Kilian Valkhof

Building tools that make developers awesome.

A web app in a weekend:

Web, 28 June 2010, 3 minute read is no longer online

A week ago on Friday I woke up with a great idea for a web app. I wrote the entire idea down in a couple of minutes, tweeted about it… and went to my grandma to fix her computer and talk about politics.

The idea

Finding lyrics has been a longstanding pet-peeve of mine. A lot of music players don’t allow to you easily copy the title and artist so you have to manually type them into Google. Once you’re there, most sites are cluttered and spammy. Way too annoying.

Lystener asks you for your username, and then displays the lyrics to what you’re listening to. Simple but effective.

But that’s not the entire idea. Posting lyrics to Facebook and Twitter is something a lot of people do, and the process for that sucks, too: you had to find the lyrics via Google and the spammy sites I mentioned earlier, copy the part you like, paste it into the form on Twitter or Facebook, format it, add the title and artist and only then you’d be done. With Lystener, you just select the lyrics you like and Lystener takes care of the rest, leaving you to just click the ‘tweet’ or ‘publish’ button.


Go check it out! I’m pretty exited to see what everyone thinks, so please let me know. I have a whole bunch of ideas lined up to expand Lystener, but if you have ideas I’d love to hear them. To keep up with the updates, follow @LystenerApp on Twitter or like Lystener on Facebook.

Read on to know how I made it:

The process

After getting home I bought the domain name (I had thought up a name in that great moment when you’re not quite sleeping and not quite awake yet and everything is clear as glass.) and started sketching and coding. At the end of the day, the app was 60% done and after working on it for the entire Saturday, the minimum viable version was done as well. I invited people for the ‘beta’ and gave people access on Sunday, requesting feedback in the process.

That’s it, a web app in a weekend. What now?

The response under my beta testers was overwhelmingly positive, save for one thing: the lyrics themselves. I used an API that didn’t give full lyrics, and didn’t have a lot of songs, and was really error prone. It sucked. A website can work well technically, but if it doesn’t display what you want, or only partially displays it, it’s not useful.

So I decided to switch over to another API, the chartlyrics API. It had a lot more matches, it provided full lyrics and if lyrics were missing, they have options to easily add the lyrics. From Sunday to Thursday I tweaked my fetching script to find more lyrics and match better.

I’ll be iterating from now on, and if you have ideas I’d love to hear them!

Polypane browser for responsive web development and design Hi, I'm Kilian. I make Polypane, the browser for responsive web development and design. If you're reading this site, that's probably interesting to you. Try it out!