The creation story of MergeX
Hi, nice to meet you, my name is mengdi, I’m from Beijing, China and I’m the product manager/designer/developer of MergeX App. MergeX is a product I spent two years creating by myself full time, and it’s my biggest dream since I chose to be a developer - to create a self-approved work by myself independently. As you can see, part of my dream has come true. During these two years, I encountered a lot of difficulties and had thoughts of giving up, but I persevered and finally realized my small wish. I would like to thank my parents, without their encouragement and support I could not have persevered to the end. The following is a running recap of the MergeX development experience, and if you are interested, you can hear about the origin of MergeX and my plans for its future.
From arranging to programming
Growing up, my biggest passion was music. I loved listening to all types of music and singing. I started to get into electronic music when I was in college, and my favorite genre of music was Trance, psychedelic electronic music. Probably because this type of music in Trance is usually pure music with no vocals, I suddenly became very interested in arranging music, so I spent all my spare time from freshman to junior summer listening to music and learning how to make music. I upgraded my equipment and bought a Macbook in the summer of my junior year, and was about to use it to refine my music production skills when I “went astray” and got into iOS development during the summer. I also became interested in programming. I didn’t hesitate to choose between arranging music and programming, because I wasn’t too confident that I could find a satisfying job by teaching myself how to arrange music. But for programming, I feel a little more hopeful. Music production and software development have one thing in common: they both allow you to create your own unique work, which is why they both appeal to me. Because whether it’s the midi notes entered into a piano roll-up in a music host software (DAW) or the code entered into an integrated development environment (IDE), it’s a bridge to build creativity. After I decided to choose programming, I spent a whole year of my senior year in the school library learning programming and iOS development on my own every day. I designed and developed an alarm clock app on my own during my self-learning iOS development, and through it I successfully got a job after graduation. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it on the App Store, which is the most regrettable thing in my career, not releasing the product I created in full at the beginning. I am lucky in my work, the team members are all people who love programming and love products. I learned a lot from them, and because we are of similar age, I became good friends with many of my teammates. But work made me forget my original motivation to learn programming and iOS development (to create my own product).
Time came to the beginning of 2019. Probably every young person with a dream makes a lot of wish lists at the beginning of the year, and I was no exception, so I repurchased my Apple Personal Developer account at the beginning of 2019 and made a promise that I would make a product of my own within a year. The result was predictable, and by the end of the year not a single line of code had been written. At the end of 2019, the company I work for is going to make layoffs because of its financial situation. Unfortunately (and fortunately) our project team was on the list. It was this opportunity that made me decide to use this time to develop my own product. Then the Covid-19 followed, and I took a six-month break to finally start designing the first version of MergeX in July 2020. In August 2020, I wrote the first lines of code for MergeX. Around September, the Notes Demo version was largely completed. The earliest functional module implemented was the Notes and Calendar module, which was the predecessor of the MergeX project, a tool that combined notes and a calendar. In November of the same year, the Rainbow Focus module within MergeX was designed and developed. As the functional modules were added the product idea slowly became clear. Eventually it became what it is now: a freely configurable, modular efficiency tool.
Difficulties faced by independent development
For several years of my working life, my role has been that of a programmer. I certainly have some experience of my own on how to write high quality programs. But I’m still a beginner in design, in product, so that’s why it took me two years to finish this work. I’ve taken many, many wrong turns in product design, but I’ve always thought that these so-called “wrong turns” are actually the way to go. All the problems I encountered are inescapable. There’s no escaping the loneliness inside, because indie development means solving all problems by yourself, so sometimes there’s still a strong feeling of loneliness. Whenever that happens, I listen to podcasts with indie developers who already have their own work. They also introduce their own independent development experience on the show, which can briefly make me feel like we’re fighting side by side.
The “wholeness” that is within our reach
The first piece of advice many people give to developers who want to make an independent product is to avoid perfectionism as much as possible. I couldn’t agree more with this advice. MergeX has been adapted for Mac, iPad, iPhone and other platforms, and in my mind it’s already complete, but there’s still a long way to go before it’s perfect. That’s my goal afterwards, to make it as perfect as possible!
MergeX’s Next Steps
Although the product has been made for two whole years, I still want to say that it is still a bit far from what I originally envisioned, so I plan to gradually improve it in the next two years. So, I’ll start with the next possible feature points to do. In no particular order.
- notes module support tables
- notes two-way link reference content display
- task module to add Kanban style
- calendar module support month view style
- optimize the navigation bar, support multi-tab page
- new deadline module
- new mind map module
- new home page design
- more beautiful animation effects, has more theme color scheme
Help & Advice
If you encounter any problems (design, product, translation, bugs, etc.) during the use of MergeX, you can contact me and I will try to solve them as soon as possible. If you have other insights about the product itself you can also discuss with me, I sincerely hope I am making a product that can help others, and I will also listen to your feedback carefully. My email: [email protected]