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A poc is not a product. I started focais, not in a rush, but as something that I already had a POC for and thought it would be easy. I wanted to build tools to make creating blog posts like this one easier. I stared with shots a tool that takes screenshots of websites.

POC (proof of concept)

For the poc, I made a single fastapi endpoint that takes a url and returns a screenshot of the page. It converts the url into a key that I can lookup to see if I have the shot, if I don't I go get it. With the open source libraries out there, this is not too hard of a task.

Progress Thus Far

  • /shot

But this wasn't enough

All it does so far for this first tool is take screenshots of websites, and give you a hosted image.

Users

To bring in users, I need to create a signup flow, with a database to store users, login, logout, and email recovery. I've never had to use an email service before that wasn't already mandated by a company or an iternal smtp server. After some searching I chose resend for email.

Progress thus far

  • /shot
  • email service for account recovery
  • database to store users
  • /login
  • /forgot-password
  • /recover-account
  • /logout
  • /signup
  • /access-token
  • /account

User Management

Eventually I am going to need some user management for site admins (me), but for now I just need to see users and some of their attributes such as subscription level, number of shots, and such. If I'm ever contacted for support this will give me some first insight into what happened.

Subscription Levels

For payment I chose stripe. I was able to setup subscription levels with config inside of stripe. I setup a pricing page with jinja based on the data right out of stripe, a way to create checkout sessions, a page to come back to once you have executed a checkout, and a way to cancel your subscription.

Progress thus far

  • /shot
  • email service for account recovery
  • database to store users
  • /login
  • /forgot-password
  • /recover-account
  • /logout
  • /signup
  • /access-token
  • /account
  • stripe account
  • stripe api integration
  • /pricing
  • /create-checkout-session
  • /checkout-success
  • /cancel-subscription
  • /reactivate-subscription

Back to the Product

Now that I have users, with subscriptions, and different subscription levels. A shot might not be the same per url. For instance a shot from a low tier subscription might have a watermark, while a higher tier will remove the watermark. Now I need a way to track shots per user, and keep them up to date with subscriptions.

Progress thus far

  • /shot
  • email service for account recovery
  • database to store users
  • /login
  • /forgot-password
  • /recover-account
  • /logout
  • /signup
  • /access-token
  • /account
  • stripe account
  • stripe api integration
  • /pricing
  • /create-checkout-session
  • /checkout-success
  • /cancel-subscription
  • /reactivate-subscription
  • POST /shot
  • GET /shot/{id}

Keeping the internet working

At the end of all of this once a shot is created I want to keep it working for users regarless of subscription. It really bothers me when part of the internet just stops working. I hope to keep running costs low and enough monthly subscribers to cover those costs. And if you decide that fokais is not a product giving you any more value your shots will still be here with us. At the moment the biggest cost is compute running headless chrome to take the shots anyways, continuing to host them over time is must less of an issue.

It's a Lot, but not near enough

I'm a couple of months in on building this for a few days at a time here an there. I am in no rush for it to start gaining revenue. I am learning a ton so far. Whether fokais becomes a big thing or not, I will be able to bring these skills to a new startup or to my professional career.

It already feels 1000% more complicated than it was just to get the thing to work for just me, but in the end it will be worth it.

It's still not complete

There's feels like quite a bit to do before getting launched, testing out the checkout workflow is HUGE thing. I've never made a product for sale by myself before, so I am definitly feeling some pressure when taking money to have a product that works, and importantly not loosing the subscription or account.