Monday 4 March 2013

Bootstrap a Startup in a Week: Day 1

Hurricane Rob (aka Rob Ashton) is the mildest-mannered whirlwind one could ever hope to meet, and he passed through my office today leaving in his wake a wonderful trail of construction. It was Day 1 of my “Build a Startup in a Week” challenge, and Rob arrived at my house (we’re working from my garden office) bright and early, eager to re-caffinate. Whilst he patched up his scarcely-used Windows laptop with Asp.Net MVC 4 (am I the only Windows developer still actually using a PC and not a Macbook Air?) we talked tactics.

There are three major components for my sermon sharing service that I want to get built this week. One is the administration website, where churches will upload and manage sermons. Second is the public-facing website which will embed sermon listings in churches websites. And third is “The Studio” – a super-easy-to-use desktop application for recording, editing and uploading sermons.

Since Rob’s strength lies in web development and my expertise is centred on desktop applications, a natural division of labour emerged. So whilst Rob got started on the web stuff, I cracked open Visual Studio and created a fresh WPF project.

Some of the ground work for our weeks work, I laid last week.

Ground Work

After much toing and froing I’ve settled on Amazon to host the services, and in particular, Amazon EC2 for the servers. I considered AppHarbour, and Azure Websites, with their promises of painless deployments, but in the end I decided I’d trade off a little extra work on deployment in return for complete control of the stack.

Wherever you turn, Amazon seem to have you covered. The TruthVine landing page is currently hosted as a static website on Amazon S3, and we’ll be using S3 for sermon storage too. The domain is pointed at Amazon’s Route 53 DNS service. We’ll be using SES for sending notification emails. If only Amazon Flexible Payments service worked in the UK, I’d be use that in a shot.

For hosting our source code and managing issues, I’ve settled on BitBucket, with a Git repo. Whilst I prefer Mercurial from an ease-of-use perspective, and would have loved to use Fogcreek’s Kiln, it seems Git has become the lingua franca for DVCS, particularly after Microsoft announced they were adopting it for TFS. Why BitBucket rather than GitHub? Because I think their pricing model makes more sense. GitHub charges per repository, whereas BitBucket charge per user. I can see our repository count growing over time, whereas the number of developers I’m likely to involve in my projects is going to remain small.

The last thing to get sorted before Rob’s arrival was a UI theme for Admin pages. We’re going to be using Twitter Bootstrap to make the UI a little easier to develop. I found a wonderful site called WrapBootstrap which sells themes built on Twitter Bootstrap, all for very reasonable prices. From that, I’ve picked the Optimus Dashboard theme, which not only looks the part, but is responsive, so it resizes to accommodate tablets and smartphones.

Progress Report

So how did we get on today?

Rob made a sterling effort. Starting with some code I’d written for our church website (which he seemed to like) he got a good chunk of the admin website done today – login, sermon management, and series management.

My efforts were a bit more lacklustre. They amounted to this:

TruthVine Studio

I did make a few useful discoveries though. A while back, I found the NAudio library, which does a lot of the grunt work when working with Audio in .Net. Today I discovered that they’ve added code to handle AAC encoding using the encoder built into Windows as of Windows 7. I was thinking I’d need to spend a day or translating C++ samples into C# interop to get that working.

All in all, a profitable day. Hopefully a sign of a good week to come.


Román Fresneda Quiroga said...

Hey Sam, any plan to open source it? You might get the odd pull-request here and there...! Food for thought... :-)

Samuel Jack said...

Hi Roman - good to hear from you!

It has crossed my mind to open source this. But my instinct at the moment suggests that my target market won't have much time or inclination for hacking around in C# :-)

But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

Yakov Vorobyev said...

Very nice Sam, that's a beautiful start. Keep it going :)

Daniel Lang said...

Kiln now supports Git as well:

Pharaoh Tools said...

Wow, this is really nice article, and You explained everything perfect. I just have one question for You. Did You maybe use this tools I found that they got a great review, and I would love to try them, so I would love to hear another people opinion about them?

Post a Comment