My Love Affair with Forrst

December 20, 2010   

<% %w{Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday}.each do |day| %>

<%= day %>

<% end %> <% 3.times do |week| %>

<% 7.times do |day| %>

<% @openings.find_all{|o| o.start.to_date.cweek == + week && o.start.wday - 1 == day - 1}.each do |event| %> <%= link_to event.start.to_formatted_s(:time_pm), opening_path(event) %>
<% end %>

<% end %>

<% end %>

See that code above? About 5 people collaborated to write it for Ohours.

As I've been hinting at -- and plan on writing extensively about -- I've taken the past two months and learned how to code.

The first thing I released was Ohours, and then in a crazy 48 hour marathon of coding I released just in time for the NY Tech Meetup elections.

I'm loving the ability to just to make what I want and it's hard to believe I ever existed in this industry without that ability.

Needless to say, I wouldn't have been able to make as much progress as I have without he support of several people, but the one person who has been invaluable in this process is Kyle Bragger and his amazing community at Forrst.

What is Forrst?

If you've never seen Forrst, go check it out (they just released Version 3 today!). Forrst is a community of developers and designers sharing the work their doing, giving and getting support, feedback, and general encouragement.

Forrst is NOT a technical help desk -- if you want that, head to Stackoverflow or the dozens of other places where you can find general technical help -- rather Forrst is a warm and welcoming community of people of all skill levels, sharing the latest code snippets and screenshots of what they're working on, genuinely looking for feedback.

Want an example? For Ohours, I'm trying to develop a calendar view of a particular user's upcoming Ohours openings (and next for their appointments). One major thing I've learned in my hacker education process is just to code and try to solve the problem, even if the code isn't the right way to do it.

And so I wrote the code and, as you can see in the screenshot to the left, the code was super long and verbose, but it worked. Nonetheless, before I went to bed, I shared it on Forrst, admitting the that code probably wasn't the best solution, but it was what I had and that I welcomed any feedback.

The next morning, I awoke to several comments, but one in particular from Kyle Slattery had a much more elegant solution to my problem.

After reviewing the code that Mr. Slattery offered up, I noticed that there was a small problem (it wouldn't show Ohours that happened on Sundays, since Ruby treats Sunday as day 0) and so I corrected his code, reposted it to Forrst, and continued working on my app.

What was amazing to me about this exchange -- and the dozens of other exchanges I've had on Forrst -- is the positive and supportive tone of the community. On the help-desk "communities" I referenced above, the tone is almost always of annoyance; somehow your dumb question is getting in the way of them getting "points" on the system. But on Forrst, people are excited for you and want to help.

And what's to blame for this amazingly vibrant community? Is it luck? As all should take note, this community is not due to luck, but due to Kyle Bragger -- and his wonderful team's -- relentless work building community.

So with the release of Forrst V3, I want to congratulate Kyle and the rest of the Forrst community for building something truly special. With this, I'll leave you all with a fun video from Kyle' (and my) past. If you didn't know, Kyle's blog is called "", which is a domain he bought after we made this silly video back in the BricaBox days (for my new readers, Kyle was my partner). I guess this video struck a cord with folks, because at the time it got passed around on a few local blogs and, well, the whole "I write code" thing stuck.

(PS: Forrst is invite only -- one of the ways Kyle helps keep the community growing at a healthy pace -- but I have a number of invites. If you're a practicing developer or designer and you think you'd be a positive member of the community, let me know and I'll send you an invite as long as they last.)

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