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.
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.
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:
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.