What about Reda?

Published on April 2, 2023

A couple of months back, I wanted to do more reading; as in actual books, not just blog articles but I did not find any PDF reader I liked enough or felt would give me a good experience. I thought to myself; “How hard could it be? I already write a bit of react, I could easily learn a bit of react native over the weekend and just build something out” (spoiler; it took about two weekends), and that what I did, I wanted it to do a limited number of things:

Just before I was about to kick back, I showed it off to a few people and they liked it and wanted it, and I began to think “What if I made it a bit better and opened it up to more people?“. At this time, unlike other things I had/have worked on, I hadn’t even bought a domain, I had no intention to even build a website for it but when I tried to get it into Google and Apple’s beta programs, I realised I needed a privacy policy, so I paused, went on Figma, designed a landing page to at least help people understand what it was… and never used the design in the final website as always.

To my surprise, even though this was my first mobile app and it sucked (imho) and was a bit unstable (some may say even slow), people received it well, the tweet I made at a time I knew no one was awake somehow still got attention and by the end of the second week, the app had well over 250 users and in the first week, I had started to see some sort of potential and ‘what it could be’. I started to borrow ideas from another app idea I was working on but never shipped because at the time, I did not really take the time or had the will to learn React Native (Flutter folks, no, do not write that comment)

I personally do not support React Native over Flutter or the other way, React Native made more sense to use since I was already familiar with React.

I had fun working on the app, I probably spent too much time working on it, it was an exciting process really, it even gave me the opportunity to have a talk with the Daniel Gross, whew! I mean, at this point, I just had to go harder, and I did. I added ePub and I hated everything about that, both renderers (PDF and EPUB) weren’t great and I had to do some silly workarounds to make the app somewhat usable and I did not like that I had to settle. You see, I wanted it to really have a good UX, it’s not the first reader out there, obviously, so I knew I had to make it different by making it minimal and easy to understand. I was stuck; I hated the way I had to do things and I couldn’t do them myself either, I had never written a react native library, I did not know Swift or Java for the native bindings even if I wanted to and I thought about rebuilding the whole app in Swift and sticking to one platform that way.

This is when it started to dawn on me, I built this thing FOR ME so I could get some reading done but I never even read any of the books, I had spent more time building an app to help others read but I was getting nowhere with my own books haha. I have always been more of an “audio learner” so the books I actually did read were Audiobooks on Audible. I started to ask myself “Is it worth spending the next few months learning Swift and putting in all that work to build something I don’t even use while also losing the Android user base (which was well over 65% of total users at the time)?” and the answer for me was “NO”. I did not want to work on the app anymore, I still wanted to have my docs organised and all so I intend to hack on that in the future but do I want to keep spending time building the reading app? not quite.

I know a lot of people still use the app so I am working on one last feature; folders (I might find it useful too), I was initially going to just totally stop working on it but I figured I would open up the source code so that others could add features they wanted to their version or make a PR (I would definitely review and update the app) but none of the major updates if any at all would be coming from me. I might still work on a few things here and there in my free time but I’m not making any promises.

As soon as I am done working on that feature and doing a bit of refactoring, I would be submitting it for public release on the App Stores and opening up the source on Github too. Thanks a lot for the support when I first released the app and after, can’t wait to share other things I am working on with you soon! :)

Edit this page on Github

Disclaimer: This article represents my own opinions and experiences at the time of writing this articles. These opinions may change over time and my experiences could be different from yours, if you find anything that is objectively incorrect or that you need to discuss further, please contact me via any of the links in the header section of this website's homepage.