I’m back in the saddle this week after returning from Build, a conference in Northern Ireland, expertly assembled by Andy McMillan. It was a great event, and a nice way to cap off a busy year of speaking. Build was my last event till 2012. I decided I need some time off to recharge, focus on some other things, not be away from the family, and take a good long while before thinking about diving into Keynote again to construct a fresh talk. Looking forward to attending an event or two in 2011.

Handcrafted CSS Nashville: The Rebound Contest

With early bird pricing for Handcrafted CSS Nashville (a full-day workshop presented by myself and Mr. Ethan Marcotte) winding down, we thought we’d run a little contest to giveaway two free tickets to the event on June 21st and other prizes.

Ethan has all the details on how to enter: a Dribbble playoff of the beloved Baskerville italic ampersand. You don’t need to be a Dribbble member to enter! In fact, we’ll be giving away two Dribbble invitations as part of the contest.

Hit us with your best shot, and hope to see you in Nashville next month!

Introducing Dribbble

Let the games begin! Rich Thornett and I have been building Dribbble for what seems like years (oh wait, it has been that long). About a week ago, we quietly rolled back the curtain so the public could finally see what’s been happening in private beta. I’m pretty damned excited about this.

Firstly, what is Dribbble? From the FAQ:

Dribbble is show and tell for designers, developers and other creatives. Members share sneak peeks of their work as “shots” — small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on. It’s also a place to talk design, give and receive feedback and iterate toward better work.

By posing the question, “What are you working on?“, Dribbble creates a 400 × 300 pixel window into the creative process that didn’t exist previously (many of you may remember Cameron Moll’s Screengrab Confab back in 2004, an early inspiration). A place to peek over the shoulder of those creating beautiful things, leaking works-in-progress or teasing with glimpses of unreleased projects. A place to discover new designers, illustrators, developers and other creatively-minded folks to give and receive feedback. And a place to iterate and play off the shots of others. What Rich and I have been actually creating is a community.

We’ve bootstrapped Dribbble 100%, working on it in our free time. I’ve been continuing the writing, speaking, client work, etc. that happens here at SimpleBits, while Rich is a full-time Ruby on Rails Developer at Cambridge-based PatientsLikeMe. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to create between the two of us, while juggling other responsibilities. Working on this with Rich has been one of the most exciting, challenging and enjoyable projects I’ve worked on to date, and I’m feeling very fortunate to have been able to collaborate with him right here in Salem (truly the next big web hub, yeah?)

I also couldn’t be happier with the path we’ve taken with developing Dribbble: a slow one. Building the community one member at time. Worrying about details. Iterating constantly. Listening to feedback. We’ve never been in a rush.

Quality has been one of our main priorities since opening up the beta some 9 months ago. It’s the reason Dribbble is still invitation only. Not because it’s an elite hangout, but that having the community draft new talent keeps the cat photos out (almost) and helps us scale the app as needed.

Much much more to write and talk about going forward. But for now, it’s great to have the court opened up to the public, and we’re looking forward to making the experience even better and growing the community. For now, get in there and check out some of the amazing things that people are working on. It’s truly inspiring.

Handcrafted CSS Nashville

I’m pleased to announce Ethan and I are bringing the Handcrafted CSS workshop to Nashville! We’ll reprise of the one-day course we organized last September here in Salem, Massachusetts and again last November in London with Carsonified.

As always, each attendee will get a copy of the book (Handcrafted CSS: Video Edition including the DVD) and we’ll spend the day walking through much of its content and more. This event was a great success in New England and Old England, and we’re thrilled to bring it south, to Tennessee.

So join us on June 21st at the historic Hermitage Hotel right smack in downtown Nashville (steps away from the famed Ryman Auditorium and other sights). For more info on the event and to book a place (there’s a max of 100 spots), visit the Handcrafted CSS Workshop site.

New at the Shop

A few weeks ago, we moved the studio (affectionately dubbed the BitCave) across the street to newer, slightly larger digs. It’s more comfortable, the windows open, we have our own temperature controls–you know, real lavish stuff.

Yesterday, we relaunched the SimpleBits Shop, bringing the fulfillment back in house. Our slightly larger space is able to accomodate the stock, and now each order will be lovingly hand-packed by resident Commerce Director, Meagan Fisher. I’m excited to grow this arm of the business, since it fulfills a creative outlet for non-digital goods.

New at the shop is the Bit Monsters limited edition letterpress print. Just 200 copies, signed and numbered. It was printed here in Massachusetts (New Bedford, to be exact) at EM Letterpress, who I can’t recommend enough. I had the pleasure of visiting the press while the print ran, and watched and learned about the process from owner Elias Roustom. Here’s a video taken that day of the print process on the Heidelberg Windmill.

Also available, in limited quantity, is the official Dribbble tee. We’ll be ordering more sizes, and more importantly announcing news about the site and its launch very soon.

Events in 2010

This year will be a busy one in terms of speaking events. I’m currently crafting a brand new talk titled, “The CSS3 Experience”. It’ll focus on enriching the experience layer with advanced CSS and CSS3. Everyone can easily add enhancements to to their designs when focusing on the interactions and events that happen on the page. And by targeting the user experience with these new and evolving standards, you can start using these flexible techniques now, on any site, with less worry.

Well damn, that sounded rather pitchy, didn’t it? That’s partially because the talk may very well also turn into a new book/DVD bundle, and the details of that are being worked out. Simply writing this blog post is helping hone the focus.

Several conference dates have already been set for 2010, including all five (gulp!) An Event Apart shows:

Hope to see you at one of these events!

Things I Saw Today

There is no fold. Viva la scroll!

I hate camera straps. But LumaLoop looks like it could be the savior of my camera-carrying woes.

The ABCs of Branding is a sweet poster that’s “…foil stamped and embossed to create an alphabet composed of letters from many of the more famous (and some infamous) logos of all time”.

I also saw photos of an amazing art installation made entirely of large quantities of salt.

Things I Saw Today

The incomporable Jason Santa Maria has officially launched his own studio, Mighty. Congrats!

Parliment Design has one of the most beautiful studio interiors I’ve seen. With lots of detailed photos about the process of creating it. (via)

Art in my coffee gets a fresh new design by Meagan Fisher (co-curated by Meagan and Jina Bolton). Foamy awesomeness, indeed.

idsgn’s holiday gift guide suggests some pretty neat things, including our own Ampersandwich tee.

Things I Saw Today

My favorite iPhone game (and my son’s) is new and improved and now free. Grab Ramp Champ if you haven’t already.

The Raphaël JavaScript library does some interesting vector drawing stuff. The chart demos are particularly cool.

A newly-produced Muppets version of Bohemian Rhapsody? Yes, it’s real (and quite awesome). (via)

There are many reasons to love Pictory, a new photo magazine from Laura Brunow Miner and Jeff Croft. Editorally-driven submissions from photographers and storytellers around the world, beautifully executed.

I also stumbled upon Instant Chewbacca, which will likely come in handy at some point. (via)

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