‹ Sid Verma


Page 2

Mar 07, 2020

Every once in a while, I get into this productivity slump where I don’t write code for weeks, and it gets hard to get back into the rhythm of working again. For me, the easiest way out of it is to redesign this website. It’s low-effort (relatively), gets some creative juices flowing and has little risk of not panning out ultimately.

And I guess it kinda worked. I spent two whole days on the redesign, and am pretty pleased with the results. Documenting the major decisions I took this time around in this post.

Writing intros to posts is such a hard thing. I’ve spent more time on what to write in this paragraph than the rest of this article. You’re supposed to start with a background and a motivation, and conclude with a sentence that you finally did it, and here is how.

I have not done it yet. This thing keeps evolving. As to why I started doing this: it’s fun. It’s fun and powerful to be in control of where your information resides. It’s fun to build a system to manage this efficiently. There are also some benefits too: much more control over my data and the services. These are also all open-source so I can add missing features which I really really want, and I don’t have to abide by the restrictive terms and limits of other platforms. And I don’t lose everything if a platform wants to shut itself down or delete my account for using their product wrong.

I’ve been using the excellent Firefly III to manage my expenses for a while. As a result, I have developed a habit to actively monitor every transaction I do, which, in my opinion is a much better way than using other automated expense managers which can only track your non-cash expenses, without a lot of context.

Android had an unofficial app which made it easier to interact with Firefly, but iOS doesn’t seem to have one, and the web-ui is not a very mobile friendly one.

While searching for solutions, I came across this blog post by Jesse Dyck where they utilised iOS Shortcuts to create transactions in Firefly. Honestly, I was pretty surprised that Shortcuts is powerful enough to do this, given Apple’s approach to customization.

The shortcuts provided by Jesse didn’t work for me (they were written for iOS 12, before Shortcuts were revamped for iOS 13), so I decided to build one for myself, with a UX more suited for my needs.

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