Shape Up Your Side Projects

Shape Up Your Side Projects
Screenshot from the beginning of the book: https://basecamp.com/shapeup
Table of Contents
In: Learning

One way to have more fun as a software engineer is to learn your craft via resources like books, videos, and courses, but then also track the progress of it and finish useful byproducts on the way.

If you've done side projects before, you might know that they get dropped from time to time prematurely, without a chance for a glimmer of light.

Shape Up is a project management framework that 37signals uses to get projects done. So why not try it in a team of One?

A part of the framework, at least how 37signals use it, is working in 4 to 6-week sprints.

I found it appealing to try this out more consistently in my own side projects this year.

I've started doing this with an 8-week sprint, working on an app that stayed unfinished for more time than I wished for: memocortex.com, an app to train your (developer) memory.


First, a little legend because every sprint consists of different ways to be finished successfully. Yes, I organize things with emojis.

βœ… - done

πŸ“•πŸ“—πŸ“– - book

πŸ“Ί - video (course)

πŸ“ - text-based course

πŸ‘©β€πŸ« - workshop

🏟 - conference

🎨 - drawing and sketches

πŸ“½οΈ - project

πŸ“£ - networking

πŸ’‘ - idea (maybe worth, maybe not)

Sprint 2023/01 - memocortex.com

Memocortex.com is a collection of mnemonic memory major systems in different languages that facilitates learning those systems.

29/12/2022 - 26/02/2023

Byproducts of the sprint:

πŸ“½οΈ memocortex - an app to learn the major system memory technique, or several major systems in different languages. An image-heavy Rails 7 app with Hotwire and the new JavaScript pipeline (importmaps) to train your (developer) memory.

βœ… πŸ“ https://www.hotrails.dev/ - to get some more insight into Hotwire

βœ… ✍️ a post about developer memory training

🎨 ~300 simple sketches of simple objects, either sourced or created πŸ™ˆ

βœ… πŸ“• Why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby by the lucky stiff (a bit unrelated, but long overdue from my reading list)

βœ… πŸ“˜πŸŽ§ listening to Moonwalking With Einstein

πŸ“£ reaching out to memory people from Moonwalking With Einstein and asking about including them into the MVP (Also reach out to Stenger, Buzan, and Co. to ask permission to use their major system)

Future sprint ideas

After a sprint, I'll get a bit of idle time where I'll shape and decide on 1 of the following projects...

Ruby and Rails TDD workshop

πŸ“– - https://chriskottom.com/resources/TheMinitestCookbook-sample.pdf

πŸ“Ί - destroyallsoftware testing and upcase testing

πŸ“ΊπŸ’‘ - RubyGuides video course

πŸ“½οΈ - minitest TDD workshop repo => interactive integration in blog (based on my Le Wagon workshop from 2022 => there could also be something like a Rebuilding Minitest resource)

I got some incredible feedback from a friend who actually went through my self-rolled Le Wagon TDD workshop with Ruby and Minitest alone.

This pumps me quite a bit to finally make it a fun, free, interactive, and easy-to-use course resource here on my blog πŸ€”


QuickAPI, like FastAPI in Python but for the Ruby world

πŸ“– - API Design Principles

πŸ“– - Chris Kottom API book

πŸ“Ί - Rebuilding Rails Workshop

πŸ“½οΈ - QuickAPI

Visual resource creation

🎨 consistent (daily?) creations to visualize coding concepts, algorithms, and cartoony real life situations

AI weeks

  • something with data and AI in Ruby
  • potentially, port missing data/AI libs to Ruby
  • Daily usage of GPT and GitHub Co-pilot
  • specifically, try out co-pilot for replacing intellisense auto-completion and writing tests
  • try GPT for blog post outlines



There are a couple of pipelines in my personal work I'd like to automate, some examples in this order of appetite:

  1. obsidian note publishing to Ghost blog (automating new posts and updating posts)
  • I've built "CrossPost markdown" before, would be interesting to see if this CLI still works and maybe extend this whole framework
  1. cut audio version of curious coders chronicles webcast => put in google drive => automatically add to excel => read description and title (from API based on file URL or name?) => add new episode to Podcast.co and YouTube

Revisit previous programming languages

I have professional experience in JavaScript, Python, and Java. Each language deserves a revisit for a couple of weeks.

πŸ“• Must be accompanied by Seven Languages In 7 Weeks

Shallow dive into some new hot prog language or framework

Dunno yet what could be more exciting than Rails and Hotwire πŸ˜…

Systemizing Mentoring and Coaching

My dear friend and tech brother Tobi, the master of the le4f.agency, is a visionairy systemizer. I was happy to be mentored by him on systemizing and automating my coaching to make the most out of my and my mentee's time. There are a lot of ideas and approaches to implement which can definitely be a low code 6-week project.

More ideas that need shaping

  • First physical and version of: https://developer-pursuit.fly.dev/
  • Productize King Of Vegas boardgame and create online card game
  • bust toptal challenge, just for fun and unlocking additional freelance markets/communities
  • Build an app and dig some books in the mental health space

Powered by books

All of this is powered by book reading πŸ“š

I'm tracking my reading in a separate post about a reading list of a random software developer dude.

Shape Up Resources

As I'm doing this thing, I'm planning to get to reading (listening 🎧) Rework and Shape Up this year from my reading list to refine the processes.

Since Shape Up is only available in written form and I'm not sure when I'll get to it, I've dug the audio-based materials which you might also find useful:

βœ… The original intro from 2019
βœ… Creator of Shape Up with more recent thoughts around the framework
βœ… Shape up in a nutshell by the creator himself

Call to Action

Pro tip: Wanna Shape Up something together? Then feel free to chime into one of my sprints or propose your own, whatever social media channel you know me from, or some live interaction below πŸ‘‡
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