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Tools used: Glide and Google Sheets
Build time: 2 hours
Hi fellow Makerpad fans! I'm Derek, an entrepreneur and product manager, passionate about healthcare, wellness, and personalized medicine. For the last six years, I always thought about different consumer health ideas and never really got too far. However, with no-code tools, I found that I could create a simple prototype in a couple hours and actually test a theory with users to really start refining my theories into something better. This is an example case of one app I built to test some of these theories.
For about a decade, I weighed myself every day. It was originally a habit from bike racing where I tried to get as emaciated as possible to improve power-to-weight for the hills, but I still found it to be a helpful health practice even when I was not obsessing about weight. However, after years of traveling as a management consultant, working in early-stage startups, and founding another venture-backed startup, kicked far out of “race shape,” and I am just trying to get generally fit again.
While my Tanita scale does a great job of telling my weight, body fat percentage, and water percentage, these numbers are pretty useless to me. It’s hard for me to tell the progress that I am making because what I care about is not losing weight, but looking better (i.e., building muscle and losing weight). So I wanted a simple app that just let me record my weights and convert the simple numbers relative numbers of body fat percentage and water percentage to absolutes of lean body mass and pounds of fat.
Last week, I read this awesome post, “How I built ClassPass x Instagram for fitness without code” by Arjun Mahadevan on Makerpad showing the power of Glide. I had already started a course to learn to build this app as a simple iOS app, but I might as well try this shortcut with Glide. Arjun’s more in-depth blog post, “Why (and how) I built ClassPass x Instagram for fitness with friends (without writing a line of code)” was a great guide to getting started with Glide.
The first step was building a Google Sheet. The key to this was organizing the columns that you wanted in the app and making sure that this was very easy for you to use and manipulate. There are four types of columns that you will want in your Google Sheet database. First, Glide provides some automated data of user email and timestamp (Yellow). Second, there are the raw data user inputs that you will want from the user (White). Third, you may want to make some calculations on your data (Green). Fourth, for a better user experience, you may want to add some columns that redisplay data more neatly for your user (Blue).
Creating the app in Glide itself is pretty trivial. The key trick to remember is that if you change Settings, then you will need to reinstall the app each time. So it’s key to set your settings before doing anything else. Glide automatically lays out content for you, and you just need to choose how to display your app. For me, I chose the Calendar layout with the Newest date first. I also added the feature to add new entries, but I did not add the feature to edit an entry.
The next step was to add formulas and titles to my Google Sheet. Glide has a great tutorial on adding calculated values using the ARRAYFORMULA function in Google Sheets. Formatting titles have very long formulas, but it makes your data much more readable. The final trick is to then DELETE any row that does not have data.
Last, I created a hack to add a chart to my app. Glide only has a progress bar for a charting option. It’s super simple and not very dynamic. So I wanted a better option. Luckily, Google Sheets let’s you publish a chart as an image from a Google Sheet. To make this chart dynamic, I set my series values to the appropriate columns in my sheet (i.e., “C:C” instead of a range). Then, I added a column that added the chart’s URL to an image column, if there was a new entry in the sheet. This made the chart show up on every entry.
"As an entrepreneur, product manager, and former CTO/engineer, I found Glide and no code to be really amazing at prototyping and testing data"
The result was that it took me a couple hours to build an app and write this blog post. It’s a quick utility app that is neither impressive nor particularly easy to monetize, but it is perfect for me! The reason is that it cost me $0 to make something useful. I did not need to buy a new $200 IoT scale, and I did not need to spend a week learning to build a Swift app. The new Shortcuts in iOS 13 can also do a lot of this. In fact, one of their sample apps is drinking water. Where Glide stands out in comparison is that this app is your’s and the data is easy to access in a Google Sheet.
As an entrepreneur, product manager, and former CTO/engineer, I found Glide and no code to be really amazing at prototyping and testing data. I am currently interested in wellness, longevity, and what healthy people are doing now (at a young age) to increase their healthspan. I do not know exactly how to crack the code on what will make consumer healthcare/wellness work, but these no-code tools let me test a bunch of hypotheses very quickly.
"It cost me $0 to make something useful."
If you would like to find out more about me, most of my information is on my website dereksakamoto.com. Here, there is the original post, “Notation matters…for weight loss? (Building an app with Glide).” The current project that I am working on is at Obs. Finally, feel free to reach out to me directly on Instagram, Twitter, or email.