An Important Note About The Weather Widget

Weather Widget – Hurricane ThumbnailWhat does it mean to live a good life? Being rich definitely has its perks, which is a reason to pursue app development. There’s a lot of money to be made. However, to truly have an app hit it big, it has to be a benefit to customers. That’s what a truly meaningful life is about – helping others. Not only is that the secret to living a good life, it’s also the key to building a good app. That’s why I think “Widgets” is special. This app has the potential to save lives.

It looks like hurricane Dorian is heading towards Florida. Out of curiosity, I decided to punch up a zip code in the trajectory of the storm – 32801 Orlando. Would the weather widget do its job? What does a hurricane look like in the forecast. Even though I handcrafted that spirally hurricane icon, even though I programmed how to display the data from the National Weather Service, there was something shocking about seeing the widget in action.

Weather Widget – hurricane warning for Orange County

That made it real – 80% chance of a hurricane strike. That red icon stood out. I felt a sense of dread. Sure, I had been watching the news. I knew that the hurricane was coming. I even knew that the hurricane was heading towards Florida. But somehow, this felt different. Why?

Orlando Florida – Weather Forecast – Notification Center

I compared it to the weather info in the macOS Notification Center. While the 80% number was still the same, there wasn’t a hurricane icon. That’s what makes “Widgets” special. That subtle difference delivers the information with a greater sense of urgency.

There’s even a descriptive message…

Saturday Night – Tropical storm conditions possible. Showers and thunderstorms likely before 8pm, then scattered showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 77. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Sunday – Hurricane conditions possible. Scattered showers and thunderstorms before 8am, then showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 89. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Sunday Night – Hurricane conditions possible. Showers and thunderstorms. Cloudy, with a low around 76. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

It reminds me of the A-Team catch praise, “I love it when a plan comes together.” That’s what I’ve been working so hard to build. It’s coming true. Widgets can actually help people. It might actually save lives.

Some things didn’t go according to plan. I didn’t plan for Monday’s description…

Labor Day– Hurricane conditions possible. Showers and thunderstorms likely. Cloudy, with a high near 88. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

It actually says “Labor Day” instead of Monday. The National Weather Service is great!

Although, there have been some challenges. Sometimes, the API won’t load info for a particular location. It could be down for hours. The last two weekends, there was a problem loading weather data for Staten Island. I don’t know how customers will react to outages like that. I suspect negatively, but the alternative is charging customers a reoccurring fee for more reliable weather data. The latter seems worse.

As a developer, battling with these issues, there’s a challenge in staying motivated. You can reach so many people. You can help more people online than you could ever meet in real life – but that’s the challenge. Because you may never meet the customers, you don’t get to experience the joy. You don’t get to see expressions of happiness. You don’t get to see firsthand how your work made a difference in someone’s life.

No matter. Somehow, I must stay motivated. I must dig through the challenges of creating the Widgets app. This app is different. This is better than the projects I’ve worked on before. I must stay enthusiastic and motivated. Quite literally, it could save lives.