For the last one and a half years, I've been developing a platform for online diaries - very personal blogs. This series is going to be a very personal story of this journey.
September 2017, I had a dream. The platform for online diaries where I spent half of my life went down, for good. I kept refreshing the page only to see "This site can’t be reached" message over and over again. For years, I've been documenting thoughts, emotions, dreams, aspirations, fails, love stories, almost everything, and now it was gone. I was making amazing friends there, and now I had no way of contacting half of them. We've been a social network before social networks even existed. For years and years, it was the safest and coziest place on the whole Internet. And now everything was lost, poof.
I woke up, everything was still online and working. The same old website, looking exactly as a decade ago. But the dream made me wonder how long this dear place will last. I gave it 2-4 years before the owners will lose any remaining bit of interest.
Of course, I wrote a sad, contemplating post about this. I was musing about how there is no real alternative: these days you have a choice between social networks, specialized platforms (like dev.to), and stand-alone blogs. There hardly any place that encourages writing any random stuff in any form, for other random people to find it and start sincere conversations about, which can often lead to friendship. Diaries, not blogs. Online, not private, at least not entirely. Freedom of thoughts, expressions, identity, and freedom from "smart" algorithms and surveillance. Good old days.
I expressed a hope that one day somebody might make another one "just like this one" and we all will move there together. "Maybe it'll even be me, more experienced and knowledgable".
My friends ignored the last bit and we went into a discussion about how it could be not just the same but better, what things we need to keep, what we should ditch, and what would be really nice to add or change. Inspired, I said: "okay, I will try to play with this, should be fun". And not that difficult, right?..
At that time I had about 2 years of quite random webdev experience in tiny teams and projects and 4 months of working with React on a big project. "I know Node and I know React, I have several online courses about building applications from scratch, it should be sufficient". I googled what the heck is SPA, PWA, SSR, JWT, and many other smart abbreviations and words. I spent a few weeks trying to understand how to build the best project configuration and what frameworks to use. I could not decide if I should use NoSQL or fall back to relational databases. Authentication seemed impossibly difficult to get right. There wasn't any clear picture in my head, just pieces, and many, many ideas.
However, it felt as if I am almost there, I just needed to get through some bottleneck and it will become very easy after that. Maybe another month. Those online courses make it in a dozen hours, right?
I knew nothing and I did not know even that. On the other hand, if I knew how long and difficult the journey is going to be I'd never have made this first step.
And not in a good way. Two months after that dream of mine, the owners of the website announced it's going to be, what is now dramatically called, "The Last Autumn". Many were desperate, panicking, looking for possible alternatives (and there aren't any, remember). I braced myself and made a post about my endeavors and future plans. It went viral, and a new chapter has started.