A fun weekend project can be one of the best ways to learn new tech and accelerate your career.

You pick a problem, no matter how small, trivial, silly, or already-solved-before. You clear some time in your day. You sit down and you hack away until you’ve solved it.

I did that for the 24hrstartup challenge this weekend and built techletter.app. A service that takes markdown and spits out these newsletters.

🐦 Tweets, 📹 YouTube, 🎨 images, and 🤖 code turn into thumbnails. Saves 15+ minutes per email 🤘


I built TechLetterApp because I love writing these newsletters but I hate making those screenshots, ensuring images are small enough, pasting code into carbon.now.sh, … it’s a huge time sink and super hard to get just right.

Been wanting a service that does it for me and nobody was building one. So I did 😛

PS: launched on ProductHunt if you’re into that sort of thing

TechLetterApp is built with React and 👇

  • reactbulma for layout and basic styling
  • showdown for markdown parsing
  • Zeit for hosting
  • a single AWS Lambda function for screenshots
  • an AWS API Gateway to give the Lambda a REST API
  • it Chrome Headless to render & screenshot pages
  • Chrome Puppeteer to drive the virtual browser
  • GraphicsMagick to resize and optimize images
  • uploads all images to S3
  • click to copyToClipboard method from a hackernoon article
  • a hack to push code into carbon.now.sh from a random gist
  • Serverless framework to drive AWS deploys and packages
  • uses CheckoutPage to collect optional $2/export payments because I didn’t want to faff around with Stripe myself
  • I used https://megatags.co/ to generate social sharing tags
  • and I tried and abandoned a bunch of other libraries on the way

Truly this project is a testament to how far The Web Platform has come that a single person with a little help from the audience can build something like this in just 17 hours. You can watch the first 12 of my stream on YouTube. 👀


The rest is on Twitch. I haven’t added Twitch to TechLetterApp yet 😛

But here’s the real kicker:

Before Saturday morning I didn’t know any of those technologies and tools except React and Zeit. The rest I learned on the go.

Now I get to say I’ve shipped functioning working code with all of those. That looks great to a potential employer, client, or boss.

Oh you can build Serverless code to solve business problems fast? Hired!


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