An Adventure of App-ic Proportions: Food Genie

What a day today has been. Oh, I want to tell you why, but let me tell you a story, for “this is a story of how a Perkins had an adventure and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected”.

Back in 2002, I was a newly seasoned web developer at Electronic Solutions in Roxboro, NC. My colleagues and I often found ourselves unable to decide on a place to eat. After much deliberation and waiting, I finally decided to end it with something I believe we could agree on. A web application I called Food Genie. Using ASP and believe it or not a Microsoft Access back-end database I constructed a web app that would use that database of local restaurants in our small town and it would randomly output where we would eat lunch that day. Everyone loved it and we often would ask, “What does Food Genie say is for lunch?”.  Side note: The genie on the site was an image of the genie from Aladdin the movie. Don’t worry Disney I backed off. 😉

A 12-Week Adventure

On July 1st, 2016, after three long weeks of a nose to computer screen and hands to keyboard, I created that same application in Swift 2.3, using the Yelp API, a few key Cocoapods and a ton of coffee and Mati. See, I did that three week gauntlet at the end of a 12-week adventure.  My family and I moved back to the States from living and working overseas and it was clear coding and developing applications to handle every day or common problems was what I enjoyed a lot. A new idea would come to mind or I would see a need while living overseas, and I was on it!  I would begin drawing out what it would look like, consider how I could make it user-friendly and soon I would want to make it, but I had no time or knowledge on how to accomplish the idea. Many of these ideas were to aid in my mission work, but I didn’t no where to begin and nobody else knew either.  Well to get back into development professionally and get new ideas in the completed phase, I decided I needed a boost in the right direction, cue, The Iron Yard. TIY is a coding school, located in several cities throughout the US, that not only provided an awesome teacher at their Raleigh campus, (thanks, Jeff Ligon) but also a wonderful opportunity to challenge and test myself in a new way in an environment that is team oriented in design (Agile baby!) and that gives me the support and connections to a community, the developer community, that I had been away from for 12 years.  After finishing at TIY and presenting my completed (to graduate) app to my classmates, the staff at TIY, and friends and family it was now time to put the app in the App Store.  As I began looking at it I knew I had several places where my code needed refactoring or I forgot a step in the logical flow of the user experience and needed to go back and add it.  Example: the on-boarding pages at the beginning of the application the first time a user downloads it.  Another example: letting users know the country they are currently standing in doesn’t allow Food Genie to work there.  So I began working on these issues and then I was asked to share at the TIY Demo Day in Durham.  Once again Food Genie was met with great excitement for the idea and the potential to solve a very common but small problem many face, especially married couples and colleagues. Well after that day, I began looking for employment as well as finding time to continue to strive to complete the app I and many others wanted to see in the App Store.

Now, to today!

Well, today that app has been completed and is now available in the Apple App Store.  My wife, 3 kids and I were so pumped we all clicked the “Ready For Sale” button together (VIDEO OF THE MOMENT). It was a great and joyous moment. In that one moment, the many nights of Dad/Husband getting home at 10 pm or later, struggling to hangout on the weekends in order to finish a project for a class on Monday, and the financial expense it took all came to a resounding “WOOOOOOOOOO!” Rick Flair would be proud I do believe.

When I took this journey it wasn’t just my decision, but a family decision, as it should be. My wife and kids have been so supportive and I am thankful for this day, not just that Food Genie has finally been polished and released for the masses to judge and use, but that it is the finish line to one small part of my journey…our journey, and the beginning of a brand new adventure in that overall journey called my…our life. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds for myself, my family, this app, and my career as an iOS Developer.  My prayer is that the ideas I took with me back from India will one day find themselves in the App Store.  What are they? You’ll have to come along for the adventure.

“It’s a dangerous business Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins The Fellowship of The Ring – J R Tolkien