Happy First Birthday!

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One candle for one year; the 44 is for April 4th ūüėČ

The Bunch turns one year old today! 366 days ago, Matt, Brandon, and I had our first video conference to discuss the idea of developing LunchBunch into a fully-realized mobile application. In November of 2015, we launched LunchBunch publicly, and over the past few months, we’ve been updating it and adding new features. It’s time to start growing, so be sure to tell all of your friends about LunchBunch!

I’ve had a ton of fun working on LunchBunch over the past year, and I’d like to thank Brandon and Matt for all of the work they’ve put into making LunchBunch awesome. Seeing the app progress over the past 12 months has been amazing, and their diligence is why LunchBunch has come as far as it has. I couldn’t be prouder of my team and all of the time they’ve devoted to this project.

I especially want to thank you, our blog readers, app users, and general supporters of LunchBunch! This project wouldn’t be possible without you, and we really do appreciate all of the feedback and encouragement you’ve provided along the way. Thanks for cheering us on this past year! With so many exciting changes in the pipeline, I can’t wait to see where LunchBunch ends up on its second birthday!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

Timed Broadcast

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We’ve been hard at work to bring you new features to enhance the LunchBunch experience, and one of our recent updates modified the way that broadcasting works.

Before our public launch, a user suggested this feature to make it easier to broadcast accurate information. She said she wanted her broadcast to terminate automatically because she didn’t “want to lose [her] LunchBunch integrity.” We thought this was a great idea because it’s easy to forget to switch back to “not hungry” after you’ve eaten.

Timed broadcasts will keep you hungry for one hour before automatically expiring. (Soon you will be able to change this length.) A few minutes before it’s switched off, you will get a push notification asking if you are still hungry with the option to extend your broadcast. Ignoring the notification will terminate the broadcast at the end of the timed period.

Timed broadcasts make it easier for you to use LunchBunch because you don’t need to remember to set your status to “not hungry” after a meal. This also helps hungry buddies know that you are ready to eat (instead of wondering if you simply forgot to edit your broadcast after your last meal).

What do you think of this new feature? Are there any other features we could add to make broadcasting even easier? Let us know in the comments below!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

Use Case: Not on a Campus or in an Office?

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I’ve talked about how useful LunchBunch is in college and in the office, but what about the rest of us?

I organized many meals on campus while attending the University of Delaware and also in work settings during various internships over the past few years. But since graduating in May 2014, I’ve been working on LunchBunch from home which means a lot of meals by myself. So how is LunchBunch useful for those of us who aren’t on a college campus or working in an office? Here are a few of the ways I use LunchBunch that might help you, too.

Trivia

A pizza place in Pittsburgh hosts a trivia night every Tuesday, and one of my friends was the trivia host there for a while. A bunch of us would go most weeks to eat pizza and compete in the trivia, and LunchBunch was a great way to see who was going on a particular night. The time and location were already decided, and seeing everyone’s RSVP helped us to decide if we should go or wait until the next week when more friends could make it. Trivia is a specific use case, but LunchBunch is helpful for planning similar weekly events.

Last-Minute Plans

You just returned home after running errands, and you have some free time. There’s a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try out, so you hop on LunchBunch to see who wants to join you. You know it’s last-minute, and it’s too much work to message people individually. With LunchBunch, you see who is hungry and available, and in no time, you’re eating at a new place with a friend or two!

Scheduling Plans

Besides giving you the ability to see who’s available right now, LunchBunch can help you to schedule meals in advance. If you schedule lunch or dinner with a group, it’s easy to track who’s going and update the time or location if plans change. Additionally, when you’re getting ready to head out, you can check for hungry buddies who weren’t included in the original invitation so they don’t feel left out.

What are the unique ways that you use LunchBunch? Do you have suggestions for how we could make LunchBunch even better for you? Please let us know in the comments below!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

Use Case: LunchBunch at the Office

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LunchBunch can be just as useful in the office as it is on a university campus. When it comes to meals, there are a lot of similarities between users in these demographics–both tend to have schedules that change day-to-day, it’s hard to keep track of friends’ availability, and it’s often difficult to organize meals.

Group Emails

Group emails are great for getting information out to many coworkers, but they get disorganized very quickly. Some people might reply to the sender only, others click “reply all”, and they’re hard to search through. It’s difficult to keep track of RSVPs and make sure everyone has the most-recent information when using email to organize a meal. And if you join an email chain late, it takes too long to get caught up. With LunchBunch, everyone is on the same page (pun intended) with easy access to the time, location, and RSVPs for lunch. Sending messages to everyone is easy, and it’s much easier to search through than an email chain. And adding someone to the invitation is a breeze. With just a few taps, any of your Buddies can view the invitation.

Know when Coworkers are Busy

Sometimes it’s tough to know when coworkers are busy and shouldn’t be interrupted. When you’re ready to eat, you don’t need to interrupt anyone’s work to see who’s available. Instead, simply start broadcasting on LunchBunch, and when everyone is at a good stopping point and ready for a lunch break, you can create an invitation. Alternatively, you don’t even need to wait until everyone is hungry–you can create the invitation and add Buddies whenever you’re ready (even if they’re not broadcasting yet).

New People

If your office/building/block is large enough, lunch can be a great way to network with people you otherwise might not meet. You can connect with these people on LunchBunch and organize them into Bunches. You can even schedule times in advance to plan your networking meals at the beginning of each week.

New Places

Whether you’re eating with the same coworkers or networking with new people each day, it’s nice to switch up the location. We’re currently working on a few new features for LunchBunch that will help you find new places nearby, so stay tuned for future updates!

So next time you’re hungry at work and don’t know who’s available, check LunchBunch!

How do you use LunchBunch at work? Do you have suggestions for how we could make LunchBunch even better for your office? Please let us know in the comments below!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

Use Case: College Students

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YOICO–You’re Only In College Once. I did my best to popularize this phrase at The University of Delaware when YOLO was a big deal. YOICO was a great excuse to get a pizza and watch a movie at 3am instead of studying, and the only downside (obviously there aren’t others…) is that I can’t use it anymore now that I’ve graduated.

College is fun, and having the freedom to manage your own time is great. However, sometimes flexible schedules can make it difficult to meet up with people–especially for meals. If I had LunchBunch in college, I would have used it every day.

Eating Alone

Sometimes you only have 5 minutes to eat before class starts or you just want to eat alone, but usually eating with people is more fun. Schedules change every day, but LunchBunch makes it easy to find hungry friends. Instead of texting all of your friends to see who is available, you can check LunchBunch for the friends who–just like you–are ready to eat.

Regular Groups

LunchBunch is great for finding people right now, but it is also useful for regular meals. Let’s say you and your roommates always get lunch together on Tuesdays. You can create a Roommate bunch in the app, and when you’re ready to eat, you can invite all of them at the same time.

Availability

With LunchBunch, you don’t have to worry about messaging people who aren’t available. Sometimes it’s hard to text people before a meal because they might not respond immediately, they may have already eaten, or they’re otherwise not available. When I don’t get an immediate response to a text message, I wonder how long I should wait before asking someone else or going alone. But with LunchBunch, I can see which friends want to eat now, and it’s super easy for me to suggest a place.

So next time you’re hungry, whether you’re getting out of class, you need a study break, or you simply want to see if anyone is available, check LunchBunch!

How do you use LunchBunch in college? Do you have suggestions for how we could make LunchBunch even better for your campus? Please let us know in the comments below!

And remember, you may only be in college once, but YCALB (You Can Always LunchBunch)!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

LunchBunch Dictionary

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When you’re learning something new, sometimes it’s nice to have a cheat sheet to reference, so we’ve compiled a list of some LunchBunch terms to help you keep track. Some of these terms are self-explanatory, but we included them for completeness and to make you aware of all of the current features.

  • Buddy: Users you are connected with in LunchBunch. To become buddies, one of you must send the other a buddy request, and the other must accept it.
  • Bunch: Buddies are organized into bunches. A bunch can have one or more members, and no one can see your bunches except for you. When you broadcast or create an invitation, you can select bunches and/or buddies, so bunches make it easier to choose multiple buddies quickly.
  • Broadcast: When you are hungry, you use broadcasting to let specific bunches/buddies know. In order to see who else is hungry, three conditions need to be met: 1.) you must be buddies, 2.) you must both be hungry, and 3.) you must both be broadcasting to each other. This means that buddies you aren’t broadcasting to will never see that you are hungry. When selecting bunches to broadcast to, you can lock or hide individual buddies. Locking and hiding buddies allows you to override bunch selection.
    • Locked Buddy: This buddy will be broadcast to–even if he or she isn’t a member of a selected bunch.
    • Hidden Buddy: This buddy will not be broadcast to–even if he or she is a member of selected bunch.
  • Invitation: Sending an invitation initiates a message thread for organizing a meal. Invited members can RSVP, send messages, and modify the invitation (unless it is locked).
    • RSVP: Invitation members can RSVP “going” or “not going”, which will automatically send a message to the invitation members. To see who is going, you can scroll through past messages or check the invitation members list where their RSVPs are listed.
    • Message: Text messages (with emoji support! ūüéČ ūüôĆ) can be sent between invitation members for communication beyond RSVP–location details, etc. or just chatting! Automatic messages are sent when members RSVP, when the time/location of the invitation is modified, and when users are added to the invitation.
    • Modify Invitation: Assuming that the user who created the invitation didn’t lock it, invitation members can change the time and/or location of the invitation and/or invite other users. Only buddies can be added to an invitation, but they do not need to be buddies with everyone in the invitation.
    • Locked Invitation: When you create an invitation, you have the option to lock it to prevent members from editing details. If you lock an invitation, only you can change the time, location, and invitee list. You can also lock/unlock an invitation after you create it.

Still have questions? Is there another term we should add? Please let us know in the comments below!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

Our First Bug

Bugs are an inevitable part of software engineering. Mobile app development has plenty, and that’s why you get update notifications for your downloaded apps so often. Building software is a very iterative process, and while there are many ways to mitigate the risk of bugs, they are nearly impossible to eradicate completely.

Testing for bugs always should be a priority, but in the late stages of LunchBunch development, we were in such a hurry to release the app publicly that we almost decided not to give it to beta testers first! If you’re thinking about creating your own app, let me be the first to tell you that you need to have beta testers use your app and provide feedback before your public launch. There weren’t any critical bugs (things that affected many users or made the app unusable), but there were a lot of little things that we discovered in the feedback–things like notifications not showing when the app was open, layout issues, and missing features. There are a lot of things that are easy to miss when you’re so intimately familiar with the app, and this is why it is super important to get people outside of your team to use the app and find bugs for you.

So besides little things that were easy to fix, we did have one bug that stood out: there was one beta tester who couldn’t send invitations to her buddies. We were a little concerned, but we were primarily just confused because it seemed to be working for everyone except for her. “What is different about this user? What makes her unique from all of the other beta testers?” we wondered. I had no idea what the problem could be, but I thought a good place to start looking was her phone–which OS (Android/iOS) and which version it was running, check if she was logged in to multiple devices, and other stuff like that. Nothing raised any flags, so I thought I’d check her name next–maybe there was an apostrophe in it or some other special character that might mess with the software. (As a side note, because of the way information is stored in software, apostrophes sometimes create issues. But my last name is O’Dowd, so I always take care of apostrophe-related issues; I was going to be pretty disappointed if that was the problem!) Unfortunately (but fortunately for my pride), this too turned up nothing.

I went back through our logs to see what information was coming into the server to check for errors. That’s when I noticed it…the beta tester’s username was capitalized in some places but all lowercase in other places! Because the username was stored lowercase in one place and capitalized in another, the app and the LunchBunch server weren’t communicating correctly; when the phone tried to send the invitation, the server got confused because it couldn’t find the username in its database! Once we confirmed that this was, in fact, the issue preventing the tester from sending invitations, we sent out a fix that would prevent the same thing from happening again.

This is a great example to reinforce the importance of testing–and specifically, the importance of having external users test the app. We (The Bunch) never put a capital letter in any of our test usernames, and we probably wouldn’t have thought to try that either. Developers don’t know how users are going to use the software, but beta testing makes it easy to catch these artifacts before the app goes public.

Have a funny experience with a bug you’ve seen in an app? Let us know in the comments below!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

The LunchBunchMobile

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There’s a new car on the road! 2016 is going to be a big year for LunchBunch, and I thought I’d start it off right by visiting Mentor Signs & Graphics to get some LunchBunch vehicle graphics.

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This sure will make my LunchBunch road trips more exciting!

Mentor Signs did such a great job with my car; they do high-quality work and pay great attention to detail. If you have any graphics or marketing needs, please check them out online, give them a call at 440-951-7446, or like them on Facebook. They also do sweet arcade graphics: escapepodonline.com, Facebook.

What do you think of the LunchBunchMobile? If you see it out-and-about, snap of photo to let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch

4 Woes of Organizing a Meal

When beginning¬†to solve a problem, a great place to start¬†is the pain points–the frustrations people have with the current process. ¬†LunchBunch started because of the¬†pain points encountered when¬†grabbing a¬†meal with friends–these were our¬†motivation to create the app. ¬†I’ll address them from my perspective, and hopefully you can relate:

  1. Eating alone or with the same people every day. ¬†I don’t plan who I am going to eat with, so when lunch rolls around at college (now at work), I need to make plans. ¬†Usually this involves texting people who either don’t respond in time or who already have eaten. ¬†Sometimes this results in eating alone, or if I’m with¬†people in class or at work before lunch, we’ll end up going… for the 3rd time this week. ¬†While eating with people I¬†sit with may be easy, there are plenty of friends who I don’t see as often and would love to catch up with. ¬†LunchBunch is the tool that tells me if these friends are available for lunch before it’s too late. ¬†And hey, if you want to eat with the same people every day, LunchBunch will help you organize those meals too!
  2. Organizing a group for lunch is an unwieldy process.¬†¬†I can¬†create a group message about lunch, but then other people join, maybe some people aren’t in my¬†contacts, and sometimes I end up¬†texting on 5 different threads about the same plans. ¬†LunchBunch consolidates this into one invitation that clearly shows who’s going and where and when we¬†are meeting. ¬†Once the meal¬†is over, the invitation disappears, so I don’t need to worry about clutter in the app.
  3. Not remembering who¬†I¬†want to eat lunch with. ¬†There are many people who I’d love to get a meal with, but I think about it before I go to sleep, not when it’s helpful–before lunch. ¬†With bunches, I can easily group¬†which people I want to get lunch with and broadcast to them first. If they aren’t available, I can edit my broadcast to include everyone else. ¬†Or I can broadcast to everyone from the get go; whatever mood I’m in, LunchBunch makes it simple.
  4. Choosing where to get lunch. Soon, LunchBunch will be partnering with restaurants to make it easier for my buddies and me to decide where to eat. ¬†I’ll be able to see local restaurants and the specials they’re offering–great if I’m on a budget but still want to go out with friends.

What pain points do you encounter when trying to grab a meal with others?  Share in the comments, and maybe LunchBunch can help to solve your lunchtime laments and dinner distresses!

Sincerely,
Matt from The Bunch

Merry Christmas

This week’s post is a little shorter than usual; for the first time since our launch, all LunchBunch developers will be in the same physical location, which means a lot of traveling and some time off for the holidays. We won’t be releasing any LunchBunch updates during this time, but while we’re together, we’ll be brainstorming new ideas and figuring out our plans for 2016. It’s been fun to work on LunchBunch under colored lights while listening to Christmas music, and we’re excited that Christmas is almost here!

We hope that you and your family have a joyful Christmas season–Merry Christmas from all of us at LunchBunch!

Sincerely,
Ryan from The Bunch