in a white wine sauce over pasta. Made it last night and finally perfected it. Added a sliced chilli. Sent the taste into orbit. I took photos along the way and had decided to make a story about it. 

So this is the first time I'm using the app properly, like using about 20 photos, resizing/cropping them, reordering them, adding captions, adding blocks of text too. Doing it all. After half an hour and about 15 photos into the 20, Story crashes. I re-open; all gone.

I had a numb feeling. I'm used to it. I get it all the time. Had Illustrator crash a bunch of times while designing the app. I just sit and stare.

"Everything okay?" girlfriend asks.

I hate saying to her, 'It crashed' and looking all pissed off. I sound like the nerd I am.

"Ahhh, nothing... just like, crashed or something..."
"Aww honey..."
"Nah it's cool. Just, you know..."
"You've been working on that for ages-"
"Yeah no, it's cool."

Fuck it, probably just random, things crash, it's fine. I'll start again.

Twenty minutes later. Crash.

"Babe? You okay?"
"THE FUCKING THING CRASHED. IT CRASHED ON ME. AGAIN." Feel my head getting hot. Eyes puffy. Angry. Staring at a screen. That's a nerd alright.

I silently text Paul. "Story crashed on me. Shit."

Paul replies, "Yeah. Doesn't work."

Saturday, 8 December 2012

44 - "Isn't it done?"

"I thought it was done?" my girlfriend asks.
"The app?"
"Yeah, the app. Isn't it done? Wasn't it meant to be done on Friday?"

Like I'd be sitting here on a Saturday night if the app was done. Like I wouldn't have maybe mentioned that it was done. Like me, Paul and Filippo wouldn't have the champagne flowing if the app was done.

"No... not done..."
"Oh I thought it was meant to be-"
"Yeah, no."

It was meant to be finished last week. Then Wednesday. And now this coming Monday. I keep throwing extra stuff at Filippo which isn't helping. But the plan is to submit the thing to the App Store on Monday. Which probably means Wednesday/next next Monday.

Monday, 3 December 2012

43 - One more thing...

Filippo's gonna kill me. 

But I can't let this go. 'No more changes' he'd said. That was a week ago. But this change is so good it needs to go in.

I text Paul a photo of the design change. "Nice." He replies. Nice spurs me on.

I'm trying to think how to word the email to Filippo.

"Hi Filippo, loving what you're doing. Mate, could I ask you for one last, last favour?! I feel bad even asking but-"

Nah too eager, too weak. He'll spot me a mile off. What combination of words will lead Filippo to make this change? I text Paul asking how to word it. He doesn't reply.

Maybe I should go in hard like, "Filippo. Need a change executed soon as. Top of the list. Let me know when you have it done."

He'll destroy me.

I've designed new buttons for Story's main screens. They have icons on instead of text. They make the thing look gorgeously minimal and, due to the buttons being bigger, it's more functional too.

I'm sure it's not that much work. I mean, I don't know coding but I'm sure it isn't more than 20 minutes work. 30 tops. That's what I picture in my head. Probably exactly how it is. No worries. I'll just say that.

...

Oh god. Kill me now. I'm a... client.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

42 - Location


"Each story should say the person's location on it." I said ages ago when first discussing the app with Filippo.

"The location of the author or the location of where the story was made?" He replied.

"What do you mean?"

"Because if you go on holiday to Africa but create the story when you get home in London then it'll say London, not Africa."

"Huh. Good point."

Like, you say something you think is really simple, 'hey Filippo, yeah, just stick the location on there yeah? Quick job yeah?' but then it opens up a whole bunch of new questions you didn't think about. Which is weird when this is all you think about.

So, today, Filippo implemented a thing where it takes the location from where the cover photo was taken. Because the cover photo is the one most likely to be most relevant to your story. You know, makes sense.

But what if there is no photo? Huh. No worries. Filippo decided to do a mix. So Story will look at the location of your photo and, if there is no photo, it'll grab your current location and use that.

Paul says he loves using Filippo for this reason, "Like, he is making a hybrid solution to determine the location of a story. Pretty cool." It really is nice knowing this guy has got our back.

Okay, enough bigging up Filippo.

Great guy though.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

41 - Congratulations Filippo



One of the other projects, apart from Story, that Filippo and his team have been working on is this one for Google. It's been getting a load of buzz.

The last time we met Filippo he showed it to us right before it was about to go live. He was really proud. Me and Paul were gobsmacked. I'm not into fancy show-off examples of 'what's possible these days' but this one is amazing. It's a true bond between creative vision and technological skill. Urgh 'technological skill' sounds terrible... I'll ask Paul how to word it...

"It's a symbiotic relationship consisting of engineered creativity."

Yes, that.

It's really beautiful and I'm so happy it's these guys building Story.

Friday, 23 November 2012

40 - One week left

Paul enters Filippo's office, takes his MacBook Air from his bag and wedges it side-ways on its corner in-between the table and a low shelf. So the thing is literally only resting on one of its corners, upright. It was awkward and tense. Me and Filippo stop discussing drop shadows on the text and look at Paul, who's got his 'fuck you' face on. He was making an entrance switching up the tone from 'safety' to 'danger'. We all laugh.

Paul had told me not to mention the three things we wanted Filippo to add to Story (but weren't in the original spec) until he got there. He begins.

"Okay. So, we've got one week left and, Filippo, I know you want to have a chat with us about not being cowboys with changes etcetera etcetara but can I just tell you a little story?"

Filippo winces and nods his head one time.

"Okay. So. There's this guy 'Marty Cagan'. Works for Google. He commissioned some people to go away and make a prototype of those Google glasses. You know those glasses Google are making?"

Filippo nods again with his hands in a prayer position under his nose.

"So he gave them the exact details of how he wanted the glasses made. These guys go away, they spend a few weeks making this thing and they come back and unveil the prototype and he's like, "Don't like it." The guys are like, "But it's exactly what you commissioned." And 'Marty Cagan' is like, "Yeah and I didn't know I wouldn't like it until I saw it. And now I see it I don't like it"

Filippo is frowning. His nods had been slowing down throughout the story until he was almost motionless.

Paul carries on, "So yeah. Not saying I hate Story or anything, obviously, but just, like, yeah. Bear that in mind."

"Okay..." Says Filippo.

I stare at the MacBook Air that is still wedged in the weirdest position. It's starting to look like the monolith from 2001.

Paul keeps going, "Soooooo..." He lowers his head and rubs his forehead. "With that in mind..."

Ah, I get it. Paul's about to tell Filippo about the extra stuff we want in the app. And he does. And Filippo, in a real nice way says no. He explains that he wants to help us. He wants Story to be as good as it can be. But this particular feature, like, he could do it, but it will take a lot more time and more money. I go in for the rebound and ask for one of the things I wanted. I get a no. I mutter the final feature we want. And he said sure no problem. Great!

We spend the next couple of hours going through everything that needs to get done. There is only one week left of development.

When I get home I text Paul asking if he's feeling good. He says yes.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

39 - Niiice

"New update feels niiice"

I get the text from Paul while on my way home from work. Filippo is updating the app most nights now. As I wait at the traffic lights I check my emails and see the one from him. It has a big green install button. I press it and it automatically installs the latest version of Story and I nearly get hit by a car as I cross the road.

It is feeling nice. Filippo's updated the story icons to the latest design and they're looking cool. I view a story and images have a new spinny load thing before fading in real smooth. There's a bunch of other little things he's done too that are making the thing feel like a real app. I enter my flat and show it to my girlfriend, she can't tell the difference any more but nods and smiles and says well done.

One of my test stories is a bunch of photos of meals I've cooked. As I scroll down watching them fade in, reading my captions, it feels niiice. It feels good swiping down a load of photos instead of, say, clicking through on facebook one at a time. It's way less work and makes all the photos feel more coherent. Like they're all part of the same story. Which they are.

We're meeting Filippo tonight to discuss the rest of the development. Haven't seen the guy for ages. There are a couple of things we want in the app that we haven't actually agreed on with Filippo. Well, three things. Three things we'd like. One from Paul and two from me. Fingers crossed eh!

Happy Thanksgiving Ashton Kutcher.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

38 - Tuesday mornings

I'm worrying today. Don't know why.

One of the things I'm worrying about are the tiny compromises me and Paul are making. They're the tiniest little things, one on its own is nothing. But I worry that all the little things will add up to a massive thing.

Nah it'll be fine. I'm just worrying. I'll be fine tomorrow. It's a Tuesday morning. Tuesday mornings are always a bad day. An alcohol come-down from the weekend.

Another of the things I'm worrying about is that we're too small to make a dent. A few guys from London going up against a whole city in California and the rest of the world. They spend millions working out the next big thing; we scrambled together 15k and it broke us. They work full time; we squeeze it in on the Tube or when our boss isn't looking. They have Ashton Kutcher; we've got:


(Me, Paul and Filippo)


So I worry.

I worry that they'll take a look at the thing we've built. The real minimum viable product and rip it off in a week with something looking all polished with all the tiny little animations we can't afford to put in right now and with a load of massive features that people will expect.

But I only worry on Tuesday mornings. Now it's lunchtime and I have things to design for Filippo and my boss is out.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

37 - Shout outs

Story will be like when you give a kid crayons and a pad of paper and they draw all over the walls. I can't wait to see what people create. What my friends create.

I know this guy, Jamie, he writes a blog. Real good writer. Funny. Story will let people follow him and every time he publishes something new it'll pop to the top of their feeds. Like, right now I have go to his website and check if he's updated it. In Story it'll just be there waiting for me. I say that but the guy hasn't even got an iPhone so that's not gonna happen.

Whatever, I know this guy Josh, a journalist. So, you know, you'd expect him to be good at writing, but his emails, you could even publish them. Insightful, intelligent, fucking funny. I'm bored of forwarding them to my mates. They'd make perfect stories.

I know this girl Laura, who works for a charity, the MS Trust. She wants to use Story to show what her charity does.

My friend Fran wants to make a fashion/cooking fanzine. My girlfriend's mum wants to write about the 50+ dating scene. My mate Leon wants to document his involvement with the John Peel Archive.  Some guy called Gary wants to put up a portfolio of his photography. Jamie, another Jamie, actually the Jamie, the guy who's invested in Story, wants to have a list he can update of all his favourite restaurants across the world.

I wanna create stories with my girlfriend to send to her family back in America. Make funny photo stories for her little niece and nephew. Draw cartoons for them to follow. Document our nights in with photos of our cooking and transcripts of our arguments because her mum loves knowing that stuff.

I can't wait, and that's just my friends. I can't wait to see what everyone else in the world draws all over the walls.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

36 - Boom

I JUST PUBLISHED A STORY!

Paul was in a meeting today and pushing out code from his phone on the sly. Filippo said he was proud of him. I swear it's like the fucking Social Network right now. Paul had tied a couple of ends together. So I launch Story on my phone and take some pictures, write a couple of sentences, give it a title and press the 'Publish' button, it publishes and appears in the feed with its own icon.

(Okay, so I had to quit the app and relaunch to get it to appear but it was there!) And then I tapped on it and viewed it.

Paul's already put a few up. Check this one out. It looks fucking gorgeous. This is all live stuff. No more mock ups.


That's an out of date icon overlay too. There's a newer design that looks even better. And the title isn't on the icon yet, that needs to happen. But you know, getting there getting there!

Friday, 9 November 2012

35 - The bad guy

I have a great story. But I can't write about it. I'm gonna write out a movie script that shares a similar plot line... to avoid any legal complications...

INTRO / DAY ONE

Two Guys strike upon an idea that will change the world forever. World peace and everything. Limitless in its potential. But they can't do it alone. They need the help of a technical genius to build the thing for them. The greatest Engineer. And luckily they know just the guy.

The three of them set upon an adventure and, together, begin building this amazing thing. Everything is going to plan when...

DAY TWO

The Engineer receives a threat. A threat that will result in him being taken. The Bad Guy wants to steal the Engineer to work on his own evil plans. But the engineer doesn't want to. The Two Guys rush to save the Engineer but the Bad Guy intercepts and chains them up. There's nothing they can do, only watch on.

"I want to go back in the past and kill his grandfather or something like that." Says the Engineer. This is impossible because time travel is impossible.

But the Engineer doesn't give up and he and the Bad Guy go to battle. The other Two Guys watch on, sad and worried and helpless. As night falls, the battle rages. The Engineer is weary but his passion fights on. They both disappear into the darkness and things look bleak and hope is but a flicker. Is this the end for the incredible world changing idea? It sure looks like it.

FADE TO BLACK

DAY THREE

The darkness of the night bleeds red. Eventually, as the sun hauls itself upwards, slowly, heavily, the red brightens to yellow and, after some time, to a clear blue. The stillness erupts with the sound of birds singing. A deer prances past, stops, looks at us, looks down and eats some grass, then hops off. 

A figure appears on the horizon. The Two Guys, still shackled, raise their heads. Is it? Could it be? It's the Engineer! He is running. He is smiling. He carries the head of the Bad Guy.

"I fucking killed him!" He exclaims.
"I'm back! I'm back at work completely! And it looks amazing!"
"It's so amazing I want to cry!"

The Engineer and the Two Guys rejoice.

THE END

STANDING OVATION

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

34 - Leaving things out

"I like it but it is massively out of scope and we might not be able to work it in. I do like it but it seems like a throw in thing that adds no value at this point."

I'd thought of a little thing we could work into the first version of Story. I kinda liked it, what I'd thought of. It wasn't anything special. It was just a fancy touch. And Paul called it out for that, it really doesn't add any value to our product right now.

I like that we're leaving out everything that isn't 100% required. It will be so simple. If Story gets popular I'm sure we'll be adding features to stay ahead of the inevitable competition. We'll add little touches that make people smile. But no matter where it leads the core idea and concept of Story will be nailed in the first version. I wonder if it'll always be my favourite version for that exact reason.

Right now, Story should be working but Paul said he deleted something from a database meaning, right now, it crashes on launch every time. But this week, to quote Paul again, "this week will be a good week for Story." He said that.

UPDATE:

Paul: ok. When do you think the next release is likely to be?
Filippo: ... in 2/3 days
Paul: k
Filippo: I hope 2
Paul: will be a big release :)
Filippo: :D the main app functionalities will be there

Thursday, 1 November 2012

33 - Should be fine!

"I'm going to a meeting, should be back around lunchtime, is that cool?"

"Should be fine!" I reply.

My boss gets up from his desk which is right next to mine and puts his jacket on.

As soon as he turns I click on my dropbox folder and open up one of the Story files. I was up at  6am preparing designs for Filippo but didn't get them finished before having to leave for work. This happens a lot.

Part of me wants to quit, sign on to the dole and design for Story every day all day.

I get a rush of excitement as I make the Illustrator window small enough so people walking past won't notice. I frantically design. These are my best hours. 10am to 1pm, I really get into it. I fantasise about sitting in my own office having this exact same feeling but without the guilt and hunched shoulders. The fantasy is my heaven, my faith. It's-

"Bloody meeting got cancelled."

Fuck. I freeze.

I don't want to make any sudden movements on my screen. Sudden movements like quickly minimising the window or doing that thing where all the windows zoom off the screen. That's what gets you caught. It draws their eye. At the same time, if he glances at my screen, I won't really be able to explain this guy staring back:


I'd got carried away messing around with the Story logo.

Due to the panic I hadn't realised my boss was asking me a question. Then he finished talking because he'd asked it. So the question hung there and I didn't know what it was and this guy is staring like this:




If this was a TV show it would cut to another scene. Like, cut to Paul going, "I've broken Story." And Filippo going, "What do you mean you've broken it?"

"I dunno. I deleted the database like you said and now nothing's working."

"You deleted the database?"

"You said-"

Okay cut back to me; I'm sitting on my desk covering half the screen with my upper body and my left arm draped over the other half. My right hand is holding my chin and my eyes are looking in whichever direction that means I'm lying as I'm thinking of an answer to a question I don't know.

"Yeah, should be fine!" I say.

Canned laughter.

I can't wait to work on Story full time.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

32 - Are we there yet?

Filippo codes the app. Paul codes the web backend that the app talks to. And I make it look nice.

Cars are always a good metaphor. So like, Paul builds the engine. Filippo builds all the bits that join up to the engine; steering wheel, dashboard, gearbox etc. And I cover it all up with a metal frame and leather seats.

The other day Paul emailed me a load of dialogue between him and Filippo and was excited. It seems that Paul's engine is finally turning on when Filippo flips the key.

By the end of this week we should be able to drive to the shops and back (publish stories for the first time)

Next week Filippo will be oiling the gears, pumping air into the tires and redoing the paintwork (fixing bugs and making whatever changes we'd like)

The week after that... Free Aston Martins for everyone! (You'll be able to get the app from your local dealer (the App Store))

Road trip!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

31 - February


From: Paul
To: Simon
8 February 2012 21:05 
Re: Balsamiq 
… Anyway my cooking app is underway. You remember Filippo? He runs his own mobile agency with another bloke. Having a chat with him next week. Just for some pointers. 


From: Simon
To: Paul
8 February 2012 21:29
Re: Balsamiq
I know you like the cooking thng but you could use the shell a bunch of ways. 
Like, it could be a scrapbook of pictures, videos and notes from when you go on holiday. The home screen could be a bunch of holiday albums. I think you should think of the core concept. Like, a collection of albums that you share with people that could contain anything. Maybe you could rate people's albums and see public albums. 
I like the idea of collections of things. 


From: Paul 
To: Simon
8 February 2012 21:39
Re: Balsamiq
Well yeah you're right but I was into the simplicity of it. Also lots of cute things about cooking. Like you can give people cute messages and icons and options that are cooking based. 
A picture album app is good too. I told you I thought that's what path was to start with. Like a little 'path' of photos displaying your weekend or your marathon or your holiday etc. I like that. It's a bigger app though and would take me a stupid amount of time to throw together. 
Might try it. Like I'm going to make a near to realistic prototype, make the little website ie like its really real then get someone to pay for it to be built. 


From: Simon
To: Paul 
8 February 2012 22:01
Re: Balsamiq
But why would it be extra work? It's all just uploading pictures with text. I just don't think you should bracket people in to use it a particular way when there's loads of ways to use it. Just people's scrapbooks. Call it scrapbook. 


From: Paul 
To: Simon 
8 February 2012 22:16 
Re: Balsamiq
Yeah I understand. I will give it some thought. I understand you abstracting it. You can abstract too much and you're left with something too vague. Aaaaanyway yeah I guess it just means a massive rethink. I do like it though. You could tag it and that which I was gonna do anyway. I guess using it for cooking would be a great example of HOW to use it.  
When it was just a food thing, like a news feed that shows what your friends are cooking, then you see the end result ie they mark it as 'done'. Thought it'd be nice to comment on each stage of your journey. Then you build up your journeys. People like your journeys. People have similar journeys. I sorta have it in my head. 


From: Simon 
To: Paul 
9 February 2012 09:23 
Re: Sweating
Maybe this is a whole new app but this is what I see... 
When you open it there's a home screen of featured 'books' by different people. One might be a bunch of nice photos. One might be a short story. One is a guy's recipe for cooking. One is someone's holiday pics; however a collection of pictures and words packaged up. 
Then there's the 'create book' button where you can give it a title and subline, and upload pictures, video and text. When you're done, you can publish it. You can publish privately just for your mates or you can publish publicly. If you publish publicly it will appear in everyone's search terms and category stream.


From: Paul 
To: Simon 
9 February 2012 09:53 
Re: Sweating
Your idea is different to what i'm thinking but also kinda the same. I liked the cooking thing and then that being extended out of the cooking thing. Like what i thought Path was. A photographic journey bundled up into little album type things. Extending it beyond photos to things like text... I like the simplicity of photo journeys. You can add annotation to them too. Will think. It could be fun and beautiful.


From: Simon 
To: Paul 
20 February 2012 12:11 
thng
Has anyone done anything like this? It could be massive.






From: Paul 
To: Simon 
20 February 2012 12:16 
Re: thng
Mate i know!!!!
Like it really could take off man. People would LOVE creating stories. Like yeah. My notebook looks exactly the same:






From: Simon 
To: Paul 
20 February 2012 12:24 
thng
This feels too easy.


From: Paul 
To: Simon 
20 February 2012 12:28 
Re: thng
I even looked at the photo album type apps on the app store and they are disgusting. This is more of a social thing though and based on the 'journey'. That is key. Like example albums are:
My birthday
Mama's fish stew
When i climbed everest
Road trip
Vegas
VEGAS!


From: Paul 
To: Simon 
Re: San Pelllllllllllllllllllllllll
22 February 2012 12:24 
What the fuck is it going to be called? Remember it is about the journey. Path would be perfect but like yeah.....


From: Simon 
To: Paul 
Re: San Pelllllllllllllllllllllllll
22 February 2012 13:28 
jouboo.com is available - Like, Journey and Book put together.


From: Paul 
To: Simon 
Re: San Pelllllllllllllllllllllllll
22 February 2012 13:33 
jouboo works. i was toying with like journi :S


From: Simon 
To: Paul 
23 February 2012 01:03 
mock up




I only got as far as home screen and the 'Start Book' screens. Yeah I still don't like the books, just fuckin around.
But I love the pop up info when you tap a book. And I love the 'Start Book' screen. Makes me wanna make one real bad.



From: Paul 
To: Simon 
Re: Tappy
24 February 2012 09:47 
need a name today.
just a fucking name.


From: Simon 
To: Paul 
Re: Tappy
24 February 2012 11:25 
I fucking love the word Story.
Knew these guys that opened a skate shop called Story Store. Always loved that. Story.


From: Paul 
To: Simon 
Re: Tappy
24 February 2012 11:28
Yeah story is nice. We work in Agile here and instead of raising little projects they are called stories. I kinda like it. Like i'm working on a big story right now that has sub-tasks etc. Yeah, Story is nice.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

30 - Itterrate, iterrate, iterate

I woke up and had this crazy rush of, I dunno, something. I really hate the design of the pop up windows in Story. They look fake. Look:


And it looked worse every time I stared at it. And then it reached breaking point and I had this rush of like, what the fuck am I doing? We have this perfect idea and an amazing opportunity to finally work for ourselves and on something important. It's so special, it'll kill me if it looks sloppy.

So I'm staring at this trying to figure out how to do it better:


It's fiddly. Makes you read too. This is the most important bit of the tool when you're creating a story but the bits where you touch are real long and thin:


That's not cool. So I did this:


Made the buttons big and square. Made the icons the thing your eye is drawn to and made the text small.

But then I'm thinking why is the button black? I'm kinda going for this whole pure white thing for the app and here's this big black thing. So here's a mock up of the (currently) final design for the pop up windows:





Another:


I'm trying to design this thing as if Jonathan Ive was doing the UI. Unobtrusive colours (other than the orange, the only colour will be your pictures and story covers), rounded corners but with sharp dividers that draw your eye.

Filippo is annoyed I changed the design, "I'll implement it today, the new pop-up very different from the old one, it will take a while to integrate. Please ... Please ... Please ... do not do it again... it takes ages to optimise. thanks :) " But you know, it wasn't me, it was the crazy rush.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

29 - Selling for free

One day we'll need to make money off this thing. It'll be a nice problem to solve when Story has ten million users.

Here are the options we'll have:

1. Paid version without any ads.
2. Free version with banner ads.
3. Sponsored content.
4. Sell in-app extras.
5. Sell access to premium stories.
6. Subscription fee.

I think that's it. Let's start from the top:

1. A paid version with no ads: This would be great, yeah let's do that. Oh wait, we can't because it's a social app. If we were making a game, or any other type of app, we could sell it for 99p. But making a social app? It has to be free. Which is kinda annoying because it means we have to consider stuff like:

2. Free version with banner ads: No way. Cheap and horrible.

3. Sponsored content: This is better than having banner ads, and it's the most realistic income for us. It would be great if we could get companies to pay for sponsored content and take advantage of it in a cool way. Like, say, Coke made a story about the history of their company. That would be cool. I'd read that. But how often do advertising people do stuff interesting? (My old house mate, during an ad break, he'd scream at the TV "STOP LYING TO ME") Anyway, sponsored content is the most realistic option for an app like ours and hopefully we can make it interesting. I like the idea of making companies think a bit about it, like, "Look guys, this is a mini version of your entire brand. Like a mini website for you. Be honest with it. Do something good." We'll see.

4. Selling in-app extras: We could sell extras like being able to choose fonts for your stories or changing colours. I don't really like this. I like the idea of a product being a complete product. No hidden extras or costs. A lot of apps do it successfully but it just doesn't feel clean.

5. Sell premium stories: I could rant about the failing magazine industry again but basically, people do not want to pay to read something.

6. Subscription fee: This is like selling the app for a price but more complicated, "Yeah no, it costs 99p but 99p every month... if you want to cancel your subscription simply-" This wouldn't saturate.

Paul has his own opinions. Like I said, when we have ten million users and have to solve this problem, it'll be nice.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

28 - Design change

The story icons have been bugging me. When I first designed them they looked like books, like this:


I didn't like the books. They felt too old and dusty. Felt too confined. I worried if people saw a screen shot of the app they'd think it was an app for reading books.

So I designed something more abstract. Something that looked like a book but also more than a book. I did this:


But these haven't been sitting well with me either. The sharp angles contradict the softness of the rest of the app.

Here's the new design I've been working on for the story icons:


Still abstract in nature, still have the 'light' shining from inside but I've given them the roundness of the original books. I love these.

Monday, 8 October 2012

27 - First glimpse


Paul turns and chucks me Filippo's phone, it has the app on it. A plain white app icon with 'Story' labelled underneath it.

Wow.

I launch it... stories appear. Wow. I can scroll them up and down. I do that for a bit. I get a rush of excitement. This is our baby. It's great. It feels like more than an app. It feels like a real physical thing. I hit the 'following' tab and see new stories sweep onto the screen. Wow wow wow. That's all it does for now, but it's great and I beam.

We make a joke about having a launch party and doing so many drugs we die and go down as the biggest rock stars in the tech industry. It was funnier at the time.

Filippo deploys the app to mine and Paul's iPhones where he'll be updating it every couple of days or so with a newer version.

We go to the pub and send this video to Jamie the investor:

Sunday, 7 October 2012

26 - My past*


All the T-Shirts and sweaters I used to print are hidden in a cupboard now. The sight of them makes me cringe.

I have great memories though. There was one drop I did, where I had a count down on my site, and I sold over a grand's worth of product in a day. I think I clocked up about £1200. It felt amazing as it was me making something and selling it directly. I suddenly saw I could make a living off my own back, I didn't need anyone else. An escape from 9 to 6 slavery where success could be as huge as my imagination.

But I didn't keep it up. I'd work really hard on each drop. So I'd be working in these cycles. Towards the end of each cycle I'd stop going out and talking to people and just work on it obsessively for about three weeks. Then I'd release the latest designs and it was this huge emotional release where I felt I could relax and have fun again. So I'd go out and feel good. But then a month would go by and I wouldn't have done anything for the next drop and I'd start feeling anxious.

It got harder and harder, those gaps, to pull it all back in and get back to work.

I was also fighting this feeling of it not really mattering. Like, the T-Shirts didn't mean anything. My brand didn't stand for anything. All good clothing brands come from a scene... a skate scene, a music scene etc. Mine weren't from anywhere except my head. I felt it lacked something important that I couldn't put my finger on and so eventually the passion for it died leaving this aching chasm, a need to create something, a product that people love and want to own and use.

That feeling's been with me ever since. It was always there, but actually seeing a glimpse of what that could feel like... it was incredible.




*I'll get Paul to write one of these too. For now, I remember, back in art college, I didn't know him too well then, and we were all presenting these big six-week art projects. I can't remember what anyone else did but we all had these big things we'd done with sketchbooks full of 'research' and all that. When it got to Paul, he just threw down this little pyramid, about three inches squared, made from paper. The outside was covered in abstract drawings and words,  you could fold open one triangle of the pyramid, which I think was clear acetate, and there was stuff written and drawn on the inside. The tutor was like, "Is that it? That's all you got?" Paul was like "Yeah." I remember laughing so hard. It was so underwhelming, this little thing, but the more I looked at it the more I realised it probably had more meaning, more reason, than any other drop-out art kid in that room.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Monday, 1 October 2012

24 - Disruption

I think Story will disrupt (and become the future of) the entire publishing industry.

See, here's the thing; no one cares about magazines any more. They're irrelevent. The fact the magazine industry is still around is insane. It's built on the back of bullshit ABC figures (how many copies they claim to sell) and dumb advertisers who still pay these guys for page space blindly believing people still read the things. Print magazines are a corpse. And the iPad equivalents are the corpse on a screen.

People don't want to pay money to download a 500mb file of 100 pages of month old stories which are unsearchable, unsharable and you delete forever after reading. It's so insane I can't believe Apple even bothered making the Newsstand app. I would've left that industry to die an overdue death.

But I love journalism. I love it. Magazines used to be my favourite thing. Journalism is so powerful and so important but it's gone to shit. The industry is tarnished. The honesty of the writer and the trust of the reader has gone but the need for real, real, journalists is so important.

Here's where Story comes in.

After we have funding I want to start commissioning journalists and photographers to create stories that will feature on the Discover screen. Real journalism; war stories; photo stories; writing that makes you laugh out loud in public; work that inspires, educates and makes your day better. The nature of Story means you can follow your favourite journalists/photographers directly. Imagine that. Whatever they publish will pop to the top of your feed as soon as they produce it.

It's a great plan. This model could change everything.

Paul isn't hot on having an editorial department, "I hate the word 'editorial'". Paul dreams of creating code that will learn what you like and be able to automatically pull up and display popular and cool stories on the discover screen. A perfect automated system. Paul's plan seems much more realistic and 'now'. I like it but I'm an editorial guy and I want to disrupt and resurrect that entire wrecked industry.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

23 - The core thing

Things are out of our hands right now. Filippo is coding from a strict spec sheet. It's kinda scary, the spec sheet. It's like our dream has been annotated, analysed and rewritten into a text book. I'm hoping the magic that surrounds the idea isn't lost.

There's a bunch of stuff we're leaving out; a load of little animations that were in the demo video won't be there to start with. As well as some big and obvious features.

The core idea of Story though, will be there.

The core of the thing, is made up of three parts (I doubt this'll ever change):
  1. Discover screen (where we feature the best stories out there)
  2. Feed screen (everyone you follow, their stories appear here) 
  3. Create screen (where you create your stories)
These are the three core things of Story that will be there in their rawest form from day one. Everything else is an added feature that isn't vital right now.

We're meeting Filippo next week for the first time since he started coding. He'll have 1 and 2 ready.

Monday, 24 September 2012

22 - Spice rack

I've always been keen on simple tech. Simple ideas executed well. I've always had a passion for clean ideas and clean design. Obviously Story is all of these things. Or is it? I thought so but when you lift up the hood...  

I have a 30 minute train ride into work each day. When I'm not coding, I fill these 30 minutes very easily thinking about what I need to do and what decisions need to be made to make a minimum viable version of our app. It was overwhelming at first. Everything from Amazon S3 bucket naming conventions to authentication methods were consuming my thoughts. There is an abundance of tools and frameworks and platforms I should and could develop this app on too, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Which church do I worship at? Python, Rails, Node, PHP? MySql, PostgrSql, NoSql? Yii, Django, Codeigniter, Zend Framework? .NET? Joke. Eventually I left that candy store behind and decided to play to my strengths. Lightweight MVC PHP framework and MySql to build a RESTful API, Amazon AWS to handle hosting, storage, CDN, emails and a Github repo in a pear tree. This doesn't seem a bad start to me. 

What could go wrong? Well a number of things I guess. Will it scale? Yes and no. Will there be performance issues? Hopefully not. Should I care about these right now? Yes and no. I feel (maybe naively) that at this point there is no problem I can't overcome by chucking virtual machines at it. Having a nice flock of EC2 instances to handle any load actually makes me feel quite warm inside. So far, everything feels nice. My API is returning sweet little nuggets of json for consumption. I guess at this point that is all I can ask for. 

I'm sure at some point we will employ someone who will look at my little "spice rack" and shake their head like you do when your dad is making Ikea furniture. That will be a good day. In fact, I might take my little spice rack to some tech meetups and give it an airing. 

-Paul

21 - Emails

From Jamie the investor/mentor to me and Paul:



From Paul to Jamie:



From Paul to me a day later:



From me to Paul:



From Paul to me:



From John Gruber (!) to me regarding my 'Apple messing it up' thing:


Saturday, 22 September 2012

20 - Apple are fucking it up

While Filippo's busy coding the app I'm going to explain how Apple are fucking it up and I'm not talking about the maps thing.

I got the new iPhone. You know, I need it. For the job. Anyway, I was just all chilling out looking up movies and shit when...



... Bottom button. Middle. As if I even need to point it out.




What is that? Swear to God I would sack every fucker responsible for letting that out. Whoever thought that was okay is not good at their job. In fact, they're bad at their job. And bad people shouldn't be working at Apple.

I feel like no designer would've let that happen. I've been in situations where manager fuckers stick their oar in and make design decisions and it's a scary thing.

Why doesn't it just say 'TV'? 'Music, Films, TV.'

They're fucking it up. Don't worry, I have a plan.

Me.

Cook needs to go. And be replaced by me. Thing is, I love Apple, but I love Story more so I'm only gonna be able to give it one day a week I reckon, maybe two. So maybe Cook stays. But as my number 2. Answers to me. Yeah. That's how we'll do it.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

19 - Story Recap

Our company is set up. Team Story:


Our contract with Filippo is signed. Also in shot: my Mac, a pizza and a glass of Peroni:





We've paid Filippo the 'half up front' money. Here's Paul on the phone to his bank transferring the money:



We didn't realise that VAT wasn't included in the original quote so we've had to add 3K to the bill. That's not cool. But apparently we can get most of it back because it's through our company OR SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW!

There was a bit of panic when we wondered if Filippo's contract stipulated that we would own the code after he'd written it. If not then, when after we get funding and want to employ our own coder, Filippo could withhold the code from us. But it's fine, he's not gonna do that.

Here's me standing, looking cool:


Monday, 17 September 2012

18 - Adobe® OnScreen™


Today Adobe® announces the release of Adobe® OnScreen™

A spokesperson for Adobe stands behind a podium in front of a room full of journalists and industry people. He begins:

"Hey guys! Lets not beat around the bush. Adobe has been slacking for ten years now. We know you've noticed how your beautiful Macs running gorgeous Mac OS X are tarnished whenever you open an Adobe application. Sends your Mac straight back to OS 9 days, doesn't it."

His eyes dart around aggressivley. He goes on to say:

"We've never created an application designed solely for this digital age. I dunno, like, we made Photoshop and the other two but they're primarily for print. That was when print was big. Now, people publish mostly for the screen and we just couldn't really be fucked to make a whole new application."

The crowd shift awkwardly in their seats.

"We'd made three already. So we just kinda added stuff to those three we done. And we bought out the competition so we didn't really have to worry."

The spokesperson pauses. He lowers his head until his forehead is almost touching the podium. He raises one hand to his nose and inhales loudly while slowly moving his head horizontally. His head rises with a zapping smile, he shudders, and continues:

"We know you people out there are actually using Photoshop to design apps. Lol. I don't know how you do it but it's funny watching you go at it! I bet you'd all think Illustrator is almost perfect to design an app's UI but we did this weird thing where it's not absolutely pixel perfect, so when you paste your stuff into Photoshop to export the file (because you can't export from Illustrator lol) sometimes pixels shift for no apparent reason. Hahaha. So basically, you kinda have to use Photoshop to design everything which is fucking funny because it doesn't even have an art board!"

The spokesperson coughs and then is sick a little into a styrofoam cup.

"But yeah, today we thought fuck it. No longer. And we're putting you poor cunts out of your misery and have finally made an app designed for all your digital creation needs. It's called Adobe OnScreen. Now you guys can use one app instead of three. And it doesn't look like an inconsistent piece of shit either."

The spokesperson keels over and dies to rapturous applause.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

17 - UI

I spent the night prepping the UI elements for Filippo. UI means 'user interface' which means the graphics.

Wanna see them? Okay!

Here's a bit of background texture:



What is that? Like expensive cartridge paper or something? A white treated leather? Nah it's pixels!

This is the nav bar on a transparent background (that's what the check represents, it's not part of the design):



Not sure if the nav bar can be transparent yet. I asked Filippo but he never replied.


Look at that one.

Have a bunch of these:




Wanna see my favourite though? Wanna see the magic? Look at this:



That is the transparent overlay that will turn any picture into a Story icon... Wanna see it in action? Okay, give me any random picture...

[Here you go Simon!]



Is that Ashton Kutcher? He'll do! Watch this:



And then the title would be overlaid:

Bam.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

16 - Anger II

Filippo sends me and Paul a message like, "Sorry guys to stress about this, but do you have any news on the company?"

That's it. I whip open the last email from Lawyer Chris and get the phone number from it. I tap it into my phone, stand up from my desk and storm somewhere quiet where my boss can't hear me setting up a company. Their switchboard answers and asks me who it is I am wanting. I hang up, jog back to my desk, read the fucking name on the email and walk fast back again while redialing.

"And whom may I ask is calling?"
"Simon."
"And which company are you with?"
"... Team Story."

I'd never said 'Team Story' out loud before. Weird. It sounded weird. I wondered if she thought it sounded gay.

"Okay, I'll put you through."

"Hello?" Posh female voice.
"Hi, Elizabeth?"
"Yes."
"Yeah, it's Simon from... Team Story. How's it all coming along? We're all getting a bit restless."
"Well, we're just waiting on some final details that you didn't fill in on the form."

This annoyed me. So we skipped something out on the form. Like, yeah, that's our fault. But what, they were just never going to tell us? Just never set the company up ever? Never get back to us? Isn't it their job to get back to us and sort it out?

So we have some questions to answer and after that Team Story is officially a thing.



Like what the?

Monday, 10 September 2012

15 - Anger

Me and Paul are angry.

Paul's been angry for a few days and I was like all chilled about it but today I'm feeling it. So now we're both angry.

Not at each other. We're angry because Filippo the coder can't do any more work until our company (Team Story) has been registered so he can send us a contract. So we're waiting on Lawyer Chris to sort the contract out. Which he's done but now we're waiting for it to be processed.

A couple of days of nothing happening I can deal with (Paul can't), but a couple of weeks and the anger descends.

Getting this thing going is like trying to get a... a plane to take off. The captain is in his seat, the engines are warmed up and ready, the luggage is loaded and everyone's boarded. Everyone except some gap year student, so you're announcing him, Chad, to get on board like, get on the fucking plane Chad, we're ready to fly, everyone's waiting for you Chad, and like, I dunno, he's stoned or something slapping his beaded wrist against an accoustic guitar on a beach not even checked in at the airport.

And I wish we could leave without Chad but we asked Filippo and there might be VAT issues that we need to follow up if we go ahead without a contract.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

14 - Friends or followers?

Haven't heard from Filippo for a few days. Hope he's head-down and coding.

So, friends or followers? This is currently a biggie for me and Paul.

You friend someone, they accept, and you can see each others stuff. That's facebook; you have a two way relationship.

You follow someone, and you see their stuff but they don't see yours unless they follow you back. That's twitter; it allows for a one-way relationship.

The advantage of 'following' is that Ashton Kutcher can have his stuff seen by 10 million people and not deal with having 10 million friends. Seeing 10 million people's shit. That's good. That's what we want for Story.

But, we also want Story to be built on a real foundation of friendships. We want people to be friends with their real friends. Not just following a bunch of anonymous people.

We want the best of both worlds. If it could use both the friend and follow model it would be perfect. But it would have to be real simple. Like, not-needing-to-explain-how-it-works kinda simple. No one else has done that yet. No one's figured it out.

We think we have. I need to work it out a bit more. Draw a diagram.

This guy, Alex King, wrote something about it but didn't actually draw any conclusions. Good one!

Filippo better be coding.