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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Excuses

Manton Reece:

A long-overdue product is difficult to push forward, the weight starting to carry as much burden as potential. And everywhere I look there’s a new excuse to procrastinate.

Boy does this resonate.

E7: The advantages of underestimating

Would I have begun work on Barley 2 in November of last year if I had fully known the amount of work it would be to complete it? Maybe not. But I’m glad I didn’t know and I’m glad I didn’t chicken out.

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A fun first week at “home”

It has been a fun week. Kyle and I started working from our home offices and I’ve made dozens of tweaks to my personal site and my IFTTT recipes for cross-posting so that I can share from my site first.

I’m pretty happy with where this is going. Let’s start with a few questions and answers, followed by some observations, and then finish up with what I’d like to do next.

  • Do I reply on Twitter? This is a question I asked both Manton and Jeremy. I’m going to do what Manton does for now and reply to tweets on Twitter.
  • Will I bring replies onto my site? I don’t know yet. They’d likely need to be a wholly different thing, like comments, and I’m not sure I want that.
  • Same for Facebook? Yes.
  • Will I share my photos to Instagram? For now I’m posting photos on my site separately from Instagram. No cross-posting. There is and will always be overlap. But I hope after many months that my site will have a much stronger representation of my photography than Instagram has. And, in fact, I hope it influences my photography. Instagram certainly has. I want to start thinking “How would this look on my site?” rather than “How would this look on Instagram?”

A few random observations:

  • My view of Twitter this past week has been more like a feed reader than a social network. I like it. I get caught up on the last few hundred posts at a time.
  • I’m really enjoying that everything I make can now be searched in one spot. Rather than all over the place. Also, Twitter’s search is abysmal so it is effectively useless. Eventually, having years worth of status updates will be fun to search through.
  • Since I’ve begun working from home this past week too it all makes sense that I’m posting on my own site. It feels like a homecoming or something.

A few things I’d like to do next:

  • Finish Barley 2.0 – Barley 1.0 isn’t great on mobile making status updates on-the-go a bit rough. It works. But far from “good”. I could build something custom but I’d prefer to finish Barley 2.0. It is one of the reasons I’m doing this homesteading. It will leverage WordPress as the application framework and so we’ll get a lot of things we don’t have as a result.
  • I plan to leave IFTTT behind for something a bit more custom. Example: People get confused by the trailing URL on my status updates. They click expecting to see something more when there is nothing more. I’d prefer the URL not there on statuses that are shorter than 140 characters but IFTTT doesn’t offer options like that. Once Barley 2.0 is finished I can tweak cross-posting rules.
  • The layout and design of my site leaves a lot to be desired. But I don’t want to focus on that until I have all the bits in place. Content comes first. So once I feel fairly settled on what the content should be, look like, and how it should be found I can begin to think about design.
  • Eventually I’d like to have a “pick-and-choose” interface for cross-posting. Some blog posts might work pretty well on LinkedIn, others on Medium, and others via Facebook and Twitter as links. Etc. I think it’d be cool to have a default setting but be able to customize that with every single post.

Week one was fun. Week two should be less tweaks and more use.

Fits and starts and homesteading

I annoy myself. I want to post content to my own personal site and not through closed social networks — because I want to keep control of everything I create forever. But the networks are so easy to use and work everywhere and more people read them than read this site.

Over the years I’ve said that I will post everything through my site. In 1999, 2003, 2008 and 2013 (and other years), for a little while each time, I did.

However, over the last few months I’ve been working on Barley 2.0. This release will bring a lot more capability to the content management system I use for this site and as a result the desire to bring everything together once more is rising.

I’ve been incredibly inspired by Jeremy Keith and Manton Reece. Both of them are doing a remarkable job sharing everything through their own web sites and then onto social networks and they are figuring it all out as they go.

So, starting tonight that is what I’m going to try again to do with a goal of sticking with it in perpetuity. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be posting to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, but that everything that I post there will originate here on my site. I may still craft those messages manually (since each network is so nuanced) but like Jeremy and Manton I will have to figure that out as I go too.

I hope this will have a few positive side effects. First, I’ll have control of my own content’s destiny. Second, I’ll have greater control of my content’s presentation. Third, this will force Barley to get very good at posting from mobile devices and at sharing with social networks — two features Barley should have anyway.

Expect my site to change dramatically over coming weeks as I figure all of this out.

Presenting at the NEPA WordPress Meetup

Tonight I had the privilege of presenting at our local NEPA WordPress Meetup. We were also privileged to host the event at our space in Carbondale, PA.

My presentation was entitled The History & Future of Inline Editing. I’m sure there will be a video posted online as soon as it is ready.

 

My interview on The Way Station

On App.net I asked if anyone had a podcast that I could be a guest on. And, wouldn’t you know it Noah Read had one and graciously invited me to be a guest on The Way Station.

We had a nice, relaxed, geeky chat about my career, about Plain and Barley, and a bit about Star Wars of course. I recommend giving it a listen.

A case for something, anything more simple than WordPress

There is a growing sentiment that WordPress – though incredibly well supported and ubiquitous – is simply far too complex for some projects and for some customers.

Obviously, I think so too. That’s why my company is building Barley.

Here are a few other notable people that seem to believe the same thing, that while WordPress is a powerful tool and it is providing their livelihood currently, it is time for more simple solutions. More choices.

Jason Schuller, of Press75 (a premium WordPress theme shop for 8 years), on his personal blog:

In my case, I’ve become increasingly passionate about creating minimalist/simple website solutions for which WordPress isn’t quite suitable as a platform in its current state and direction. As WordPress continues to change, the passion I once had for my WordPress theme business continues to become more of a chore than anything else.

John O’Nolan, in his pitch for Ghost (a competitor to WordPress’s blogging features which was successfully funded on Kickstarter with almost $300,000 more than its goal):

The WordPress motto is “decisions, not options” – and yet there are still too many options, too many settings, too many things which you have an unnecessary level of control over in the administrative user interface. Things like admin colour schemes, quickpress, press this, post-via-email, remote publishing, inline theme editing, media editing and multi-everything. Things that many people have never even used.

There are a lot of web sites. Billions, perhaps. And each of those sites have different needs. Some sites are blogs, others are small business web sites, others are photo galleries, others are one pagers of information, and some are pages that let you buy things. There shouldn’t just be one tool to build all of these.

There also isn’t one, single, clearcut answer to “What should I use besides WordPress?” because, in reality, you should choose a tool that works best for the project-at-hand. For some web sites WordPress is the clear and obvious choice. For others, such as small business sites, event sites, professional profiles, and others – perhaps Barley is a good choice. And for those of you that prefer to write in Markdown perhaps Ghost or Dropplets might be fun to use.

As a web developer you should have a few different tools in your bag so that when you need to reach for one you grab the right one for the job.