2 // Progress Isn’t Linear
I’m now at 5 subscribers. 400% growth 🚀 I’ll try to keep that up.
So what’s been happening this week? Just today I made a horrifying realization. I found a bug in Formable’s core, which will require a major refactor to fix.
I kind of knew I’d have to rewrite that part of the app at some point, but was very reluctant to do so. This will throw me back more than a week in my plan. At least the coding itself might be fun.
Skip to the next heading if you don’t want to hear about the technical details of this. Might be easiest to understand if you know a bit about graph theory.
Formable sports a graph / network data structure. Two items can have any relation. For example, we might have two items; one called “Dragos”, and one being a journal entry. They could be linked with a mention-relation, meaning Dragos has been mentioned in the journal entry. On that relation itself I store edge properties. The mention itself could for example be timestamped.
stole this from https://neo4j.com/blog/other-graph-database-technologies/
The problem I ran into now has to do with the limitation of how these properties are stored in the database. The solution to my problem is kind of modelling a hypergraph. Though I’m actually only creating intermediate nodes for relations themselves, on which properties can than be stored on nodes (items) instead of on edges (relations). I can think of use cases for n-ary relationships and linking relations, so I’ll have to think about how I’ll implement it.
Technical details aside, this means a lot of work for me, as I’ll basically have to rewrite anything dealing with the database.
What I’ve been working on
Alright, so that’s what I’ve been thinking about today. Will throw me back a bit, but thankfully I also made progress in the right direction this week.
Some parts of Formable still feel very much like a prototype and don’t behave as you‘d intuitively imagine. The signup form for example doesn’t give any visual feedback once submitted, so you’d hit the button dozens of times, sending yourself dozens of emails. For one search field, you can only ever choose the first result by hitting ⏎, no other keyboard navigation or clicking possible. Stuff like that. Some has been done this week, but there is still a lot of polishing to be done.
I also have an article in the pipeline, about my journey leading me to work full-time on Formable. I’ll go ahead and publish it now … here we go, if this newsletter isn’t enough for you, you can continue with my article: Going Full-Time After 7 Years.
that story’s title image
I am now also officially unemployed 🎉 so I applied for unemployment benefits.
What I’ve been thinking about
As always, I’ve been thinking about Formable’s future. More specifically about how to fit my vision and ideas into a hopefully soon profitable business.
Just having a big vision for how computing might change over the next decade won’t make everyone want to pick up my software. People want solutions to their problems, not just technical systems. That’s why I very much focus on use cases on the marketing front.
Starting with a vision for tech is important, but just look at for example https://solidproject.org/ by Tim Berners-Lee (the guy who invented the world wide web). It’s hard for such businesses to pick up traction. They’ve been around for a while, but I don’t know how much their product is used. Maybe I’m just too impatient. I just read they recently raised a $30M Series A, so maybe we will see them succeed.
There’s a bit of a dichotomy between such crazy ideas and immediate, specific use cases.
In his 2021 review, Andy Matuschak writes about funding for such projects. He writes “The main concern I have is: how much ongoing fundamental exploration can you get done once you turn these things into a business?”
I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do know that I want to build a business, not work in academia, or create an art project, as one of my readers once said 😉
What I’m consuming
I started reading Start Small, Stay Small (https://startupbook.net/). I mainly picked it up to immerse myself in startup building thoughts.
Some of my highlights, which I’ve been thinking about:
“…those who sent weekly progress reports to their friend accomplished significantly more than those who had unwritten goals…” — that’s what I’m doing here ;)
“Take a risk this month: outsource your first task and see where it takes you.” — I should definitely work on my outsourcing routines and skills
“But it’s good to begin thinking about your motivation for starting a startup because it dictates the type of product you should launch.”
The last quote picks up on something I’ve been thinking about in general; how far do I want to grow Formable? Do I want a lifestyle business or take on Microsoft? One can’t plan 20 years ahead, but it would probably still be a good idea to know where I eventually want to go, so that I can take the best path to that goal.
Thanks a lot for reading this. It really means a lot to me ❤️
I also appreciate feedback on these. Let me know which thoughts in here you find of interest.