When I started working downtown I had to park in a large deck for the first time in years. On several occasions I forgot where I parked and would spend upwards of 10 minutes searching for my car. I was frustrated so I started experimenting with ways to address this.
- One easy option would be to always park on the same level. However, even going all the way to the top level didn’t always work out.
- I always had a small notebook in my back pocket, maybe I could use it to write down the level and row.
- I started writing level and row down in pocket journal:
- That worked but it always required 2 hands. I usually had at least one bag in hand.
- Because it took two hands I would wait till I got to the elevator to set my bag(s) down to record.
- It was a long enough walk and I would often forget to record by the time I got to the elevator.
- I figured I could hack together some type of app that would work for me.
- I knew there were probably some existing apps I could use, but the use case was simple so I wanted to use it as a challenge to see if I could build a very basic app.
- I have an Apple Watch and thought building complication(widget on watch face) might be a good solution. I did some research and found this tutorial on how to build a simple complication:
- Even though it was a good video, I have never worked in Xcode and decided this wasn’t the day to start.
- Also, as I started thinking thru how the complication would work I realized it would still require two hands and thus not that much better of a solution.
- I did some research on Product Hunt for a platform to build rapid prototypes and came across Glitch.
- I used Glitch to build this prototype:
- The Glitch prototype appeared to work.
- I used it the next day when I arrived at work and it recorded it fine. However, at the end of the day when I opened the page to remember where I parked, it reloaded the page and didn’t save my previous entry.
- I then wondered if I could hack something together using some combination of Zapier, Workflow, and Launch Center Pro could be enough, so I started tinkering.
- I created two Workflows, one to record my entry:
- And one to retrieve my previous entry:
- I then created links to both of those Workflows in Launch Center Pro so I could easily get to both:
- And on the backend it uses Drafts as a simple database:
- This seems to work pretty well.
- I wanted to see if I could add one more feature to make it even more useful, a location alert to remind me to record my parking spot in the first place:
- As I am arriving at work each day, I see this:
- This approach seems to be working very well. I have used nearly every week day for the past 50 days.
- It has proven to be a simple and flexible solution. Since it can accept any free text I can not only input numbers but also letters and words. This is helpful as sometimes when I have to go somewhere and have to park in a deck, they may use a different organization scheme.
- Because it uses Drafts as a simple database it is an interesting data point to see how varied where I park actually is.
- The total cost of this experiment was $0.00 as I used existing tools I already had.
- I didn’t closely track my time but I believe I spent about 2 hours in total building and testing different prototypes for this experiment.
- Most importantly, it solved the initial problem. Since using it, I haven’t had to go searching for my car again.