Three years ago I started developing my first Android app. Back then I was an IT guy, fixing computers and removing viruses, but that just didn’t appeal to me anymore. I wanted to write software and create apps. Shabbos Zmanim, and app to know when the Shabbat (Sabbath) starts and ends each week, was the first app I developed. It was a huge undertaking for me, but well worth the time and effort. What started as a small hobby with a few hundred downloads has evolved into a global app that catapulted my software development career.
What started as a small hobby with a few hundred downloads and has evolved into a global app that catapulted my software development career.
The Jewish Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and lasts until nightfall Saturday night. Every Friday afternoon Jews around the world light candles to signify the onset of the Sabbath. Because the Sabbath times are connected to sunset, the exact time changes with the seasons and depending on your location. Most people have calendars that show what time the Sabbath starts each week for a given location.
One Friday morning I realized that there had to be a better way. Smartphones know our precise location and the date. Why not use that information to calculate the sunset time dynamically each week? That way anyone can know the correct Zmanim (times) wherever they are. Thus began Shabbos Zmanim.
The development of the app has taught me a tremendous amount. Most importantly it taught me to believe in myself. I never would have dreamed of creating an app that is used by over thirty thousand people. But here I am today, with thirty two thousand downloads. The journey was a long one, involving numerous late night development sessions, a lot of beer, and many bags of M&Ms. I loved every moment of it.
I loved every moment of it.
I learned that coding is hard, but so much fun. The feeling of frustration at why something isn’t working, only to realize that you mistyped a variable name or method. The feeling of joy when a user is happy with your project and sends you a message of thanks. The feeling of anxiety when you are about to launch an update and you are afraid of regressing a feature. This is the rollercoaster ride of software development, and it is a wild ride.
Every day has successes and failures, but most importantly every day is a learning experience. Each mistake that I made was an opportunity to grow and learn. That time when my app crashed for users with a negative elevation taught me to validate sensor data and think about how the app can malfunction. The time when my app crashed on a specific phone and Android version taught me I need to test my apps better before launching them. I learned how to use analytics and metrics to improve my app and focus my efforts on the most used feature. I learned that I need to roll out releases slowly to my users because there will inevitably be an issue that I need to address.
Now, as I launch the 4.0 update, I want to say thank you to each and every one of my users. You guys are the reason I spend time developing this app. Each piece of feedback I’ve received, both positive and negative, has helped me improve the app and my skills as a developer.
So please, download the app, leave some feedback, and of course, Shabbat Shalom! Shmuel Dovid Rosansky