We wanted to be able to use a first version of our note-taking app as fast as possible. So we decided to focus only on taking plain text notes. No tasks, no attachments, no photos and definitely no encryption. We also picked the iPhone as our first target platform. Eventually merging both note-taking and task management into an integrated app is a challenging task. But it will be much more challening to do on the limited screen of a mobile device than on a Mac. So by starting with mobile we will avoid adding features that will simply not work on an iPhone screen.
Our goal for the first version is to just be a step ahead of the built-in Notes app on the iPhone:
Apple's Notes app lacks any features for organizing notes. So LivelyNotes 1.0 will allow you to group your notes in projects. We further add a sharing feature for notes, that allows you to quickly send your notes as emails, share them via Facebook etc... Crucial for us to be able to use the app was a simple note export feature. While working on the app we delete and re-install the app all the time - so we need to be able to easily backup all our notes. Most users will probably not use this feature frequently - but we think all apps should give the user a simple way to get all their data out.
Taking this app from idea to AppStore submission took us less than four weeks of part-time work. We are quite happy with the result:
You can find the latest version of LivelyNotes on www.livelynotes.com.
This is what the productivity app space looks like on the iPhone. A ton of task management apps at varying levels of complexity.
Still, Johannes and I got very frustrated by not being able to find a single productivity app that fulfills our simple set of needs.
Tasks very often start with some unstructured notes. Be it during a meeting, a phone call or on the go. We do not always have the time to write down a precise list of tasks from the top of our head. So the app has to support quick capture of plain text notes.
It should always be possible to add details to notes and to translate notes into tasks.
There needs to be a simple way to organize notes and tasks in projects.
We want to be able to attach files and photos to notes.
The app needs to work at least on the iPhone and Mac.
It should synchronize our data via iCloud so we don't have to create another account.
The app should be paid for once - so no monthly premium plans.
Given these features we do not know of any app in the iPhone or OSX AppStore. Notes are often very personal - so we would be much more comfortable with all notes being encrypted on our devices before being sent to iCloud. That way no one else could access them, even if there would be a security breach in iCloud or Apple would somehow be forced to release user data.
So thats why Johannes and I decided to join forces and develop a note-taking app we both will love to use. We call it LivelyNotes!
Check out our next post where we reflect on how we stripped down our vision to the bare minimum and actually released LivelyNotes 1.0 to users.
Johannes Auer and I are both from the beautiful city of Heidelberg, in the south of Germany. We have been good friends for years and worked together on various side-projects. Johannes is raising his twins while finishing his computer science degree at the University of Heidelberg. He does freelance work building iOS apps from time to time if he is not working on his own programming language implementation.
A few months back we incorporated LivelyCode to publish our latest side-project - LivelyNotes, an exciting productivity app. We have been working on LivelyNotes in our spare time since November 2013. Getting to where we are with the app now, was a lot of work going through multiple iterations. Trying out ideas, embracing some and throwing away many others... We managed to release a first version with the bare essentials after just three weeks (working on it 2-3 evenings a week). Its available as LivelyNotes 1.0 on the iPhone AppStore. I will follow up with detailed posts about what motivated us to build LivelyNotes and the many iterations we went through already.
When trying to learn CMake I could not find any good introduction. The CMake documentation is quite comprehensive but not suitable for a beginner.
There are some useful tutorials linked on the CMake Wiki but most of them only cover very specific problems or are too basic.
So I wrote this short CMake introduction as a distilled version of what I found out after working through the docs and following stackoverflow questions.
Its a work in progress and I will try to continuously improve it.
CMake is a meta build tool that allows you to generate native build scripts for a range of platforms:
- Unix Makefiles
- Visual Studio
- and more...
I hate it when I have to do extra work to publish and link to things I create on my local computer.
When I create notes and mark things in my PDF reader I want it to be instantly visible on the web. Same is true when working with any native app that allows me to create stuff.
The power of the web comes from the ability to link things - I can't link things inside desktop apps from the web!
Desktop apps are great for usability but they need to become a lot more open and connected.
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