Random thoughts

Thoughts on Trovedex

It’s been about two months sinced I launched and starting using Trovedex, and so I’ve got some thoughts on some improvements I’d like to make at some point. As of this writing, the site only has 7 registered users. One of them is me, half of the remaining are also me testing from different email accounts, and the rest are others who just tested it. So I’m pretty much still the only “real” user. Which is fine, because it means if I make some drastic changes, nobody will care.

One of big things I’d like to do is organize notes into “Notebooks”, as other note-taking apps do, just so things are a little more sorted, and perhaps look a bit more wiki-ish. I’ll probably have the full-page view be the default. I’d like to see it perhaps look more like Observable‘s notebooks. It doesn’t need to be as complicated, although being able to insert interactive javascript code would be nice. (I actually wanted the released version of Trovedex to allow user-provided javascript, but it’s not a very trivial feature to add with Vue, so I moved it to the wishlist.)

Of course, even though I’m using Trovedex for some things, it still does not beat using pen and paper, mostly because they allows me to draw little diagrams and arrows and stuff, which isn’t so easy to create on the computer (possible, but not nearly as easy). Perhaps giving Trovedex an SVG overlay shape creator would help. This note-taker on YouTube seems to really like an iOS app called Notability:

It’s only available for iOS though, and I don’t want to shell out money for Apple’s overpriced hardware for the sake of one app. Also the guy’s handwriting is super sloppy, and I’m not sure if he’s just got naturally sloppy handwriting (he’s studying medicine after all, and doctors are required to have sloppy handwriting), or if a digital pen on a digital touchscreen is contributing to the sloppiness. I’m writing this post on an HP Spectre laptop, which has a touchscreen with pen-writing capabilities, but it’s not great for drawing, much less writing; the precision just isn’t good enough. Although perhaps I could try the paper-like screen protector he recommends.

All that said, I’m not sure when I’ll actually get around to updating Trovedex; my focus is back on TuneSage for now!

By S P Hannifin, ago

Note-taking app launched at Trovedex.com!

I spent Friday and Saturday launching the first version of the note-taking app I’ve been working on, live now at trovedex.com. Woohoo! I’m glad I was able to get it up just before the end of May.

As stated before, there are still quite a few features I’d like to add. But even before I go about adding new features, there are a number of glitches that need fixing. It’s really annoying how some things that work fine in production (when running on my computer) suddenly stop working or glitch out when live on a server.

Deploying the Vue app wasn’t too difficult in and of itself, though I will need to develop a more efficient deployment strategy than just uploading files. The trickiest part for me was getting the API back-end server, which manages requests from the app to the database, to use the more secure “https” protocol. The front end, built with Vue,¬†was easy; you can just set a variable in its config file and *poof* it works. The back-end API, however, needed info about a valid SSL certificate to be recognized as secure. Googling around, just about all the info I could find involved creating a self-signed certificate, which most browsers won’t trust, so that didn’t help me much. I finally figured out how to get the “key” and “cert” files from my server’s certificate. A simple solution, but difficult to find. Also, if you know how to look at your browser’s javascript console, you’ll see that my implementation of firebase, which I’m using for user authentication (hence why you can log in with Google or Facebook without having to create a new account), outputs a warning about my code using a “development build” of the SDK. I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of that. It probably also has a simple solution I just haven’t found yet.

At the moment, I know this note-taking app is nothing amazingly innovative, but it’s been great for learning “the stack” (the layers of tools used to build a web app) and I think continuing work with it (and on it) will be fun. Now that this is up, I’m going to switch my focus back to TuneSage, my in-development music-writing app. I’ll still work on Trovedex to fix the current glitches, add features, and make improvements, but I’d like to launch TuneSage before Christmas and there is a ton of work to do on that.

Happy note-taking!

By S P Hannifin, ago