From the Couch of Ben Johnson

Father, Staff Engineer at Prodigy Education, serial hyperbolist.

Lemur Development Diary

Some of my favourite programming writing is Brent Simmons’ Vesper Sync Diary. Brent does an amazing job of describing the challenges encountered while implementing sync: one of the hardest things in programming to do well. Sync is often talked about in the abstract, but Brent discusses the specific tradeoffs of various solutions in concrete examples for the late notes app Vesper. The sync diary made a huge difference to the way I think about programming and writing about programming. I’m going to experiment with doing something similar.

For the last four years, I’ve been working on a little app for doing meal planning. I call it Lemur. It has gone through several iterations as a stack of paper index cards, a web app, a React Native app, and finally a native iOS app.

I don’t really want to write an app to do meal planning. But, I’ve tried dozens of meal planning apps over many years and none of them are right for me. Meal planning is something I have struggled with for years, so I’m making this thing because I personally need it. As I go through my journey of discovering what works for me, I’ve changed the app to incorporate what I’ve learned. I think, however, that the app might help other people too, and so eventually I’d like to release it.

I’m doing this alone, so I’ve been treating my role like more of a movie director than a producer. I spend a lot of time thinking through the little details of what makes a simple app like this useful, delightful, and nice.

There’s a few basic principles I’m working with:

As I get closer to putting this on the App Store for people to try, I’m going to be working though some design, development, and product challenges. The most interesting of these I’ll write about here. Here’s some examples of what’s coming:

I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you.