/ azure

The PostcardApp origin story

When I go on vacation to different places, I snap a lot of photos of scenery – mountains, rock formations, etc. When I got into playing Skyrim, I so enjoyed the landscape that the first few hours of the game saw more screenshots captured than monsters defeated!

A few weeks before my virtual hiking excursions began, the ASP.NET Web API was released in beta form along with a whole bunch of other beta-bits goodness. These different bits enable developers in ways that would otherwise require a lot of effort to create bespoke. These two otherwise unrelated events enjoyed a confluence when they met in my brain, forming what would eventually lead to the conception (perhaps an Inception?) of this project.

A Combination of Ideas

One evening of play, I was positioning my ‘camera’ for a particularly stunning sunset shot when I had a sudden image of that picture on a postcard along with a pithy catch-phrase in bold coloring extolling the virtues of some vacation spot. My concentration slipped, causing my unfortunate hero to plunge to his death from the top of a mountain, but good thing for him that’s he’s a plucky fellow. His long fall gave me time to ponder: the name PostcardApp flowed naturally, as did ‘Postcards From Skyrim’. Great, but what about it? I ended up purchasing the domain just in case while I pondered the what, how, and why of my idea. It didn’t take long to merge the idea of making a postcards web application with my desire to share and learn how to make use of all the shiny toys available to a modern developer.

Story First

Thinking about what I wanted the app to be able to do, I brainstormed some goals and stories to help sharpen my focus.

Overall Goals

  • Simplicity. Only use what’s needed to satisfy the stories, and keep it simple. Did I mention that I wanted this to be simple? Yeah, more an ideal than a likelihood, but a worthy aspiration nonetheless!
  • Useful. It has to be able to accomplish some actual task, regardless how contrived that task might be.
  • Explore how to leverage different technology pieces together, including Windows Azure, MVC, and Javascript
  • Serve as a reference guide for myself and for other developers looking to Get Things Done


User Stories

Though the concept is relatively simple, I could always use practice in identification and authoring of user stories. Here are a few I came up with:

  1. [As a user,] I want to be able to choose a background and salutation for the front of my postcard so that I can create a custom postcard.
  2. [As a user,] I want to be able to write on the back of the postcard so that I can taunt my envious friends with how awesome my virtual vacation is going.
  3. [As a user,] I want to be able to save and share the postcards I create so that other people can be bedazzled by my creativity and wit.


Coming up next, we dive into the site’s layout and how iterating the design in short increments yielded superior results.

Click here to go to the next part

Josh Elster

Josh Elster

A long-time veteran of the software industry ranging between enterprise architecture to creative site design and many points in-between, each challenge only shows how much there is to learn out there!

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