When I first started hacking away at a computer (sometime just after the first Jurassic Park film was released in theaters), and ultimately hacking away on the web, people would release small projects for others to use. Single-use scripts, small applications, design files for a specific niche, and proofs-of-concept that you could download and use for yourself. Some free, some with a small price. But always very simple and cool.
I released them too. Tons of them. From scripts that transcribed data from one format to another, to widgets that connected to open APIs (remember those?). In fact, some of the code that I released was downloaded and used on hundreds of thousands of web sites. It was some of the most fun I would ever have on the web.
But somewhere along the way we got away from that. Instead of blog posts announcing a new single-use command line trick that would save people a few moments every day, we have blog posts announcing billion dollar ideas and code that is closed off from the rest of the world. Instead of some utility that costs a dollar or two that you have to spend an evening configuring to work, we have full fledged venture-backed apps that - if they don't hit 10 million users in a matter of weeks will be considered a flop. Bleh.
Of course there have been a brave few that have continued to release great projects. And new ones entered the playing field as well. And I've been noticing a sort of resurgence lately of these projects of the mid-90s through the mid-00s. Open source applications shared with a blog post, hacks shared with a tweet, design templates that literally every designer needs.
I want to join in the fun again too.
I'm going to start tonight. Right now. By releasing a super, super simple script that I use once a month to copy my digital images from our iPhones and my DSLR into folders based on the date the photo was taken. I call it Bulldozer and you can snag it for yourself right now. I wrote it in PHP. There are undoubtedly 100 thousand projects out there that do something similar and do it better. But this is my project.
I have several projects that I plan on releasing this year. I have a few simple Shortcuts for iOS that help you add things to Unmark or Simplenote. I have a fairly ambitious audio player project I'm working on that, if I can find time to finish it, I think will be used by thousands of web sites. Or maybe not? But I'm going to release it anyway. And of course Unmark is already open source and I'm hacking away on that a few times per year.