July 2011

San Francisco (Saturday, July 16)

San francisco

Creative Commons photo by Håkan Dahlström

Posterous logo

This Saturday in San Francisco, Posterous (a very nice, simple web publishing platform) are hosting a Hack Day at their headquarters. They’ve just put out a new API and they’re inviting developers to take it out for a spin and meet their development team up close and personal, and in return, those developers will get food, Red Bull and beer, they’ll get taken out for drinks afterwards, and they’ll even get prizes!

Here’s the type of person they’re hoping will attend, in their own words:

Any developer interested in using the Posterous API to build something cool.  So far, we know of mobile apps and a few web services built on top of Posterous. Whether you need ideas on what to build, are looking to team up with someone else or are already working on an app, the Posterous dev team will be here to help.

We Shopifolks believe in Hack Days, and while we can’t be there in person — we’ll explain in a moment — we will be there in spirit: we’re giving away an iPad as a prize! Write an application that makes use of the Shopify API as well as the Posterous API and you’ve got a good chance of winning it.

Here’s some quick info about Posterous’ Hack Day:

  • Where do you register? Here.
  • When: Saturday, July 16th, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Pacific
  • Where: Posterous HQ (2973 16th Street, San Francisco). They’ll also be online in the #posterous-dev channel on Freenode.
  • What’s happening: “API overview sessions, office hours for anyone with questions and end of day demos.  Plenty of food, red bull and beer.  After we’re done, we’ll take everyone out for drinks.”

New Orleans (Sunday, July 17)

New orleans 2

Creative Commons photo by Matt J. Carbone.

This Sunday in New Orleans, as part of BarCamp NOLA, there will be a Hack Day, and both Edward Ocampo-Gooding and I will be there!

New orleans barcamp 4

Saturday is the regular BarCamp with the usual unconference-y stuff. Things change gears on Sunday, when people are invited to participate in a “giving back” exercise and collaborate in an exercise where “Developers, designers, educators, content writers, and videographers collaborate to build and launch a project in a single day.”

Here’s the quick info:

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


Shopify Pub Night #2: Tonight @ 5:30 p.m.!

by Joey deVilla on July 13, 2011

Shopify pub night 2 1

Don’t forget: Shopify’s second pub night is tonight! Come hang out with the Shopifolks, whether your interests are in tech, creative, “bidniss” or just good conversation, food and drink. We’ll be at Peter Devine’s (in ByWard Market73 Clarence Street, at William) from 5:30 until about 9:30 or so. Join us!

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


Matz Joins Heroku: It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

by Joey deVilla on July 12, 2011

Matz and heroku

The folks at Heroku have put out a press release (okay, PR people, I’ll call it a news release. Happy now?) as well as a blog post announcing that Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto has joined them. A quick recap for those of you unfamiliar with those names:

  • Heroku is a Salesforce.com subsidiary (they got bought by Salesforce in December 2010) that runs a cloud platform-as-a-service that supports Ruby as well as Node.js and Clojure . It was one of the first cloud services, with development on it starting “way back” in 2007, and hosting over 100,000 applications.
  • “Matz” is the creator of the Ruby programming language, upon which the web application framework Ruby on Rails is based, which in turn is what Shopify is built upon.

Here’s the picture from the blog entry with the announcement. I hope it becomes Matz’s business card!

Heroku matz

What does this all mean in the end? Think of it as an artist/patron kind of relationship. Open source software has had a number of notable relationships of this sort:

  • Linus (Linux, or if you’re one of the “Stalliban”, GNU/Linux) was hired by Transmeta and he worked there until 2003.
  • Guido (Python) was hired by Google and he’s still there.
  • Larry (Perl) was hired by O’Reilly — no idea if he still on their payroll.

In all these cases, it was an organization with a fair bit of money hiring a developer who built the OS or language they use. The organization benefits from continued development of that open source OS or language, and the programmer benefits from a steady paycheck. Luckily, we also benefit!

According to the Heroku blog, Matz and “a small team of Ruby’s core committers” will continue to work on the Ruby programming language. They close their entry with this:

We love Ruby, and we are honored to be able to give back to the community and to Matz, the Ruby dai-sensei, by providing resources for him and his team to continue to design and architect the language.

Sounds good to me. Time for a celebratory dance:

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


Shopify Apps and an Update to the App Wishlist

by Joey deVilla on July 12, 2011

App Wishlist: Edward Ocampo-Gooding appearing as a genie from a lamp.The Shopify Platform does a lot on its own. However, there are cases where a shopowner is going to want some kind of functionality that the baseline platform can’t deliver. That’s okay, because we’ve got apps!

Shopify provides an API that allows you to programmatically perform almost any task that a Shopify shopowner can perform using the admin panel for a shop. This lets you write Shopify apps which shopowners can use to extend the capabilities of their Shopify stores. Some apps make life easier for customers, some help shopowners run their stores, some do both at the same time.

Shopify also provides the App Store, a marketplace where app developers can put their apps up for sale to the 16,000 or so Shopify shopowners in our ecosystem. It puts your apps in a place that’s easy to find and browse, right where potential customers can easily see (and hopefully buy) them.

And finally, Shopify has an App Wishlist. This list is going to be a web application someday, but in the meantime, it’s a page on our wiki that lists the apps that have been requested by both users and Shopify. I wrote about it earlier, and since then, the list has been updated — it now has been broken into three categories:

  1. High Priority Apps. Useful apps for which there is a lot of demand and are feasible using the current Shopify API. If you’re looking for an idea for an app to build, check the ones in this section first!
  2. Lower Priority Apps. Apps for which there’s some demand, are somewhat useful and are feasible using the current Shopify API. You could build an app based on these ideas if you like, but we seriously recommend building one from the High Priority list instead.
  3. Not Recommended for Development. For the most part, these are apps that are currently not feasible using the current Shopify API. They might also be not very useful. As the name of this category suggests, we recommend that you not develop these apps.

I’ll be going through this list regularly, polishing up the entries in the list.

If you’re interested in building apps for Shopify, check out the App Wishlist on the Shopify Wiki, then hit the Shopify App Development page to get started!

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


BarCamp NOLA (New Orleans) This Weekend!

by Joey deVilla on July 12, 2011

New orleans barcamp 4

The next stop on the BarCamp Tour is New Orleans for BarCamp NOLA, which takes place this weekend! And it’s not me going solo — I’m being joined by my coworker Edward Ocampo-Gooding, where we’ll participate in both the main BarCamp on Saturday and the Hack Day on Sunday.

Some quick info about BarCamp NOLA:

BarCamp is an unconference. The idea behind unconferences is to turn the concept of a conference upside-down. You still have sessions at an unconference, but rather than being planned by the organizers, they’re created by the attendees. At the start of BarCamp, any attendee with an idea for a session can propose one and get it on the schedule grid, which gives that session a time slot and a room in which to hold it. Some people have sessions ready, others extemporize them on the spot, but in either case, sessions are meant to be more like dialogues rather than lectures. At BarCamp, there are no spectators, only participants!

Barcamp tour logo

BarCamp Tour is an “unsponsorship”. It’s made up of a number of startups: BatchBlue, Grasshopper Group, MailChimp, Shopify and Wufoo. While we do one traditional sponsor thing — namely, providing money to help BarCamps — we go beyond traditional sponsorship. If a BarCamp needs a session and no one’s proposing one, we’ll do one. We’ve done all sorts of sessions on all sorts of topics, from HTML5 and CSS to escaping from the corporate world to running your startup like Genghis Khan. We also help put together the after-party. We also help the organizers out any way we can, even if it’s just moving chairs and cleaning up.

Barcamp nola hack day

On Sunday, they’re holding a Hack Day. Here’s how the BarCamp NOLA folks describe it:

The New Orleans twist on BarCamp is our second day “Hack Day.” With all the diversified talent in one room, let’s giving something back to the community! Developers, designers, educators, content writers, and videographers collaborate to build and launch a project in a single day.

I’m looking forward to this one. Watch this blog for reports from BarCamp NOLA!

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


“Sent From My Windows Phone”

by Joey deVilla on July 12, 2011

Penny arcade  sent from my windows phone

This is yesterday’s Penny Arcade comic, inspired by the fact that Mike “Gabe” Krahulik is currently using a Windows Phone. There’s a lot of good things about WP7, from its pared-down, content-first, glance-and-go user interface to the fact that it still provides the best developer experience in my book. If you’ve ever seen my “Zero to Fart App in 60 seconds” demo, you’ll know what I mean.

I myself have been using an iPhone for a while, but will bounce and forth between phones once I figure out why my Windows Phone — part of my fabulous parting gifts from Microsoft — isn’t working.


How to Make Awesome Diagrams for Your Slides

by Joey deVilla on July 11, 2011

Want to make better slide presentations? Yes, you do, and this slide deck — How to Make Awesome Diagrams for Your Slides, by Enrique Garcia Cota — on how to make the most out of the diagrams you include in them.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.