Creating Algae has been a tremendously rewarding experience. I started on it because, having worked on Turn-O-Phrase and LinkPeelr, I have grown very fond of Google App Engine but very weary of re-inventing the boilerplate from scratch every time. I hesitated to jump to a brand new project knowing that the first couple of days (that’s couple of weeks for us weekend warriors) would be spent copy pasting and adjusting defaults.
I started working on Algae in March, and back then it was primarily about scratching my own itch. Since then, I got to thinking that there might be others, constrained by time, and frustrated by the lack of subjectively good boilerplates for Google App Engine, who hunger for a saner and smoother start to their Python projects.
At that point I started thinking of Algae as something that coule benefit the community at large. I even went so far as to create a Skillshare course around it, but that’s another story.Fast forward 5 months to Algae launch about a week ago. I didn’t do anything fancy. Just tweeted a few times, posted it on Facebook and linked to it from Skllshare class description. As an experiment I also posted it on Google+, where several folks also thought it was something neat and re-shared it. That (my Google+ post) led to:
- a minor traffic spike on the demo site,
- a few people commenting positively,
- 9 people starring the project on Github,
- 2 people forking the project on Github
I am not a bit ashamed of sharing single digit ‘vanity metrics’. Any and all engagement is precious, especially when this engagement is meaningful. From the two people who forked the codebase, both have since submitted pull requests. One, @helmuthb, submitted 5!
To someone who does not code for a living and has never created anything “for the community” before, making something of value to even one developer is a huge win. To someone who is always on the look out for like-minded individuals who share the same vision and value what you have done – doubly so.
Getting a single person to volunteer their time to contribute to making something you started even better is nothing short of special. I know it sounds cheesy, but getting those pull requests is like getting little tokens of appreciation. When you get that email notification from Github, you can’t help but think: someone cares. Also, I think I am finally in the position to fully appreciate why Github works at scale and why it’s such a great place to collaborate.
Thanks to Helmuth, Algae now works in IE, supports multi-threading, features i18n support, and has the latest version of Twitter bootstrap and HTML5 Boilerplate integrated. I would’ve never have time to do all of these things myself, and that too is incredibly awesome.
So what’s your excuse for not checking out Algae?