Yeah, somebody on Twitter said, “You should build a site that just lets people build their own”, and I actually replied and said, “I’d love to do that.” I was at a point where I needed — because I work at Grey Matter, and we work on a big project that’s a long-running project, and sometimes you need a break from those big projects and you need a quick win. You need to be able to do something that has a beginning, middle end and you can do it quickly and get it finished, because most big projects don’t have a finish, and finishing stuff feels great.
So this was a perfect timing thing… It was one evening, I had an evening to spare, and I thought “I can quickly put this together.” I’d never met Ashley, but jut over Twitter I said, “Let’s put some of your artwork into this Google Cloud storage. I’m gonna see if I can load it through an AppEngine app, render it and just see if it works.”
Then she put the assets in there and we then figured out a few little rules, like all the assets should be the same size, and then we’ll just rely on the fact that they are — we’ll layer them up in a certain order in order to build up the picture. And it kind of just happened very quickly. It was less than five hours of work just to get a version one ready. This is, again, down to my previous point – we kept it really simple. All you could do on the very first version was you could pick the artwork, it would show you a preview, you could then download it – which would take a while, because it then in the background went and got all the assets and blended them together, and then delivered the file.
[00:20:15.14] It was actually quite slow. Also, the thumbnails originally were the full-size images, because generating thumbnails is something you’d wanna do to optimize it, but initially it works without doing that. So it was very MVP, very much “whatever we have to do for the absolute minimum to make it work”, so that people can play with it.
I actually shared it before I was even ready, but it was kind of working. Then it started to get traction. It’s had about 15,000 users. I put a Google analytics on it from the very first version, because I was interested if it was gonna take off. Suddenly then I started noticing things in AppEngine like “Okay, there’s actually a lot of storage being used with these images, and rendering the thing when you click the download button took a long time”, things like that. But because it had that kind of buzz around it, it was worth extra effort to then go and improve the little bits and pieces that needed improving.