SS Menu: A simple orders mgt. app for restaurants

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SS Menu logo

More than 2 years ago, I created a lightweight point of sale system (POS) for our restaurant in Jalandhar called SkewerSpot (SS). I wrote the thing in under a week (cowboy coding, yodlee yodlee youdoo) in Ionic/Angular. Essentially, it’s a collection of hybrid mobile apps that allows a restaurant to manage orders in real-time via Firebase. The 3 apps in this collection are:

  1. SS Menu — to take orders
  2. SS Orders — to manage orders
  3. SS Stats — to view sales data

Nothing too complicated. The thing has been running quite reliably since 2.5 years. So why the rewrite?

Recently, Dad asked me to change a few things in SS Menu. When I got to working on the changes, I realized that my Ionic tooling had somehow become broken. I just couldn’t create new builds. I left it as is and informed Dad I didn’t have sufficient time to fix things around. But he insisted. So much that I finally decided to just rewrite the entire thing in a more modern mobile SDK — Flutter.

I donned my cowboy hat again and sat down to create the menu app from scratch using a skill I had just recently acquired. I think I was able to spit out a functional version of the app in 4-5 non-contiguous days. Creating in Flutter is such a blissful experience. I loved every bit of it.

Flutter makes it infinitely easy to create 100% custom interfaces inspired by designs at Dribbble. You are never crippled by the difficulty of customizing platform’s underlying UI controls. You are always in the driver’s seat.

— Me, after having created several Flutter apps based on designs at Dribbble

Unlike the last time, I created the app from day 1 with open-sourcing in mind. I also made sure that my git history was readable enough to help others starting in the world of Flutter learn quickly from my development experience.

But due to a lack of time, I had to make certain trade-offs: the code lacks automated tests, i18n, l10n and accessibility options. There’s also no iOS version as of now. What a bummer!

Check out the code and more details about the app on GitHub:

https://github.com/anuragbhd/ss-menu-app

Help me, if you can, take it to the next level by fixing the caveats and implementing TODOs.

Some screenshots to feast your eyes on:

My Restaurant Reviews — a WordPress plugin

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Screenshot of My Restaurant Reviews widget

This post is long delayed. It should have been an announcement but will now be a backstory.

Back in May (4 months ago!), I did a website redesign for SkewerSpot, our family business. SS is a cute little restaurant/cafe in Jalandhar, Punjab, with a wide selection of snacks and waffles. We specialize in waffles, all sorts, especially stick waffles. Earlier the SS website was a pure Bootstrappy static thing. The design had become outdated, and it was difficult to maintain. So I redid the entire thing in WordPress. It looks pretty neat now, go check it out!

At that time, I was faced with a very specific problem. We have our online presence on Zomato, Swiggy, Google Maps, Instagram and Facebook. We get reviews on all these five platforms. I wanted a way of showing reviews/ratings from these sources in a unified interface. To address this specific problem, I created a specific WordPress plugin. It’s called My Restaurant Reviews (or ‘Mr.R’).

I wanted to create this as a dirty, cowboy-style plugin for my own website. But I soon realized it’d be cool to have others also benefit from it, since a lot of new-gen restaurants are cropping up each day that perhaps face the same problem that I did. So off I went to the awesome WordPress Plugin Handbook, read it cover-to-cover, and got to work. Within a couple of weeks, I had the first working version. Writing code in PHP again was nostalgically pleasant experience. I learned so much about the internals of WordPress, my respect for the platform and its code quality increasing everyday.

Anyway, in early June I finished it, and submitted it for publishing on the great WordPress Plugins Directory. What a scary name, haha! Thankfully, it was accepted after a short review. I’ve heard that there’s a rigorous review process for all plugin and theme submissions, and some contributions are rejected daily for not following their coding standards. Didn’t happen to me 🙂

You can find and install it on your own WordPress website or blog from its official plugin page. Source code is on GitHub. There’s still so many improvements that can be done, especially in terms of adding support for more review platforms (currently only Zomato and Google Maps are supported). See TODO. With my arms spread, I invite ya’ll to help me take it to the next level.