<aside> ⬅️ For the previous article in the series, see New Expo Project Setup


What will this be about?

In previous blog posts I covered my motivation for this project, and why I made the technological choices that I did. Then I wrote about setting up the new Expo project, and what file organization strategies you can choose. But I never really explained what is it that I am building. What is this thing supposed to do? To explain this, I first need to familiarize you with several things.

The Notion L-CTRL system

The basis for this project was me trying out the L-CTRL Notion template. What it attempts to do is create a comprehensive and gamified “second brain” system, for storing & prioritizing all your tasks, research, meetings, etc. This is definitely nothing new, and I myself have tried various software solutions that attempted to do the same. Most of the time, I tried it, I failed to reap the rewards I was expecting, and being disillusioned, I moved to the next software (that will definitely fix it for good this time ... right?). What I only recognized after looking at L-CTRL, was that software is not enough because it is just a tool. You also need a system in place. A plan on what to do with the tool, how to use it to achieve your desired outcome. So for the past year and a half, I was trying to internalize this system. But, after a pretty long stint of me trying to shoehorn my daily regime and habit into this existing system, and failing, I realized that I need to modify this system to my needs. Take what works for me, and throw everything else out.

Expo app

So how does my Expo app achieve the goal I just laid out? Frankly, after writing it out and thinking about it, not much. But I was looking for a new side project, I have an interest in Notion API, and hey, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail right 😄?

One particular problem that I wanted to tackle is that Notion has no concept of “repeating task”. You can add date properties to database pages, but achieving workflow akin to that of a repeating task requires jumping through several hoops, and even then, there is more manual work than I would like. So the goal becomes simple:

<aside> 🎯 Create Expo app that would allow me to schedule repeating tasks, and allow me to view them in a more concise manner on mobile phone.


The actual work

So, with goal of this POC being clear, I was almost ready to start banging out code like a madman. But then the little voice of “this is not the way” sounded in my headed again, and I though, “how can I think this through better”? At my current job (creating an RN shopping app) I found that it is hugely beneficial to have at least a mockup, if not the whole design ready and available when discussing scope, and necessary BE/API changes with the team. It grounds the discussion around concrete points, synchronizes everyone’s expectations, and allows you to see problems that you would have otherwise overlooked. So I set out to create a mockup of what I wanted the app to look like.


So, seeing as this was the first time I had to create UI mockups for myself (I have always had them prepared for me by UX before), I set out searching for the best tool for the job. I knew Figma from work, but only as a consumer, not a creator. And since this is a side project, I did not want to invest any money beforehand. Then I remembered that I glimpsed an article singing the praises of Excalidraw. It was free, no registration required, so I got to work. What I did not expect was, how much I would enjoy it. I do not know what it is about the rough, hand drawn look, but it just makes anything look better. My theory is that the handrawn look hides certain imperfections that would be more visible with perfectly straight lines. Whatever the cause, I absolutely loved the tool, and bought their premium subscription the same day. Below is an example of the mockup I created with it.

App pages mockup

App pages mockup

Individual components

Individual components

Notion API

The next crucial step on the road to my own app was communicating with Notion. The Notion API Beta has been in the wild for some time, and its capabilities are steadily increasing. Since there is an official JS client available, I took advantage of it.