CMOS #7: Obinwanne Hill on RestiveJS
Basically just things, I'm trying to develop like different ways of doing things online, doing things on the web, so that's where the idea for RestiveJS, which was an open source project, it's actually a designer-friendly toolkit for building responsive websites, which is based on jQuery. So that's where the idea for that came up. So we'll be using that to build websites and we've been happy that thousands of developers around the world and some pretty impressive companies are also using the plugin on their website. So it's been pretty interesting, especially since now we're trying to re-gig the plugin and also launch a couple of new projects later in the year, next year.
So it's been pretty busy and you know, it's been fun, the web is really changing, it's getting a lot more complicated but we're doing our best to try and simplify things.
I was really inspired by how the web works and the promise that I guess it could have, the promise that we see today, the web is everywhere.
I was inspired to learn how everything worked, behind the scenes, because you see web pages and you're,
How did they build this? How did all this come together?
So I was really interested to know the nuts and bolts of what web pages were made of, so that's what actually sparked my interest in learning HTML.
So I got a couple of books, just started reading, reading up on tags, a few years later getting into CSS, and then a few years after that, getting into PHP.
So it's just been an iterative process of learning technologies that you need to build websites that could do stuff, not just putting up a web page, but functional websites. Like e-commerce websites, both the front-end and the back. So it's just been a journey of learning and trying to understand all the technologies that make up a functional website.
Okay, I'm learning these skills, let me put these skills to use and provide services for small businesses in the area.So that's actually how that came about, it was me, trying to use the skills I'd learned to provide services for small businesses. So that's, I was learning at the same time and also providing the service at the same time.
We don't need a website, we just want professional email address, @ourcompany.com kind of thing.So I just said okay, fine, instead of focussing only on websites, I'll also provide web-hosting as well. So yeah, the company was pretty much a web-hosting/websites company.
I tried to spend a little bit of time perfecting the product.
Maybe a little too much time. I'm trying to change my attitude towards that now, I'm trying to come earlier and say,
Hey, we're working on this, do you think it's interesting? And trying to see whether there's an opportunity for getting some capital, but I think it's important to focus on the product and try to get some initial customers.
Once you do that, there's some validation that what you're doing actually matters, and is a service, or is a product, that people actually want.
So once you get those first few customers, I think that should be the point where you should accelerate and say,
Let's try to get capital.
So that business didn't actually scale so well. It's still active but I'm in the process of re-integrating it into the business I'm doing now, because a lot of the things we're doing with that are complementary to Restive. So I'm trying to just re-integrate that into Restive and take it from there.
I just want to say before I forget, this website is going to have to adapt to different devices.
So I gave you a way to keep track of the devices that this website is going to be on.
So if this website is being accessed by a phone, I want to be able to know that instantly.
If it's a tablet, I want to be able to know that instantly. If it's in portrait orientation, I want to be able to know that instantly.
Some of these notifications, or the status of the websites, while they were on these devices, was not commonplace.
I mean, it was, you had to use media queries or nothing, and I just, I was just a bit frustrated with that.
So I just thought I'd build a program, just to help me personally, build a better website, and I did that. And I decided,
Hey, if I'm having these problems, some other developers might also be frustrated as well. So I just put the code up on GitHub and reached out to a couple of blogs, SpeckyBoy was one of them, to get started writing a couple of articles, and it just went off from there.
So I got a couple of responses from different people who wanted to build websites and said,
I read about this and was thinking if you could help out with the websites.
So that came and that brought another idea. I was like,
Hey, if people are having a problem with their responsive website, or with the website that they want to make responsive, I could provide services to help them out.
So I just said,
Okay, why not just start a company to do that, so that's pretty much how the idea for Restive came about.
It's still bootstrapped, there's no outside capital, it's pretty much just me and a remote team, every now and then, doing things, but we're looking at launching a couple of interesting products this year and very early next year. So hopefully, once we do that, we'll see if we could get some other outside capital involved, if possible, and try to grow the company from there.
Okay, this is what this toolkit is and this is what it's about.
But basically, we're trying to help web designers and developers build better websites, in less time, and with less stress. Because today, building a website is still incredibly complicated. Even for experienced web designers and experienced web developers, it's still really complicated to build a website that is responsive, and has good performance characteristics. It's really a tough thing to do, so we want to simplify that process for designers, and also for developers as well.
So these are the two main groups we're trying to target with the plugin. It's also going to be a free and open source plugin, so anyone can access it for free and use it. But there's a couple of things we're trying to build around the plugins and around some of the techniques that we've developed thus far, that are also commercial, but open source is important to me, because I personally have used tons of open source technology. I mean, MySQL, PHP, jQuery, there's tons of open source tech out there, that really has been beneficial and inspirational to me. So I feel it's important to also contribute as well. If you're building something that helps you and makes your life easier, I think it's only right to have that technology to be accessible to every developer, anywhere they might be. So I think that just makes the ecosystem much better and stronger.
I want to make sure that the documentation is really good, that we have tutorials. We have 200+ tutorials planned for both toolkits combined, so just enough content for developers to really pore over and access and get how to use the toolkit. So we're just trying to learn from the mistakes we made the last time, that's why it's taking this long. But really, it's built, it's working, we just want to take our time to really test it and just to make sure it works really well, because nobody likes, even if the software is open source, if there's tons of bugs in it. I want to be able to use it, and know that someone has tested this, and it's working, and it's doing what was intended.
And I also personally, I'm trying to do this to help all other developers, just like I've been helped, so it's just a pay-it-forward kind of thing. So shout-out to the open source community and everyone working on a project in the open source tech.