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The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
This week I got to speak with Hakim El Hattab. I feel pretty special as Hakim told me he doesn't do public stuff very often. I get it! He's a busy man with a family, a successful company, and ambitious other projects. I think of Hakim as the master of simple but satisfying UI concepts that have a way of becoming bigger than demos. Consider Ladda, which you can find as part of his personal site, which is a button that expands to show a spinner. This concept started with Hakim and has now made its way to surely hundreds or thousands of websites, some as big as Slack and some as awesome as CodePen itself. Equinix Metal Equinix Metal’s Startup Partner Program helps early-stage companies level up. Their experts work with startups like GenesysGo and Cuemby to build their competitive edge with infrastructure. Equinix Metal provides real-time guidance and support to help startups grow faster. With up to $100,000 in infrastructure credit, access to Equinix’s global ecosystem of over 10,000 customers and 1,800 networks, they might just be what you need to take your startup global. Visit metal.equinix.com/startups to take your startup to the next level.
28 September 2022 •
This week I got to talk to Kristopher Van Sant! Again! This time we got to talk about Kristopher's professional work as well as some favorite Pens. Equinix Metal’s Startup Partner Program helps early stage companies level up. Their experts work with startups like GenesysGo and Cuemby to build their competitive edge with infrastructure. Equinix Metal provides real time guidance and support to help startups grow faster. With up to $100,000 in infrastructure credit, access to Equinix’s global ecosystem of over 10,000 customers and 1,800 networks, see why startups choose Equinix Metal. It’s not just about the infrastructure, it's about the people behind it. Are you ready to go global? Visit metal.equinix.com/startups to take your startup to the next level.
14 September 2022 •
We just recently published the 300th CodePen Spark. Marie joins me on the show, as she leads up the creation of the vast majority of Spark newsletters. We get into things like why we do it, how we create it, how we send it, and things we've learned along the way sending a newsletter of this magnitude. We have some interesting failsafe procedures in place. Plus we get into some of the analytic numbers behind what we're doing. Here's to another upcoming many hundred more! Notion Notion is an amazing collaborative tool that not only helps organize your company’s information but helps with project management as well. We know that all too well here at CodePen, as we use Notion for countless business tasks. Learn more and get started for free at notion.com. Take your first step toward an organized, happier team, today. Riccardo Zanutta’s “Animations & Cool Effects”: https://codepen.io/collection/XgZLNA (started in 2014!) AndyMan’s “Patterns, filled space”: https://codepen.io/collection/XBLxoe Eric Karkovack’s “ASCII Artwork”: https://codepen.io/collection/MgaYzZ Jhey Tompkins’ “Speedy CSS Tips”: https://codepen.io/collection/bNWWdO Peter Norton’s “3D CSS”: https://codepen.io/collection/GoZQxG Bramus’ “Scroll Linked Animations”: https://codepen.io/collection/xKzjpo
7 September 2022 •
In this show, Stephen and Chris get to talk about an internal technical detail we were improving in our database, which led to a public-facing feature for y'all. The idea is that all (most, anyway) database tables should have a deleted_at column. When you query against them, under regular circumstances, any rows that have a non-null value will be filtered out. This is the concept of "soft" delete. It's not really gone from the database, it just behaves like it is. This has two clear benefits: Deleting is super fast, it's just manipulating a single value. It opens the door for un-deleting things that perhaps were mistakenly deleted. This approach can be slightly more work. You'll need to offer a way to truly wipe data completely for users. You'll probably want a reaper to clean up data that has been deleted long enough. You'll need to comply with regulations about data deletion. You might have to build un-deletion features. You might need to be doing that filtering yourself throughout the app. It's work, but it's generally worth it. In our case, because we soft delete everything on CodePen now, the Deleted Items area of Your Work now works for all Item Types (Pens, Collections, and Projects). Before, it only worked for Pens, and even there it was a little messy as it didn't retain the URL slug or comments and such — now it does. Memberful Memberful is a best-in-class membership software used by the web's biggest creators. If you're building a membership website for a client, Memberful handles the hard stuff so you can complete your builds quickly and your clients can focus on creating content while earning revenue with ease. It seamlessly integrates with popular tools like WordPress, Mailchimp, and Discord, so they can reach and monetize their existing audience. Memberful maintains GraphQL API, webhooks, and OAuth Single Sign on to make integration even easier. Help your client monetize their passion. Get started for free at Memberful.com
31 August 2022 •
CodePen will host your assets, like images, data models, libraries, whatever. It's quite useful! They are easy to browse, easy to copy URLs or code snippets of usage, served with the right headers from a fast global CDN, and heck, we'll even help optimize them. It's easy to amass a lof of them, as we allow you upload many at a time. But while we had Bulk Upload, as it were, we didn't offer any other "bulk" actions, until now. Stephen and I talk about how we added more bulk actions for assets, making them all the easier to manage. Shout out to our user with many thousands of assets which helped provide the motivation to get this out. Memberful Memberful is a best-in-class membership software used by the web's biggest creators. If you're building a membership website for a client, Memberful handles the hard stuff so you can complete your builds quickly and your clients can focus on creating content while earning revenue with ease. It seamlessly integrates with popular tools like WordPress, Mailchimp, and Discord, so they can reach and monetize their existing audience. Memberful maintains GraphQL API, webhooks, and OAuth Single Sign on to make integration even easier. Help your client monetize their passion. Get started for free at Memberful.com
24 August 2022 •
17 August 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Jake Albaugh. Long-time listeners will remember Jake as an alumnus of Team CodePen. That's a first for a podcast guest! We looked back a bit, where Marie dug up some of the best Jake classic Pens, and talked with him about what his professional life has looked like post-CodePen. Memberful Memberful is easy to use, best-in-class membership software for independent creators, publishers, podcasters, educators, and more. We take care of the hard stuff so you and your clients can focus on what you do best, while earning revenue quickly. Memberful seamlessly integrates with the tools you already use, like WordPress, Mailchimp, Discord, and lots more. With Memberful, you have full control and ownership of all things related to your brand, your audience, and your finances. Learn more at Memberful.com and get started for free — no credit card required.
10 August 2022 •
Both Alex and I, the co-founders of CodePen, spent time trying to whittle down hopefully interesting and practical advice for you from our experience in running a SaaS company for a decade! Let's go back and forth, combining into a top 10 like we did in the show. Alex: The High Low Principle Only do things that are either: High time, high value Low time, low value As in, they take a long time but are going to make a big difference. Or they won't take too long, don't ask too much of you, but are still helpful. This is the answer to the build vs buy conundrum. It's a buy for everything in between. Chris: The Co-Founder Relationship is at the heart of the business Every relationship between people at a company is important, but the relationship between the founders is crucial. It sets the culture and makes everything work. The company cannot continue with a broken relationship at the founder level. They say it is like marriage, and that analogy isn't far off. Chances are, you’re going to find out you are very different people who think and feel differently about all sorts of things. You need to get along, you need to respect each other, you need to trust each other, but you can’t avoid hard conversations (as much as I would like to). Alex: Build Minimalist Tech Do more with less. Just because you didn't write it doesn't mean it's less complex. Just because you did write it doesn't mean it's less complex. You might have to add technology in the short term as you're migrating to what will end up with more minimal tech. It is a focusing of you and your team's expertise. Chris: You're probably undercharging people You’re probably undercharging people for your software product. Software is always difficult to build and maintain. It's likely your intuition leads you toward lower prices, but every experience we've ever had with higher prices (and raising prices) has been positive. Fewer people than you think will care, revenue goes up, and your time is better compensated. Plus, there is a weird correlation between your high-paying customers being chill and low-paying customers being more challenging. Alex: One thing at a time Only do one of these at a time: learn new tech or solve a new problem. Do not do both. One is a magical number. Do one thing at a time. Chris: Nobody has the same thing in their brain Making sure everyone is on the same page is hard. There are so many business constructs designed to get everyone there: meetings, documents, emails... and yet, if you think everyone understands what is happening the same way you do, you are not right. But keeping everyone together is still a vital part of the process. Try to get better at expressing what is in your brain and sussing out when you think it might be different than what is in other people you work with's brains. Time spent communicating is time well spent. Alex: Honesty defines your culture Honesty is a fundamental part of your culture. That is, honesty or dishonesty, like it or not. Honesty is better. Be honest about your work, your management, and yourself. Remember that honesty has nothing to do with being nice. Being nice doesn't mean being honest. Being mean doesn't mean being honest. But being honest might mean uncomfortable conversations. A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. — Tim Ferris 3️⃣ Chris: Time is precious and easily chewed away Anything and everything is a threat to your time. Slice away what isn’t core to your business. You'll be drowning for time soon enough, so spend it on what really matters to your business. This is where technical debt comes in, and being careful about where you acquire it. You'll make mistakes, but a better you can recover from them. Pay the debts and move on. Alex: Do not poke It's easy to poke at problems. Take a guess, try it, and if it seems to work, do it and move on. Don't do that. Draw a line in the sand. Stop poking. Slow down and deeply understand the problem. Read the source code. You'll understand the problem better if you move slowly. Eventually, that style of slow problem-solving will feel smooth, and that smoothness will, ironically, help you move faster. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. — Navy Seals saying 1️⃣ Chris: Here are your cheat codes: writing, persistence, and positivity If anything has given me, and by extension CodePen, a jump in this world, it is these three things. You can build an audience through writing. An audience of people that trust you and like you and will try the things you make. The ability to communicate well with words will serve you forever, inside and outside your company. Persistence is a byproduct of having a good idea, knowing it, and having the wherewithal to see it through. A business is not built in 6 months. Stick with your good idea, it's the only way. Positivity ties it all together. Writing is your vehicle for telling your tribe, over and over, that everything is going to be great and you'll be there to help make sure it is. Notion Notion is an amazing collaborative tool that not only helps organize your company’s information but helps with project management as well. We know that all too well here at CodePen, as we use Notion for countless business tasks. Learn more and get started for free at notion.com/codepen. Take your first step toward an organized, happier team, today.
3 August 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Lee Martin! Lee is a fascinating fella, due in part to him having a job I think we all want: designing weird cool digital experiences for good bands. Fortunately for us, he often writes about them. Just check out the Inter Dimensional Video Player for Lord Huron, for example, or Using Three.js to Hear the Dawn with Jack White. Keep up with Lee on Instagram, Twitter, or his personal site. He's overflowing with ideas, not just doing all the freelancing but taking some of those ideas and scaling them, like he's doing with Turn, Mock, and Listening Party. We got a chance to talk about a handful of Lee's favorite Pens, but there are more in the Collection he made. Whiskey Web and Whatnot Whiskey Web and Whatnot is different than your typical dev podcast. We show a lighter, more human side of developers you know and love, like a fireside chat with your favorite devs. Past guests include Tom Preston-Werner, Kent C. Dodds, Charlie Gerard, Wes Bos, and the incomparable Chris Coyier! We have discussed everything from Next.js and TypeScript to Chuck’s past life as a blackjack dealer, favorite power tools, the best casseroles, and of course whiskey!
27 July 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Jase Smith, a kindred spirit bouncing across the designer/developer line out of Denver, Colorado. Before you know it, we're doing a bit of a rundown of Jase's career path, all the way from that all-too-familiar fake-it-til-you-make it early days to being a successful developer and mentoring as a form of industry payback. We didn't get to talk about as many of them as I would have liked, but Jase graciously made a Collection of some of his favorites. Quite a few explorations of color! Jase is on Twitter as @CSSBites, has a site of the same name, and is on LinkedIn. Reflect Reflect is an automated no-code testing tool that enables you to shave countless hours off of your end-to-end testing timeline, from writing and maintaining tests to root-causing and debugging errors. Features include cross-browser testing, email/SMS validation, visual validation, and more. All plans include unlimited users and unlimited test creation. As a special offer for CodePen listeners, get a free t-shirt when you sign up through our referral link. To start your free two-week trial and claim your free t-shirt, visit reflect.run/codepen.
20 July 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Ilithya, who put together some favorite Pens, some of which we actually manage to get to during the show 😂. Like our chat with Lea Rosema, we really get into the magic of Shaders. Shaders are certainly of the web, but often feel extraordinary, giving off a "the web can do that?" kind of feeling. Check out: personal website, collaboration with Eliza Struthers-Jobin, shaders tutorial video with Alex Trost, NFTs. Memberful Memberful is easy to use, best-in-class membership software for independent creators, publishers, podcasters, educators, and more. We take care of the hard stuff so you can focus on what you do best, while earning revenue quickly. With Memberful, you have full control and ownership of all things related to your brand, your audience, and your finances.
13 July 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Craig Roblewsky! Craig does a lot of web animation and hangs around the Greensock forums quite a bit, giving him a unique perspective on solving animation problems and coming up with clever solutions to them. Craig has his own site, motiontricks.com, as well which is an educational resource for animation. We get into all that, some of Craig's own favorite Pens, and some of Craig's other professional history on the show. Notion Notion is an amazing collaborative tool that not only helps organize your company’s information but helps with project management as well. We know that all too well here at CodePen, as we use Notion for countless business tasks. Learn more and get started for free at notion.com/codepen. Take your first step toward an organized, happier team, today.
6 July 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Kevin Powell! Kevin has had tremendous success on YouTube educating people about CSS 'n' friends. But like so many good content creators, he'll meet with where you are at and what you need — his personal site has written articles, resources, courses, and a newsletter. Kevin is a joy to talk to. We took the opportunity to nerd out on a variety of mostly CSS-related things. Time Jumps
1 July 2022 •
22 June 2022 •
This week Marie and Chris get together to chat about what's been hot hot hot on CodePen lately. We've discovered there is a really taking to the creamy cardstock look, for one thing. Typography is always great, but we're seeing more typographic trickery often including variable fonts. While not new, there are still loads of really wonderfully creative Pens using Three.js and p5.js. Neon-on-dark is a fresh look. We get into those and more, a bit sneakily as we can take an internal look at what the Top 100 might look like this year, but we can't share those details too early! Time Jumps
15 June 2022 •
I got to speak to Jon Kantner! Jon is an incredibly prolific creator, and I believe has the most appearances in the CodePen Spark of any creator. Like so many other creators I've talked to Jon also shares what he knows in a variety of ways, like writing (see his personal site, or articles he wrote when I ran CSS-Tricks). We got to chat about some of his iconic Pens, his work, and some past fascinations like Tweet-sized code experiments. Follow him on Twitter here. Time Jumps
8 June 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Alex Trost! Alex has been hard at work created Frontend Horse, a clever brand celebrating the beautiful and clever things in our industry via a newsletter, articles, streaming, a Discord community and more. This is the way to do it! Notion Notion is an amazing collaborative tool that not only helps organize your company's information but helps with project management as well. We know that all too well here at CodePen, as we use Notion for countless business tasks. Learn more and get started for free at notion.com/codepen. Take your first step toward an organized, happier team, today.
1 June 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Chris Smith! We got to talk about all sorts of things from blogging, to pushing the boundaries of CSS, to logic in CSS, to digging into some of Chris' most interesting Pens, to Chris' actual favorite Pen of all time. React Summit Ken Wheeler, Tejas Kumar, Sara Vieira, Tanner Linsley – these are just a few of the names coming to this year’s React Summit, the biggest React conference worldwide. Discover the future of the React and meet thousands of front-end and full-stack engineers! The format of the event will be hybrid. The first day, June 17, will be streamed from the Amsterdam venue. The second day, June 21, and numerous free workshops will be streamed to the global audience online. Would you like to participate? Get 10% off on remote & in-person tickets with our discount code CodePen.
25 May 2022 •
18 May 2022 •
I got to talk with Micah Godbolt this week! Micah is is a long-hauler at Microsoft working on Design Systems and such. His CodePen account looks a lot like mine: steady consistent usage of "just trying to figure something out" Pens sprinkled with some ideas that somehow seem to click with the wider front-end world. I found it fascinating that putting the word "Design Systems" into his book title "Front-end Architecture for Design Systems" was suggested by the publisher, and they were right! Turns out the term Design Systems clicked a lot harder since the 2016 publication and I'm sure hasn't hurt sales! Linode Visit linode.com/codepen and see why over a million developers trust Linode for the infrastructure. From their award-winning support (offered 24/7/365 to every level of user) to ease of use and set up; it’s clear why developers have been trusting Linode for projects both big and small since 2003. Linode offers the industry’s best price-to-performance value for all compute instances, including shared, dedicated, high memory, and GPUs. Linode makes cloud computing simple, affordable, and accessible allowing you to focus on your customers, not your infrastructure. Visit linode.com/codepen, create a free account and you’ll get $100 in credit.
11 May 2022 •
I got to talk to Paulina Hetman this week! Paulina is a heck of a creative coder, using her skills as an illustrator and all-around web developer to make ideas come to life. And she doesn't keep all those ideas to herself, she spends time educating other budding developers both professionally and by building courses and things like her incredibly clever quizzes (as Pens!). Notion Notion is an amazing collaborative tool that not only helps organize your company's information but helps with project management as well. We know that all too well here at CodePen, as we use Notion for countless business tasks. Learn more and get started for free at notion.com/codepen. Take your first step toward an organized, happier team, today.
5 May 2022 •
Klare is moving on from design at CodePen to design at GitHub. Huge congrats Klare! If you didn't know Klare was our one and only dedicated designer here at CodePen and left a massive mark here in the design and UX of CodePen, the app, as well as internally in our organization practices. I'm talking with Klare here just a few days before her last day to reflect on her years here. Time Jumps
27 April 2022 •
I got to talk to Varun! Varun is an incredible artist and would have been interesting to talk with him about literally anything, but since he's dipped numerous toes into the world of NFTs, I wanted to chat with him about that in conjunction with his own art and other artists he's a fan of. Linode Visit linode.com/codepen and see why over a million developers trust Linode for the infrastructure. From their award-winning support (offered 24/7/365 to every level of user) to ease of use and set up; it’s clear why developers have been trusting Linode for projects both big and small since 2003. Linode offers the industry’s best price-to-performance value for all compute instances, including shared, dedicated, high memory, and GPUs. Linode makes cloud computing simple, affordable, and accessible allowing you to focus on your customers, not your infrastructure. Visit linode.com/codepen, create a free account and you’ll get $100 in credit.
20 April 2022 •
This week I got a chance to talk to Kyle Shook. Kyle has started a new job at Foxtrot so we talked about what that process was like. In addition to creating all sorts of incredibly creative work on CodePen (just look at this Collection of Menus), Kyle helps other people level up their front-end skills too, with sites like Frontend Practice. Notion Notion is an amazing collaborative tool that not only helps organize your companies information, but helps with project management as well. We know that all to well here at CodePen, as we use Notion for countless business tasks. Learn more and get started for free at notion.com/codepen. Take your first step toward an organized, happier team, today.
13 April 2022 •
This week I got to speak with Chris Nager! I've known Chris quite a while. I remember being inspired by his hand-drawn SVG plus symbol and subsequent guide to <path> commands, which inspired my own shortly after I was properly obsessed with SVG. We talk about all sorts of things like accessibility, how far CSS has come, and some of the amazing stuff that has shipped recently in Safari Technical Preview. Check out Chris' Twitter, personal site, and classic great project Give 'n' Go, a CodePen/Dribbble crossover website. Time Jumps
6 April 2022 •
31 March 2022 •
I got to talk to Sarah Fossheim this week! One of the impressive things that Sarah does is near photograph-quality recreations of iconic old technology in HTML & CSS. I enjoyed the fact that neither of us quite totally knows what some of these machines even did, but appreciate their incredible aesthetics. Perhaps my favorite part of the conversation was emphasizing that this work, while almost being a relaxing hobby in the vein of knitting, still levels up one's CSS ability. Sarah got me thinking that it's not just CSS, but perhaps equally or more importantly HTML ability, the ability to break down sections into components and think about how smaller parts become a whole, just like any other website work. Sponsor: Retool Custom dashboards, admin panels, CRUD apps—build any internal tool faster in Retool. Visually design apps that interface with any database or API. Switch to code nearly anywhere to customize how your apps look and work. With Retool, you ship more apps and move your business forward—all in less time. Thousands of teams at companies like Amazon, DoorDash, Peloton, and Brex collaborate around custom-built Retool apps to solve internal workflows. To learn more, visit retool.com.
23 March 2022 •
I had tons of fun talking to Tiffany Choong this week! I loved learning her process on creating countless code art Pokémon characters. Just look at it and wing it! Wild. While I'm not nearly as creative as Tiffany, I feel some kinship looking through her Pens. Like how there are all these amazingly creative ones that clearly took tons of effort, that don't have nearly the hearts they deserve (c'mon dino loader!), and then relatively simple practical Pens (like a menu) that go nuts with popularity and it's hard to know why. Time Jumps
16 March 2022 •
I got to chat with CJ Gammon this week! CJ is a creative technologist, a term he's tried to hang onto as he does more development work, so he can continue to communicate that he's a designer as well. CJ has been at Adobe for nearly 10 years and has played with a huge variety of interesting creative technologies. Time Jumps
9 March 2022 •
This week I get to talk to Ryan Mulligan! Ryan put together a Collection of some of his personal picks for favorite Pens and we get a chance to talk through a lot of them. There are some classic moments here I really feel, like when something you consider pretty basic gets way more popular than you ever thought it would. Ryan has a knack for feeling out really cool new technologies and then quickly using them to build great demos that play up what those technologies were born to do. Automattic Automattic are the makers of WordPress.com, the fastest and easiest place to spin up a WordPress site, without sacrificing the power of self-hosted options. If you sell stuff on WordPress.com, the built-in help to do that is powered by WooCommerce, the premier eCommerce solution for WordPress. It's the same WooCommerce whether you are on WordPress.com or not. If you are self-hosted, you can almost certainly take advantage of Jetpack, Automattic's WordPress plugin that adds enormous functionality to WordPress, like a vastly improved site search, real-time backups, security features, and tons more.
2 March 2022 •
I got to talk with Amit Sheen this week about his journey into creative coding. Even his early work is incredibly interesting and recent work is downright stunning. Now he's entering a phase of sharing what he knows with workshops like Pushing CSS to the Limit. Here's a list of Pens we talk about in the podcast (mostly): Bubbling - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/BxQqxz Turning pages - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/WNweryv Bouncing off the walls - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/abBgWvJ House of CSS cards - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/QWGjRKR FlipBoxes - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/YzQoMxR RadioPoles - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/RwZwGVQ 3D Wobbly Disco - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/LYLQQpW4D 4D SimplexNoise - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/XWgVKxO Typing effect - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/YzZYoMV Text morphing - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/xxqYzvm csStickman - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/abLPdoQ The Lonely Claw - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/yLzWVYo Newton's CSS cradle - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/XWMXwvJ Table tenniCSS - https://codepen.io/amit_sheen/pen/PobQjMX Time Jumps Sponsor: Retool Custom dashboards, admin panels, CRUD apps—build any internal tool faster in Retool. Visually design apps that interface with any database or API. Switch to code nearly anywhere to customize how your apps look and work. With Retool, you ship more apps and move your business forward—all in less time. Thousands of teams at companies like Amazon, DoorDash, Peloton, and Brex collaborate around custom-built Retool apps to solve internal workflows. To learn more, visit retool.com.
23 February 2022 •
I grabbed Adam intending to chat about all sorts of CSS stuff and his work at Google and on VisBug. But then we chatted pretty much the entire time about color and what's coming there to the web platform. WordPress.com is the fastest way to spin up a WordPress site. You'll be able to build any sort of site around it to power your business or hobby. How do you make the most of it? Subscribe to their brand spankin' new YouTube channel to learn more about using your site and what fellow customers are doing with theirs.
16 February 2022 •
We've got Steve Gardner on this week! We get into all sorts of nitty gritty detail on the ol' Christmas Cannon, a Pen of pure joy. Steve has some absolute classics that show off the web at it's very best, like the Airplanes Pen. Can't beat Steve's cleverness and execution. Netlify Quirrel Joins Netlify and now we have Scheduled Functions (in Beta)! Wanna run your cloud functions on a time-based schedule? Now you can without even leaving your repo.
9 February 2022 •
Louis Hoebregts (aka Mamboleoo) has been creating wonderfully creative Pens on CodePen for many years. His early work, as we learn on this episode, was inspired by the CSS trickery of Lea Verou! He rotates his tools between HTML and CSS, SVG, and canvas, but tends to have an aspect of motion and the unexpected. Some of the most popular Pens have an aspect of education to them as well. Here's a list of Louis' Pens he chose to talk about, covering some of his history here, each of which is symbolic of a personal era and often unlocking new professional doors: https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/ynzCu (March 2014) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/dzyBu (Aug 2014) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/ByxPvG (Feb 2015) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/pvQQde (March 2015) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/dowRJo (Aug 2015) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/xGeELo (Aug 2015) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/PZWPZx (Jan 2016) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/oxaXdj (April 2016) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/Bppdda (Jan 2017) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/GRJKoBw (Feb 2020) https://codepen.io/Mamboleoo/pen/WNxOvjo (Oct 2020) Time Jumps Sponsor: WooCommerce WooCommerce can do it all as far as adding eCommerce functionality to a WordPress site. One off product sales, for sure, including shipping and inventory management and all that. But it can also sell digital products. It can also sell memberships and subscriptions. Put on your what if hat. What if your business sold memberships? What could you offer? It's always worth thinking about.
2 February 2022 •
Aysenur Turk had a number of appearances on this year's Top Hearted of 2021, including #1! In this podcast, I get to catch up with her, find out where she gets ideas and inspiration, how much time it takes to build something like her amazing layouts, and what her favorites are. Retool Custom dashboards, admin panels, CRUD apps—build any internal tool faster in Retool. Visually design apps that interface with any database or API. Switch to code nearly anywhere to customize how your apps look and work. With Retool, you ship more apps and move your business forward—all in less time. Thousands of teams at companies like Amazon, DoorDash, Peloton, and Brex collaborate around custom-built Retool apps to solve internal workflows. To learn more, visit retool.com.
26 January 2022 •
As you read this, CodePen is 100% on PostgreSQL for our main relational database. It was a transition that took a couple weeks of pretty intense effort, and lots of planning and prep before that. I've got Alex on the show to talk about it, as he was the main instigator and led the effort, but everyone contributed in some way. Wondering why? Well... We were on a pretty old version of MySQL (5.6), and upgrading to something more modern (like 8) would have required just as much effort, so we thought we'd move on to something we saw more value in. We're undertaking big new efforts that require a bunch of data specific work. It'll be more work to change after that, so it felt like a now or never situation. PostgreSQL means consolidating of technology, which is big for our small team. We've done some of this, and it opens the door for more. For example, we can stop using Elasticsearch as a totally separate database for search and lean on PostgreSQL. The same goes for an analytics-focused database, job queuing, and even potentially static asset hosting. There is a lot to talk about here, so we get into all the nitty-gritty detail, including how we pulled it off with near-zero downtime and the tools involved. WooCommerce WooCommerce is eCommerce for WordPress. It's powerful software in that it can do anything you could ever want to do in selling online. You can sell physical products. You can sell digital and downloadable products. You can sell memberships or tickets or appointments. The sky is the limit. I've used it personally for all those things and have had a great experience every time.
20 January 2022 •
It's back! We counted up all the hearts given to every Pen created in 2021 and created a list of the top 100. Marie and Chris chat about this year's list. Who's on it, what's on it, and digging into the numbers where we can. Remember that people can heart pens up to 3 times each, so if it looks like a Pen lower down the list has more hearts than one higher up the list, it's because of the density of hearts. The number you see on the card only reflects the number of people that have hearted not the true number of hearts. Lots of folks hitting multiple times. George Francis hit 6(!) times (7, 28, 59, 75, 80, 82), an impressive feat for a member who only joined in late 2020. Four people with four placements: Aysenur Turk (3, 11, 14... and 🥁 1), Yoav Kadosh (17, 33, 72, 95), Dilum Sanjaya (22, 24, 64, 65), and Aybüke Ceylan (38, 46, 63, 91), and a couple of 2-position people. Woot! "Full page" layouts were quite a trend on the Top 100 this year. That is, Pens that look like complete websites with widgets and cards and navigation and sidebars and the whole nine yards. That's opposed to some past years where more minimal small-yet-surprising Pens were more dominant in the Top 100. Advice for those shooting for the top? Talk about your work. Almost nobody on the list creates work and then never shares it. Share it on social media, blog about it, make a video, re-promote it multiple times. Be part of the community by liking other people's work. Remember, your hearts come from other CodePen members. Also, feel free to update and revise your Pens. Many of the Top 100 are updated and improved even after their initial wave of popularity. Netlify Did you Netlify offers auth? They call it Netlify Identity. Why would you need auth on a static site? Well, a static site can also by quite dynamic, that's the nature of Jamstack. Say you're building a TODO app. No problem! You can have users sign up and log in. You can store their data in a cloud database. You can pull the data for that user from the database based on information about the logged-in user because of Netlify Identity.
12 January 2022 •
Olivia Ng has done loads of wonderful work here on CodePen and off (check out her super cool travel bucket list site) She got started just out of pure desire to build things. "I just really like the internet" she told me. Hear hear! Her eye for design takes all her work to the next level. She had a particular focus on grid for a while there, and used those interesting designs to teach it. Also find her on Twitter and on her personal website. Jetpack There are lots of reasons to look at Jetpack for your self-hosted WordPress site. One of which is the powerful search upgrade you get just by flipping a switch. Say you run a lot of WordPress sites, perhaps for clients as an agency would, now Jetpack offers a Licesning Dashboard for managing all the Jetpack subscriptions so that becomes a lot easier.
5 January 2022 •
Jhey Tompkins is one of the most prolific CodePen creators out there! Find him as @jh3y on CodePen and @jh3yy on Twitter. His creations tend to have a twist of whimsey while being beautifully designed as well as pushing the platform in unique ways. You'll always be surprised at a Jhey Pen! I talk with him about the creative process, problem-solving, and sharing what you learn. Notion For companies of all sizes, Notion provides one central and customizable workspace that can be tailored to fit any team and bring all teams together to get more done and move faster. Notion is an all-in-one team collaboration tool that combines note-taking, document sharing, wikis, project management, and much more into one space that’s simple, powerful, and beautifully designed. Find out how Notion may be the missing piece your team needs to grow, get more done, and delight everyone who uses it in the process.
29 December 2021 •
Rachel and Chris dig into the many, many ways in which we use Notion at CodePen. Heads up, Notion has sponsored a couple of episodes of CodePen Radio lately, but not this. It's just a tool we heavily use and this podcast is all about that sort of thing. Heck, this podcast itself was planned in a calendar database on Notion, which deals with dates, publication status, sponsors, and all sorts of stuff. And it's probably one of the least involved Notion setups we have. Much more involved is stuff like project planning and our individual structures for our company-public weeknotes. Jetpack Backups The big news from Jetpack is that all backups are realtime now. Realtime backups are awesome. Anything that happens on your site, it's backed up immediately. That makes backups extremely useful as there is no risk you have to miss three-quarters of a day of content, purchase, comments or anything else because all you have is daily backups.
22 December 2021 •
You might recognize Ben Evans from his absolutely incredible CSS "paintings", like the portrait of his daughter or the still life. Paintings aren't the quite word as Ben designs them all to be entirely scalable. And sometimes they have interactivity, like the slight parallax in the Vaccum from Space. Like so many other great artists, Ben's skills aren't isolated to CSS trickery, his portfolio reveals artist exploration across nearly every creative outlet there is, including moss, and as I learned in our conversation, even music. Notion For companies of all sizes, Notion provides one central and customizable workspace that can be tailored to fit any team, and bring all teams together to get more done and move faster. Notion is an all-in-one team collaboration tool that combines note-taking, document sharing, wikis, project management and much more into one space that’s simple, powerful, and beautifully-designed. Find out how Notion may be the missing piece your team needs to grow, get more done, and delight everyone who uses it in the process.
15 December 2021 •
This week I talk with Gabrielle Wee, who's done loads of creative coding work here on CodePen but like so many other creative people we talk to, her creativity explodes into so many other areas like illustration, photography, drawing, and even gardening. Plus a desire to share those techniques. Her path has led her to be working at Apple, a dream job. Gabrielle on Dribbble and Twitter. Some advice from Gabrielle: doing work that she was personally interested in, rather than pandering to any recent trend, was much more fun and led to more clear success. Also: be curious and inspect element. Jetpack has some good news. All backups are now in realtime, whatever plan you are on or buy. If you already have daily backups on your plan, email them them to get on the new system. The blog post has details. Real time backups are amazing, because you can back up to very specific moments in time (say, right before a certain post was edited) rather than the more broad sword of having to pick a day.
8 December 2021 •
Today I get the pleasure of talking with Aaron Iker. Aaron builds incredibly delightful bits and bobs of UI that give you the feeling of hey, I bet I could actually use this! And that's exactly what Aaron wants you to do. He takes care to make sure the code is easy for you to use if you wish. This idea of taking somewhat practical-looking UI elements, like buttons, loaders, toggles, etc, and then making them do something unexpected and fun is a perfect fit for popularity on CodePen. Last year, Aaron occupied 10 spots in the Top 100! Aaron's advice: keep challenging yourself. Netlify Netlify is Jamstack hosting with all sorts of features to help make developing sites easier (have you seen Netlify Dev? You can run the whole platform locally) and deployed sites better. But Netlify is a big place! They do all sorts of community things like Jamstack Explorers, a whole learning platform for leveling up your Jamstack skills. Not to mention several YouTube channels loaded with learning and fun.
1 December 2021 •
We've been naming all our services cp____ lately. Get it? cp is short for CodePen. Clever, I know. We have many such services. The latest to join them is cpshots. We've been doing our own screenshotting for a long time now, but like all software we're always working on it for various everchanging reasons. Robert and I discuss this last round of changes to this service. Part of the purpose of this round is that we wanted to bring image resizing in-house to keep costs down. We need screenshots in various sizes because we literally show them in different circumstances at different sizes, but also because of the responsive images syntax. That resizing we do with sharp via a Lamda. But we only want to do it once! That is, whenever a Pen has changed and the screenshot needs to be regenerated. In order to do that, we send the requests to a Cloudflare Worker which, through the KV store, knows if we already have the screenshot or not. If yes, send it along. If no, head over 1) the screenshotting service to get the screenshot 2) the Lambda for resizing it 3) over to S3 to store the images 4) back to the Cloudflare Worker to serve it. It's a lot of moving parts! But they are all very smart, simple, tuned parts that are designed to do what they do well. The best parts, for us, is that this project was a great excuse to give Robert a trial-by-fire of a fairly complex tech stack, and that we made literally every part of it work on both development and staging. Making sure every service of CodePen runs locally means that there is no secret magic, we can all work on it and see it working. Huge sales in WordPress land! As we write, there is less than 4 days left in the Jetpack Black Friday Sale, which is 60%+ off all Jetpack products and plans for your first year. Over in WooCommerce land, nearly everything in the entire WooCommerce marketplace is 40% off and there is less than 6 days left. It's worth it to spend a little time thinking ahead about what you might need for the year ahead as these deals are pretty massive.
24 November 2021 •
Chris and Shaw talk about how CodePen uses Cloudflare Works with the KV storage to power several things on CodePen. We do some cool stuff with them, like serve landing pages with the content provided by WordPress yet served on an entirely different Ruby on Rails powered site. We also serve up assets through them which provides lots of nice features both for us and for users indirectly and directly, like resizing and optimization. Jetpack Thanks to Jetpack for sponsoring CodePen Radio! Jetpack is a plugin, or perhaps now more like a suite of plugins, that help out your self-hosted WordPress site. Say you have a lot of WordPress sites under your purview and they all have different needs (super normal!). Jetpack has a new billing dashboard that helps manage at all in a sane way. Say you've got two sites that just need daily backup only, all good. Another that uses Jetpack Complete. Another where you use VideoPress and realtime backup, totally covered. You might have dozens or hundreds of sites if you manage client sites, and now this brings it all together in a manageable way.
17 November 2021 •
Marie and Chris talk about CodePen Challenges, which have been going strong for many years now. The gist is that you pop in and make something along a theme. The "challenge" is doing the work (they aren't meant to be tricky otherwise). We've seen people seriously level up their skills by participating, but of course, there is no obligation, and no prizes other than the satisfaction of a job well done. One interesting twist is that Chris used to do a lot of the challenges while Marie was running the podcast, but we just up and switched jobs and we both prefer our new jobs much better (for now!). Just look at the October 2021 changelog at Netlify. They are always building things and making the features they offer better. We know firsthand how difficult that is to pull off, so hats off! One feature (BETA) that is definitely worth a look is On-Demand Builders. What a great idea for making your builds and deploys fast and efficient.
11 November 2021 •
Chris gets to chat with George Francis, an incredible digital artist in the generative art space as well as educator and all-around developer. George has been all over the place lately, producing really outstanding work (CSS-Tricks uses a Houdini paint worklet from George in the header and footer). Not only does George make art that has that little special something that turns heads, he helps you do it too by sharing all the tools and techniques he uses in blog posts. Netlify Netlify has used the slogan "Static without limits" — which I really like. It's useful to think of Netlify as a static file host as the foundation. That's what Jamstack is, after all. But it doesn't mean that you are limited in what you can build. You can make a site that is every bit dynamic as any other architecture out there, and Netlify not only encourages it but will help you do it with features like hosted cloud functions.
3 November 2021 •
Rachel and Chris chat all things Apollo GraphQL. Apollo is in this weird category of software where like by far most websites do not need it or anything like it. But for CodePen, we consider it nearly essential. The typical sales pitch for GraphQL applies to us for sure (e.g. only ask for the data you need!) but you can add to that the fact that it is empowering for front-end developers, which we have plenty of here on the CodePen Staff. But beyond GraphQL, we need ergonomic ways to write those queries and trust technology to do the right things. For example, 15 components on any given page might need to know the PRO status of a user, and thus be part of that components query, but the network very much does not need to do 15 requests. Apollo does stuff like figuring out what the page needs in aggregate and requesting is and dissemeninating that information as efficiently as possible and caching it. Plus we leverage Apollo for client-only state too, meaning we have a unified system for state management that plays very nicely in our React-based world. Jetpack Backup Stand-Alone Plugin If the only feature of Jetpack you need is the backups, now you can install that as a stand-alone plugin and have a paid plan for that feature alone. Built and hosted on WordPress.com’s secure infrastructure, Jetpack Backup provides peace of mind — you can rest easy knowing that what you’ve built will always be there and can be easily recovered in an emergency.
27 October 2021 •
Lynn Fisher is my guest this week! You might know her as @lynnandtonic on CodePen and most other platforms. We get to talk about her A Single Div project and all the CSS magic that goes into those, other creative projects and why those are so satisfying, a recent transition over to Netlify, and the fact that we've worked together on an illustration project without ever having met. VideoPress There is a bit of a rebirth of VideoPress that just happened! If you run a self-hosted WordPress site like we do, VideoPress is a major upgrade to hosting videos in content. You get VideoPress through Jetpack. If you buy Jetpack Complete, you've got it, otherwise, it's an ala-carte purchase. Meaning if VideoPress is the only feature of Jetpack you want, no problem, it's literally the only thing you need to pay for and use. To name a few things... with VideoPress you get a nice customized video player, cloud-hosted optimized video delivery, playback speed control, and the videos will look good on mobile without you having to manually create a poster.
20 October 2021 •
13 October 2021 •
6 October 2021 •
29 September 2021 •
Chris & Shaw talk about a big ol' conversion to getting CodePen's color system to use --custom-properties all the way through, rather than Sass variables. Why? All sorts of reasons, kinda boiling down to the fact that they are just better. Here's a tiny one: you can use the Web Inspector and see what some other element is colored easily. Here's a huge one: ability to do theming way easier. But the refactoring isn't without some bumps in the road, like the fact that CSS doesn't have a way to alter colors (like lighten, darken, or add alpha) terribly easily yet, meaning we needed some work arounds. Retool for Startups After working with thousands of startups, we’ve noticed that technical founders spend a ton of time building internal tools—which means less time on their core product. So, we built Retool For Startups—a program that gives early-stage founders free access to a lot of the software you need for great internal tooling. The goal is to make it 10x faster to build the admin panels, CRUD apps, and dashboards that most early stage teams need. We’ve bundled together a year of free access to Retool with over $160,000 in discounts to save you money while building with software commonly connected to internal tools like AWS, MongoDB, Brex, and Segment. We give you a head start with pre-built UI components, integrations, and other advanced features that make building from scratch much faster. To learn more, check out our site, apply, join webinars and much more at retool.com/startups.
22 September 2021 •
New CodePen team member! As we recorded this, it was just Robert's 2nd day at CodePen, and we snuck this podcast in within the hurricane of stuff happening during that time. There is a pile of new software to get access to and acquainted with. There is the dev environment stuff. There is getting acquainted with people, with the extra challenge of doing that remotely. There is understanding the flow and structure of our work days. There are meetings! So many meetings! Figuring out the Zoom culture. For now though, we chat about Robert's history and how we're luck to have gotten someone with such deep expertise in the field. He lives right in Bend, Oregon where Chris is, hence them knowing each other through BendJS. Jetpack It's so cool that Jetpack acquired Social Image Generator. Jetpack already does stuff to help your WordPress site be better integrated with social media (check this video), so why not really go the extra mile and help you with those tricky-to-pull-off social media images? We're all very much looking forward to see what new features this acquisition unlocks.
15 September 2021 •
Dee and Chris talk about "everything money-related" at CodePen. Dee has been managing this stuff since CodePen's beginning. First largely pro-bono (sorry, Dee), then later as a side gig and part-time job. Dee is full-time now at CodePen, but finance stuff is only part of her role (programming being the main job). It's a lot of work, but she likes being able to influence CodePen for the better from multiple angles. At a big company, all this finance work would probably manifest as a COO. But CodePen is just a midling startup, too small really for a COO, but also too big for a homegrown spreadsheet. Dee gets into all the work that goes into finance, from the vital documents that are the Profit & Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow, to other work like cohort analysis and cap table work. Retool for Startups After working with thousands of startups, we’ve noticed that technical founders spend a ton of time building internal tools—which means less time on their core product. So, we built Retool For Startups—a program that gives early-stage founders free access to a lot of the software you need for great internal tooling. The goal is to make it 10x faster to build the admin panels, CRUD apps, and dashboards that most early stage teams need. We’ve bundled together a year of free access to Retool with over $160,000 in discounts to save you money while building with software commonly connected to internal tools like AWS, MongoDB, Brex, and Segment. We give you a head start with pre-built UI components, integrations, and other advanced features that make building from scratch much faster. To learn more, check out our site, apply, join webinars and much more at retool.com/startups.
8 September 2021 •
Our goal here was to explore server-side rendering (SSR) in Next.js using data from Apollo GraphQL, for faster client-rendering and SEO benefits. There are a variety of approaches, but Shaw has set his sights on a very developer-ergonomic version here where you can leave queries on individual components and mark them as SSR-or-not. There are two "official" approaches: Apollo's documentation Next.js' example These are sorta-kinda-OK, except... They have to be configured per-page They are mostly limited to queries at the top page level You'd likely need to duplicate queries with slightly differently handling from client to server May or may not populate the client cache so that the client can have live queries without having to query for the same data. For example, ay you have data that you want to change on the client side (pagination, fetching new results). If it's fetched and rendered server-side, you have to fetch again client side or send over the cache from the server so the queries on the client-side can be ready to update with new data. These limitations are workable in some situations, but we want to avoid duplicating code and also have server-side rendered queries that aren't top-level on the page. A probably-better approach is to use the getDataFromTree method, which walks down the tree and executes the queries to fill up the ApolloClient cache. We got this from a two-year old Gist from Tylerian showing a way to integrate getDataFromTree into Next.js. Tylerian's gist had some extra complications that might've been due to older Next.js limitations, but the overall process was sound: Create a shared ApolloClient instance Render the page using getDataFromTree() to fill the cache with data Render the page again with that data using Next's Document.getInitialProps() Extract the cache to deliver with the page and hydrate the client-side Apollo cache The benefits: Quick to set up No duplicate queries Nothing special per page to handle server-side rendering or client-side queries. Cache hydration to keep client active without re-querying data Easy to enable / disable server-side rendering for individual queries Here's a repo with Shaw's findings.
1 September 2021 •
Chris & Marie talk about a big long project that we've finished at CodePen: our new Admin Tools. Any web app is gonna need 'em. They do stuff that is unique to customer service on your app. Say you need to manually trigger a password reset email or hand-verify an account. You look them up in an Admin Tool, and perform those specialized actions. Our Admin Tools are heavily focused on users and content. We've totally re-built them to focus on the UX of actually doing customer support, as well as to make a clean UI that users the same componentry that the main CodePen app does. We do a lot of spam cleanup in our Admin Tools as well, so getting a chance to re-think those experiences was satisfying. We dove into this project not just to make customer support better, but because of an alignment of concerns. We got to use a whole new development stack to do this, using technology we wanted to prove out for more of CodePen. We used Next.js on the front end and for server side rendering, and a Go-powered GraphQL API for the data. We made it all work in our monorepo. We build tools for deployment, so in a cool twist of fate, this app can deploy itself. Mailpoet If you build your website and business around WordPress, you're in good hands for a lot of reasons. One of which is that you own your site, you own your own data, you own all aspects of what powers your business, and the rug can't get pulled out from under you entirely. Check out this article and video on how to make a paid subscription newsletter with WordPress + WooCommerce + Mailpoet. That is a business model right there, from which you can grow forever entirely under your control.
25 August 2021 •
Marie and Chris talk about all the sources of data we have, think about, and use to help us. We do have one main database on CodePen, and truth be told, it's got a bunch of data in it. If we want to know how many Pens there are, we can just ask it. We can learn a lot from asking that database questions, and we even have fancy charts that express information like that to us on dashboards. But that database isn't the only place we have data, because it doesn't know everything. It can't tell us, for example, how many times a feature is toggled on and off, because we don't track that kind of data in our main database. But we can track that data, and do when we need to with Appcues. And then there is general analytic data like traffic which we can explore with Cloudflare. And support-driven data we can look at in Front. And that's not all. When answering important business questions, the data can come from lots of sources. Clubhouse Your project management tool should be a breeze to setup, at least mildly enjoyable to use, and help evolve your already existing development workflows so it's easier to get things done. Does that describe your current tool? If it does, great! You can stop reading. If not, then Clubhouse could be the perfect fit. We're project management built specifically for software teams and we're fast, intuitive, flexible, powerful, and many other nice, positive adjectives. Delight the grumpiest scrum masters with Clubhouse.
18 August 2021 •
Chris and Klare chat about the incredibly daunting task of planning a project that is huge and long-term. We know we're pretty OK at planning smaller-scale projects. We plan, we kanban, we get the job done. But a single basic kanban isn't going to cut it for a truly gigantic project. We get into talking about chopping the project into phases, chopping those phases into sections (sometimes with their own phases), and a databasing/kanbaning strategy to tie it all together. This also touches GitHub workflows and meeting structures, so there is a lot to think through here and it requires constant effort. WordPress.com Growth Summit The WordPress.com Growth Summit is coming up August 17th (Americas & EMEA) and August 18th (Asia Pacific) and is focused on running a business with a WordPress website as a core. Get expert advice on how to design your site, write effective copy, attract traffic, build a community, and earn money.
11 August 2021 •
Chris & Alex talk about DevOps, servers, and keeping CodePen online at all times. We were are 100% for the year until a few weeks ago when we had a 10 minute drop. That still keeps us in the realm of 99.99% uptime, where we get 52 minutes and 35 seconds of downtime per year, but next year we're shooting for 5-nines, that is, 99.999% uptime, where we only get 5 minutes and 16 seconds of downtime. Of course, our goals (and eventually, promises) can only be as strong as the service providers we use. Thankfully with providers like AWS and Cloudflare, we're in good hands. There are a number of things that have traditionally got in the way of this high of uptime, like database manipulation work. These days, we have the tech and the strategies for that, like seeding a newly manipulated database alongside the existing one and cutting over. We also have code in place for doing intelligent things like cutting off services if they become unreliable, rather than letting them bog down or kill the site entirely. Netlify is the Jamstack hostess with the mostest. Netlify Dev allows you to run their entire platform on your own machine. That means being able to test things like cloud functions, redirects, form submissions, etc without even having to do a preview build. Another aspect of Netlify, that is fundamental, is that you don't really have to worry about scaling on Netlify. Your static-based site is ready to scale to any level, and that includes all the cloud functions too, as they are lambdas and designed to scale.
4 August 2021 •
Chris and Stephen pick out a couple of components from our design pattern library (which we talked about last here) and go into why they exist, what they do, what makes them complex, and the API choices. Relatively new to us is the idea of compound components which have, so far, been good to us as far as composing components in a way that makes them easier to use and more flexible. Jetpack We're fans of Jetpack! You might recognize Instant Search right here in the CodePen docs. But we're well aware that not everybody feels as strongly positively as we do. Last call here... have your say, tell us why you don't use it if you don't:
28 July 2021 •
Chris and Stephen talk about the New Embed Modal. We got to re-architect the thing into our modern stack, using all our latest design patterns, and improve the UX of it quite a bit while we were at it. This is something like the 4th generation of that experience, and we're already eyeing up future improvements. Such is the nature of software development. Clubhouse Your project management tool should be a breeze to setup, at least mildly enjoyable to use, and help evolve your already existing development workflows so it's easier to get things done. Does that describe your current tool? If it does, great! You can stop reading. If not, then Clubhouse could be the perfect fit. We're project management built specifically for software teams and we're fast, intuitive, flexible, powerful, and many other nice, positive adjectives. Delight the grumpiest scrum masters with Clubhouse.
21 July 2021 •
Chris and Marie talk about customer support. If you're a regular listener of this show, you'll remember that we've had a lot of success with customer support over the last year, the point that our volume of direct support is rather low. That'll happen when you fix every major problem that comes up. But it also means that we have some space to do better! It's a big bummer when we have a customer leave when they never reach out at all to get a hand from us on whatever they might need. It leaves us thinking... what else can we do? Can we help you with anything? We've been trying a handful of things to get better data and answers to these kind of questions. And that Call-To-Action: If we can do anything to help you, hit us up. WooCommerce is the premier eCommerce plugin for WordPress. MailPoet brings a fancy email builder right into WordPress. Combine the two and you get more than power of them individually. For one thing, you get extra powerful eCommerce email abilities — things like abandoned cart emails. Better, you can combine them to make a paid subscription newsletter, but powered by your own site!
14 July 2021 •
Chris & Marie talk about some of the types of Pens that have been particularly popular this year so far, now that's we're halfway through it. There is still plenty of time to make the best-of-the-year list (you could make a Pen the third week of December and still make it!). Heads up though, giving out hearts in general on CodePen is a great idea as it helps improve search results, helps improve your own personal feeds, and helps people feel good about what they make. Some trends are eternal, some trends are ephemeral, and we talk about them both. Netlify The original coiners of Jamstack! Netlify helps you with everything Jamstack. They are a static file host, which is incredibly useful already, in that it means your site is fast and secure and scales forever. That also opens the door for deploy previews, which have gotten even more amazing lately with feedback tools built right in. But they also help with dynamic aspects of the Jamstack like processing your forms and running cloud functions.
7 July 2021 •
Dee and Chris talk about a recent release where we re-built the upgrade experience on CodePen. For example, you're a free user, you want to upload an asset, you can upload via a modal that pops up, and get on with your task. You could kind of do that before, but it was much jankier UI and UX. This release brings that experience in line with current design patterns on CodePen. But the reality of this release is much deeper than that. There were a half-dozen or more mostly behind-the-scenes releases that were stepping stones to this. The biggest of which was around cleaning up our billing model and billing data into a much easier to manage and much cleaner place. While doing that work, we identified some users that needed to upgrade to maintain their status, so a big aspect of this release was reaching out to them about that, which meant building the lowest-friction-possible upgrading experience and giving us a chance to try out something we'd never tried before: discounts. Jetpack has a brand new mobile app. It's essentially the WordPress app, except a bit more streamlined. It allows you to connect to your self-hosted WordPress sites and manage everything from content and comments to plugins and backups.
30 June 2021 •
A big milestone for us! We're now well over that number of registered users on CodePen. It's a fun number to watch — but we know it's not a particularly useful or industry-standard metric. Monthly active users, for example, is much more meaningful. In this podcast, Marie and Chris reminisce a bit on the early days and reflect on what is different between then and now. You'd think we'd have way more support work to do, but we don't. You'd think we'd have way higher server costs, but we don't. We all feel it in different ways. We're more boring in a very satisfying way. We're more consistent, secure, stable, and reliable. Secureframe Security compliance isn’t the biggest priority for startups...until it is. When it comes to enterprise deals, every large company requires a SOC 2 report. Secureframe allows companies to get SOC 2 compliant within weeks, rather than months and monitors 40+ services, including AWS, GCP, and Azure. Secureframe continuously collects audit evidence, runs security awareness training, manages vendors, monitors infrastructure, and more, all automatically. Our customers save an average of 50% on their audit costs and hundreds of hours of their time. Learn more at secureframe.com
23 June 2021 •
Learn CSS is a very cool project from a whole team of people at Google (and outside). It does a great job of documenting where is right now, in a fairly comprehensive way. Learn CSS was spearheaded by Una Kravets and Andy Bell did the bulk of the writing, so they are two extra-special guests to have on the show to talk about it. Why CodePen Radio though? Because there are literally hundreds of Embedded Pens used in this course, all using a style guide base and are live editors in the site itself. Cool! WooCommerce supports Apple Pay at checkout now, which is a nice thing to offer. Some people have pretty strong preferences for how they pay online, and it's best to meet them there rather than force one particular payment method.
16 June 2021 •
Stephen and Chris talk about cplibrary the Pattern Library that the CodePen Monorepo can use to share components. What goes in there and what doesn't? What are common and not-so-common components? Can components be combinations of other components? Chris Enns of Lemon Productions edits this podcast. Got a podcast you wanna outsource the editing on? Hit him up.
9 June 2021 •
When Anna Lytical heard Stephen and I talking about "What is CodePen?" she mentioned we did fab without her. So of course, I had to do one with her! Anna creates fun coding content all over the web, in addition to being an engineer at Google. Catch her on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. For Anna, the appeal of CodePen is in the simplicity: nothing to set up, easy/free to get started, and you can get to the heart of learning quickly. Not to mention the sharing—as a teacher you can provide code as simply as sharing a URL. And of course, all the existing code to be inspired by! Netlify Did you see that Netlify bought FeaturePeek and rolled into into all Deploy Previews? They did! It's cool! Imagine you need to make a change to a website, and need approval from a client first. You can do a Pull Request against the site and your Netlify-hosted site will give you a URL with a Deploy Preview. They've done that forever, and it's incredibly useful. Now, it's even more useful, as that client can open up a little UI widget on the Deploy Preview and give feedback. They don't need to know anything about GitHub, yet their feedback can manifest as a GitHub Issue. And that's just one possible integration.
2 June 2021 •
I got to chat with Stephanie this week, a senior web engineer at Microsoft, who I've given the prestigious gold-star award for top front-end web development content producer this year ;). She's got so many cool projects like Modern CSS, Style Stage, SmolCSS, and a beginner course on making a website. So many of the sites she makes are in Eleventy, she's taken to teaching that too, like on her site 11ty Rocks and on Egghead. She's always teaching, like through her podcast Word Wrap or in online workshops. Catch up with Stephanie on CodePen, GitHub, Twitter, and her personal website. Jetpack Backup Jetpack offers Full Site Backup (database, theme, assets... everything), but it doesn't just back everything up, it goes above and beyond. For one thing, you can get real-time backups if you need, meaning everything is backed up as it happens, not day-by-day. You can also restore your site to any previous backup with the click of a button. That's above and beyond right there. But if you're a WooCommerce user, you'll rest easy knowing that you won't lose eCommerce sales and product changes when you restore to a historical point. Those changes are then "replayed" on top of the backup.
26 May 2021 •
19 May 2021 •
Over the last year, almost every metric that you want to go up has gone up at CodePen. More users creating and doing more things. You'd think that customer support would go up at the same level. And if it did, we would have thought that was very normal and dealt with it. But customer support doesn't have to be this static thing that just is the way it is forever. If you find that people have the same questions over and over, you can fix your app or documentation such to answer that question better. If people report bugs, you can fix them. In fact, if you do a lot of those things, you can reduce customer support even as the number of customers you support grows. That's exactly what we did at CodePen. The result is that our customer support went from a job nearly impossible to get all done in a day, or the point where it is a part-time endeavor for whoever is on support that day. Even while our time-to-respond to tickets has also dramatically dropped. We're just over one hour right now, and of course hope to drop below that line. The truth is though, most tickets are half that, it's just some tickets that slip between the cracks and take days that hurt our average. Headless Commerce Summit Netlify is throwing a totally free online conference: Headless Commerce Summit. E-commerce is growing at an unprecedented rate, making everything from your site performance to your ability to iterate faster a critical business advantage. Take have a day and go! Even if you aren't currently literally building a headless site, it would be good to have in your brain how other people are doing it and what they are getting out of it.
13 May 2021 •
Marie and Chris discuss the big round of updates that went out around Team Management. There is a new "admin" role that it took us years of having a Teams product to understand that many teams could actually use. In the end, these updates to how Teams work make them way more useful. Teams can self-manage themselves in a way they never could before, and we're hoping that makes people much happier with the product, less likely to leave because of something silly like access controls, and reduce support. Jetpack Backup + WooCommerce Aside from Jetpack Backup just being really easy to use and the most trustworthy way to back up your entire WordPress site, it's the only backup solution that works with eCommerce (WooCommerce) in the way you really need it to. Say you need to rollback to a version of your site from 4 days ago because something bad happened that hosed the site. Rolling back is a good idea, that'll get you up and running right away, but when you revert a database back 4 days, that could wipe out all the eCommerce orders and product changes that have happened in that time: not good. Not with Jetpack Backup, it will restore to 4 days ago, but then replay all the orders and product changes, so your store is up to date with reality. Vital.
5 May 2021 •
Being, ya know, human beings with thoughts and emotions trying to build something together, sometimes we clash. There are big clashes. Sometimes those end in drastic changes. We've done that. You might have noticed that we're down to two co-founders actively at the company. There are tiny clashes too, like needing to tell someone when they've made a mistake. Medium clashes (this is not a real classification by the way, it's just how it feels) are when multiple people feel pretty strongly about something and are not in alignment. It's not much of a clash if one person is at a 3 and the other is at a 9 on the care-o-meter. When you're both 10's, it's a clash of conflict. That happens to us sometimes (again, humans). The tricky part is that conflict resolution is never straightforward. If someone feels strongly that the direction should be A, another feels the direction should be B, sometimes the solution is C for compromise. But sometimes compromise weakens a vision, and resolution needs to be A or B so that the vision itself isn't weakened. Are we experts in this? Far from it. Have we thought about it a lot? Ages. Do we have a long way to go in getting better at this? Sure do. The fact that we all still have extremely different temperaments for conflict at all is part of what makes it hard. Netlify It's worth reading up on Netlify's new concept of Distributed Persistent Rendering (DPR) and how that works with On-demand builders. It might just make your existing Jamstack builds way faster and better, or make possible the Jamstack for something you thought could never be.
28 April 2021 •
21 April 2021 •
Marie & Chris talk about the brand new event tracking feature in Appcues. We're still pretty stoked we can even afford Appcues, since it's super pricey software for our company. The fact that they just released event tracking dashboards makes it feel much more affordable though, because this unlocks super valuable information for us instantly. It's like we get what would get by also buying super expensive analytics software, only it's rolled into what we already pay for. Netlify High five to Netlify for the sponsorship. This is a tiny part of Netlify, but just think about how cool Netlify Drop is. For all sorts of people, but particularly for beginners and teachers, this little feature makes the web feel real. Imagine you take a quick class learning HTML and CSS, and make a "fake" site on your local computer. That might feel kinda neat, but then you drop it on Netlify Drop, and it becomes an honest-to-god real website on the internet that anyone in the world can see. That's big. Timejumps
15 April 2021 •
We talked about our transition to a monorepo back in episode 305. This move has all sorts of advantages for us, like the simplicity of having a single repo to pull and be up to date with and linting/formatting code in a consistent way across the entire code base of CodePen. This time we'll get into more of the repercussions of the monorepo from a front-end perspective. For example, since a bit part of the point of the monorepo is sharing code across areas of the site, it made sense to yoink out things that are intentionally sharable into top-level folders. For example, we pulled out our component library that way, then had to figure out how best to consume those components across different areas (e.g. how Next.js consumes those components is different than how our Rails app does. We also pulled out things like common utilities, icons, and shared styles, each of them having their own little journey on getting to work just how we wanted them to. Jetpack is celebrating it's 10th year! Jetpack does a lot, from major search improvements, full site backup, social media integration, speed boosts, and security measures. Take a look at some of those statistics on their landing page. They are really helping WordPress site owners make their sites better and the web writ large.
7 April 2021 •
Dee, Chris, and Alex talk all about the technology of Elasticsearch. That's a link to the company itself right there, which is relevant as we use them directly to host our production Elasticsearch. We use it for (wait for it): search. But interestingly enough, that's not all. Elasticsearch is just a data store that can be useful for all sorts of other things. But before we get to that, we explain the technology and some of the problems we've had along the way that we're still on a journey to entirely smooth out. Timestamps
31 March 2021 •
In this episode, Klare and Chris talk about speaking to users directly about CodePen to get their feedback and as much other intel as we can in the spirit of making CodePen better and validating some ideas for future features. Netlify We had a question come in over on ShopTalk Show from a user who wanted to know what the advantage of Netlify was over putting static files in an Amazon S3 bucket with CloudFront in front of it. That was an interesting framing of the question because at first glance, because maybe in looking at the final site, it's not that different. But how do you deploy it? How do you do cache-breaking? How does version control fit into the story? What handles your forms? How much does it cost? The Netlify answer to all those is very satisfying, and the roll-your-own answer to all those is: 😬.
24 March 2021 •
A Go-person? A Golanger? A person who's good at Go, anyway. That's who we'd like to hire at CodePen, at the senior level. In this podcast, we chat about how we're thinking about this new role, why Go has been so important to us so far, and what we hope to do with it. We thought it might be helpful for you, potential hires out there, to hear about how we're thinking about all this and get to know exactly the people you'd be working with. Linode Simplify your infrastructure and cut your cloud bills in half with Linode’s Linux virtual machines. Develop, deploy, and scale your modern applications faster and easier. Whether you’re developing a personal project or managing larger workloads, you deserve simple, affordable, and accessible cloud computing solutions. Get started on Linode today with a $100 in free credit for listeners of CodePen Radio. You can find all the details at linode.com/codepen. Linode has data centers around the world with the same simple and consistent pricing regardless of location. Choose the data center nearest to you. You also receive 24/7/365 human support with no tiers or hand-offs regardless of your plan size. You can choose shared and dedicated compute instances or you can use your $100 in credit on S3-compatible object storage, Managed Kubernetes, and more. If it runs on Linux, it runs on Linode. Visit linode.com/codepen and click on the “Create Free Account” button to get started.
17 March 2021 •
(This is a video podcast. Feel free to watch on our YouTube channel instead of downloading if you experience any issues.) The Editor View, perhaps the most important view on CodePen, is just one of many! In this video, Chris Coyier and Stephen Shaw look at all the different views, from the basic Full Page View to the very useful for testing Debug View, to the real-time magic of Collab Mode. WooCommerce (12:29) WordPress is already a great CMS, and when you add WooCommerce to do eCommerce, it just gets better as weaves its way into WordPress perfectly.
10 March 2021 •
Alex and Chris talk about the glory that is having all of CodePen's code base in a single repository. This was a slow journey of a couple of years. The biggest step was what jokingly named "CodePen in Stereo" which involved consolidating everything Node-based on CodePen (mostly a bunch of lambdas) into a single repo, but still having a second repo for our Rails stuff. The final leap was consolidating those. This opened up some cool doors for us, like having a sub-project that is our design system that any other sub-project can use. This meant getting into stuff like Lerna and Yarn Workspaces. We were also particularly excited about making sure that every single bit of code we run is right in our main repo meaning it won't be forgotten or neglected and can share resources and dependencies from elsewhere in the code base. Just as meaningful, it consolidates the human action around the code. A monorepo means all the branches and pull requests are in one place. All the issues are in one place. When you git pull you get everything you need. When you spin up our scriped dev environment, it can be sure it has everything it needs. Chris wrote a bit more about it here, including touching on why others might not like the idea of a monorepo, which we get deeper into in the podcast. Linode Simplify your infrastructure and cut your cloud bills in half with Linode’s Linux virtual machines. Develop, deploy, and scale your modern applications faster and easier. Whether you’re developing a personal project or managing larger workloads, you deserve simple, affordable, and accessible cloud computing solutions. Get started on Linode today with a $100 in free credit for listeners of CodePen Radio. You can find all the details at linode.com/codepen. Linode has data centers around the world with the same simple and consistent pricing regardless of location. Choose the data center nearest to you. You also receive 24/7/365 human support with no tiers or hand-offs regardless of your plan size. You can choose shared and dedicated compute instances or you can use your $100 in credit on S3-compatible object storage, Managed Kubernetes, and more. If it runs on Linux, it runs on Linode. Visit linode.com/codepen and click on the “Create Free Account” button to get started.
4 March 2021 •
As Alex puts it, and as evidenced by the Falkor header on our Notion planning board, security at CodePen is a NeverEnding Story. Not in an ugkadh this project will never end sense, but in that there is always some patch to stay on top of, some newly-evolving best practice to follow, or some new exploit in the wild to read about and make sure we've covered whatever scenario happened to them. We just so happened to get through a bunch of security upgrades at CodePen recently so hopped on this podcast to chat about them. CSP! HSTS! Zero trust networks! Jetpack This is a perfect sponsor this week, as Jetpack has lots of powerful security features. For example, Jetpack can help automatically keep your plugins updated. A big part of security is keeping all your code up-to-date. Jetpack can also monitor your site's uptime, meaning that if you go down you'll be alerted and can get on top of it. It will also help against brute force login attacks. Just that stuff is amazing, but Jetpack also does backups and can scan your backups for security problems in the code itself. That's a fantastic security package, all together.
24 February 2021 •
17 February 2021 •
While CodePen itself is about 8.5 years old as I write, Rach was part of the first round of hires we ever did, and has crossed the ever-so-rare and round-of-applause worthy 5-year milestone. She blogged it as well. So has Marie! Both of them join me (Chris) in a chat about that half-decade of life and work here at CodePen. Netlify Netlify is great for a million reasons, chief among them how easy it makes to deploy your code. Not just static files, either. Netlify helps you deploy serverless functions as well. And now, those functions can run much longer: 15 minutes. That's enough time to do long-running tasks like web scraping, media generation and optimization, and things like data syncing.
10 February 2021 •
3 February 2021 •
You've got two options for customzing your profile on CodePen, and endless possibility: Open to everyone: Apply Custom CSS (which can be a link to a Pen on CodePen) PRO only: Apply a Pen-as-Header-Background In this video, Chris & Stephen look at a bunch of awesome profiles on CodePen, and find that many users (especially the coolest profiles) do both. Here's the shuffle machine we used in the video to randomize cool profiles:
27 January 2021 •
CPHub is just the name of an internal project ("CodePen Hub") that we've released in the last couple of weeks. You (as a user) won't notice a thing (except, perhaps, that some of our processors have been upgraded, like RubySass to DartSass). But for us, we notice, because not only does it do everything we hoped it would, it's had side effects that have all been positive. This show is Alex and Chris chatting about all the technical in-and-outs of the project. Short story: we have a new internally-facing relative URL, which is responsible for the vast majority of anything that would otherwise go out to a third-party URL. So for example, all our code processing services in the past would have been routed to an AWS Gateway and then to an AWS Lambda orchestrator and then to an individual AWS Lambda and back. Now they go to CPHub, to the individual Lambda, and back. But it's not just AWS stuff, it's really any third party HTTP request. Among other things, CPHub is: Faster — a handful of Go-powered web servers that are literally faster, never break a sweat, and require less hops Less expensive — we have to manage those servers, but they are simple and cheap Are not subject to CORS concerns — because the HTTP requests are to our own domain The thing I'm most excited about though is the consolidation. Every service we have is consolidated into the CPHub area of our repo and we've improved the deployment story for all of it. 01:14 Serverless functions on CodePen 06:43 Advantages of CP Hub 11:22 Sponsor: FeaturePeek 14:17 Benefits of CP Hub continued 19:16 Boom Boom 25:02 Writing a node function 32:15 A good idea all around 34:36 Squashing bugs Sponsor: FeaturePeek Turn front-end deployment previews into your hub for continuous product review. FeaturePeek is the easiest way for web development teams to collaborate on frontend work. Take and annotate screenshots Record session video Tag coworkers and leave comments FeaturePeek works with all frameworks and hosting providers and integrates with Linear, Clubhouse, Trello, and more. Get started today at featurepeek.com and use code FP2021 for 30% off upgrades to FeaturePeek for business teams.
20 January 2021 •
Chris and Marie talk through some of the data about the most hearted Pens of 2020. Marie loves pouring over data, and often uses Airtable to do that and help visualize it. This allowed us to figure out some of the top "categories" of the Pens that made the list, longtimers vs. brand new community members, and other data bits we'll cover in the show. For example, here are the top creation months (remember, not overall, just of the Top 100 Most Hearted): And here's us doing some broad categorization: 01:38 Hearted Pens 07:13 The top 100 list 15:26 Sponsor: FeaturePeek 18:25 Mashing the space bar 21:56 Creation dates 28:04:18 Dribbble inspired Sponsor: FeaturePeek (15:26) Turn front-end deployment previews into your hub for continuous product review. FeaturePeek is the easiest way for web development teams to collaborate on frontend work. Take and annotate screenshots Record session video Tag coworkers and leave comments FeaturePeek works with all frameworks and hosting providers and integrates with Linear, Clubhouse, Trello, and more. Get started today at featurepeek.com and use code FP2021 for 30% off upgrades to FeaturePeek for business teams. Podcast 297: Looking at the Top Hearted Pens of 2020 Blog post: The Most Hearted of 2020 Podcast: The Most Hearted of 2019 Blog post: The Most Hearted of 2019 Grinch style hearting on CodePen Greensock Scrolltrigger
13 January 2021 •
Chris Coyier and Stephen Shaw have a look at the Top Hearted Pens of 2020, which is always an amazing collection of work. AUDIO WARNING: So sorry about my (Chris') audio. It was bad. We're working on it. WordPress.com New year; new you. Spin up that site you've been meaning to build on WordPress.com. Did you know the business plan (and higher) has SFTP and Database access on WordPress.com? So it's just like any other WordPress hosting, except it's on the great WordPress.com cloud so you're fast, secure, and have very little to worry about.
7 January 2021 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
16 December 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
9 December 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
2 December 2020 •
Show Description Marie, Chris, Stephen, and Klare talk about the apps and services that they're thankful for this year. 01:47 Marie 08:40 Stephen 16:24 Sponsor: Jetpack 18:26 Klare 24:48 Chris Sponsor: Jetpack Backups Jetpack has a ton of amazing features for your self-hosted WordPress site. But perhaps none more important than being the best backup and restore system available for WordPress. Jetpack Backup is available à la carte, so if that's all you need from Jetpack, you got it. Front Runcat Notion Figma Variants Zoom.us Slack VS Code Git Tower Cloudflare Klare on CodePen / Klare on Twitter Stephen on CodePen / Stephen on Twitter Chris on CodePen / Chris on Twitter Marie on CodePen CodePen Links CodePen Support CodePen Spark CodePen Pro CodePen on Twitter CodePen on Facebook CodePen on Instagram Sponsor an episode of CodePen Radio Buy a CodePen T-Shirt
25 November 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
19 November 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
16 November 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
11 November 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
29 October 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
21 October 2020 •
The CodePen team talk about the ins and outs of running a web software business.
14 October 2020 •