Playing With New Technology

by micah rich • March 2011 • Reading time:

In the past few weeks, I've been working here and there on a handful of cool projects. It's been nice working on whichever I like, at whatever time of day I like, but honestly I think the best part is that I get to learn new stuff, and make shit from scratch.


Originally, this blog was meant purely as research. It was my job to find out what would be a good blogging platform for a recent client, so I started playing around with Jekyll - I am surprisingly impressed. I love the control of having no database, just static files, and I love the ease of writing in plain text. Ironically, I'm writing this right now on an iOS app called PlainText, which I highly recommend - it syncs using Dropbox, so I symlinked my Jekyll posts folder (did you know Dropbox allows you to sync folders outside the Dropbox folder? I didn't), so I can write posts on any of my devices, including the phone, from anywhere, and publish once I get back to my computer. It's almost too easy to git commit and push to Github Pages.

I took a lot of time really paying attention to spacing and the baseline grid, which hopefully is apparent. It's something I've been meaning to get good at and never took the time, and it was worth learning.

The League

Most recently Caroline and I have been re-imagining The League. It's a long time coming. People have been asking far too frequently about Google Fonts and API's and Tumblr submissions. It's too complicated in it's current state - not to mention the image upload on the backend has been broken for almost a year - and we wanted to not only refresh the look, but change the backend, and rethink some of our policies.

I decide to really push for using Git. It has what we need - version control (even if it's not perfect with binary files), easy distribution, and Github. Github, I'm hoping, will give us a stab at a real community. People will be able to fork copies of our fonts, modify them and request for us to pull those changes back in. They can make their own fonts from copying ours. They can send us issues, which will be organized in one place, where then anyone could help fix and send us changes. And we'll be able to display a recent history to show everyone the changes we've made.

I'm excited, too, to try to convince the font-making world to use git. I'm looking forward to adding some manuals to our site, and I'm considering working on a tool to help walk newcomers through the process. That'll be fun to learn.

The other fun I've been having, though, is re-learning Sinatra. It's a perfect candidate for this; our front facing page isn't more than 3 or 4 urls, and we have some cool ideas for other features we're gonna relaunch with, so I get to play with making modular apps that all run in one Rack instance. And just today I started implementing a JSON API to access font information: font names, tags, descriptions, authors, etc. It's kind of empowering crafting information like that.

I think similarly to Jekyll, I'm enjoying the minimalism of the framework.


Last but not least comes moneybox.me. This poor guy has been a bit neglected lately, and I blame Etsy. Most everything has been in place for a while - upgrades with credit cards, automatic sales imports, and even some really awesome canvas graphs to show your money throughout the year. A few days ago I added yearly excel spreadsheets to help with peoples taxes.

But I held off on launching because there was a silly little bug in Etsy's API. Specifically just that the listing and renewal fees came back in reverse order, so I can't efficiently cycle through them to auto-add them. I'm nearly positive all they have to do to fix it is tell the listings to return in reverse order, but they said they'd have it updated pretty much a month ago, so I held off on launching. They were like, "This week!" and since then, with many ignored emails sent out, I've come to find they're really not sure when they'll get to it. I can understand that, but I wish they'd told me.

I've rewritten some of the upgrade copy to say that feature is coming soon instead of already a feature. I should launch it soon, now that that's that.

Back to work!

Though I'd love to have another heading here for Lettercase, the truth is I haven't touched it since living in Seattle. At this point, I'm probably 80% finished with a gem to read metadata from font files, and eventually I'll get back to it and start working again.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying what I'm doing, and I have plenty to work on.

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