LearnForrst: Where Designers Who Code meet Developers Who Design


writes on March 2, 2010

Future of Web Design London 2010

Editors Note: Forrst is still in beta and as such you will need an account to view the links referenced below. Kyle, the creator of Forrst, has kindly offered 250 Think Vitamin readers an advanced invite. All you have to do is email kyle@forrst.com with subject “I’d love an invite!”.

A few weeks ago Carsonified’s Mike Kus gave five good great reasons why designers should know how to code. It generated quite a discussion. Around the same time I stumbled upon Forrst, a new platform for short-form sharing between designers and developers. forrstLogo470

The Founder

It wasn’t a big surprise to learn that Forrst is a creation of Brooklyn-based developer/designer, Kyle Bragger. I first met Kyle when he was a developer for Huffington Post (back in the early days), more recently he’s CTO of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Cork’d.

Anyone who knows Kyle, however, also knows that he produces a seemingly never-ending stream of special projects. Honestly, I’m almost convinced that the internet actually spat him out as a human a few years ago.

The Feedback

While Forrst is early in it’s release, It’s safe to say that there’s some great long-term ideas in the community features that will have a profound impact on how designers and developers collaborate and learn more about supporting and even trading roles in development cycles. In fact, here is a sample post from a new member. Within moments it was peppered with positive and helpful feedback:

What Will You Find in Forrst?

Editors Note: Don’t forget to claim your invite (see top of the post for info)

How Forrst Works & Getting an Invite

  • Forrst is currently invite-only during beta testing; you can join the Forrst “Search Party” on Twitter. If you weren’t lucky enough to claim one of the 250 invites for Think Vitamin readers Kyle lifts the invite code requirement for 15 minutes every day, and new users can get instant access v. waiting for an invite code via email.
  • Features for now include: profiles, follows, community badges and “expert mode,” email notifications, and an activity feed.
  • Use the bookmarklet for easy posting as you go about your usual day online

Q&A With Kyle, Forrst Founder

Since Forrst is still in its infancy, I asked Kyle to answer a few more questions in his own words:

What makes Forrst different from other repositories out there for code-sharing?

Well Forrst isn’t quite a repository per se where you might host a project’s code (like Github or Beanstalk), instead it’s a destination where community members can share code snippets they find clever, interesting, or maybe even perplexing, and instantly get feedback about them.

Forrst is designed to help foster discussion and learning between its design and developer users. I do have plans to hook into popular hosted repository sites to a certain extent, so that even if you’re used to sharing bits of code via Gist or Pastie, you’ll still be able to do that when sharing on Forrst, but Forrst is meant to be the social destination for discussing code and design discoveries.

Kyle Bragger, Founder, Forrst

Forrst is newly launched, but already there are vibrant discussions taking place. What’s been the biggest surprise to you watching the Forrst community form?

It’s been simply amazing seeing just how passionate and active the community already is; two guys are already working on a weekly Forrst podcast, there’s an informal “build an app in a week” contest going on (it ends March 3rd).

Everyone is just super willing to provide constructive feedback, both to me as I continue to develop the site, but also to each other. It’s a great feeling — and really encouraging — seeing Forrst grow the way it has so far.

You seem to have become a community manager almost overnight, what’s it like to manage a community of designers and developers?

So far I’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback and constructive criticism; I think it’s hugely beneficial that this product happens to be for designers and developers — it makes distilling bug reports a lot quicker, and everyone’s had really valuable insight into what’s working and what’s not (in many cases, backed up by mockups and code snippets to illustrate their point — I can’t complain about that!).

I think, in general, if you’re building a product, you can’t be afraid of hearing criticism about it; with Forrst it’s especially interesting since the target audience are my designers and developers, who have tons of experience in app development.

The very goal of Forrst is to bring these two groups together to do great things, and the fact that they’re already helping me build a better product is evidence of how awesome this kind of collaboration can be delivered via short-form sharing.

Bringing designers and developers together can be quite a challenge, and I have to say after the recent (but fun) uproar over whether today’s designers should code or not, how do you anticipate helping these two user discover one another? If a designer doesn’t code, will she feel like she can still contribute?

One of the big focuses I’ve got for the next few months is tackling the discovery problem, both for people but also for content. Ideally, you’ll be able to come to Forrst, find some friends who’re already using it, jump in to the conversation, and ultimately be connected with what I’m calling “people you should know” — fellow developers and designers that you’ll find valuable to know and share with. I’m working on similar things for finding great content, too.

I’m a big fan of the friends-of-friends network, so I expect that will play a role. And, definitely, any designer who doesn’t code should be especially excited about participating in Forrst, because they can learn a lot from their developer peers (maybe even get inspired to learn to code!) and vice versa.

How does a social short-form sharing app enhance a professional network of creative people?

Minimal effort! I love that I can use Forrst to quickly share something I find interesting (using the Share on Forrst bookmarklet.)

Short-form sharing is a great way to begin a conversation without a lot of background or setup, and I think it solves a problem for this group who usually have gazillions of tabs open at any moment.

Forrst capitalizes on serendipity, making the most of great discoveries by connecting people to one another around the core technologies that they’re passionate about.

Thanks Kyle, see you over in Forrst!



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8 Responses to “Forrst: Where Designers Who Code meet Developers Who Design”

  1. Forrst is a great place to share design/code bits you’re working on

  2. very interesting stuff , look forward to an invite or public sign up! =]

  3. @victor haha, yeah I posted that. I wish there was a SFW domain for it to share at work.

  4. Interesting idea, I probably fall in this category of designer/developer, mainly out of necessity to provide a dual role within companies.

    Unrelated: There’s a URL in the Feedback screenshot, called *******-windows.com, you should all check it out! (SFW, minus the domain name)

  5. Thanks for the awesome article Chrissie!

  6. Let me be the first to say that Kyle is a sexy excuse for a man and that forrst is the coolest thing since the internet.


  7. I got an invite yesterday and I’m very impressed. It’s a simple idea but executed very well, I’d definitely say it’s worth getting your hands on an invite, and as Kyle is so open to feedback and ideas I’m sure this is going to transform into an even better site day-by-day.

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