Oh, You Could Build This App for Me!

One of the things everyone in software has heard, and dreads hearing, is “Oh, you could build this app I had an idea for!” This statement is generally delivered right after someone finds out you’re a developer.

They’re a non-technical person who has a cool idea for an app and since you make software you must be able to build it. This scenario has been litigated many times, so I won’t do it again.

What I want to address instead is that I was one of those people. And now I am on the other side. And therefore I ought to be able to build that app I had the idea for.

But I can’t.

Because I’m not a web developer. Or a desktop app developer. I’m a cloud-CI/CD-operations-reliability-tooling developer. I can write log parsers, and make your webapp highly-available and fault-tolerant and I can get your database running like it’s on speed, but god help me trying to make even a CRUD app past the tutorial phase. And that’s not really for lack of talent, more just I don’t like doing that kind of development.

I’ve had the idea for a tool for visualizing network CIDR usage in a map-like, proportionately-spaced way, for like 18 months. I get a little in to any attempt at making it and just…peter out. I want that app to exist, but I don’t really want to make it.

And I feel like I am letting myself down like that. I think there’s a (not universal, probably self-created) pressure that I’ve picked up, that I can write software now so I should be a maker. Maybe I just read too much Hacker News; this is even something that gets called out there pretty regularly.

I just need to acknwledge that I make tons of stuff, just not some of the things I can think of making.

And yet.

I can’t ever stop learning. That’s just who I am. Right now I’m learning Rust, because I want to get a better grasp of systems programming. And at the end of the book I’m working through, there’s a section on using GTK to use Rust for desktop apps. Maybe I’ll build the network visualizer there, I think to myself.