Jhey Tompkins is one of the most prolific CodePen creators out there! Find him as @jh3y on CodePen and @jh3yy on Twitter. His creations tend to have a twist of whimsey while being beautifully designed as well as pushing the platform in unique ways. You’ll always be surprised at a Jhey Pen! I talk with him about the creative process, problem-solving, and sharing what you learn.

Time Jumps

  • 00:37 Guest introduction
  • 04:57 The origins of the bear pen
  • 06:12 What’s your process?
  • 11:00 Sponsor: Notion
  • 12:46 Do you feel satisfied when a project is finished?
  • 15:04 Incorporating sound
  • 16:02 Working with Kent Dodds
  • 19:43 Starting with problem solving as an interest
  • 21:00 Video and streaming
  • 25:00 Working with Egghead
  • 29:49 Do you try to keep up with all the things?

Sponsor: Notion

For companies of all sizes, Notion provides one central and customizable workspace that can be tailored to fit any team and bring all teams together to get more done and move faster. Notion is an all-in-one team collaboration tool that combines note-taking, document sharing, wikis, project management, and much more into one space that’s simple, powerful, and beautifully designed. Find out how Notion may be the missing piece your team needs to grow, get more done, and delight everyone who uses it in the process.


[Radio channel adjustment]

Announcer: Today, on CodePen Radio.

Chris: Hey, everybody. CodePen Radio #248. As you might know, if you've been listening to the show, I've been inviting guests who are definitely famous on CodePen and usually much more famous elsewhere because CodePen is just a little place in the world, sharing about their kind of creative process and just anything that they have to say.

I think I have probably the top person. At least that's who I think of. Who is the most creative person on CodePen, especially from a prolific point of view? There's no doubt about it. It's Jhey. Although, I didn't even ask you if that's how you say it. It looks like it's pronounced "J". Is it just "J" like Homer J. Simpson?

Jhey Tompkins: Yeah. [Laughter] I should have said that, really, before we came on. Yeah, thanks for having me on. I thought you were going to introduce somebody else there. That was quite the intro.

Chris: Oh! [Laughter] Yeah.

Jhey: [Laughter]

Chris: But I have with me--

Jhey: I'll take that all day. [Laughter]

Chris: --Lewis Hoebregts -- just kidding.

Jhey: [Laughter]

Chris: Just kidding. No, of course, it's you, Jhey. You are an incredible creative. If you haven't seen J-H-E-Y, hence my dumb intro there because it is an unusual spelling, but it works out in your favor. You can just Google J-H-E-Y and you come right up, man. Not a lot of people have a googlable first name.

Jhey: Yeah, it wasn't intentional, but yeah, it's worked out pretty well. [Laughter]

Chris: Crushing it. Heck yeah. Very findable on the Internet. You'll get right jhey.dev, which is your personal website that has all kinds of stuff that you do in the world. It links you to all of the places, including CodePen, which is great. Yeah, not to hold you to this, necessarily. Everybody has ups and down in how much time they have to dedicate to something like dorking around making cool Pens. But once in a while, you're on a tear, man. There's one every day.

What's so unique about you is there's always mega creativity to it, whimsy, and some kind of aspect of fun. But you also never quite know what the style is going to be. It could be 3D. It could be totally not 3D. The things that you reach for are very different each time, which is, in a way, to me, it seems harder. It seems like if all you ever do is reach for the same technologies over and over, you just kind of get good at flexing those muscles, and that's great. But it just seems that you have lots of different muscles all over your different creative--


Chris: What is it about creative coding that gets you? You've made a life out of it.


Jhey: Yeah. I have to think really far back.

Chris: Okay.

Jhey: Well not super far back, but I didn't -- I don't know. I started using CodePen -- I didn't know about it and I needed something to embed into--

I started by writing books. Then I started on Medium ages ago just writing things that I'd make. I was like, "Oh, I want to know how to make that. I'll make that. Then write about it." I needed some way to embed the code. On Medium, at the time, it was like, "Oh, you can put CodePen in." I was like, oh, okay. I'll just sign up for that.

I've always been driven by--

Chris: Interesting. That's what got you? That's so fascinating. Yeah, go on.

Jhey: --learning how to -- I don't know. I like to always challenge myself to things, so that's why, always, I don't really niche down. I like to try and be able to kind of solve any kind of problem.

Chris: That is a little unusual. If this thing is too easy, then you've lost interest in it - in a way.

Jhey: Yeah, which I don't like to say--

Chris: No.

Jhey: --because it's terrible if you're pitching to work somewhere, right?


Chris: Yeah. I need to do something new every day or I'm out of here. [Laughter]

Jhey: Yeah. I don't know. I just got into that. Then one of the first things I made on CodePen was, at the time, there was a lot of those -- do you remember the material buttons where you'd click on it and it's bloom out a little circle.

Chris: Oh, yeah.

Jhey: From wherever you'd click.

Chris: I was imagining you kind of mouse over it and it's highlighted where you're mousing over it.

Jhey: Yeah.

Chris: Material design, it waited for the click to do it, didn't it?

Jhey: There was a bit about that, and then I made a Pen on that.

Chris: Yeah.


Jhey: I made a Pen of a bear winking.

Chris: Hmm.

Jhey: I thought nothing of it. I was on contract at the time, and I went into the onsite. I was onsite at the time, and someone said, "Oh, I saw your Pen on CodePen." I was like, "What?"

Chris: What?!

Jhey: What are you on about? [Laughter]

Chris: [Laughter]

Jhey: That was when I found out Pens got picked and there was a whole community behind it. I didn't actually know about that.

Chris: Oh...

Jhey: Then I was like, "Cool. I'm just going to keep sharing all the things I make and the inspirations--

Chris: I mean is that the origin of the bear was just one of your first Pens ever?

Jhey: No, it was actually a cat before.


Jhey: The bear is -- I don't know. Bears have always been my thing. Then when I had my own company, I needed a name for it. Then instead of hiring a designer or someone, I was like, "All right. I'm just going to go for this myself, and I'll learn SVG. I'll learn all those sorts of things."

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: I don't know. The bear just kind of came out of that. Then obviously no one can see this, but I have the cap on at the moment. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah. It's a black baseball cap--

Jhey: Yeah.

Chris: --where the adjustable plastic part is red in the middle. Yeah, you're running.

Jhey: I used to always wear those Ray-Ban style shades. [Laughter] That's where the logo kind of came from.

Chris: Mm-hmm. Plus, you're a bearded fella at the moment. Although, I realize you're rocking the--

Jhey: Yeah. It's a little smaller at the moment. It was pretty big during that lockdown. [Laughter]

Chris: Locking down, growing the beards, that's what we do these days, apparently.

Okay, so there's creative coding. You love a different-- I feel like I've seen a sneak peek. Occasionally, you share process. I'm sure part of the challenge is perhaps a different process each time, but you do the notebook thing, don't you, like pencil and paper? That's a part of it sometimes.


Jhey: Yeah. Yeah, sorry. I kind of just rambled off on that. Yeah, the process, is why the demos are so different is there's always something I want to try or just something different I want to test, pushing some kind of framework or something in some kind of way.

We were talking about different articles or things. There's always some kind of different CSS technique or something I feel like, "Oh, could I push that?" or something with JavaScript.

My background is a middleware engineer, so all this visual stuff was kind of fascinating to me. Yeah, the notebook thing--

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: I don't know where the actual one is.

Chris: [Laughter]

Jhey: No one can see this.

Chris: At home, you have a notebook in your hand. Yeah, but then what does the notebook do? Is it words? Do you say, "Ooh, don't forget maybe eight squares rotating along a pole would be cool," or do you literally sketch it? Is there pseudo-code in there?

Jhey: It's funny you say that. This is a fresh notebook. I think the other one is-- I'll show you.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: There was that blockhead demo.

Chris: Oh! Neat, where everybody's head was on a block. I have no idea where it came from.

Jhey: What I've done is, yeah, I sketched out how the images should translate with properties on there. It tends to be -- like all the ideas -- this was last year's one. This is just full of just sketches as I make different stuff.

Chris: Yeah. Well, tell me about that, then. Let's say you're at the computer already and you have an idea. Would you get up, walk away, sketch it out first?

Jhey: [Laughter]

Chris: Or is the notebook only when you happen to be on the couch?

Jhey: I should really get a better process for this. [Laughter]

Chris: You don't have to have one. I'm just curious. Is the notebook vital to an idea? Is it part of every single Pen or other creative exercise?


Jhey: I use Notion.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: My process kind of starts as, because Notion has an app, and you can obviously walk around with it, and I don't plan to walk around with it (coming up with ideas). But a lot of the time, my ideas will come up from something I see somewhere else.

Chris: Oh...

Jhey: It's hard to be inspired by the same four walls over and over, right? [Laughter]

Chris: [Laughter]

Jhey: I could be watching a film. I could be out doing something. Then I'll write a few key words down as a list item or something in Notion.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: Then from there it will become an idea. I've recently had to order this, but I've got my Notion open here. I didn't know about this the other day, but I found--

I was doing that Parallax when I wrote that article for CSS-Tricks, we did that Parallax CSS thing.

Chris: Right. Mm-hmm.

Jhey: I didn't know about the dev tool simulator for device orientation, which is really interesting.

Chris: Oh... Yep.

Jhey: You can rotate a phone and see how it works. Then I was like, "Oh, it'd be cool to make a free JS skateboard." Then you held your phone and you could tilt it and make it do tricks with your phone, which would be really cool. That is just one random thing I have on here.

Yeah, and then it just all starts as little keywords. Then when I actually want to make something, I open up the notebook and scribble away as I do it - if I need it.

Chris: Okay. Okay. It's an "If you need it" thing.

Jhey: That's kind of how it works.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. I get it.

Jhey: It used to be a different way. Well, that's how it works in an ideal way. The reality is that I actually end up writing things down on random scraps of paper.

Chris: [Laughter]

Jhey: Then they eventually get, like--

Chris: There you go. You've got the crazy wall of an envelope with notes.

Jhey: Yeah.

Chris: [Laughter]

Jhey: No one can see it, but yeah, it's just a really scribbled-on, opened envelope with just random things all over it. This one has got -- there's something about Squid Game on here.

Chris: [Laughter] What was it?

Jhey: A button that eats a cursor.

Chris: Does that one -- some of these have made it their way to bigger ideas and some of them don't?

Jhey: Yeah. They all go in, and then I have a CodePen page on my Notion. Then if ever I'm stuck for an idea, I just go in there and pluck something out. It never really tends to work like that. I just tend to have way more ideas than I can ever create, which isn't a bad thing. But, well, it's kind of overwhelming. [Laughter]

You kind of tie those ideas then into what could I do with that to learn something new, if that makes sense as well.

Chris: Yeah. Yep. Yep.


[Guitar music starts]

Chris: This episode of CodePen Radio is brought to you by Notion. Learn more and get started for free at notion.so.

You know if you're a regular listener to this podcast, listen to the last episode where Rachel and I spend the entire episode talking about the many ways in which we use Notion at CodePen. One of them is for planning this very podcast. Kind of a minor way. We do so much more big work stuff in Notion. But of course, even as I record this ad spot, I'm looking at a Notion document because, of course, they're so great for documents and keeping organized with stuff like that.

With hybrid work becoming the norm, the strongest teams -- I like to think we're a strong team at CodePen -- have two things in common: speed and alignment, alignment of everyone who is working there, and their attitude and what they're thinking about work. Both come from having one hub where everyone can share work and processes, manage projects, and collaborate with clarity. That is what Notion does, for sure.

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It's a beautifully designed tool. Everyone is going to want to use Notion. You can check it out on your own, invite as many other people as you want to see how it works. Take the first step toward an organized, happy team today again at notion.so.

[Guitar music ends]


Chris: It's so interesting. Like I said, sometimes they're 3D. Sometimes they're not.

That was interesting that you discovered this new API and then immediately were like, "I could use that API. I can tilt my phone to make a skateboarder go in that direction."

Do you feel kind of satisfied once the skateboarder lives? Then you're like, "Yeah, I get it. Next."

Jhey: [Laughter] Um... Yeah.

Chris: Or it like, "You know? Now I have 15 more ideas."

Jhey: [Laughter] Yeah. Yeah. I've been talking about this today, actually, because it's kind of popped into my head today thinking about this. I don't know. It's kind of interesting because sometimes demos don't work out how you expect, right?

Chris: [Laughter] Yeah.

Jhey: They just don't. And you're like, "Okay. Cool."

Chris: Well, tell me about that. I would like to -- that seems -- people should -- I don't know. They might get a kick out of that.

Jhey: It's hard to think of one that comes to mind.

Chris: Is it that they end up in the junk then because they just didn't work, or is it more like you started thinking it was going to go one way and it really went another?

Jhey: Yeah. They can do. One that always springs to mind, and I don't know why. It's a really random one.

I made -- I went through a stage of making SVG buttons, animated buttons on Stream, like most weeks. One was like you press the button and then the Incredible Hulk comes out.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: Then as you tap, he smashes the button. But I had no idea what that was going to look like when I sat down to make it. Then a couple of hours later, it looked completely different.

Chris: It needed to be the Hulk, and he needed to smash the button.

Jhey: [Laughter] Yeah.

Chris: But you didn't know what it was going to look like. Oh, that's great.

Jhey: I had these little particle bits breaking off the button. Then there was the noise of like a cat screeching.

Chris: Yeah. That is a unique Jhey thing, I must say, is that you often do reach for the sound as well.

Jhey: Yeah. I don't know. Sound, I don't even know where that came from either because a sound just adds a bit more of another dimension to things if you can squeeze it in somewhere. It tends to--

Chris: Yeah, it does. It ups the game a little bit. I wonder. I wonder how popular it is on CodePen. It's possible that some people don't even notice because I think there's an awful lot of people that just browse on their phone and have that thing flipped off, or just otherwise have sound just disabled (because they're at work or whatever).

Jhey: It's always a case if you have something with sound, you feel like the sound really makes it. Whenever you share it, you're like, "Please turn the sound on."

Chris: Yeah! Always.

Jhey: [Laughter] Explicitly.

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: Please.

Chris: Listen, I coughed into the microphone for half an hour for that sound.



Chris: Yeah, that's great. I think you did some work with Mr. Kent Dodds recently, huh? You have a couple of Pens, including a bunch of process shots, I think, in your Pens recently that are like, "How did you pull this thing off?" Everybody has got to work, right? I'm sure you do things for money. Is that the kind of work you end up doing to pay the bills?

Jhey: I try to.

Chris: Yeah.


Jhey: No. Yeah, well, I contract. My contract is up mid-January, if anyone is listening.


Jhey: For ... on this platform, it's a great place to do it.

Chris: Heck, yeah. Hit them up. Where do you want to talk to them? Just go to jhey.dev?

Jhey: Anywhere you can find me.

Chris: There you go. Okay.

Jhey: Yeah. [Laughter]

No, I tend to do some of this more whimsical stuff, I guess, as freelance kind of one-off kind of things.

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: People reach out to me. Kent reached out to me about that. It was actually for something different that is on the site I'm writing about it at the moment, but you have to be locked in. It was actually canvas audio visualization.

Chris: Oh...

Jhey: Which is kind of interesting. It was a really cool problem.

Chris: I think of the typical thing is the sound, the wave that you see, like on Soundcloud or something.

Jhey: Yeah. He initially had something that was like a soundwave kind of thing.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: He didn't want that. He wanted -- the thing he showed me was Google Recorder. It's like the bars that move across.

Chris: Okay.

Jhey: The trick with it was, like, how can I take audio and map it to canvas in this way that he visually wants it and then make it so you can scrub the canvas animations backward or forwards.

Chris: Wow.

Jhey: Then they're going to be able to send this. So, the feature of his site is you can record a call, and then he answers you in a podcast or like in a sound clip. Then it gets published. It's quite cool.

Chris: Oh, I see. It's like a call-in show, but you don't have to record your own audio. His Web app just does it. Oh, fancy.

Jhey: Yeah, it's pretty neat. Yeah, he wanted the audio vis for it, so I'll get reached out about random things. One was a rocket animation prior to that, which we didn't actually put into the site. That was for Epic React.

Chris: Hmm.

Jhey: But yeah, people reach out with interesting ideas, and I'm one of those. It never really shot me in the foot, but I used to say to people that if you can draw it on paper, I can make it.


Jhey: Luckily, my imagination tends to go a bit further, so it hasn't shot me yet, which is nice. [Laughter]

Chris: It might be one thing I'd say is I've heard from multiple creative people that. I don't know. At least I consider them highly creative like you are. At some point in their career, whether it's now or earlier in a formative year, was that they said yes maybe too much.

Jhey: [Laughter]

Chris: It doesn't have to be cocky or overly confident, but so much desire that the temptation to say yes was so strong that they just did. Then that turned into motivation to do it. You know? Eh, just interesting.

Jhey: I could totally see that, and I can definitely - definitely recall times where I've been like that. [Laughter]

Chris: Sure. Yeah. I can do that. [Laughter]


Jhey: I think, yeah, it was probably a bit of a personality thing as well. Before I got into more visual things, I've always been really into solving problems and stuff like that.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: I started out working with Java, which I was terrible at. [Laughter] When I moved into doing Web dev and stuff, I came more from that background of working on logic and not so much the visual stuff. I could really sort of geek out on architecting things and making sure things were nicely tested and structural and the stuff that you don't really see. But I still really enjoy that challenge side of things.

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: A bit of a weird tangent to go on, especially as we're talking about creative coding. [Laughter] It doesn't just stem from creative coding for me, and I think then that creative coding side kind of gives me more fuel to challenge myself.

Chris: Yeah. Maybe it's more about problem-solving than it is about creative coding in that creative coding is a problem to be solved or it's a series of them. But there are all kinds of other problems to be solved as well that have nothing to do with the coding.

That makes me think about the aspect of something like streaming, which you do. You're on Twitch at jh3yy. Must have been--

Jhey: Yeah. [Laughter]

Chris: Somebody squatted you or something there.

Jhey: Yeah.


Chris: That's unique, too. I mean I don't know what it is about top creators on CodePen, but it's common to see somebody be like, "Oh, then I have a YouTube for this one, too," because the desire to then share something about it -- process or educate people or just help them -- is strong. To me, that feels like kind of a different set of problems in that you might just want to do it just because you never have or just because it's some new stuff to figure out how to do. Nobody just knows how to stream. It's just another whole set of things you've got to learn.


Jhey: Yes. That's very true, actually. I think it kind of ties in again. It's kind of a bit of a personality trait maybe. To just go back to something that you said a moment ago, yeah, the creative coding thing, the good thing with that is there are always problems to solve and your only limit really is your imagination.

I come up with some ridiculous idea. Then it's like, "Cool. I'm going to work out how to use this tech stack to make it," or "I'm going to try out this package or this library." I'll learn something. Then that's kind of feeding that.

But then, as you say, something new that maybe not so coding related, gives you something to go off and kind of not obsess over, [laughter] but it's something new that you want to learn more about.

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: I did exactly that when I got approached to do -- and I need to get back into it. I kind of hope to get back into more of -- I hadn't done the streaming for a while. I hadn't done YouTube for a while.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: But the thing that started it was I got approached to do Egghead, which is the screencasting.

Chris: Right. Tutorials.

Jhey: Lessons and things. Thanks to them, that's why I have this mic to talk on - things like that. Then that got me into, "Oh, I don't know much about this." Then obviously no one can see this, but there are cameras on arms and things on my desk. That became part of my stream, showing people the process of, "Hey, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to scribble in my notebook. Then this becomes this."

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: My streaming process was always not showing a snippet of what I'm doing. It'd be like, "Well, this is my entire process from having an idea, having a look around on Dribbble, opening an editor with no code, and going from something to a finished CodePen."

Chris: Yeah. That's the juicy stuff if you can pull that off. People might even watch it just voyeuristically not even because they necessarily want to emulate exactly what your process is. There's just something juicy about watching people do -- watching a master of their craft do their thing.

There are entire televisions networks based around it. You want to watch an amazing chef do their chef? Do you want to watch Bob Villa build a house? Watching a master at their craft thing is just something that people love, and I do forever.

Twitch is great for watching coders, but it's not built for that. It's built for watching people play video games, which is very similar. It's like, I want to watch somebody who is amazing at playing a video game play their video game. Low and behold, it's a billion-dollar business.

Jhey: [Laughter] Which is crazy in itself, but that's a whole other discussion.


Chris: Yeah. Yeah, indeed it is. Can we watch you on Egghead, or is that on the way?

Jhey: They're audio -- well, they're not audio. They're like screencasts. They're like bite-sized videos.

Chris: Yeah. That's their whole thing on Egghead. Everybody does that. They're supposed to be like five minutes or whatever.


Jhey: Yeah. I really enjoy learning. So, when you're brought on -- because it's like an invite platform. When you are brought in, you're kind of taught in a cohort how to do screencasting, which is really interesting because, again, it's something completely new to me.

Chris: Really? There's a chunk of you all learning how to screencast at the same time.

Jhey: Yeah> You come in, in different blocks, and they teach you how to be more concise with your content.

Chris: Huh.

Jhey: Like how to get to the point and show people how to do something without loads of ums and ahs and, like, "Oh, this..." you know?

Chris: Sure.

Jhey: [Laughter] So, the golden time is something like four to five minutes - or something like that.

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: To make a good lesson.

Chris: That's unique.

Jhey: Which is really interesting and it's fun, but it's also -- a four-minute lesson can take a long time to record (if you don't do it all the time) because it's a skill you kind of get better at.

Chris: Yeah. Is it one of those things where it might actually take you longer to shoot the 4-minute video than it would if they just do a 30-minute?

Jhey: Yeah. [Laughter] It's like on YouTube. I started doing the old YouTube videos as well. With them, I can just one cut it and do 20 minutes and just make all the mistakes I like and be like, "Hey, here it is." I guess it's more authentic, but then it's not great if you've got 5 minutes and you watch me bumble around for 25 minutes.


Chris: Yeah, it's tricky because I've heard a lot of people over the years that really like that. It's not like they'd prefer unpolished, but they don't want to see you skip a troubleshooting step. If something went wrong and then you used your tools to fix it, well, that might seem like a distraction or not core to what you're trying to teach. Actually, it is core to what you're trying to teach because literally, everybody has literal bugs all day every day.

Jhey: [Laughter] Yeah.

Chris: Figuring out how to troubleshoot those can be extremely, extremely useful. Not only what tools you use, but how do you think about it, what lines of code do you change. Are you somebody that comments out chunks of code to find it? Are you good at using breakpoints or, you know, background red? There are all kinds of strategies for it.

Jhey: That's the skill, right?

Chris: Yeah.


Jhey: That is the skill. I think that's kind of why creative coding is such a good application. People will say, "Oh, why did you bother making that? You're never going to use that on a site." But it's that skill that's transferable.

I can't remember. I read someone tweeted something somewhere. They said, "All you need is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript because all the frameworks pass and go." It's true. It is kind of true, right?

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Jhey: Once you know how to solve problems and apply yourself to learning different things, you just learn to adapt and go with it. Right?

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. There are some of those classic arguments that will never die. That's funny.

Jhey: Yeah. [Laughter]

Chris: I feel like it's possible to know that that's true that the Web fundamentals and those core technologies are really important and that's what you have to debug in the end, anyway, so you might as well know them. When the new framework comes out, it's just going to be some new way of crafting those too. All that stuff is right, but it doesn't mean that the only way to learn the Web is to have to start and stay with those. Everybody has their own path in.

Then I step back from that even one more step and be like, it doesn't even matter what the result of this conversation is because the way that people learn is just whatever. You know what I mean? You're going to have some project, you're going to use some tech, and you're just going to figure it out. Or you're going to take a class.

By the time you're having this conversation, you're past the spot where you've already learned that stuff anyway. The people that are going through it right now aren't listening to you on Twitter because they don't even know who you are yet. It's like the worst--

Jhey: [Laughter]

Chris: It's like the most--

Jhey: It's just crazy how much stuff moves. I think you can easily get just caught up in there's just so much. If you think back across, I've been developing for since before React. I remember when React came out and learning that 0.1 or whatever, and being like, "Well, this is crazy."

Chris: [Laughter]

Jhey: Now it's the norm.

Chris: Right.

Jhey: But before that, we had Backbone, Angular.

Chris: Sure.

Jhey: Everyone was just using straight up just jQuery and writing everything. It's mad how things change. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah. Truly. You don't strike me as somebody who cares all that much about the framework du jour, but I don't know. Do you?

Jhey: [Laughter]

Chris: I don't see a lot of your demos are in React. You know?

Jhey: Yeah. I guess that's the interesting.... A lot of my work is in that kind of space. I do quite a lot of -- I guess if I use a framework when I do demos, it's probably React because I'll end up doing freelance work in React but trying to pull something into it.

Chris: Sure.

Jhey: A lot of things will be like GreenSock and React. For example, canvas stuff, but using it in React. I might have a component that's just the entire canvas, but it's encapsulated into one component that's just dropped in.

Chris: Whoa! Weird.

Jhey: Yeah. It kind of goes back to that. People have that perception, right? Online or Twitter is an interesting one because people's perceptions of what you might be like are sometimes completely distorted, right? [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah. Might be. It might be, especially because if all you ever see is CodePen, there's only certain stuff that CodePen even supports that well. I'd even wager to say our React support isn't quite -- you know. It's now that Skypack exists, it's a little more normal, but it's not as -- I don't know. It's just not quite the same as how you approach React projects when you're working locally or whatever. I wouldn't begrudge anybody for avoiding working directly on CodePen just because it's a little weird.

Jhey: That kind of goes back to not many people would have known about my creative coding before the pandemic and things because I didn't really -- I used to push it out there, but not as much as I did the last year or so, I guess.

But my background was all the framework land and doing all those kinds of things. I've picked up creative coding and I've picked up Web design and things like that later on instead. All the visual stuff, to me, is really exciting because it was not something I ever looked at.

Chris: Oh.

Jhey: I was always looking at terminal prompt, just compiling my Java code.

Chris: [Laughter]

Jhey: [Laughter] Like ten years ago or something.

Chris: No, but I was wrong thinking that you were just like -- I don't know -- Jhey doesn't care about frameworks. I'm not saying that you do, but you are very in that world and come from a very deep programmer, stare at the terminal, world. That's interesting. I don't know that your public-facing persona would have people know that.

Jhey: That's a big part of what I enjoy, actually - that side of things. Obviously, that's work. Then outside of work, I'm thinking what can I do now? What fun thing can I make?

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: What can I do to wind down or chill out? I'll work on all these kind of CodePen things, but yeah, I really enjoy doing things like, in my work, I would have been messing around with testing or storybook or just things like that. I don't know. It's like that. It's that problem-solving thing again.

Chris: Yeah.

Jhey: It might not be visually esthetic for people, but you know. [Laughter]

Chris: I'm quite sure that it helps you, you know, having some kind of developer chops when then you move into something more visual and this world of creative coding that you're just less afraid of APIs and stuff, like, "Meh. Whatever. It's just computers."

Anyway, we'll have to leave it at that for today, Jhey. We've reached out time. It was a fascinating conversation and I'd love to do it again sometime.

Jhey: Yeah, it'd be great. I was absolutely shocked.


Chris: Yeah, again, Jhey Tompkins, jhey.dev, and thanks again for coming on, man. Take care.

Jhey: Thanks. See ya.

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