How Codeless Happened

Over the past few days, I’ve gotten asked how long we’ve been building Codeless a few times.  I thought I’d write it down somewhere.

I’ve always liked punching above my weight. When I was thinking about what project I wanted to pour myself into next, Codeless appealed to me. An app where you build apps – that seems more like something an Apple or an Adobe should do. Which made it the perfect project for me and my tiny development team.

I started writing Codeless in May 2015. For the first year-and-half it was strictly a ‘nights and weekends’ project. Nobody else on my team even knew I was working on it. It came out of a long period of reflection I did – how could we make the development process smoother?

I actually built three full prototypes of the software before showing it off to anyone but my husband. All three were woefully incomplete by the current standards of Codeless. They were crashy, they lacked actions, there was no scripting at all. Swift export didn’t even exist. But they were enough to convince me that it was time to start spending real money and time developing an app where you build apps. This was a way to smooth development.

When I finally showed it to my team, it was time to ditch my previous work and start fresh with the knowledge I’d gained from those prototypes.

We were able to move fast. We took the last prototype and bought coffee for developers, designers, and entrepreneurs here in Victoria. The consensus was that yeah, they were interested in apps, but yeah, they also wanted a faster way to build. Time and money are crucial when you’re building something new, and everybody knew that apps were expensive in both ways.

In the shop, Adam and Brendan worked hard building up the app’s architecture. Owen came by for the summer and helped flesh out the business plan. Jen figured out the voice of the product and figured out how to speak about it. I pitched in where I could, mostly building out features and making sure we stayed true to the vision.

I also started dogfooding it as often as possible. Building out concepts for prospective clients and showing them how their app would feel if they went with Whole Punk. Creating silly little apps (like my ‘dog quotes’ app) and serious ones too (a mobile app to talk to our bug tracker, apps to track our validation efforts).

By December of 2017, we were ready to go into beta. Our small beta list looked at the product, and expressed that it was good – but could it do more? Could they build whole apps, just on the iPad? So we did what any seriously normal people would do. We wrote a scripting language and a standard library and added it in.

Their brings us to now. Last Thursday we stood up in front of the Victoria Web and App Developers meetup and demoed Codeless to a room for the first time. The feedback we got was fantastic.

One person told us that he was a QA guy, but he could see himself building out apps with this – he already had an idea about something he wanted to build. Another told us that he thought a tool we’ve built in for hookup up JSON was super slick. One woman wanted to know how it worked on a mini – and let us know that she’d be checking that out herself!

We’re still not at the finish line. To be honest, I don’t even think we’re at the start yet. But we’ve trained for this marathon and we’re ready to run it.

How you can get involved: Sign up for the beta and help us test it out. Follow us on Twitter. Tell your friends. And when we launch Codeless, please subscribe.