When I was a kid, I learned how to code with QBasic and VB6. One of the first projects I ever had someone else use was... if we are being polite, a password manager for my dad.
If we are being realistic, it was a small script that opened up a browser and logged my dad into our local library's website, and only that one site.
I wouldn't call it completely pointless, but its usefulness was limited to people who wanted to log into my local library as my dad.
Since then, I've always had an affinity for projects that are just fun demos. There was this, unfortunately now abandoned, subreddit r/ShitOnGithub (note: there are some NSFW projects) where users submitted their pointless projects, and you can see so many amazing and weird things like:
- Really stupid print minute - "a program that will print the current minute of the system." It does this by editing its source code to hardcode the current minute, recompile, and re-run.
- JSON-G - "An extremely inefficient way to store raster image data!" Because JSON is good at all things - and why wouldn't I want to allow per-pixel comments on my image?
- A CLI command that corrects errors in previous commands - which was explicitly labeled as being "Actually Useful."
There's something so freeing in a pointless project. When you are building at your job, you hopefully create something that serves a purpose. Users need to like it. Stakeholders are going to weigh in. You might have detailed specs of exactly what to build.
Here, though, it's totally open!
Are you building an API that returns a random status code on each request? Well... you probably don't need a status page or a support@ email (although if you do this, I'd love to see the support emails you get).
Sometimes, you'll also find pointless projects that are trying to illustrate something. If you've ever worked at a job where you had to manage some legacy Java code, you might enjoy (or deeply deeply hate) this FizzBuzz implementation.
On a more practical note...
Other than just being fun, pointless projects are actually a great way to learn.
That project where you return a random status code for each request? If you've never deployed your code anywhere, it can be a fun challenge to learn to deploy, manage, and monitor it.
Did it take a while to get a system up and running? That's ok!
The point of pointless projects is you are free to learn without pressure.