SitePoint Podcast #190: Open Source Projects with Dave Rupert

Episode 190 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week Kevin Dees (@kevindees) interviews Dave Rupert (@davatron5000) of Paravel about open source development.

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Episode Summary

Kevin and Dave discuss developing open source projects, but before that Patrick O’Keefe has an announcement about the SitePoint Podcast.

Browse the full list of links referenced in the show at http://delicious.com/sitepointpodcast/190.

Interview Transcript

Patrick: Hello, and welcome to another addition of the SitePoint Podcast. This is Patrick O’Keefe and before Kevin Dees gets started with the interview that he recorded for this week’s episode, we wanted to take a moment to share a special announcement with you.

There’s no way to say this without it being a surprise. There’s no way to say this without it coming completely out of the blue. There’s just no way around that. The announcement is that the SitePoint podcast is coming to an end. We’ve had a really great run, and it’s been a great experience for all of us. But everything must eventually come to an end, and now is that time for this show.

We’re sorry to see it end, but we are planning a grand finale two weeks from now, and we want you to be a part of it. One of the greatest things about this show for us has been the listeners, everyone who tunes in, who shares the show, who subscribes, who listens, who leaves comments. This is one of the things that has really made it worthwhile for us and that’s why we want you to be a part of our finale.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the podcast, your memories, your favorite moments. Whatever you want to share, please send it to us via email at podcast@sitepoint.com. We accept both text and audio comments. For audio comments, please record them and then upload them somewhere where we can download them. So for example, your Dropbox account, your web hosting space, something like that, and then send us the link to the file via email.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the greatest mic in the world. But if you do have the opportunity to export it in a higher quality audio format, for example, .wav or a high quality Apple format, that’s great as opposed to an mp3. But even if all you have is an mp3, that’s fine as well. More than anything else, we just want to hear your thoughts on the show.

Again, send us a link to your audio comment, or send us your text comments at podcast@sitepoint.com, and they might just be included in our final show. The deadline for submissions is December 9th, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. That’s 8:00 p.m. GMT UTC -5, or 1:00 a.m. on Monday, December 10th, UTC time.

Whether you submit a comment or not, we’d like to take a moment to thank you for all of your support over the years. It really has meant a lot to us, and we look forward to sharing more of that with you on our grand finale, which will be released on Friday, December 14th. Announcement out of the way, please enjoy this week’s interview. Over to you, Kevin.

Kevin: So today I get to talk with Mr. Dave Rupert. Hello, Dave.

Dave: Howdy, howdy.

Kevin: I’m so excited to get to talk to you. This is awesome.

Dave: Hey, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it, and it’s nice to be here. Good to see you again.

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. Well, see via video.

Dave: Virtually seeing, yes.

Kevin: Right. Very good. If you don’t know who Dave is, I’m not going to put shame on you, but you will get to know by the end of today. Dave has been developing websites and things to do with programming, oh, for a long time now. How long now have you been doing this?

Dave: Well, I think unofficially I’ve been doing this since 1995-ish.

Kevin: Since the internet was created.

Dave: Yeah. But with my company, Paravel, been making websites with them since 2006 or 2007-ish, we started in one way or another, and now we’re just trucking along.

Kevin: Right, so you’re older than Google, then?

Dave: Just a shade. No. Google, relatively speaking, is probably more successful.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: But they’re doing all right. It’s been fun. It’s been a wild ride. I’m actually, before we had this call here, I am putting together a talk for In Control Conference. It’s a conference that is happening in Hawaii, being put on by Environments for Humans. But I’m doing a lot of research on the history of web.

Kevin: Wow.

Dave: Kind of like HTML5 and just how it all came about. I’ve been spending just the last few days just down memory lane. It’s been kind of interesting. It’s like, in 2002 SVG was spec-ed out. You’re just like, “Ah, those were the days.” No. It’s interesting.

Kevin: Since we all use SVG now. That’s just the new thing. But, yeah, among what Dave has talked about, he has actually a few accomplishments, I think mostly known for your small jQuery plug- ins, such as FitVids and FitText, and I believe there’s one other.

Dave: Lettering.js, yeah.

Kevin: Lettering.js. I think that was the first – Lettering was the first one, right?

Dave: Yeah. I’m a bit of a purveyor of tiny jQueries. I love it. I think they’re very fun to make and just kind of like single-faceted utilities. I think they’re a lot of fun to make. I don’t know. I’m not rich because of it, but I have a lot of fun with it.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: Yeah. For me, anything over 100 lines of code, I start losing interesting. I’m just like, “Oh, God. It’s too complicated. I quit. I’m done.”

Kevin: I wish everything was under 100 lines of code, but then we’d have a very modular-based internet.

Dave: Yeah, it’s called modularization. It’s the new thing.

Kevin: Everyone would be supporting everyone else’s code constantly.

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: Excellent. Dave, again welcome to the show. Today, I kind of want to get to at least talk to you a little bit, if not in the majority of the conversation, about just those things, the little plug-ins. Creating a work and putting it out there in the world where other people can experience it, and kind of maybe even learn a little bit from the code you write. So to expound on that, I wanted to ask you a few questions, and maybe we can elaborate on those, if that’s okay with you.

Dave: Yeah, sure. Hit me.

Kevin: Okay. Excellent. To kind of start things off, can you tell me a little bit about what possessed you, what made you want to create these tools online? Maybe if you explain a little bit of what fit-text was and where that came from, maybe the story behind that just so people can have an idea.

Dave: Yeah. FitText is a great example. One day, Trent Walton is redesigning his blog. He’s going responsive, and if you’ve been to Trent Walton’s blog, you know that every feature article is custom designed, and he’d kill me if he heard me say this, but it’s kind of the blogazine-style layout?
Every post is kind of art directed, or every feature post is art directed, and he was looking at responsive and he was just saying, “Hey, this would be great. I want to try responsive, but I have all these headlines and stuff that are totally custom. They’re using lettering. They’re high web font plus graphical, or sometimes they’re just graphic and some text.”

He wanted a way to make titles scale similar to, Lord forgive me, Flash, and how you could put some vector text in Flash have it just scale to the width of the Flash movie. He asked me about this, and I was just like, “I don’t know, dude. I think it’s tough.” There was stuff out there at the time. Zach Leatherman, zachleat on twitter, he had a plug-in, or still does, called big text, and what it does is kind of fill up the parent container exactly.

That was awesome, and we looked at implementing it, and there would have had to have been some markup changes. Overall, it was good, but we didn’t necessarily want exact fitting text. When you have exact fitting, it has to do calculations to measure and then size and then adjust sizing until it fits exactly.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: We kind of wanted a loose form of just a scaling text. I was just thinking about it, and I tried a few things, but then after about an hour I came up with something that kind of worked. It was ratio-based resizing. This was before Ethan Marcotte’s book, Responsive Web Design, came out, but after the post obviously. Before his book came out which kind of thoroughly drove that target divided by context equals result. FitText works a lot based on that.
It’s kind of a predetermined ratio you’re working with it, but basically it’s ratio-based resizing. It defaults to one-tenth of the parent container. If I haven’t bored your listeners already, I’ll finish.

Kevin: No. This is actually really good stuff because I think a lot of times in the community, at least from my personal experience, right? I’ll be working on something, and I’ll think, “Why would anybody else want to use what I’m working on,” right? So to kind of get the full story I think is important because when you just look at something, and you say, “Oh that’s successful,” then you don’t feel like you can measure up, because you don’t know what happened.
So when you can go through the story and talk about what it took and the reasons that you made it and kind of how you used other people’s plug-ins, like you were saying, I think that’s so important to the entire context of everything. Because, as you talk about code, people realize, “Oh, I still have to write the code.”
So there’s this technical process we have to go through. It’s just like, your Dave Rupert and jQuery plug-ins pop out of your brain and straight onto the screen, right? There’s something that has to take place, and it’s called code.

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: That’s what you’re dissecting, right?

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: Things like target attribute dividing equals result or whatever, that’s an important piece of the puzzle that we can’t leave out. Obviously it can seem boring if you’re not a coder, if you’re a designer and all you care about is making Photoshop graphics. And you just hate us code guys because we tell you that you can’t rotate the text 3% because it’s not going to work in all the browsers. I feel like what you’re talking about isn’t boring in that it gives us the full picture. So you have to walk through this code, right?

Dave: Yeah. I guess, you need a good reason for developing any sort of plug- in or any sort of open source you’re releasing. So this was ours, was just we wanted this kind of, a little more scale like resizing. After about an hour I had a really rough version, and I sent it over to Trent, and he dropped it in. Just, I made it a plug-in, and he dropped it in, pointed it at his headlines, and it worked. We were like, “Hey, hey, hey. I think we’ve got something here.” Because at this point, really super-scaling text with web fonts wasn’t really a thing.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: Like I was saying, Zach’s plug in, it does that, but it was designed right before responsive web design, when he built it. So it was very kind of fixed-width-y, and we really wanted this vector- like scaling of text.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: So we built that, and we were happy with the results. Sort of for us, when we are building something, and we like it, and we can give a name to it, we were just like, “It makes your text fit, so we’ll call it FitText”, which that’s probably a bad name looking back on it. It should be called Inflato-text or something, Ratio Text? I don’t know.

Kevin: Inflato.

Dave: But we really enjoyed what we had. Once you build something and you find it useful – like you’re dog-fooding it I think is what it’s called – but you’re using it yourself, and you see a practical application that someone else can use, that’s where we say, “Hey, let’s put this up and give it away.”

Kevin: Right.

Dave: We could have held onto it greedily, and then been like these master . . . No. No one’s going to come to us for that little effect. But it was just a cool thing we had built, and we just decided to give it away for free.

Kevin: Yeah. That’s awesome. I think that’s really cool. The specific plug-in had to do in large part with the idea of getting away from images for text. You talked a little bit about using custom fonts, right?

Dave: Yeah, exactly. With the explosion of web typography – again I’ve been researching lately, and that’s been a big deal in the last two years, let’s say. So if you ask people who was using web fonts in 2009, there were not that many people even though it was technically possible.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: In 2010, boom, it’s like a web font explosion, and everyone is using web fonts everywhere. That’s where type-cape gets born, and that’s where all these other things start happening. So web fonts – they’re awesome.

Kevin: I know. Right.

Dave: They’re beautiful. They’re high quality for the most part. There’s so much you can do. Now, we’re finally at a point where you can have typographical-driven websites where before it was Georgia, Verdana, Helvetica, Arial. Those were your choices.

Kevin: Yeah. Or compensate with gradients, and stripes, and glossy buttons.

Dave: Yeah. So, totally image-based websites. They just slug and chug, and they’re super difficult to kind of deal with. Now we have this totally vector, totally new medium for us. So we just decided this is the way of the future. We have an in-house kind of joke at Paravel. We just decided if we could never use an image again, that would be awesome. That’s maybe an extreme. Obviously, you’re going to have…

Kevin: Not at all, Dave. That’s not an extreme. You don’t even want to use images for the times when you want to post photographs. You want to do those all vector-based in code.

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: Like your LOL cats? Vector, no images.

Dave: Yeah. Roto-scoped cats. Yeah. I mean, obviously your cat pictures, your “business guy in suit shaking hand of other business guy in suit” photos are going to have to be raster. But you can start creating graphics and header graphics. Remember back in the old days when you’d drop this hero unit, and it was this 16 meg graphic, because it had all these swooshes and swashes and text overlaid? Yeah. So it was just kind of like, “Let’s break up with that. Let’s go text.”

Kevin: Right. Absolutely.

Dave: The font we’re using in our hero graphic could also be the font we’re using on our titles. You only have to load that once. It takes some clever positioning of your absolute position and relative position and stuff like that. It takes a little bit of kung fu there. But, man, for us it was a lot better than image generation.

Kevin: Yeah.

Dave: If the client comes to us, and they’re like, “Hey, I want it to say ‘biz SEO’ instead of ‘you’re great’ headline.” Then we can easily just say, “Okay, it’s ‘biz SEO’ now. Thank you.” We don’t have to open up Photoshop. We don’t have to export. We don’t have to upload. It’s just straight, change HTML save.

Kevin: That’s great, and I think the key point here is you created something that’s practical so anybody could use it. Therefore you can release it and it would become what you would call “popular plug in” because it’s useful for more than just like six people, right?

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: I want to ask the next question in this. What I’m trying to get at with this conversation at least is to maybe inspire somebody who has code out there that they’ve held on to and they don’t feel worthy to release it, maybe they’ll be inspired to do that by the end of this thing. I think one of the unique things you showed in your example here was that your plugs-ins are really small.
They’re what you might call an insignificant code base, but the impact and implication of them is actually rather large. How does somebody know when they can release something? What is too small, what is too big? What would be your advice? You’ve had success in this area, so maybe it was luck, maybe you had a huge strategic plan. What was the deal there?

Dave: It’s a tough question. It’s a fine line. Is three lines of jQuery a plug in or is it just a snippet you put on your website or something like that or you make a gist on Github. That could be how you do it, but for, I think, for me the line is, kind of what I said before, is if you can see other people using this, man, just release it.
Or, I know this guy Ian. He’s a listener on the Shop Talk show, a show I host with Chris Coyer, but he wrote in to me and was asking me to review this thing. He basically took the HTML5 doctor reset, the Eric Meyer reset – I guess HTML5 doctor is Bruce. But, anyway, he took a version of either Eric’s or the HTML5 doctor’s reset and modified it to the stuff he does on a regular basis, which are things like web kit appearance none on form elements and stuff like that. Border one, pixel solid, pound CCC, or something like that.
Because he was doing this over and over and over. He was like, “This is dumb that I do this all the time on every website I make, so I’m just going to change this and put it up on Github.” For me, if that’s the use case, that’s perfect. Is this something you do over, and over, and over? Are you doing this over and over? Well, chances are, somebody else is doing this over and over and over. Put it online.
Put it online for yourself so that in your brain you’re not, “Oh, which file do I have to copy and paste from, from that old client”, you know and then you have to spend hours hacking up and old client’s website just to get the base reset you did a year ago. Why not just put it up on Github. Then it gets better over time. As you notice a change, you’re like, “Oh, you know what? I don’t do that anymore. I’m just going to delete it off this thing.”

Kevin: Right.

Dave: You may have people following you on Github or following the project at that point, and that’s ideal. It’s kind of your project, and they can fork it if they don’t like it.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: You just put code up there, and if it’s something you use, use it and do that. I know Divia on twitter, she recently just deleted a bunch of old projects, which is like, “Oh, no. She’s deleting something from the internet. It’s not okay.” Guess what, it is okay. She just wasn’t using them anymore. It’s done.
The internet’s fluid. There are no guarantees. You know, just putting something out there. I think that’s the biggest thing. A little bit of marketing helps. I’ll say that. I’m not ashamed to say. I don’t think FitText or lettering or FitVids would be nearly as successful without the help I got from Trent Walton and Reagan Ray, just to put the sites together.

Kevin: Right. You have micro-sites for them, right?

Dave: Yeah. We have little Github pages that are there. Just little micro- sites that show how people are using the plug in. That helps. We do that on lettering. FitText is a great example of how it works. It’s this huge thing that goes up to 1900 pixels or something like that. It’s ridiculous.

Kevin: Yeah.

Dave: You immediately kind of cognitively have a click on how it works. FitVids has a great name, but it has a demo, a video of what the problem was and what the solution is, and the whole thing is about embedding videos. There’s a video embedded, and it works as you’d expect.

Kevin: Yeah.

Dave: A little bit of marketing goes a long way. I don’t know if designers listen to your podcast, Kevin, but I feel like we get a lot of designers calling into Shop Talk saying, “How can I get involved” and “How can I get better at Github”, and offering your services to really ugly open source projects would be awesome.

Kevin: Absolutely. That’s a great idea. Every designer out there listening to this, absolutely go out there and make the web pretty for free. Unfortunately, you have to do it for free, but it’s possible.

Dave: Not to be totally, I don’t know, this may sound legalistic or intolerant, but if you’re going to grift off the open source machine, you’ve got to give back. It’s just kind of a karma deal. That’s where it was for me. That’s why I decided to open source stuff. Just because I use WordPress, and I make a living off of WordPress. I should probably put something out there and give it away for free rather than just being a hoarder of all these tiny snippets or something.

Kevin: Right. I want to make two points here. The first one is you mention Github a lot, and I want to ask you about that. How do you think maybe that’s important? The second piece to it had something to do with the design community and what that actually means, because we kind of made fun of it a little bit, but maybe what in a practical sense that can look like?
Those two things – is Github really the only thing out there that people should be looking at? Is it okay to just use that for all the open source stuff? Is it a conspiracy that everything is on Github? Should people host their own stuff? Then also maybe more on this design thing. How can designers? Because I think that is a missing piece to this.

You see outside of icon sets that people can give away maybe on Dribble or something, like that’s really all you get to see from designers for the most part, or all us programmers get to see from designers. I think on the most part, I think there’s a huge demand for this, right?

Because there’s this overwhelming use of twitter bootstrap now, and it’s just because it looks nice, and all the developers want to run to that right away because it looks so much better than everything else there. It’s really the only thing. Can we overcome the idea that bootstrap is the only good-looking framework out there, maybe, for stuff?

Kevin: That’s a bunch of loaded stuff.

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: Five minutes, five minutes. I’m kidding. I’m kidding.

Dave: Okay. Timer, go. Credit where credit’s due. Designers do offer a lot of I would call it open source. I’m not personally going to go sit and draw vector icons for every single social network that’s ever been ever. Props to the people who have, and mega thank you, because that solves a problem in my life.

Kevin: Absolutely. I concur with that, by the way. Thank you designers.

Dave: Yeah. I don’t want to be dogging on designers or anything like that. They do a lot. It’s kind of this awesome circle. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this trend. Somebody will put something up, a design on Dribble, and then somebody will take it into Code Pen and make it into code, and then that’s something you can use on your website.
It’s just straight up available now. It’s documented how they built it, and it’s really pretty cool like that. There’s a lot of cool stuff like that. I guess the next question was?

Kevin: I feel like bootstrap kind of says with a megaphone, right, there’s a need for good design on the web. Since this is almost the only resource, everyone is going to use it. How can we alleviate this? I understand why people want to use this framework.

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: Because it is a framework. It’s the idea behind it. Everybody gets behind this one thing. In a sense that people are using it, maybe not because it’s a bunch of preset classes, but because they look nice, right?

Dave: Yeah. I think bootstrap is amazing because it has like everything you need to build a website. In theory you could become a bootstrap developer, and if you’re really good at skinning it and stuff like that, you could probably make a pretty sweet living not re- inventing the wheel over, and over, and over. That’s the majority what maybe I do. I’m going to build this from scratch, ta-da-da, ta-da-da, and then it’s like, oh call, I just made bootstrap again.

Kevin: Yeah.

Dave: Oops! I think it’s a really powerful framework in that regard. I feel like it is designer-y, because it had designers involved, because some thought has been put into the type and the higher key, and just UX even. They give different button styles for different error message and statuses and stuff like that. That’s super awesome.
I feel like it’s a gateway drug for most developers just because they can look at their code, their scaffolded error messages, and say, “Hey that looks just like my application.” I feel like bootstrap is actually doing a lot of good in that area. I feel like the only problem with bootstrap is I feel like the Bootstrapper community or developers have said this themselves, for whatever reason the imagination got lost in translation.

It was kind of like, here’s this, now improvise and build off it and change colors, and make it your own, but a lot of it is just a black bar with a white page. Every website is that.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: There are great examples of good bootstrap. I’m personally when I might just use bootstrap just because, even though I know how to code out my own framework and stuff like that, it’s just going to get me to point B faster. . .

Kevin: Right.

Dave: . . . in some circumstances. Was the other thing you mentioned was why Github? Am I just supporting a conspiracy? Is that right?

Kevin: Yeah, yeah, basically.

Dave: Well, bootstrap is immediately successful because it is on Github. I would go out and say that. We’re in this age of social coding, and that’s kind of what Github is. Git can exist on your own server and never even touch Github, and that’s cool, but this social coding aspect is amazing. I can put something up onto Github, and people can look at my code, they can comment on individual lines. They can say, “Hey, you failed here.” Please don’t say that.
They can just dissect problems, like in code, online, and it’s like having a team of advisers across the whole world, any time of day, any time of night. This is kind of an amazing advancement. Why wouldn’t I put it just on my website? If I put something on my website, then chances of people casually giving me a code review or casually deciding to fix something is terrible.
They would have to download it, change it, put it up on their website somewhere, and then they would have to email me and say, “Hey, I fixed your thing. Check it out.” Then I’d have to go to their website, download it. Github is solving tons of problems. Github is not the end-all be-all.

There’s Bitbucket and stuff like that. That’s based on mercurial, I believe, and that’s an option. There are other different micro-platforms for specific languages or specific features, or something like that.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: Those are cool. I feel like the social coding aspect, though, of Github is awesome.

Kevin: Absolutely.

Dave: They’re light years ahead of their competition, I feel like, or their competition is just emulating what they have. They’re saying, “We’ll juts copy them, because they’ve done it well.” That’s why I am a fan of the octo-cat.

Kevin: That’s awesome. That’s very cool. Dave, I hate that we’re kind of running out of time here.

Dave: Oh, geez.

Kevin: Yeah, I know. It’s been fast. It’s been really fast. I really wanted to go through this with you and maybe for some personal reasons. But I wanted to ask you how can somebody go about getting their stuff out there? How finished does something have to be? How complete does it have to be? Does it have to be what they want it to be?
And also, to get people to latch on to it, do you need a cool design? Do you think that’s a really important piece, to have that microsite to let people go to and experience the thing you want them to download before they download it? How can a person go out there and get their stuff known? How do they become known, not necessarily themselves, but their code?

Maybe they know they have something. I know it’s good. I don’t have this problem with, is my code too small? I know it’s great and I know people can use it. How can I get it out there? What would be your advice to that person?

Dave: Cool, yeah. I’ll address that in two parts. When should you release? For us at Paravel we kind of take a tad bit more mature policy, the big reveal strategy, the HGTV big reveal, just because we’ve found that works for us. We feel like we like that more.
Recently Nicholas Gallagher, he’s a developer at Twitter, he was talking about how this big reveal thing is kind of like ego driven, and I would totally agree. The big reveal thing, if you reveal it when it’s a little bit more mature, after it’s been stealth tested, then you can avoid some big bugs at the beginning.

Kevin: Right.

Dave: Like big bug reports and stuff like that. To Nicholas’ point, why not just put it out there and let it grow and mature? That’s like WordPress 1.0 was really garbage compared to what it is now.

Kevin: I think some developers would argue it still is, but I’m a WordPress fan, so I’m not going to argue that point.

Dave: Yeah, that’s fair. I’m just saying comparatively. If your first version isn’t embarrassing, then you’re not growing as a person in my opinion. That’s like the win. It’s really up to you. In regards to how you should release something, Github has, again Github, auto-generated pages, and you pick a theme and it’s up and going. I did that for one just because we were too busy to do something.
We were just like, “Okay, we’ll just do this. Done.” It works nice and looks nice. It’s good enough, you know?

Kevin: Right.

Dave: It gets the point across. I feel like that’s an option. Just the past things that help is a little logo, something so people remember it and people are like, “Yeah, I use this because it looks like a leaf” or something like that.

Kevin: What about the developer who is sitting there, “That’s great Dave. I’m not a designer. How do I get a logo?”

Dave: Again, beg your friends.

Kevin: I like it.

Dave: Make friends with designers.

Kevin: On your knees. Just go over to Dribble. Who wants to make an awesome logo? Hey, maybe that’s not a bad idea.

Dave: Hack up some clip art. Maybe you’ve heard of this, the Noun Project is a thing you can go to. The nounproject.com I believe. Just Google it, or Bing it, or whatever you do. They have icons. It’s become this world icon database. That’s the goal of it. You can download these. You can use them.
You can attribute and use it for free, or you can pay for it and not attribute them. Download this icon. It’s SVG. Pop it into Photoshop or Fireworks and then export it as a PNG or whatever you want to do. Pick a color scheme. That’s all you need, is a color and some sort of icon logo or something. That’s all you need.

Kevin: Are you telling me there’s no excuse to not be able to get a logo?

Dave: Yeah. I’m saying there’s no excuse really. It’s pretty easy. I mean color, logo, font. That’s all you need. A good color, a good log and a good font.

Kevin: Right, so comic sans, clippy and black background with lime- green text.

Dave: Yep. That would be noticeable. That would be shocking.

Kevin: It would be like DOS, plus Microsoft Word, plus best font ever invented.

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: That’s epic. Everybody wants to go to that.

Dave: I could say confidently that you would define your user base with that combination.

Kevin: I’m going to go for that, man. I’m doing it.

Dave: Try it. You should release the same project with that combination and with nothing and see which one is more successful. Do a hit count. A-B test it, boom.

Kevin: There you go. That’s an awesome idea. I’m going to do it. Designer not allowed. Comic sans.

Dave: Yeah.

Kevin: That’s awesome Dave. Is there anything else outside of just really taking care of the details when you launch something, make sure it’s, I don’t want to just say pretty, because that’s the worst thing you could ever say to a designer, but is there something you can do outside of making it pretty? Maybe doing a big reveal? Is there any other strategy that maybe you’ve used that has helped you? Is that kind of the place to start and then kind of go from there?

Dave: Again, it depends on your style. I think you could totally just release something and let it get better as you go. Incrementally improve. That’s awesome. That’s agile and perfect. Then, you could also just do a big reveal and beta test it a bit and let it mature. One thing I would recommend is to have your code checked by somebody smarter than you before launching.

Kevin: That’s impossible. No one that listens to this show has anyone smarter than them, Dave.

Dave: That’s true. Your audience is high caliber.

Kevin: Absolutely. Our listeners are amazing.

Dave: It’s going to be tough, guys, but just dig down and find somebody you respect.

Kevin: Don’t call Dave. Don’t call Dave, because he doesn’t know.

Dave: No, you’ll just get a busy signal. I’m sorry. That’s kind of the big deal, finding somebody who you trust and saying, “Hey, can you review this? I think it’s ready, but I would love some feedback.” I did that with lettering, JS and a few other things. I asked Paul Irish, Alex Sexton and Chris Coyer. Chris Coyer – he kind of master-minded FitVids and stuff like that.

Kevin: That’s unfair, Dave. I don’t have those connections.

Dave: I feel like you can find somebody.

Kevin: I agree.

Dave: There are plenty of browser evangelists. That would be a good one, too. You don’t want to launch something and it not support Opera. Find an Opera evangelist, and they would probably love to audit your code and make sure it works on their browser.

Kevin: I would say also that within just local networks, like I know Austin has meet-up groups, and where I live, Greenville, does as well. There are a lot of people who are more than willing that are super smart. Let’s say even if they can’t be quite more intelligent than our listeners, right? That just a second pair of eyes looking at it and saying, “Have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?”
I find for myself, I’ll develop something, I’ll make a feature, and I’ll know there are bugs, but I just don’t have the energy to do that one last thing that’s going to make it great. I kind of pretend like it doesn’t exist, and then somebody comes in behind me and says, “Well, what about that?” And I’m like “Dang you!”

Dave: Totally. I feel like front end especially, but any sort of code is so complex, you need a buddy. It’s a buddy system deal. Any help, any review you could get would be priceless.

Kevin: I think that’s awesome. Well, Dave. Thank you so much for your time. I’m sure there are a million other things we could talk about. Talking about code is always fun. Talking about getting other people to write code is even more fun, because you don’t have to do it. I really have enjoyed this. I hope the listeners have enjoyed it as well.

Dave: Thanks, Kevin.

Kevin: And thanks for listening to the SitePoint Podcast. If you have any questions or thoughts about today’s show please feel free to get in touch. You can find SitePoint on Twitter @sitepointdotcom, that’s sitepoint d-o-t-c-o-m. You can find me on Twitter @kevindees, and if you’d like to leave comments about today’s show check out the podcast at sitepoint.com/podcast, you can subscribe to the show there as well. This episode of the SitePoint Podcast was produced by Karn Broad, and I’m Kevin Dees, bye for now.

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