Kevin: And I just barely made it here today for the SitePoint Podcast, guys, thanks for waiting for me.
Brad: Thanks for showing up.
Kevin: I come to you wetted by the tempest that is currently pounding Melbourne.
Stephan: We’re gonna have to buy you a canoe.
Kevin: Buckets of rain out there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it’s an especially special episode for me for several reasons. First of all let’s get this out of the way; it is my birthday, so happy birthday to me.
Patrick: Happy Birthday.
Stephan: Happy Birthday.
Brad: Happy Birthday.
Kevin: Thank you. Thank you very much guys (laughter).
Patrick: The best start to a birthday ever I’m sure.
Kevin: Yeah, well you know, I consider it my right as birthday boy to be half an hour late to this podcast if I want. But the other reason this is a special one is this is going to be my last episode as lead host I suppose of this show. My time has been increasingly shifting away from the day-to-day of SitePoint and onto this new site, Learnable.com, that we’ve been putting together for online courses. And for that reason I think it makes sense for me to hand over the reigns to the people like you guys who are still actively invested in SitePoint, and I’m happy to continue to be a regular face on this show, but I think the man running the show from this point forward is going to be someone that you’ve been getting familiar with over the past few weeks and that’s Louis Simoneau. He’s done our last few interview episodes and I think in two weeks time for the next news show you guys are going to be joined by him and have him filling my shoes.
Patrick: Yeah, that’s correct, it’ll be different, right; I looked over the schedule today and what did I say, Brad, two years, five months and nine days I think is how long we’ll have gone from episode one to episode 108, all four of us.
Patrick: Yeah, it is, and I think I speak for all three of us when I say that it’s been a lot of fun sharing this with you, and we appreciate all of your support and have been thankful to be able to get to know you better and obviously we’re going to keep in touch, but it’s going to be different without you on it.
Kevin: Well, yeah, I really look forward to doing many more podcasts with you guys.
Patrick: Well, let’s not go crazy, we’re done now (laughter), I’m just kidding.
Kevin: What! You said I could stay on.
Patrick: Let’s not go crazy now.
Kevin: (Laughs) yeah, well, yep, things are changing and of course we’d love to hear any feedback from the audience but, yeah, I hope to continue to check in on the show as often as I can, but please give a warm welcome to Louis Simoneau in a couple of weeks time when he will be wrangling the decks, wrangling the Skype’s as they say, and making it all happen here from you. So without further ado let’s dive into some stories, guys, I’m still drying myself off here so who’s got a story to start us off?
Brad: Yeah, I got some browser trends, a Statcounter report was released in March and there’s actually some interesting numbers on it that I thought would be fun to chat about.
Kevin: This is the blog post on SitePoint that you’re talking about.
Brad: Yeah, it’s a blog post by Craig Buckler, one of the resident bloggers who has some really awesome articles that we seem to talk about quite a bit. He released, or blogged about the Statcounter report that was released for March 2011, and this is actually market share, but what’s interesting is both that Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4 both came out, so it’s interesting to see the kind of numbers that jumped for both of those, and Firefox 4 for March of 2011 rose 2.34%, so the month it was released. Do you remember exactly what day that came out?
Kevin: Yeah, yeah, it was late in March; March 22nd is when it was released, so they only had like a week.
Brad: Yeah. So I think, well, that’s obviously why it’s on the lower end but it’s still a significant jump.
Kevin: So it went from 0.93%, which would’ve been like the beta users, to 2.34%, so they more than tripled their market share, Firefox 4, in March, in one week.
Brad: In one week. It’s impressive, very impressive. And the fact that Firefox 4 and IE 9 for that matter came out without a force upgrade, so it’s not a required upgrade, so it’s really just kind of developers, early adopters that are actually doing it, it’s pretty impressive for Firefox. I think we all were kind of wondering what was going to happen when 4 came out because a lot of people, especially a lot of people, the more tech savvy crowd, have kind of jumped ship over to Chrome, I know I have, Kevin you’ve been playing with it a little bit.
Brad: Everybody but Patrick.
Kevin: Playing with it, still thinking about it, not on it just yet.
Brad: IE 9 on the other hand in February had .48% and they jumped to .75%, so just over a .25% change, so on the low end, and actually IE 9 came out earlier in the month; I believe it came out at South by Southwest.
Patrick: Yep, that’s correct.
Kevin: That is a bizarre number, so that came out, yeah, March 15th.
Patrick: Yep, got the green t-shirt fresh from Austin.
Kevin: So that’s a bizarre number that they — you look at Firefox 4 when they had one week of release time they basically, they took all of their beta users and they tripled the size of their user base by releasing their browser, whereas Internet Explorer 9 by releasing that browser they didn’t even dumble, they just sort of added 50%. So the number of new users who started using Internet Explorer 9 because of its release is smaller than the number of people who were already using Internet Explorer 9 pre-release, that seems really low.
Brad: Yeah, it’s definitely not good for Microsoft, and I think it does go back to the fact that it is these early adopters and the more tech savvy crowd that would upgrade to something that just came out, but those users aren’t using Internet Explorer, you know, those users are on Firefox or Chrome.
Kevin: So it’s interesting to point out that all of these numbers we’re talking about are market share percentages, and so the article does a good job of pointing out the fact that the entire user base of the Internet is growing usually much faster than fluctuations in individual browser market share, and so a browser like Internet Explorer 8, for example, can drop market share slightly but still have gained users overall in a given month because the Internet user base is growing so quickly. But nevertheless as a percentage of market share, Internet Explorer 9 gained a smaller percentage by releasing, they already had captured in their beta phase. Is it the fact that no one upgrades Internet Explorer until Windows auto update tells you to do it?
Brad: I think so. I mean I think the users that wouldn’t do it are only going to upgrade if they’re forced to, they’re not going to go out and say hey I want update to Internet Explorer 9. Again, it goes back to not even knowing what a browser is, you know, all they know is they go online and surf the Internet, they don’t know that they’re using Internet Explorer or whatever it is that they have.
Patrick: Or update their Google.
Stephan: They don’t understand where AOL is anymore so, you know.
Patrick: A new browser for them was when Google expanded their text input to be that wide and that large on the homepage, so that was an upgrade, sarcasm.
Kevin: Well, yeah. But this is a perfect illustration of the difference between Internet Explorer users and Firefox users; Firefox users with no auto update from Firefox 3.5 to 4 have migrated en masse, and, in fact, Firefox 3.5 in the same period only lost 5% of its existing market share, whereas Firefox 4, yeah, I suppose that could work out because those percentages could be roughly equal, but you know Firefox users what we’re seeing here migrate en masse when a new version comes out even without an auto update in place, whereas Internet Explorer users it seems barely budge. I suppose this says that people who care about what browser they’re using or what version of the browser they’re using are not using Internet Explorer.
Kevin: And Internet Explorer is the browser for people who don’t want to have to worry about their browser, I mean that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Patrick: Not the second part, the first part was; well, if you don’t give a damn about what you’re using IE is the one for you, no, I’m just kidding.
Kevin: Well, you know what I mean; it’s like the car for people who don’t want to have to look under the hood.
Patrick: Yeah, no, I’m just messing with you. But I haven’t even upgraded Firefox myself so I don’t know, I guess that speaks to what crowd I fall into.
Stephan: It’s like the Mac for us, Kevin, that’s what it is.
Patrick: Now you’re going to get Mac users upset.
Kevin: I don’t know about that; I love looking under the hood of my Mac, Stephan.
Stephan: I knew that was going to be the self-deprecating humor (laughter).
Brad: You know it’s pretty amazing, just think of the marketing effort that Microsoft put into IE 9, and we’ve talked about some of the websites they’ve had out there to get everyone excited about it and to show off some of the really cool features of IE 9, I mean they dumped millions and millions of dollars to market this new browser, and it really doesn’t seem like it had much of an effect, at least not on early adopters which is I think primarily who they were aiming that at.
Kevin: Well, the nice thing from a web developer perspective is that these browsers, these latest versions of the browsers, are all quite good as far as web standard support, and so whether someone uses Internet Explorer 9 or Firefox 4 or Chrome or Safari, it’s all pretty good at the moment; the numbers I suppose that really affect us are as usual those numbers of really old versions of Internet Explorer, and the news continues to be good there. Of all the people who were using Internet Explorer 6 in February, 5.6% of them abandoned that browser in March, so one in 20 of all the Internet Explorer users in the world decided to switch to another browser in March, that’s pretty good news right there. The other good news is Internet Explorer 7 for the first time has dropped to below 10% market share overall.
Kevin: So, yeah, it seems Microsoft doing a good job gradually moving people to later versions of IE. That IE 8 as we’ve said before is going to continue to be a problem because that is the last version of the browser that works on Windows XP, so getting people on to IE 9 is going to be a bigger hurdle, but if we just get all Internet Explorer users on IE 8 or later that’s already going to make a real positive difference to a lot of web developers out there. Alright, next story guys?
Patrick: Well, Adobe announced on April 11th that they would make the Creative Suite available through a subscription based program, including the Creative Suite itself and also the individual programs within it, so for example you could have access to Photoshop for $49.00 a month, or if you commit to an entire year $35.00 a month, and obviously the programs go up and down from there, but the idea is that it makes the software more accessible to certain markets, people who would like to simply subscribe to one application or to the Suite for a short period or can’t afford to make that large payment all at once, for example, the Master Collection which is $2600.00 U.S. retail, so instead of that they can essentially rent it or subscribe to it for $129.00 or $195.00 depending on whether or not they will commit to a full year. And the interesting thing about the full year subscription is that no matter how you do it full year or month-to-month, you will still be billed month-to-month, so they will take the benefit to save money over the 12 month period but they’ll still pay it month by month. So it’s kind of Adobe making the software I guess easily accessible to people who want to use it, and I have an article at CrunchGear, it was the one that I found it through in the Rider there, Devin Coldewey makes the point that it might take some people who would turn to piracy because they can’t afford $2,600.00 but would still like to do the right thing, so to speak, and will pay $20.00 a month or $50.00 a month or whatever it is for just what they need.
Kevin: Yeah. I’m just looking at the headlines, the pricing is a bit confusing, I think people are still getting their heads around it. I’m seeing headlines here that under this new pricing you can get Photoshop for $35.00 a month, and then there’s another headline that says you can get Photoshop for $50.00 a month.
Patrick: Yeah, the difference there is in how much you commit to, if you commit for a whole year then it’s $35.00, but if you just pay month-to-month, and you can cancel at any time, then it’s just $49.00; so that’s the difference, they’ve broken it down for each application and I actually have a few pricing examples here. For Photoshop, for example, the retail Photoshop is $699.00, an upgrade is $199.00, if you were to pay for it monthly, just month-to-month, you would go to $588.00, and if you were to pay for it yearly you would be paying $420.00 for 12 months. So, it is cheaper in that sense of using it for 12 months, it’s obviously cheaper to buy the software if you intend to use it all the time, every month, and you’re a serious designer or developer who probably wants to go ahead and buy it, but for the average small business or just someone getting into the business I could see how it might make sense to subscribe and to pay that smaller amount even if you’re not necessarily saving money if you use it for say three years.
Stephan: If you do the full year and it’s still charged month-to-month, can you cancel or any time?
Patrick: If you cancel it you will be billed for the amount you would’ve paid month-to-month, so it’ll be adjusted, whereas if you had benefited from that for say six months they’ll go ahead and go back and adjust those last six months and charge you for the difference that you saved. Also another interesting point about it is that it allows you to access current and future versions of the software, so as soon as the next version comes out you’ll have access to that right away and you can continue to use the old version if you’d rather instead for a whole year after that. So it’s sort of a built-in upgrade in a way, kind of an automatic kind of concurrent upgrade, so I think some might find that appealing as well.
Brad: I think this is great.
Kevin: Yeah, especially this coincides with Adobe announcing Creative Suite 5.5 which they’re calling a mid-cycle update, which I think is curious terminology that, you know, I get the feeling no one cares about Adobe’s product release cycles except Adobe, and here they are further bringing that stuff into their marketing and pricing; I think it just confuses things. As far as I can see here they had some significant updates they wanted to make to some of their applications, whereas other of their applications, Photoshop for example, they haven’t made any changes to, and so what they’re going to do is they’re releasing a whole new version of their suite, but because they don’t have new versions of all the apps in that suite they’re going oh you know it’s kind of like a halfway update, that’s why we’re calling it 5.5 instead of 6, we’re calling it mid-cycle to let you know that we haven’t abandoned the other applications; we started by updating these ones and we wanted to get these new versions to you as soon as possible and now we’re going to go to work on the other applications. You can either upgrade now and the new versions of these apps, or if you don’t care about these apps you can wait until the full cycle update to the Suite that presumably will come late this year or even early next year, and at that point you would get all of the apps updated. I don’t know, I suppose the subscription is to me a nice thing in that it, as you say, Patrick, it lets you get away from this whole, these product release cycles and having to spend half a day figuring out whether this Creative Suite is something that is worth spending the several hundred dollars to upgrade to for you and the way you use these apps; you can just subscribe and you get the new stuff as it comes out.
Patrick: Yeah, and I think the point that I write at the CrunchGear article is a good one as far as looking at people who are just getting into this or work at a small business and may want to start using something like Photoshop or Dreamweaver or whatever, you know $35.00 or $19.00 a month is a lot more palatable than the $699.00 for Photoshop or the $399.00 for Dreamweaver or the thousand-plus dollars for the Creative Suite. So, I could definitely see it being valuable there, I think serious people will still want to buy the applications. You made a good point about the cycles and that was part of a larger announcement that I read about it ZDNet UK where they said that Adobe revealed that they would be on a 24 month milestone release cycle from now on with the mid-cycle releases, so this is a mid-cycle one, and then the main milestone releases will come 24 months apart of each other. So I don’t know if that’s part of the point of making the value a subscription maybe, in effect telling people if you want to stay up to date you have to upgrade every two years anyway so you might want to look at the subscription thing if it makes sense to you; I don’t know if that’s part of that value proposition or not.
Kevin: Let’s do the math here for a second, so $50.00 a month for Photoshop at the expensive end of the subscription scale, if you didn’t want to commit $50.00 a month and so that works out to $600.00 a year, now what did you say that the retail price of Photoshop was, Patrick?
Patrick: Photoshop is $699.00 retail.
Kevin: $699.00 retail. So, a year of Photoshop subscription is cheaper than buying it outright, but if you were going to use it solid for two years for the full 24 month cycle it is, you know, you get almost a 50% off the subscription price. But if you go for the cheap subscription price which was $35.00 x 12 months, that’s $420.00, that’s $840.00, so still more expensive than buying the box, but if you need the flexibility the subscription’s good. I don’t know, when I do those calculations I can’t but come to the conclusion the subscription is a bit of a cash grab. I like that the subscription provides flexibility, I like that it eliminates boxes of software with non-recyclable CD’s flying around the world everywhere, I like that it lets people pay for what they use, but what I’m seeing is that Adobe’s taking the opportunity to extract a little more cash for that flexibility. Is that fair?
Brad: I think it goes just like both of you said, this is perfect for startups, I mean it’s expensive when you start a company to actually buy the licenses for all the software you need, but if you can essentially rent that software for a couple months and then you land a couple jobs and then you get the money where you can actually go out and buy the full license, I think it’s a nice way to kind of get started on it and then if it is successful from there you can actually purchase out the license.
Kevin: For casual users this is gold. I have to make a confession, I used to have Creative Suite installed on my computer as a web developer, you know, where my main job is code I still had Creative Suite installed because Photoshop Fireworks, these were the tools of the trade, whenever you needed to make something look a little different I fired those up. In the past couple of years it’s gotten to the point where I can no longer justify the expense of having those apps on my computer. Part of it is that the alternative apps, the sort of Indie applications, if you’re on the Mac give Pixelmator a look, it is sort of a Photoshop-Lite; for 90% of what you would do as a web developer Pixelmator is great, and it’s really cheap on the Mac App Store, I think their regular price is about fifty bucks, but last time I checked they had a sale of $29.99 on, I don’t know if that price is still the case. This is a gripe I have with the Mac App Store that once you’ve bought something you can longer check the price of it, but if one of you guys who doesn’t have it installed can have a look in the Mac App Store and get that price, Pixelmator is great, that’s what I use for Photoshop these days. But if once every six months I need to do something that requires the Photoshop feature set and I can just pay for Photoshop that month only, now I’m saving a lot of money, you know, that’s $100.00 a year I’m spending on Photoshop, $200.00 over the entire product cycle, I’ve just saved myself $400.00, $500.00 off the price. So for casual users, for developers who very occasionally need to do a little bit of design work, or as you say, Brad, if you’re just getting into this business, you don’t know if you’re still going to be working on this stuff in six months time but you want to get into it a bit, this subscription pricing is gold.
Brad: They should charge by the minute, let me just rent ten minutes so I can do a quick slice-up and then I’m done.
Kevin: I would love that.
Patrick: Well, the thing about this whole system though is that there still needs to be an incentive for people to buy, right, the rental, the subscription when you do the math it needs to be substantially more I would say than buying it, right, because otherwise why would anyone buy it, and I think that’s still part of the business here, they still want people to buy it; it’s almost like the music subscription model of buying, but in music it’s different because you get access to all those tracks. Can that translate to software, I mean should Adobe give access to their entire suite for $99.00 a month where you can own it for a thousand maybe, if they lower it, a thousand five hundred, I mean I don’t know, it’s different how it would translate, it will be interesting to see how well this works and how popular it is and if people do use it or don’t use it, if they don’t use it obviously it’s probably not low enough to be worthwhile for people to subscribe to it. And I’m just like you, Kevin, because I have a really old — I don’t even know if it was called Creative Suite, I have a really old license for Macromedia, it’s Macromedia Dreamweaver 8, Fireworks 8, Flash 8, so this is years and years old and I don’t know even know old it is, and I just think there’s no reason for me to upgrade; the things that I use it for, the little bit of changes that I have to make on a daily basis or a weekly basis really it doesn’t make sense for me to spend even on the upgrades, so I stick with the old version, it still works on my latest computer and it works fine for me.
Kevin: Yeah, I think the pricing is probably fair in that if they made the subscription for two years equal the price to buy the box then all of those people who are currently paying the full license price for Photoshop and not using it 24 hours a day 7 days a week would suddenly drop back to the subscription and Adobe would go out of business, so I suppose they were forced to make the subscription a little more expensive per month than buying the thing. I suppose just looking at these prices on a monthly basis it drives home just to me just how expensive these apps are. Thanks for looking up the price by the way of Pixelmators, Patrick, we’ve got $60.00, it’s $60.00, so I guess that introductory offer is gone, but still as a replacement for Photoshop that’s one month and a few days of Photoshop access and you can have Pixelmator on your system for good. I think I’ll take the next story, I’ve got this thing on Design Festival which we spoke about before, it’s SitePoint’s design focused site, and this is a blog post called What Can We Learn from a Nameless Logo? So, guys, I’m going to put this link in our little private chat room here, and I want you to follow it but don’t scroll to the bottom of the page. This blog post is kind of a visual quiz of how recognizable if you take all the text out of them. So the first few at the top should be pretty easy, we’ve got sort of two orange half ellipses on top of each other, anyone want to take a stab?
Stephan: Burger King.
Patrick: Yeah, Burger King. Good job, Stephan, good job.
Kevin: Correct, unless you’re here in Melbourne where we call it Hungry Jack’s for no particular reason.
Brad: Hungry Jack’s, what?
Kevin: A bit of Australia trivia for you there. It’s a funny story, my understanding is Burger King owns both Burger King and Hungry Jacks and about ten years ago they said we’re unifying the brand, we’re sick of printing these different signs for Australia, and they started the process of changing the signage and converting all the Hungry Jack’s restaurants in Australia to Burger King. And so for a few years there you could drive across town and pass a Hungry Jack’s and then pass a Burger King and they’d have the exact same menus and the same sort of logo but just different text, but there was such a public outcry I think as soon as Australians realized they were the only place in the world that had Hungry Jacks they went, no, it’s part of our national identity! And they started blacklisting all of the restaurants that had converted their branding to Burger King, and so the company was forced to relent and has now changed the branding all back, so it’s Hungry Jack’s across Australia. So if you want a Whopper you have to go to Hungry Jacks.
Patrick: And also I went to the Hungry Jack’s Twitter page and wouldn’t you know it, you both follow @sentience.
Patrick: So you’re actually followed by Hungry Jacks on Twitter.
Kevin: Oh, okay, as long as I’m not following them.
Patrick: You’re not following them but, you know, a little reciprocal following wouldn’t kill you.
Kevin: (Laughs) yeah. We’ve got obviously Coca-Cola, the white wave across the red background. The next one’s really recognizable I think maybe unless you were born in the last ten years you might not recognize that one.
Kevin: Kodak, definitely. Now this one afterwards, this one stumped me I have to admit, it’s like kind of red chevron.
Patrick: Yeah, Levi’s.
Kevin: Oh, it is Levi’s! Yeah, it’s definitely Levi’s; I thought it was some gas station or something like that. Alright, so those are the easy ones, but if you scroll down the author of this post Jennifer Farley has assembled some still quite popular logos but they’re a little less recognizable without their text. So the first one it’s kind of an orange outline, it’s a shield with a rectangular box across the center of it.
Patrick: Harley Davidson.
Brad: Yeah, that’s an easy one.
Kevin: Patrick got it first; Patrick’s the motorbike head (laughter).
Patrick: I feel like we have to take turns now.
Kevin: We’ve got a pale yellow triangle; sort of it looks almost sticking out of the blackness. I don’t recognize that either.
Brad: I don’t get this one either.
Patrick: Is this Caterpillar maybe?
Kevin: It is Caterpillar, well done. It’s Cat, C-A-T is the official name of the company these days. Next one’s really easy but it’s —
Patrick: Netflix! Just kidding.
Kevin: (Laughs) so a blue movie ticket with a yellow outline in the center torn off, it’s Blockbuster obviously. You know I can’t look at that logo without feeling bad, I feel like we need to give a moment’s silence.
Patrick: Right. I used to love Blockbuster stores, darn.
Kevin: Yeah. We’ve got kind of a blue circle with white droplets of water spinning around the perimeter.
Patrick: Stephan take it; Brad take it!
Brad: Is that Whirlpool maybe?
Kevin: Yeah, Whirlpool, good. GE, GE I think General Electric, yeah, I think that’s the one. They probably own each other. Now, the yellow box is instantly recognizable to me is National Geographic. And then we have this one, the blue shield with stars and a football at the top.
Patrick: This is Brad’s.
Kevin: It’s the NFL, right, yeah, great. Alright, so the lesson of this blog post to me is I think a lot of Web 2.0 logos you start with just a piece of text, and we’re guilty of this at Learnable.com; when we first designed the site our first take of the logo was just let’s pick an attractive font to put the word Learnable in, and maybe spend a little time tweaking the typography so that it’s a little unique and just the way we want it, but these I guess you call them logo types are really popular in web startups, but you look at these brands, these iconic brands, and they are instantly recognizable without any text at all, and I find that really interesting, I’d love to see more websites set themselves the challenge of coming up with a brand identity, a visual logo that is instantly recognizable with no text whatsoever. And that’s what we ended up doing with Learnable; if you go to Learnable.com you can see in the little icon, the fav icon for the site is this little heart, this blue heart that we are planning to deploy across the site as our logo. It’s got kind of a hidden L and B in it if you can use your imagination, but yeah we’re quite happy with our little blue heart. Anyway, I saw that blog post and I just thought wow that is really interesting that these massive offline brands, you know you think about Blockbuster and probably offline to a fault, but the one thing they seem to do consistently is make themselves recognizable without reading.
Stephan: It’s interesting you think of like Twitter, it’s just a word but I guess you could associate it with a bird.
Kevin: Well, the blue bird didn’t come from Twitter, Twitter was just the text as you say, and I believe the blue bird first appeared on the Twitterrific client from Iconfactory, obviously experts in visual experts in branding and design, and they had their own blue bird and then Twitter came out with a much sort of simplified very iconic blue bird design, but I think there’s probably no doubt in my mind that it was inspired by the take that Iconfactory had in their client.
Stephan: Yeah, interesting. It’s just interesting words, how many companies and startups and stuff we see out there that just use words and no logo really.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly.
Brad: Logos are tough, especially if you don’t have someone that can make them they’re expensive, you know, logos are tough.
Kevin: I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t plug 99Designs for cheap logo designs.
Brad: That’s where I send everybody that wants a logo.
Patrick: Yeah, Flickr, Yahoo, Google, all words.
Kevin: Yeah. Full disclosure, 99Designs is a SitePoint company as well. I was at a friend’s birthday party a couple of weeks ago, and it was one of these birthday parties where it’s a friend that I used to work with several years ago, so I know him but I don’t know any of his friends, so I was hanging out in the kitchen chatting to strangers and had this great conversation with this guy and he just turns to me out of nowhere and goes, “Have you heard of this thing 99Designs?” And I went who put you up to this? (Laughter), but no, his sister had started a business and gotten a logo designed for it and he thought it was the coolest thing so, yeah, he was surprised to be speaking to someone who worked on that site.
Patrick: I take it you improved it quite well.
Kevin: Yes, of course. Alright, we’ve had stories from everyone except —
Stephan: So I have the story, The Guardian, the paper in the UK, is migrating its website from Java to Scala, or Scala, depending on you say it, and they’ve actually had a project before that was their content API which was this massive database I guess you could call it that they had built and you could tap into this API that was built on Scala and pull back whatever you wanted through it. And now they’re moving the whole website to Scala off of Java.
Kevin: It is Scala. Yeah, and I have to confess I don’t know anything about Scala, but it is kind of the Ruby of the Java world, except that Ruby is also the Ruby of the Java world. It’s one of these newfangled languages that runs on the Java virtual machine, so I guess it would be — you wouldn’t say they’re abandoning Java completely, they’re still going to use Java based servers to run this stuff, but the language they’re writing everything in would be Scala.
Stephan: When you look at the language if you look at some of the code examples it looks like Java almost, there are some small differences but it has some similar calls, you know the dot notation stuff, so it’s interesting and the reasoning they give it doesn’t really go into a lot of detail, but it says that it’s — they think that it’s a little faster and it’s easier for them to work in is how I read the article; they like it better because the developers just enjoy it more. So I guess that’s a good reason to switch, I wonder how much it’s costing them.
Kevin: Yeah. Well, yeah, the nice thing about switching from one language to another on the Java platform is that you can write parts of your app in one language and parts in the other, so if they’ve got this core library that they’ve built let’s say for the sake of argument to render PDF versions of their articles and they had put a lot of work into developing that in Java, they could build a Scala website around it but still use that library, it’s quite nice in that way. But I’m hearing this a lot with languages like Ruby, like Scala, that more and more people are switching to languages because they are enjoyable to work with.
Stephan: Yeah, and it’s interesting because you know Twitter uses Scala which is interesting as well, and FourSquare from what I’m reading also uses Scala, so I guess if people enjoy the language or they feel it’s not easy but it’s something that they can challenge themselves and they can learn and I guess that they’re happy to use it, so I guess it’s good.
Patrick: It’s an emotional language.
Kevin: The article mentions they’re using IntelliJ IDEA from JetBrains as their integrated development environment, that is certainly back when I was doing Java development that was my favorite environment to work in. It’s kind of like Star Trek movies that every second version is good, IntelliJ Idea tends to — they release a version with a lot of new features and it gets kind of slow, and then the next release is all about streamlining it and making it super fast and that’s the one you really want to get. But, yeah, it’s a great environment, people who pooh-pooh the Java language and the Java platform they often talk about it like it takes– you have to write so much code, the code is so verbose to get things done, but I think that the secret sauce if you’re working on a Java platform is you really want a great development environment like IntelliJ Idea which writes 90% of your code for you, and you just kind of get into this flow with your computer where you’re communicating the ideas and the computer’s writing the code for you. Whereas languages like Ruby and Python that are little more minimal, the developers of those tend to work in plain text editors and they like every piece of code to be something they’ve thought about and wrote from their heart, and fair enough I think there’s room for both styles.
Stephan: Yeah, this begs the question, and this last show we talked about cooked, baked content; do you think these kinds of sites, new sites, don’t you think they’re ripe for baked content?
Kevin: Oh, absolutely. I’d be very surprised if you ran The Guardian Newspaper website and you didn’t have some at least serious caching of rendered content in there. I think the fact that they’re all trying to put subscription models and paywalls and things in place will lead them more and more to making everything dynamic, but yeah, I think that you’re probably right that at the end of the day these sites come down to people just wanting to read text, so why make it more complicated than it needs to be. I’ve been hearing some crazy statistics of millions of dollars being spent on sites that on the surface seem like they shouldn’t have been that complicated to build. It’s feeling more and more like there’s a bit of a bubble going on in the tech sector again.
Stephan: Yeah, I definitely agree.
Kevin: The one other thing I wanted to maybe discuss was this story about Camino. which is a little know web browser for the Mac, and it runs on the same rendering engine as Firefox, but it is a more native Mac application; this is something I suppose if you’re a Mac power user you’re probably going to care about, and I certainly count myself among those. When I was testing out Firefox 4 when it came out a couple weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised that Firefox 4 had native text areas on the Mac. Did I talk about this last show? I don’t think I did. No. But the thing about the Mac that I like is that apps can really talk to each other in lots of different ways and you call this integration, and you know my email app talks to my to-do list app and both of these apps have shortcuts in them that I have with a text expander app that I can write text macros that are available system-wide, at least they were everywhere except in Firefox because Firefox previously it kind of drew its own text boxes; if it needed a text box rather than asking the Mac operating system please give me a text box with all of the functionality that comes with it, Firefox went oh no, no, no, I’m cross platform, I know how to draw a text box, I’ll draw my own text box, and as a result you had these text boxes that if you were a power Mac user they lacked features; you couldn’t hover over any word and hit control-command-d to get a dictionary definition, that’s a little Mac tip of the day for you there. And these features were missing from Firefox until version 4, in version 4 all of the text fields they’ve gone out of their way to have — they still paint them using their Firefox cross platform way, but if you put your cursor into a text field it’s like behind the scenes it draws a Mac native text field on top of it so you get all of those features you’re used to having, and I was pleasantly surprised there. But up until Firefox 4, and Firefox 4 still has bits of it that are non-native and are annoying to Mac power users, Camino. has been about adding as much native Chrome to the browser experience as you could get, it’s also a very trimmed down and efficient kind of browser, it’s about being fast and slick and not having too many features, but the thing they rely on has always been being able to take the Firefox rendering engine, Gecko, embedding it in their application and then like drawing the browser around it. Well, Mozilla it seems has come to the decision that they are no longer going to be maintaining and supporting that way of using the Gecko rendering engine; basically Gecko is now going to be this tool that you use in Firefox or Thunderbird or other Mozilla apps, you can still build your own Mozilla based apps using their XUL technology where you invoke the Firefox engine and you use XUL programming language to define your whole user interface, you can still do that, so there are apps out there, there’s a big iTunes competitor out there that’s built on the Firefox engine that’s called Songbird that’s built using that way. Those things are still going to work, but if you want to embed the actual rendering engine in a native app, some other app that isn’t fully Mozilla technology that’s not going to work anymore. And I was thinking about that and I was thinking about WebKit, this Open Source rendering engine that Apple put so much development effort into and then makes available to the world Open Source, and you get things like Google Chrome, you get things like all browsers on mobile phones, on Android phones even. What if Apple made the same decision and they said you know what we can no longer afford to maintain WebKit as this embeddable thing, we’re just going to keep working on WebKit for our own browser, if you guys want to have WebKit for yourselves you’re going to have to start supporting this rendering stuff?
Stephan: I think for Google it’d be okay but for the smaller guys —
Brad: I would certainly expect Google to step up and take over the project, you would assume so anyway.
Kevin: The Camino. team is saying they’re going to finish the current release they’re working on and after that they’re not really sure what they’re going to do. It seems the obvious move would be for them to switch over to WebKit, but what happens if WebKit is next? In a world where people are tightening their belts and companies can no longer necessarily give away millions of dollars of engineering to the world for free this may change the browser landscape really significantly I think. Something worth thinking about, that’s my doomsday scenario of the day for you guys.
Stephan: In a word Kevin. Such a downer, gosh.
Kevin: (Laughs) alright, well, it’s just about time for our spotlights, but before we do I want to cast a spotlight on one of my co-hosts here, and that is Brad. Brad, I want to congratulate you because I hear you’ve just gotten engaged.
Brad: Ah, thank you, yes I did actually, and she said yes.
Kevin: Whoo hoo! A round of applause for Brad.
Patrick: Congratulations Brad and April.
Brad: I’m pretty excited about it.
Kevin: Exciting news.
Brad: Very. And we actually just bought a house too, so a lot going on.
Patrick: I look forward to more walks in the rain in Vegas (laughter).
Kevin: Oh, yeah, that was good times. Alright, it’s host spotlight time, guys, and listeners if you’d like to send your words of congratulations please do drop by SitePoint.com/podcast and leave your best wishes for Brad and April. Who wants to lead off the Podcast charge?
Patrick: I’ll take it as Mr. off topic, I’ve kind of fell into my role, I appreciate it for what it is now. My spotlight is the new music video for a song called Play Your Part, it is by a rapper called Wale, featuring Rick Ross, Meek Mil and DA Wallach of Chester French, it’s a song that I like a lot, the video is just as cool, you can download the song for free at Rick Ross’ website Blowingmoneyfast.com, and at BlogWorld Expo when we were on that final day running around I had two panels I had to get to, and one of those panels actually featured DA and it went really well and I’ve been following him more and more now and it’s a really cool video, so definitely check it out.
Kevin: Alright, thank you, sir. Stephan, what’s your spotlight?
Stephan: So, today actually I saw this thing and I guess it came out March 25th or the event took place March 25th, but it’s a video of a talk of Mike Montiero, he’s known as Mikeforthewin on Twitter, he’s a developer for Mule Design Studio, or he’s a designer at Mule Design Studio, and it’s a really good video because it talks about being paid as a designer, or I think it applies to developers, the title of the talk is F U, Pay Me, it’s kind of profane.
Kevin: Yeah, there’s some adult language in anything Mike does I’d say.
Stephan: Yes, but it is very much worth a watch if you are a designer because it answers a lot of questions I think that new designers or even experienced designers have about dealing with clients and clients who don’t pay or want to get out of paying. Basically the answer to everything is have a contract. So, he talks a lot about how he’s gotten screwed in the past or come close to being screwed, and it’s a good video for people who are new to the game or freelancers who are just not protecting their interests; everyone wants to make money that they’ve earned and I think it’s a good video.
Kevin: Great, thank you Stephan. My spotlight is an application called Take Five, I was talking about the Icon Factory before, the creators of Twitterrific, well, this is another app they’ve recently released, you can get it for your iPhone, you can get it for your Mac. And this app, Take Five, it’s for listening to music while working, this probably describes a lot of web developers that you like listening to music while you work, but every once in a while either a co-worker will interrupt you for a question or you find yourself reading something online or tackling an especially difficult problem and you want to pause your music for a moment, next thing you know it’s the end of the day and you have sat there in silence and you really wish you had music to brighten the rest of your day. Well, Take Five is this app that will control either the music playback on your iPhone or on iTunes on your desktop, and it’s basically a smart pause button, so when you get interrupted rather than pausing your music the normal way you just hit the Take Five icon and it pauses your music for five minutes, and after that five minutes the music comes back and gradually fades back in seamlessly without distracting you. And so rather than spending the rest of your day sitting in silence you spend the rest of the day cradled in your music the way you want it to be. It’s a really clever app, very beautifully designed, and yeah really nice, like if you find yourself, you know, your conversation is over after ten seconds and you remember that you wanted to go back to your music right away you can override it, you can drag the slider down to zero right away, but just a beautiful example of user interface design and it’s worth the couple of dollars they charge for it, so that’s my recommendation.
Brad: That would leave me.
Kevin: Yes it would, Brad, what you got?
Brad: Alright, well, I’m a forward thinker, early adopter, everyone’s kind of hung up on HTML 5 this, HTML 5 that, but I’m actually done with HTML 5 so I’ve moved on to HTML 11 which they’re working on the specification now. So, just check out HTML11.org and you can see a preview of the update. So they’re introducing such tags as the wind tag, the smell tag, the taste tag, the x-ray tag is pretty neat, and as you click through they actually have detailed pages and even usage demos for these tags, so the wind tag for example has different classes available such as a breeze or a gale or a hurricane or a cyclone, and they have videos kind of demonstrating each one in action, but it’s a pretty neat site. So forget HTML 5, go right to 11, you’ll be at the head of the curve.
Patrick: Where are the t-shirts?
Kevin: Was this announced on April 1st by any chance, Brad?
Brad: Probably, it popped up on Twitter a few days ago, this might be in the April Fool’s Day territory, in fact, I don’t even know who’s actually running it because the entire site looks legit, they’ve got a Facebook fan page, so they’re ready, HTML 11.
Stephan: In the words of Charlie Sheen, this is winning right here (laughs).
Patrick: HTML 11 is everything.
Kevin: Well, that brings us to the end of the show, thank you guys as usual for your stellar job, and yeah, I may not be here next time, so until I am here again have a great one, thank you for listening to all the episodes we’ve done so far, and here’s to the next 100 or so. Let’s go around the table guys.
Brad: I’m Brad Williams from Webdev Studios and you can find me on Twitter@williamsba.
Patrick: I am Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy Network, I blog at Managingcommunities.com, on Twitter@ifroggy, i-f-r-o-g-g-y.
Stephan: I’m Stephan Segraves, you can find me online at badice.com and my Twitter handle is ssegraves.
Kevin: You can follow SitePoint on Twitter@sitepointdotcom, that’s SitePoint d-o-t-c-o-m, and follow me on Twitter@sentience. Visit the SitePoint podcast at SitePoint.com/podcast to leave comments on the show and to receive every show automatically. The SitePoint Podcast is produced this week by Carl Longnecker and I’m Kevin Yank, bye for now.
Louis joined SitePoint in 2009 as a technical editor, and has since moved over into a web developer role at Flippa. He enjoys hip-hop, spicy food, and all things geeky.
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