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Avoiding Not Invented Here (NIH) in your side projects

thecodewitch profile image Sabrina ・2 min read

As someone who enjoys programming as a hobby outside of work, I've found it very easy to make any digital inconvenience into a potential side project. One key place where this happened was keeping track of when I'd last watered my growing plant collection. I used an Airtable spreadsheet to track all the information relevant to my plants, and it worked great except I wanted an easier way of determining with a quick glance which plants hadn't been watered in a given interval of days (this interval being set for the individual plant.)

I smelled a potential side project almost right away. I built a Node project (my first from scratch!) that used theAirtable API to pull a list of plants and their photos from the database if they were at or past their "next watering date". I hosted it on Glitch, one of my favourite coding platforms, and it worked and it was great. Well, it was only great as a side project exercise.

But in terms of practical functionality I still had to remember to visit the site and check it, which would be a whole new habit for me to pick up. What would be better is if the days I needed to check a given plant would just show up on a given day, perhaps right in my calendar for convenience. I revisited available Airtable integrations; it turns out there's a way to subscribe to the calendar view of a given Airtable field.

Now the name of the plant that might need a check up shows up right in my daily calendar app. This is ideal for me, especially as I lean on my digital calendar to help ground me during all this time I'm spending inside. And, as a developer, I still feel there's a valuable skill that got exercised! I had to use the best tool for the problem I was trying to solve and think critically about my initial solution.

If you're interested, I've made a public version of this base available here.

Discussion (4)

darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar

I think the title is a bit misleading. What exactly did you mean by "killing my side project"?
Personally, I expected a post about how you abandoned your side project, chose to discontinue it or similar.
But from the content I understand your side project evolved. Am I wrong?
If not, maybe you should adjust the title a bit 😊

thecodewitch profile image
Sabrina Author

Thank you for the feedback!
I agree, the post got away from me a bit as I wrote it and the project evolved. I've replaced the title with something that I think is more fitting of what I was trying to communicate.
I'll likely have more edits incoming to tie in the title a bit better and expand on the idea, but please let me know what you think of this new direction if you get the chance!

darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar

Always glad to give my perspective :)
I think the new title is a much better fit! I like it.

jeikabu profile image
jeikabu • Edited

I agree 100% that NIH syndrome should be avoided in professional projects.

I believe 100% that personal, side projects are the place to shun NIH concerns. User-centric focus drives great software, and competition is good.

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