Time Has Little To Do with Infinity and Almond Croissants

May 7, 2019Site Notes
Two years ago may sound like a long time, but it doesn't feel like it. As near as I can figure, that's about when I started thinking about adding a recipe application to the suite of applications that I've been building since… well, since way before then.

The recipe application had been originally conceived for a specific company, and was to include a ton of features that go far beyond the needs of what a basic blog site would ever use. That company ended up going in a different direction, but I'm not one to leave a good idea on the table… so I added even more features — basically everything I could preconceive — and continued coding out the rather large scale application with potentially no use for it. Next to a restaurant rate and review application that I wrote and brought online in 2012 ( mealtrip.com ), this recipe application has been one of the more complex to create. It does a lot behind the scenes.

I could spend forever writing an application like this… to me, getting to work and interconnect code is just as beautiful as creating a photo, designing a product label, or laying out a recipe book. There does come a time though, when you just have to turn the thing on.

That time is… now-ish. I'm thinking about this as a "soft opening" for the recipe application. There's all kinds of features and "hooks" in the back-end admin area, that really aren't implemented on the front-end yet… but the next road-block seems to be that old "chicken or the egg" paradox.

You can get to the new recipe appliation by clicking the "recipe" link in the top menu bar.
You can get to the new recipe appliation by clicking the "recipe" link in the top menu bar.
How "parent" category connections are implemented (things like "breakfast recipe", "drink recipe", "side recipe", etc.), along with any secondary and tertiary categories that are associated with each recipe…. start to get a little hard to fully imagine and hold in one's head… unless you're able to see and play with those connections in the real world.

The good part about starting with a blank code page, is that you can do whatever you want — build a tiny world that works and looks just how you want it to. One of the struggles with that comes along with starting from scratch… is that you also have to build all the "rules", for all possible outcomes.

If there's a chicken recipe in the "dinner" category and an egg bowl recipe in the "breakfast" category and a person searches for a "breakfast chicken" recipe… what does the computer show?  All of those questions have to be coded into the application… and the more you can do from the start, the smoother the application will run once there's more data in it.

Getting Back to the Paradox

There are currently — only two recipes in the system.  I built most of the application looking at one single recipe... for almost two years! It was only a few weeks ago I added a second recipe to the system… but it's not a lot to play around with.

I can't really see and feel how categories are going to connect, until I have some recipes showing up in multiple categories. Which brings me to where I am right now. I have built a great, fast, robust, responsive recipe application that does some cool stuff (without a ton of content to do cool stuff with) …
  • It can feature multiple category levels along with keyword profiling.
  • It can include multiple chefs with mini bio and links back to their site or social accounts.
  • A sponsored product(s) area that can be detailed and used on a per recipe basis.
  • Up to four batch sizes or "makes" quantities for each recipe recipe.
  • Two unique badge identifiers that can be used to highlight special features of a recipe (such as being gluten-free for example), and those could also then be used as "filters" when searching through large numbers of recipes (aka, "only show me gluten-free recipes in the system, etc.).
  • An ingredient list that has checkboxes (with an anonymous user memory feature, so that if you turn your device off, it will remember where you are at in the recipe, when you turn your device back on, without requiring the user to be "logged in" to any account).
  • A kitchen tools list with checkboxes (with that same anonymous user memory feature).
  • Step-by-step instructions that can be just text and/or include an image, images, or video as content.
  • The step-by-step area also includes a "click as you progress" feature so that you can check off each step as you go through the recipe... this includes the same "anonymous user memory feature" as the ingredient and kitchen tools lists.
  • A print recipe engine that (hopefully) looks a bit better than some of the solutions that I've seen on other sites.
Just a couple of the features that are part of the recipe application.
Just a couple of the features that are part of the recipe application.
At the moment, the main list of two recipes is listed alphabetically. Next step features... like being able to categorize recipes so that users can sort, filter, and eventually search for something specific… require me to actually have more than a couple recipes in the system.

Implementing a meaningful (as opposed to random) "you might also be interested in this recipe" feature, would rely on a well built category structure to tap into. After that... step three features like a "your favorite recipes" list, is dependent on those other two systems I just mentioned.

I have added a link to the main menu bar at the top named "Recipes" so the fully working application is totally on and accessible. (Google already spidered it's way through the two recipes and the already indexed the pages… yikes… Google's hungry.)

I'm still kind of thinking about the application as being in a "public sandbox" stage though. Everything is open to an edit, but hopefully, there won't be any major changes to the core elements I have turned on so far. The DFW "home" page will eventually have to be changed to feature the new recipe section a little more, and I think a permanent link to the main recipes page on the /Fresh directory page would be a good idea, (in addition to any recently posted recipes) because that directoy is basically a landing page from social media sites.

I really do love programming, and could happily spend hours and hours testing out different ways to impliment things. For now though... I have to pause for a little bit, turn on my recipe application, let it loose in the world…  and spend a little time collecting more Almond Croissants (aka "recipes")  before I can get back to dealing with Infinity.

Kicking the Tires

To any and all of my amazing friends that are still reading this… I would love for you to take the very small two recipe system for a spin, and just kind of squint your eyes, and imagine what it might be like with a few dozen recipes in it — kick the tires, give it a spin, and let me know what you think. I really want this system to be one of the best, smoothest, most enjoyable and practical ways to interact with an online recipe.

Is there a really cool, useful feature that makes looking at or using online recipes easier or better? I'd love to hear about that and see if I can work it into this system. So please… let me know via Facebook or Instagram or email what you think!

You can Click Here to jump right to the new main recipe page.
Alternatively, click the new "Recipe" link in the top menu bar.

As new features are added (or changes to the system are made), I'll try and publish a little article highlighting what those are! :)
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