The making of a dev product: GistScript

As I’ve said in other posts, I’m currently scratching my own itches. I’ve started to realize how powerful this approach to product making is.

I might state the obvious but when you do scratch your own itches two things happen: 1) you do something with a purpose in mind so you’re really focused in executing your idea and 2) in the end you build something that has some usefulness to you anyway.

I’ll explain what the heck GistScript is and what was that itch I was indeed scratching.

I’ve recently started working in the home automation environment, more specifically home automation applied to short rentals. Me and my wife are running a couple of listing on airbnb and our goal has always been to deliver the best experience to our amazing guests even when we’re not there.
That’s when home automation kicks in.

First thing, we had to make it possible for our guests to check in whenever they want and give them a smooth arrival experience.
I built this little device to automate the ancient entrance gate of our building. The guest would send an sms to a number with a security code that – through a rough integration of the twilio API – would unlock the gate like magic.

I needed 2 things: 1) being alerted when someone was using this service and 2) a way to be alerted of any problem that could undermine the healthiness of my system (the little device – that is still under development – crashes sometimes).

I needed to write one script for twilio and another to-be-scheduled script for peace of mind. Done.

At that point I asked myself where do I put them? I create an app just for those two little scripts and pay heroku to keep them alive?
I knew I was going to need a lot of scripts in the near future. I wanted all my scripts to have the same home and most of all I wanted to be able to create, test, run and manage them online – on-the-fly.

GistScript is a house for all those scripts you need but don’t have time to deploy an entire app for. Wow well put.
Right now I ended up using ruby/rails scripts only because… that’s what I need.

The website is online since a couple of weeks now and it does the job for me.
I am studying scripts random people have created and trying to understand their behaviour.
Developers like me from product hunt and hacker news have created lots of scripts but they’re mainly a copy of my default script.
I’m starting to believe I wasn’t able to communicate what you can really achieve with my product. What I see in GistScript is a product so flexible and so easy to use as a developer that I can really do advanced things without reinventing the wheel through an interface – when my favorite interface is a text editor.

I am continuing to update the product not because someone asked for features but only because right now I need it to do more stuff so it can be even more useful to me.

Let’s see where this ends up.

A guy sent me an email telling me I should add a link to my product, GistScript.
Here, thanks Harry.

Side note: explaining the process of coming up with something and then building it in a blog post is really helpful and I do it as an exercise to improve my thinking over time.