Chris Coyier

Persistence, and doing the things you love, with Chris Coyier

 
 

Chris is the creator of CSS-Tricks, a co-founder of CodePen, and a host on the popular dev podcast, ShopTalk. With Chris’s involvement in making CSS, Javascript, and SVG more accessible to developers, Chris has had a profound impact on both everyone using the web, and everyone building for the web.

Time Stamped Show Notes

0:53 – Chris believes it’s important to seek out the work you love doing and focus your energy there. For him, it’s CSS-TricksCodePen, and ShopTalk.

1:37 – CSS-Tricks is primarily a blog, but it’s also full of resources for learning (mostly) front end development.

2:07 – Chris spends most of his time working on CodePen. Simply put, it’s a code editor in the browser. Using pre-processors, it allows you to create front end code and show it off to others.

2:49 – Chris’s podcast, ShopTalk, reached its 300th episode in 2018!

3:01 – Chris is pleased to hear that Sara Soueidan‘s first job came from something she posted on CodePen.

4:49 – CSS-Tricks started in 2007, making it ten-and-a-half years old!

5:18 – Chris loves empowering other developers by giving them a platform to show off their work. He also likes to share the cool things they’re building.

6:33 – “A Lifetime of Nerdery,” gives insight into Chris’s upbringing as a “middleclass kid in middleclass United States, somewhere in middle-America.” He feels his priviledged background played a big part in getting him to where he is now.

7:28 – Chris always knew computers would be part of his career. By obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree, he was able to combine his love for technology with his love of design.

9:34 – Chris chats about the early years of CodePen and why things were simpler back then. The more CodePen grows, the more pressure he feels about the tech choices they make, and about all the people involved.

11:23 – Email has proven a powerful tool for Chris. A lot of positive relationships and opportunities have come his way through email. “All good things happen over email”.

12:02 – At Codepen they use GitLab for code-editing and issue-tracking.

12:13 – Slack has been a vital tool at CodePen. Chris likes that it is both real-time, and not; it can be used for instant messaging, as well as for messages that don’t need an immediate response.

12:30 – CodePen have recently started using Notion. In essence, it’s a notes app where processes, minutes from meetings, and any other kind of documentation can be stored and shared. It can be used for long-term, and short-term stuff.

14:55 – There’s a lot of wisdom involved in knowing which new projects, frameworks, and libraries to pay attention to. He suggests keeping an eye on what’s going on in the industry, but not necessarily doing a course on every new tool that comes out.

15:21 – Chris suggests being slow and considerate in your technology choices. Although there are popular new libraries like Vue.js out now, the decision for CodePen to go with a React stack made sense at the time.

16:59 – “…an untold story of a really good like React and TypeScript based front end is that it’s less buggy because the way that you write code is less problematic”.

18:34 – Chris believes that browsers should keep up with what developers are trying to force the web to do, and to accommodate it.

19:25 – Stay up to date by reading industry rags, signing up to a few email newsletters, and reading the README’s of new libraries. Then file the important information somewhere in your brain for when it might prove useful.

20:34 – Chris suggests changing up the way you work. Don’t get complacent; try new frameworks, libraries, and processes. Constantly reevaluate the way you work and how you could be doing things differently.

22:44 – Chris would like for Prettier to be more configurable, so that instead of using stylelint for CSS and SCSS checking, and Prettier for code formatting, both could be done using one tool.

Quickfire Questions

23:59 – Best advice about programming
Although technology constantly changes, humans don’t. Always remember that whatever you are building is for a human.

24:55 – Habits for writing better code
Make time to experiment. Toss out your current way of working and try something completely new. And then, to solidify what you’ve learnt, write about your experience.

25:42 – Book
Learning jQuery” by Jonathan Chaffer and Karl Swedberg
Design for Community” by Derek Powazek

26:50 – Inspiring devs

David Khourshid for his work with animations and state machines. Mina Markham for highlighting the importance of design systems and their effect on people. Scott Jehl for his writing about performance, as well as everyone at Filament Group for their font-loading work. Jeremy Keith for his fascinating perspectives.

The whole team at CodePen: Marie MosleyRachel SmithJake Albaugh, and Chris’s co-founders, Tim Sabat, and Alex Vazquez. He feels lucky to be working with some of his heroes!

28:05 – How to learn to code from scratch
Tackle learning code by using a combination of different resources. Use Google, take courses (Team Treehouse, or Khan Academy), buy books, and build projects of your own. Take a multifaceted approach to learning and things will fall into place.

30:36 – How to work smart
Be persistent. If something frustrates you, it’s probably a good sign that you should learn it.

Tools, Tips, and Books Mentioned

Contact Chris

 
Larry Botha