LearnRelease open, release awesome.

Treehouse
writes on February 8, 2009

Hey there Carsoni-reader, it’s me again, bringing you another weekly dose of excellence. This week’s assault on your readerly magnificence comes in the form of Open Source advocation. Recently, yours truly released his first open-source plugin – a jQuery plugin, no less.

In December last year, I built my own personal site to advertise my new-found employability – www.elliottkember.com. Then, looking at my twitter background, I figured it’d be cool to have a similar image on my own site – a bit of continuity. Then, I was talking to Greg Annandale when a thought occurred to me:

Why not turn that sexy curl into an adjustable feature?

Well, about 20 minutes later I had it working, pending a few tricky bits:

But nonetheless, I had a working curl. You can check it out on my site.

Even Ryan was impressed:

The code wasn’t very elegant, or configurable, and I hadn’t made it very easy to implement, but the thing worked. I went ahead and linked it to everyone I could find to get them to check it out, and I got a little bit of traffic:

At the time, the wonders of relative scale told me that this was a good thing. But as it turns out, it was nothing to write home about. Yet.

My good friend Rey Bango had an idea:

Why not make my fold into a plugin? I sat on the idea for a while, but decided that I didn’t want anyone else having my cool effect. I wanted it all to myself. On one hand, I use many open-source products day-to-day. My job wouldn’t be nearly as fun or as easy as it would if everything were closed-source. The shared contributions of many contribute directly to my own personal gain. On the other hand, I reasoned, why should I let everybody else profit from my hard work, and share my effect?

I agreed with open-source, I decided, but only when other people were releasing things – in other words, I only agreed with open source when I was the one profiting from it.

A bit later, I was cruising around the internets when I found, in a list of javascript effects, a link to this: a page curl jQuery plugin! After checking the source, and discovering that it wasn’t a copy of mine at all, I pondered how he’d made it onto this list. After all, lists are the backbone of the internet. Get on a list, and you’re set for life. #naiveté.

The answer was simple: This dude release the script as a plugin.

Yes, that says 2AM. That’s the last timestamp I’m going to show. Incidentally, I was wrong when I said “copycat” – that URL clearly shows a date of the 15th of December – two days before I made my page curl. Great minds, etc. I reconsidered my stance on a jQuery plugin.

Should I do it, I asked myself? Should I release this into the wild, destined to be my glory or my shame? Am I releasing the next useless gimmicky, showy, tacky Javascript effect for people to complain about?

Hell yes. Let’s do it. First off, though, I had to refactor my code. I wasn’t having my sloppy mess of javascript sitting around cluttering up the web. So I cleaned up my code, and with the help of a few articles, I turned it into a plugin. This is not a difficult task: I can’t remember which I used, but there are 527 Google results for “your first jQuery plugin“. Pick one – it doesn’t matter which. If it sucks, pick another one. Welcome to Google. If you’re actually reading this article, leave a comment with the code words: “rock you like a hurricane”. That way I’ll know.

Now for the important bit: what should I call it? Adam Cooke and I pondered the issue:

Clearly, this name wasn’t awesome enough.

And with a GitHub repository, the Sexy Curls jQuery Plugin was born.

I spewed some of my trademark absurdity into HTML form:

And I passed it on:

Now, Rey tweeted it from @jquery – and here’s that tweet preserved for posterity:

Instantly, some 3,000 hard core jQuery nerds heard the word about my plugin. RT after RT, FWD >> FWD, and so on. Quietly, my plugin propagated around the internets like W32.Blaster. You can watch the tweet stream – it’s still going. I graced the front pages of Ajaxian, YCombinator News, hit #9 on Del.icio.us, and countless other aggregators. Help even came from other GitHub users – Cheeaun was nice enough to give me a hand.
I also surreptitiously included a link to my Twitter page in the first line of the page. As usual, the internet is just my big race for followers.

What did that do to my analytics?

That’s insane. My pageviews were up by about 2,000%. That’s not all Sexy Curls traffic, either – although it pretty much mostly is.

That’s wa-hay above normal – which means people are clicking through. My name is getting out there.

That’s the content for sexy_curls.html – loads of pageviews, a strangely high time-on-page, and somehow I have made 8 cents. I look forward to receiving it.

As usual, a high Firefox/Safari split. I’m proud of my visitors! Somebody also tried to use their PlayStation:

But I haven’t heard back on whether the curl worked. Even the Googlebot is rendering Javascript these days:

So I guess it’s been checking out my curl, too. Hope it liked it.

What did I learn? Open Source isn’t just kernel-hackers in their parents’ basements. Open Source is everywhere. Anything you do can be open-source. So, if you aren’t already, release stuff. Release good code, release bad code, it doesn’t matter. It’ll end up being better than you could ever have intended. Use other peoples’ code – FIX other peoples’ code.

So far, there haven’t been many reports of sites using the Sexy Curls plugin. But that’s okay – it did what I intended it to do. It sparked ideas, made a few gaze in wonder, touched the corners of the internet far and wide, and maybe – just maybe – it inspired someone to start writing code.

Code is like a magic penny – write it once and you don’t get any. Lend it, send it, give it away, and it comes right back to you.

0 Responses to “Release open, release awesome.”

  1. Having a few issues with it but it is for sure the best on the net. Thanks!!

    Like a rock you Hurricane!

  2. Tim Büthe on November 12, 2009 at 1:25 pm said:

    I’m a little disappointed, you thought about not open source this. This would not have protect your idea. What’s next, wanna get a patent for this 😕

    However, the effect hurricans like a freakin’ rock! Thanks for sharing.

    – Tim

  3. Great Plugin !
    But I’m still working on a page with 2 active corners, I don’t succeed !
    Ideas ?

  4. Great read. That’s an awesome plugin.

    I was having the same dilema about releasing my tagbox plugin (http://saynotofastfood.info/tagbox/examples/) as open-source, but is the right decision. Everyone will benefit from it!

    cheers!

  5. And how this plugin can be done under joomla? If there is such a development would be grateful for the information. I want to do it on your site http://torguem.net

  6. I am having trouble with getting a clickable curl image to be clickable in IE7.
    The code works fine in FF3010 and loads the page in the href. However in IE7, the image doesn’t appear to be a link (no hand cursor or alt text) and clicking doesn’t produce any page load.

    (On another page, I am using Facebox to popup some information, rather than load a page, and that works in IE7 in spite of there being no active link.)

    I hope you can throw some light on this.

    Patrick

  7. I really like the plugin, Elliott, and the story behind it even better. Would it rock you like a hurricane if I used it on my site? I think I might… it’s a nice way to show more technical info to people who are interested without shoving it in the face of those who aren’t (or at least, that’s how I want to use it :))

    Thanks!

  8. Sexy…

    Great read. I’m the guy who made the Page Peel one you mentioned in the article;) I didn’t even have an original idea. My boss pointed me to a website and said, ‘Let’s do that.’, I said, ‘Let’s make a jQuery plugin to do that.’ Thus was born the Page Peel thingy.

    40000 hits though?!? I knew I should’ve put sexy in the name. I hit around 20000 when it first released. The downward spiral afterwards is hard to stomach though. Guess it’s time to release another genius plugin.

  9. Very interesting, I think I’m going to use this plug-in on my wordpress theme for my site if you don’t mind.
    I hope it won’t turn into “that annoying javascript thing”. It doesn’t really bounce around like that one jQuery plug-in you mentioned, so I doubt someone could say it’s annoying when you don’t even have to look at it. Rock you like a hurricane.
    Great work! :]
    Garrett

  10. I just love the progress that you have made, regarding open-source.
    You went from

    “I sat on the idea for a while, but decided that I didn’t want anyone else having my cool effect. I wanted it all to myself.”

    To:

    “Open Source isn’t just kernel-hackers in their parents’ basements. Open Source is everywhere.”

    and that just makes me so happy!
    Congrats Elliot…and….uh…”Rock you like a hurricane!”

  11. Great post, but it’s easy (or easier) for you to get your project out there, I can’t chat to Rey and tell him about my new plugin or web app or whatever, and if I tweet about it I wont be retweeted through-out the interwebs.

    (INless you fancy doing it 😉 hehe).

    But nice one on your success, hopefully I’ll get some hits from my new plugin (coming soon !)

    Jack F.

  12. Interesting to see how popular the plugin was and deservedly so!

    A great plugin, Elliott inspired my new Business Cards:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chriscolhoun/3259692271/in/set-72157613539124160/

  13. Rock you like a hurricane

    A very good article, most interesting to find out the process you went through and the effect it had.

    In a word “Awesome”

  14. Elliott, it’s so true that you rock like a hurricane.

    Props to you mate!

  15. Hurricane a like you rock!

  16. Good read thanks! Almost 40,000 pageviews is pretty impressive. I guess a large factor also is who you know. Oh and “rock you like a hurricane”!

  17. Rock you like a hurricane!

  18. The problem is, you rock like a hurricane, BUT it’s freaking hard to remember that if you read the whole thing since it’s in the middle.

  19. I’m really curious how you managed to make 8 cents…anyone got an explanation?

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