Joex: Journal extension app

I wrote an article called Journaling extension back in the beginning of January which is about how I take my journal with me anywhere I go. Since then, I've learned to code in Swift UI and coded my own iOS app to make my journaling experience smoother. This article is about my reasons for writing my own app when there are thousands on the topic.

Journaling is a routine I've integrated into my life in the beginning of 2023. It has remained with me till this day and evolved into something very personal. The fact is that the less time I spend on practicing the process of personal reflection as part of the routine, the more I feel it. Journaling is something I cannot live without.

If you take journaling so seriously that you don't want to miss a thought because you realize how much value it can hold when you reflect on it later after capturing, you start building habits that let you capture what you want, when the thought occurs. I talk about my habits in my previous blog article.

Best way to learn something new

Before I wrote Joex, I felt my process for capturing thoughts when my journal is not with me, via my smartphone, is not as intuitive as I wanted it to be. The problem was that I needed to click around on the phone too much. This process can be distracting you from the present moment when every second matters.

The problem I had became my personal motivator to learn Swift UI, framework for creating iOS apps created by Apple. I failed to find an app that would fit my needs and througout my humble career, I became obsessed with creating what user sees on the screen. Two great reasons to spend some portion from my month's free time on a problem that needs solution.

Unprecedented execution

5th of January marks the day when I noted down first thoughts about the app. I've spent around one month researching if something similar exists and refining description of core features. On the 28th of January, I made the first git commit in a repository and defined model for log entry with type note as a core unit for information structure that app is going to use. Finally, on the 22nd of February, the MVP was finished and ready for publishing to see if anyone else may have the same problem as I did.

Issues with the distribution

I am a fan of Apple ecosystem mainly because of how minimalist it is and how much it simplifies my life thanks to features like continuity or consistent user interfaces and high-quality hardware. On the other hand, the ecosystem is closed and Apple tries as hard as it can to keep you and your data for themselves, for as long as possible.

In order to start publishing on the App Store, you need to pay a fee of $99 USD. Not only that but also pay it on yearly recurrent basis. This caught me off guard and I decided to keep the app for myself, at least for now. This fee surely eliminates significant amount of adversaries who develop malicious software and then distribute it.

What now?

As far as I consider Joex being just a fun hobby project, I am not planning to start distributing it on the App Store. I am rather considering to make it an installable web app (a so called Progressive Web App). This would come with a trade off of not being able to use native iOS functions like widgets or shortcuts that Joex uses.