This week I got to speak with Alex Trost! Alex has been hard at work created Frontend Horse, a clever brand celebrating the beautiful and clever things in our industry via a newsletter, articles, streaming, a Discord community and more. This is the way to do it!

Time Jumps

  • 00:15 Guest introduction
  • 01:18 What is Frontend.Horse?
  • 06:35 Helping people unlock new technology through a newsletter
  • 11:22 The business angle to Frontend.Horse
  • 16:27 Sponsor: Notion
  • 17:29 History of Frontend.Horse
  • 20:21 Embracing Twitch
  • 22:42 Using Discord to build community
  • 30:56 Building on CodePen

Sponsor: Notion

Notion is an amazing collaborative tool that not only helps organize your company’s information but helps with project management as well. We know that all too well here at CodePen, as we use Notion for countless business tasks. Learn more and get started for free at Take your first step toward an organized, happier team, today.


[Radio channel adjustment]

Announcer: Today, on CodePen Radio.

Chris Coyier: Hey, everybody. Time for another CodePen Radio, 370. I have Alex Trost on here. How ya doin', Alex?

Alex Trost: I'm doing great, Chris. Thanks for having me on. How ya doin'?

Chris: My pleasure. My pleasure. Really, we were just getting to chatting, and I'm like, "Stop! I'm going to hit the record button because we can't lose any of our good chatter to pre-chatter. It's not fair to the podcast listening audience out there."

What I was about to tell Alex is that I feel like (in some ways) we're like the same person (a decade removed). I'm not sure how much older I am than you, but I bet to some degree.

Alex runs this thing called -- among the many things you do, but a big chunk of it is a thing called Frontend Horse. It literally is the word is the URL for it. I think you're highly known for owning and operating this thing.

I guess what I was going to say, and I'm going to ask you more questions about this as we go, is it feels like if I was going to start something like CSS-Tricks today, knowing what I wanted to get out of it (like basically a community site for front-end developers), I'd probably -- at least hopefully I could pull it off -- do something like you're doing with Frontend Horse. That's not to say that CSS-Tricks is old, antiquated, and can't do any of this stuff, but it's a different take on what you kind of should be doing for a community site these days.

Frontend Horse is this website that has articles on it. Classic, right? Got to do that. SEO. People are going to find those.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: But, Alex, you're a pro streamer. Never even went there on CSS-Tricks. It's got a Discord for community. Oh, my God. Discord is just poppin' for Web community. It's just got all the stuff.

You tell me, though. I feel like I'm just putting words out there about what I think Frontend Horse is, but that's what I'm so interested in, and I look on with admiration for what you're doing and how you're handling it on Frontend Horse. What is Frontend Horse to you?


Chris: Man, you just made my life there. That was super, super kind of you to say, first off. Wow. Yeah, so Frontend Horse, to me, is actually--

Well, it started as a newsletter. Honestly, it started as a newsletter that just wanted to have an excuse to dig into CodePens and share out what I learned there. I've been a CodePen fan for a while now, and I always wanted to or I would find myself digging through CodePens and going, "Wow, this is incredible. How are they doing this? How are they pulling this off?" and go digging through. Either I figured the answer out and was like, "Wow, that's a really cool technique. I didn't even know this was a CSS property," or "I didn't know that you could do that in JavaScript."

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: Or "Here's a new animation library I didn't know about," or I wouldn't figure it out. I'd just kind of go, "Ah... Okay. I guess I'll just never know."

Chris: [Laughter]

Alex: But--

Chris: Well, I'll tell you right away.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: That gives something spirit in a way that not everything has. I subscribe to some newsletters. I'm not calling anybody out because I subscribe to them on purpose. If I didn't like it, I'd unsubscribe.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: There are plenty of newsletters I get that's just like link, link, link. If they have a description at all, sometimes they just steal the first paragraph of whatever was there or something.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: It's not their own words. So, any newsletter where you can hear from the author and be like, "Why do you care?" man, that's the good stuff, right? It's cool that that was the foundation of Frontend Horse is not just like link, link, link, link and why, link and why, link and why.


Alex: Yeah. I try to always change the text at least, right? As you just said, it's usually a link, and then it's just the description, but the meta description from that site. Like you said, that's fine. There are definitely places for those aggregators. But for this, I always wanted there to be breakdowns of these CodePens.

The reason why the newsletter kind of came about was that I was doing this already, and it gives you an excuse to reach out to these people that are making this awesome stuff. Like Adam Kuhn was one of the first people that I was chatting with in Twitter DMs.

Chris: Nice.

Alex: He is incredible. His Pens are--

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: --still so over my head every time. I have to sit down and follow because he's someone who doesn't just combine, like, "Oh, this is SVG with an SVG filter." He's combining this Web API with that other Web API with an SVG filter with three other techniques. You're trying to wrap your head around it, but he's the friendliest guy, and he's happy to explain it.

Chris: He is. He's a technique smasher together, for sure. Some people just have a style they're chasing down, which I actually think is kind of cool.

Alex: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Chris: It's not that Adam doesn't have a style but, man, even for this podcast, which once in a while will throw a video out to this feed because - I don't know - why not. Podcasts are just XML, right? They'll take an MP4 (or whatever video, M4V - I forget).

Anyway, I reached out to Adam to do the intro for it, and we were going to call it -- when it's a video, we're going to call it "CodePen TV" just because it's CodePen Radio. You know, why not?

Alex: Right.

Chris: I was just like, "Do whatever you want," which I'm a terrible client in that way. You should probably give somebody some constraints.

Alex: [Laughter]

Chris: But I was like, "Whatever. You're a creative firehose anyway."

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: Anyway, there's an episode you can watch where it was kind of meta because I had him on to talk about it, but the technologies that he used to make this, which ended up being this TV that goes [TV static] and crinkles in, which is an homage to the beginning of this podcast, which has these weird radio number stations on it, which, if you haven't heard of that Google number station, it's one of the weirdest Wikipedia articles you'll ever read.

Alex: Oh, interesting.

Chris: Anyway, there were like eight technologies used to smash them together, including making the thing out of Web technology, then exporting it as a video and filtering that, and putting it back in - or whatever. So, I know what you're talking about with Adam and smashing technologies together. He'll just use anything to pull off an idea.


Alex: Yeah. His toolkit is just deep. He reaches in and pulls out stuff where you're just like, "I never heard of that."

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: I never knew it was a thing.

Chris: You'll add stuff in the newsletter sometimes that's not only like, "Hey, look. I'm going to maybe give you a hint as to how they did it or what technology is involved," or "Go to line 32 and comment this out," or something, and that will be the key to unlocking their brain as they're creating this because it adds dotted outlines to the party - or something. You know?

Alex: Exactly.

Chris: I love that.

Alex: Yeah. That's the whole thing is I want to take the time and go and figure it out in case people are busy and show that behind the scenes look. When it started out, when it was first just a newsletter, there were a lot more conversations with the artists. I don't get the time, unfortunately, right now to do that as much.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: Where in the beginning, it was a lot of back and forth. Almost like an interview, in a sense, but that was tough to maintain and still then go on to grow it way beyond the scope that the newsletter had originally. Yeah, it did turn into a blog because, as you said--

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: --people share blog posts. They don't usually say, "Check out this issue of this newsletter. Go look at Issue 17 and share that out to the world."

Chris: Yeah. Isn't that funny?

Alex: It's tough.

Chris: Even if it's got a perfectly good URL.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: Even if it's ostensibly a blog post anyway.

Alex: Yep.

Chris: It's not. They really are not shared as much. Okay. I could see that pushing you towards producing articles, generally, anyway. But in a newsletter, generally, the vibe is -- and kind of what people want or at least, generally, what I want is -- a bunch of links. I like that about Frontend Horse. I think if once in a while you wanted to co-op the newsletter to write something longform, hey, you know, more power to you. But there's something kind of nice about the bite sized things in a newsletter.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: But that's not enough sometimes to really say what you want to say. Is that true? Is that what pushed you towards using the website to do more longform articles too?

Alex: Yeah because I started to put it into the newsletter and I'd work all week on -- I think you've had Ilithya on to talk about Shaders. Maybe not.

Chris: I don't know that I have, but I had Lea Rosema on just last week, who is also way into Shaders.

Alex: Yes.

Chris: I think they're at least sort of friends because they reference each other's work.


Alex: Yes. They're both fantastic. Yeah, so she explained Shaders to me, and then I tried to turn it into a newsletter article, but it got so long, and there are so many images and GIFs and things that you need to include there. I'm sure you know how Gmail smacks down anything above a certain size, so you need to be careful.

I ran into so many issues where people were like, "Half of the newsletter is gone." It just didn't get delivered or there were issues.

Chris: Ooh...

Alex: All right. I need to take this to a blog. You can't embed CodePens into newsletters, so it's like your demo potential of breaking down a certain technique is really limited.

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: Yeah, just eventually you had to go to an article format.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. I think there's more value in having a URL, even if it goes to email having it, making sure you can kind of fully read it online, which you do a great job, but not everybody does.

God, there's this guy. What's his name? Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, did you ever read that book? It's a great book. You should read it. Robin Sloan.

Alex: Yeah, I've heard of that.


Chris: He's got a great newsletter, really, a good thinker, and sometimes his stuff is about tech, generally. He's a pretty smart tech guy, but sometimes it's about olive oil and stuff because he has some olive oil side business or something (with his partner).

Anyway, he's got a great -- and this newsletter is called something awesome like Frontend Horse, but his is like "The Society of the Double Daggers" or something awesome.

Alex: That's cool.

Chris: And you'll get it, but it comes in your email, and all it is like, "I wrote a new newsletter. Click this link." You know?

Alex: Interesting.

Chris: Then you just go to the website. It might be because he's earned it.

Alex: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: I don't even care. I'm like, "Fine. I'm more than happy to click that link and read your newsletter." I'm just wondering if that's pull-off-able these days. You know?

Alex: Yeah. Right? That's a great idea. That's a great format.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. You could pull it off because these get published on the Web. Great. You know? But then, is it a newsletter than, or is it a notification? [Laughter]

Alex: Right. Yeah.

Chris: I don't know. It's tricky.

Alex: It's starting to get to the point where I'm just writing an article every week, and it's like, "This is no longer the thing," so yeah. Then it became a stream and a community. It's just getting out of hand at this point.

Chris: [Laughter]

Alex: But having fun while we're going.

Chris: I like it, though. I would keep it the way it is because there's a business angle to this, which, amazingly, to me, you seem to have entirely avoided. I made it my career. CodePen is more of my career, but CSS-Tricks was too.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: It literally made pretty decent money, and I sold it because of its ability to have traffic and stuff. Although, I sold it to a company that wasn't really interested in making money the same way that it currently was making money. You don't run a single ad on here, as far as I can tell, do you?


Alex: Uh... no, I do not, at all. Frontend Horse is an entire loss leader, or however you want to put it. It's not a profitable business by any stretch.

Chris: Well, a loss leader is something because you're going to make money on something else. But this doesn't even point to anything.

Alex: It's a future loss leader, let's say.

Chris: Future...

Alex: [Laughter] Yeah. It's, "Someday, I'll have a thing, and that'll be the thing." But I mean it's been--

Chris: Wow.

Alex: The ability to talk to the people that I get to talk to has been the currency by which I've been enriched beyond my wildest dreams. Just having that excuse to be able to chat with you. I was lucky enough to have you on our winter holiday special where we raised $10,000 for charity.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: That was super cool. Had a bunch of great folks on there. Without Frontend Horse being its thing, we wouldn't have been able to do that.

Being able to reach out to guests and say, "Hey, I would love for you to come on and teach me about this thing," is really such a privilege that the least I can do is keep up a newsletter and be able to chat with folks and have this great community.

I've never been a person who has been motivated by money beyond what makes me comfortable. Right?

Chris: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Alex: Obviously, I would like a paycheck, but it's been a lot more for the community and a lot more for those kinds of things. Not trying to throw it into contrast with you, Chris, but it was just--

Chris: No. No. I just think it's interesting because some people do have trouble keeping up the motivation a little bit. Although, I would say, in the early days of CSS-Tricks, for a long, many, many years (surely more years than Frontend Horse has even existed), I didn't -- it's not that I had no ads, but I didn't care that much.

Alex: Right.

Chris: I was, in the very early days, interested in exploring what kind of money a little blog could make. But then that was just the very early days. Then what became much more addictive and fun and worth it to me was the community aspects.

Alex: Right.

Chris: If I could write a post and three people would leave a comment on it (and we're talking 2001), I'd be like--

Alex: [Laughter]

Chris: Not quite that early. It was probably more like 2009. I'd be like, "Awesome!" You know?

Alex: Yep.

Chris: I had all the motivation in the world to keep doing it. Those days are a little different because blog comments are the only way that people engage. These days, who knows. You know it could be a public tweet. It could be a DM tweet. It could be an email that you get. It could be overhearing chatter in some public Discord. It could be Discord conversations that somebody else tells you about because you're not even in that Discord.

Where engagement happens these days is scattered, but it's all good. It's all positive. You're like, "Oh, my God. People are talking about me."

Alex: Oh, yeah. No. If someone replies to one of my newsletters, I run out of the room and shout, "I have Internet friends."

Chris: [Laughter] Exactly.

Alex: [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: "I did it!" No, it is its own reward, for sure. Granted, I don't know how long I can keep up the whole Frontend Horse doesn't make any money kind of thing.

Chris: Yeah. It's absolutely free forever kind of thing. Yeah.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: That's what I would worry about for you. Not like I'm trying to push you into capitalism.

Alex: Yeah. [Laughter]

Chris: Dude, make money! I'm more worried about, you know, money buys a little sustainability. I like the future loss leader thing, though. If that's how you already thing, you're good. If you sold--

You're at -- I'm sorry -- Prismic, right?

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: Maybe you could make a Prismic theme or something that would be good for your work and sell it for $100 - or whatever. You'd sell a zillion of them because of the good will that you've bought up. You've never tried to sell anybody anything.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: People would buy it if they didn't even use Prismic, probably, because you had so much good will that you've never cashed in. So, it's going to do good for you at some point. Yeah.

Alex: Nice. Honestly, to Prismic, they would not have found me and asked me to be in the role that I'm in if it wasn't for Frontend Horse. It does pay for itself in those kinds of ways of just having a platform and people going, "Oh, look at that guy. Let's see if he wants a job."

Chris: Right.

Alex: So, that part is helpful.


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Chris: And so, to round out all that it is, it started as a newsletter.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: Then I don't know what the chronologicalness of it is, but maybe you'd get a website at some point.

Alex: Let's get it right. This is important.

Chris: Yeah.


Chris: Articles happen.

Alex: Yep.

Chris: Twitch happens at some point.

Alex: Yeah. That was after.

Chris: That seemed fairly early, too. It was after the website and articles?

Alex: Yeah. Yeah, so we're coming up on two years this month, I just realized here. May 28th.

Chris: Of Twitch stuff? Yeah.

Alex: Oh, no, no. Maybe 28, 2020 was the first issue of the newsletter. This was entirely a quarantine kind of--

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: It was a quarantine baby, basically.

Chris: This week's newsletter was 57. Meaning, if you did it every single week, you're just over year.

Alex: No. I was inconsistent for a while.

Chris: Okay.

Alex: It started to hop to articles and then streams. And just in, I think, December, I started to get consistent, actually. It's funny because I've been -- like, I haven't missed since like late December, and it's because of a conversation with Cassidy Williams who spoke very fondly of her time at CodePen and all that stuff.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: But was saying how, like, newsletters are important, and she just kind of gave a pep talk. I've been, yeah, on a really good streak since then, like 21 or so in a row. Before, it was real intermittent for a while.

Chris: Oh, nice.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, hers is super-consistent, which is surprising because, usually, the first sentence of her newsletter is just like, "Had the busiest week ever." You know? "Spoke at nine conferences."

Alex: Uh-huh. "Recorded 12 podcasts--"

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: "And here's the thing." I'm like, how? You're amazing.

Chris: Mm-hmm. Yeah, she's everywhere.

Alex: The number is deceptive. But yeah, so it's about two years old. February of '21 is when we started with the streams, like around the beginning of that.

Chris: Okay.

Alex: Yeah. It's just been great to have those folks like George Francis has come on a bunch.

Chris: Right.

Alex: Cassie Evans has come on a bunch. Those are probably the two that have come on the most from what I would consider the CodePen community. Then just had lots of other great folks on to build out really fun components or entire projects.

We just had Tom Miller on yesterday. He's fantastic. You may know him as Creative Ocean. He does lots of great stuff. Yeah, just shows us how to do a cool thing in GSAP, and it's the best.

Chris: Super cool. That's one of the things that makes me -- not feel old because I already feel old. I'm not worried about that.

Alex: [Laughter]

Chris: But you've got to embrace the ephemerality of Twitch, in a way. I'm sure you either turn on video on demand mode or whatever so people can watch them later, but don't you also pluck them out and put them on YouTube probably, right?

Alex: Yes. Yeah because Twitch is weird. Even if you put the video on demand mode on, they only let you keep it there for, like -- I forget the amount of time. It's like two weeks or a month or something maximum, no matter who you are.

Chris: Right.

Alex: You could be Ninja or whoever is the big one. They don't let you stay there. It doesn't make sense to me because it's Amazon. They have the storage. They are S3.

Chris: That's true. I wonder if it's a product market fit thing or something. Yeah, it does seem a little silly, though. Don't you want--

Alex: But they have an "Export to YouTube" button, and I'm like, why are you letting me send it so easily to your competitor, and then all of the future traffic goes there? It just feels funny.

Chris: It does feel funny.

Alex: But yeah, all of the ones with guests are over on YouTube, so they do--

Chris: Maybe it's just like a too late situation. You know?

Alex: It's just weird.

Chris: Like if you pulled that feature now, you just have super backlash. You know?

Alex: Yeah. It's really strange.

Chris: Oh, no. I think it's fun once in a while to be like, "Oh, they're streaming! I'm going to go in there. It's going to be fun." And then it's kind of fun, but it's not -- I don't know. It hasn't worked its way into my life blood yet that I'm super into watching streamers all the time. But that's the oldness coming through.

I think there are plenty of people that do really, really prefer that because there's just some -- I don't know. It's like watching live sports or whatever. You know that it's happening right now and there's kind of a cool feeling to that. But I'm just such a YouTube guy. I don't know. I almost want the Tivo-like on-demand. I'm more interested in, like, I'm on lunch, so I have time now, not at 9:32 a.m.

Anyway, anyway, so you get the best of both worlds, though, because you do the stream, but they're on YouTube anyway. The best of both worlds. Rock-n-roll. That's a part of it.

The Discord is part of it. That's fairly obvious, right? Have a community. Let them talk to each other. You've got to moderate it, but--


Alex: That was not obvious to me, actually.

Chris: Hmm.

Alex: So, that kind of came up maybe a couple of months into the streams. I'm not exactly sure when.

Chris: Hmm.

Alex: But I would stream with someone. It would go well, and it was a lot of fun. We had that same person came in to chat again. That's really cool that they keep coming back for each of these episodes, and they're chatting so much, and they're positive.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: Now there's like six of these people that keep coming back. Then there were 20 - or whatever. It was just like, the stream would go off, and they were gone, and I wouldn't see them again until the next stream. It's like, that kind of stinks, so only when it seemed like we needed it did I go for the Discord because I feel like there are so many Discords that start as soon as you have a thing, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: Like, "Hey, I just sent my first newsletter, and here's our Discord."

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: It's like, those take a lot of effort to keep up and to get going.

Chris: They do.

Alex: Without that--

Chris: It was easy to be over Slacked, and Discord is even easier. It embraces the, like, make it absolutely simple to get going on one.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: That if you weren't careful, you could have 100 Discords. My gosh.

Alex: Yeah. There are a lot of ghost Discords, so I kind of like waited for that. Yeah, it's been wonderful getting to know all of the fantastic people that have joined the Discord. It's a really friendly, positive place. I don't know. I feel like I have little to do with it just because of the first few people that joined were such good, positive people that it was more that they attracted just a great vibe, so I don't know.

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: It's been one of the most rewarding parts.

Chris: It's funny it's this many years into the Slack/Discord of the world, and people are still kind of figuring it out what it's useful for. You know?

Alex: I feel like you could say that about the Internet, though, too.

Chris: Yeah.


Alex: We're still trying to learn Internet. We're bad at it still, but--

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: We're figuring it out.

Chris: Does Prismic have one or no?


Alex: We used to have a Slack years ago, but I think it kind of fell into that thing where, yeah, it's tough to maintain if you don't have someone specifically maintaining it. Back when there were maybe like ten people working at Prismic, they had a Slack but, currently, we don't. We kind of focus on the forums right now.

Chris: Right. Yep, that's another option because--

Alex: Right.

Chris: It can be an appealing one, too, because of the slow -- potential slow buildup of SEO value to questions. You know? Because there's 100% chance that people try to -- at least some of your audience -- Google their problem before they ask. You know?

Alex: Yeah. With Slack especially, it is gone unless you're paying a ridiculous price once--

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: Because Slack charges you by the person, and they delete your history, so good luck maintaining that.

Chris: Yeah and it jumps from free to a billion dollars.

Alex: Yeah, so that is not really tenable there. With Discord at least you keep your search history. It's much more useful for this sort of thing. But yet, you're still going to get the same questions.

Chris: Right, and it's like a different value proposition. You know you're not getting any SEO value, but it could do two things. It can deliver extreme customer satisfaction. If they ask a question and then they get a real-time-ish answer (either from somebody at the company or a community member).

Alex: Right.

Chris: Then that second part, potentially people are helping each other, which is amazing.

Alex: Yes. Yeah.

Chris: Which you can kind of get in the forums too, but that real-time thing is satisfying. I reach for it all the time. I'm in the Cloudflare Slack.

Alex: Nice.

Chris: So, if I've got some question about some Cloudflare thing, the desire for me to get an answer pretty close to right now is so high that I go there first, like, "Give me the answer."

Alex: I'm the same way. I am not a forum person.

Chris: Yeah.


Alex: Prismic, for anyone who doesn't know, we are a headless CMS. It lets you ship a headless page builder, so we have a lot of people in the forum asking how to integrate Prismic with some framework or how to do a certain thing with it.

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: But yeah, I have never been a forum person. I might have posted in the Greensock forums twice in my life.

Chris: Mm-hmm. They embrace it pretty heavily.

Alex: Yeah, but those are great forums because smarter people than I have asked questions before, and then you'll have Blake or Cassie (or Zach before them) answering those questions.

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: And yeah, there's always something there. I don't have to ask questions in the Greensock forums because of how thorough everyone else has been already. Right?

Chris: Yeah. That's pretty huge. Yeah, it can work out. It can work out great, and there's no reason you can't have both at some point.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: I mean it does get a little extreme though. But yeah, the worst thing you can do is just like, "Here, we have one," and you don't make it anybody's job.

Alex: Yes, exactly.

Chris: It's not moderated, not organized.

Alex: "I'm sure we'll get around to it. Yeah. We'll find time for it." No, you won't. You will not unless you carve it out.

Chris: No, you've got to make it somebody's job or part of the culture somehow. You know?


Alex: How do you do it with CodePen? CodePen seems to have a positive internal culture where I'll always see people on the staff liking or commenting on things. Is that something that you've built in?

Chris: No, not really. I think that's just for fun. For the record, we have experimented a little with that chatty stuff, too, and do not have either a Slack or a Discord for CodePen.

Alex: Right.

Chris: We've had a couple of different stabs at forum-ish stuff in the past and don't have that anymore either. Weird, right? It's going to come back. I want it.

Alex: Right.

Chris: I think it's the right community for it. I'm just waiting for the reason I have in mind to launch it, and then we will launch it then. It should be good, but I'm going to be super cognizant at the beginning of, like: What is this? What is it for? What are the expectations of my staff to deal with it, and what can somebody expect by joining it?

I think if you lay out those expectations and prove them to be true that it will work out nicely.

Alex: I think that's a really good way to look at it. Yeah. If you kind of state at the door, "This is how it is," and not rely so much on--

I have had things like that before where if people are just passionate, they will go do it in their spare time or their free time. It all just happened, however. But I think those kinds of communities need to be built with intent because otherwise they can kind of take on a shape of its own.

I wouldn't say that with the CodePen communities because I think already just in the comments of Pens, I rarely ever see negativity or people being sarcastic of, like, "This is really cool. Wow," or maybe that's every comment on my Pens. I'm not sure. Sarcasm is hard on the Internet. [Laughter]

Chris: I don't know. Yeah. I'm sure I wouldn't say that there's never been any bad behavior, but I rarely see it either.

Alex: Yeah, sure.

Chris: It's also in the -- we tend to have done the work ahead of time, usually. For example, you can control it. If you don't like somebody's comment on your Pen, you can delete it.

Alex: Right.

Chris: You have that power. You can also block people.

Alex: Cool.

Chris: This is a very under-used feature on CodePen, but that should be there because it's a community. It's just an open community, and anybody can follow anybody else. Because of that, I think it's the responsibility of a community to offer social controls. Ours should probably be even more robust, but the fact is that this blocking mechanism is used so little on CodePen, and there's never -- not like a waiting to react for something. We wanted to build some things ahead of time.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: Just knowing how little of a problem it is and how much other work we have to do, it's kind of been kind of good enough for now, I'll say.


Alex: No, it's great. I do just want to say, back to the very first comments, thank you for saying that. But also, this entire thing was built on CodePen and just what CodePen uncovered for me or what I loved about it. I haven't seen that kind of creative coding community (at least not for front-end Web development) anywhere else. If it wasn't for CodePen, none of this would exist. Yeah, thank you for CodePen. Thank you to everyone who makes CodePens and answers my questions.

Chris: [Laughter]

Alex: And comes on the show and everything because that's everything to me. It's been a really fun two years with that.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you. We really try to embrace that because the community aspects of it are not--

It's a tricky thing to have fostered over the years, and a real kind of advantage for us that I want to hold onto as we build other things. That's going to be top of mind forever because communities are tough to build, tough to foster, tough to hold onto.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: I'm doing all we can to do it. In thinking of this chat stuff, with Frontend Horse, it's kind of like just community, right? That's kind of a cool reason to be part of that. Anybody who clicks that icon for any reason, they just know they're in for a bit of fun almost and like-mindedness, in a way.

CodePen is mostly like that, but it's different in a sense that it's a product too, and it's a product that you can pay for, too. All of a sudden, in that Discord, it can be like--

That's what I mean by expectations and stuff. It could be like a channel for--

Support will get mixed with community stuff.

Alex: That makes sense.

Chris: It's one thing to say, "This is our community Slack. Never ask any questions."

Alex: [Laughter]

Chris: It's just not going to happen. There needs to be a place to vent or yell at us or something, too. That's going to be a little trickier to pull off. Anyway, that was just my thought.

We didn't get to talk about Prismic much, but I'm sure we'll talk again. It won't be too long, I'm sure, and you can tell us all about that.

Alex: Uh-huh.

Chris: That would be cool. I need to look at it more. It looks like a beautiful product. I was aware of it, of course, before this call. I'm such a WordPress guy, but I'm always torn between two worlds where I'm like, I like the WordPress CMS but I don't like building the front-end of WordPress sites because it's not this JavaScript framework nicety DX that I want out of the world.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: It kind of looks like Prismic -- I don't know. It's like a CMS that supports the world of, for example, building in Next.js or something, which I already like.

Alex: Yeah, it's great. I'm always going to say try it, but if you're a WordPress guy, maybe headless WordPress is the thing because you have been working with that for so long.

I love Prismic. I worked with it for a while before I got the job of being the developer experience engineer over there.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Alex: But yeah, I've never been one to say, "It is the tool for every single job. Every site needs to be this."

Chris: Yeah.

Alex: But it's definitely a good solution.

Chris: Cool. Well, thanks for that. Thanks for joining me here on CodePen Radio, Alex. I hope to talk to you soon. Have a good one.

Alex: Thanks, Chris. Take care.

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