Back in 2014, I sketched an idea to simplify scheduling apps on a napkin and pitched writing a series about it as a startup to my editor Tom McFarlin at Envato Tuts+. He approved and I got to work. I wouldn’t have guessed at the time that I had an undiagnosed brain tumor and that despite that,  I would ultimately complete fifty episodes for the series.


The conceptual napkin sketch

Definitely, try out the results at Meeting Planner or if you want to plan a social event, try Simple Planner. They’re scheduling apps for the web that make planning meetups easier (like Doodle but more focused on the social process). My goal from the beginning was to minimize the number of dreaded back and forth messages between participants and make it easy to collaboratively find dates, times and places that work well.

I think I’ve made good progress at both.


Planning a meeting with Meeting Planner

If you read only one episode, read the first. If you want to see how a startup gets built or learn how to use the Yii programming framework, read a bunch of them. I also suggest reading about the role open source software played in enabling a one person startup.

Ultimately, the series turned out more technical and development-oriented than entrpreneurial, but that’s partly the Envato Tuts+ audience requirement.

Some of my favorite features of the sites are translations in 21 languages, our new scrollable responsive popup calendar and the ease in choosing times and dates with participants.


Promotional animation of some of our language translations

The sites continue to improve. I’m regularly adding concepts and features to make scheduling easy. I may continue writing the occasional episode but more likely on my own websites.


Also, I’m not one to shy away from political realities. My startup is political. One day soon, I hope to use Simple Planner to plan a celebration of Trump’s impeachment. When do you expect Trump will be impeached?

Currently about 30% of respondents expect Trump to be impeached by September 2017:



I hope you enjoy the series and share your feedback on the service.

Startup Series Table of Contents

The Fifty Episodes of the Building Your Own Startup series:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Feature Requirements and Database Design
  3. Geolocation and Google Places
  4. Localization With I18n
  5. Access Control, Active Record Relations and Slugs
  6. User Settings, Profile Images and Contact Details
  7. Scheduling a Meeting
  8. Scheduling Availability and Choices
  9. Email Commands
  10. Using the Mailgun Store(): A Temporary Mailbox for Your App’s Incoming Email
  11. Delivering the Meeting Invitation
  12. Email Commands
  13. Simplifying Onramp With OAuth
  14. Exporting iCal Files into Calendar Events
  15. Choosing and Configuring Production Hosting
  16. Collecting and Managing User Reports and Feedback
  17. The Open-Source Foundation Behind Meeting Planner
  18. Refining Email Templates
  19. Responsive Email for Gmail
  20. Notifying People of Meeting Updates
  21. Delivering Notifications
  22. Preparing for Reminders
  23. Dynamic Ajax Forms for Scheduling
  24. Sending Reminders
  25. The Dashboard Foundation
  26. Improving the Mobile Web
  27. Issue Tracking and Feature Planning
  28. Security Basics
  29. Ajax for Meeting Times and Places
  30. Invite People via URL
  31. Increasing Security
  32. Preparing for Text Messaging
  33. Automatic Time-Zone Detection
  34. Advanced Scheduling Commands
  35. Requesting Scheduling Changes
  36. Meetings With Multiple Participants
  37. Completing Group Scheduling
  38. Importing with the Google Contacts API
  39. Error Logging
  40. Running Multiple Domains
  41. Building a RESTful API
  42. Bootstrap Your Home Page
  43. Leveraging Bootstrap, Ajax, and jQuery
  44. Using Routes for Schedule With Me
  45. Leveraging Crowdfunding
  46. Securing an API
  47. Approaching Major Feature Enhancements
  48. Using Faker to Generate Filler Data for Automated Testing
  49. How to Build a User Tour With Shepherd in JavaScript
  50. Programming With Yii: Generating Documentation

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest.

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