A while back, I started a little Rails app that would generate random writing prompts. After a few months, I decided to kill it. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I killed it. I just remember one day deciding that it wasn’t gaining any traction, so I decided to pull the plug on it. Now though I’m not so sure that killing it was such a good idea.

If I was making the application all over again, then there are a few things that I would do differently.

I would open-source it

The main reason I would be open-sourcing the application is so that I can provide a working Rails application on my Github profile. That old chestnut about your Github being your profile isn’t something that I put a lot of stock into. Still, it would be helpful if I have something on there that is working, live and provides a small sample of my work.

I would enforce some constraints

The last time I did PenMuse it ran away from me. I got hung up about too many things about the application that I ended up overthinking what should be a simple application. This time I would keep it simple.

There won’t be an admin section for it, and I would simply connect directly to the database to add new prompts. I would keep the application as minimal as possible, to begin with. One model, one controller, one page. At least I’ll do it this way, to start with.

I would track interest in it

I’m not a big fan of using analytics, but that was back in the day when Google Analytics was the only real option. Now though, there are plenty of great options out there, and a few are even GDPR friendly.

One such analytics service that I have been wanting to try is Fathom. I have earmarked for another application, but I thought PenMuse would be a good starting point to get myself familiar with Fathom.

So there we have it. PenMuse is back! Although not right now, I still need to build it! And it’s not going to have the same name, but more on that later.