Introducing…SketchPoints!

Introducing…SketchPoints!

About 6 months ago, Nathan Walker and I got accepted to speak at the biggest Angular conference of the year, ng-conf. Our talk that got accepted was called Super-Powered, Server-Rendered Progressive Native Apps. The idea was to talk about the best practice for building a JavaScript app that targets multiple platforms (i.e. iOS, Android, the web, etc.) at the same time. After going through a number of prototype iterations we settled on a concept that we named xplat. However, to really demonstrate the power of this idea, we felt like we needed to create a legit, “real world” product that utilizes all the xplat concepts.

That’s when Nathan came up with an awesome idea.

There’s this artist named Andy McNally who draws sketch notes for Apple’s WWDC and other big events. His stuff is super awesome and really informative. Both Nathan and I love reading sketch notes so we thought…why don’t we build an app that allows artists to easily create sketch art online and allows people like us to easily find and consume this art?

That’s when SketchPoints was born.

We built this initially for ng-conf, but in the future we want to open up the platform to other artists and many more events and add many more features. Our vision is that consumers in the future will be able to use SketchPoints to enhance nearly any online or in-person event experience.

So, if you love this idea like we do and want to see it grow, please upvote SketchPoints on ProductHunt.

2018 Tech Predictions

2018 Tech Predictions

I haven’t done this for a few years, but now is as good a time as any to throw out there some technology predictions for 2018.

  1. Voice-enabled App Explosion – 2017 was an amazing year for sales of Google Home, Amazon Echo/Dot and many other voice-based devices. The ecosystem for creating apps on these devices, however, is still pretty new. However, you are starting to see some super early adopters figure things out. For example, the KAYAK app for Google Assistant is really good. Expect many more like that in 2018 along with a lot of amazing innovation in the underlying platforms. It won’t be long before getting your business on these voice-based platforms will be as important as native mobile platforms.
  2. GraphQL Gets Real – The interest surrounding GraphQL is sky high. In the 2017 State of JavaScript Survey 60% of the responders said they have heard of GraphQL and are interested in learning it (compared to only 12% that actually know it and use it today). I am a huge fan of the technology, but also the general concept of having a standard framework for the back end. I think by next year’s survey, the percent of people that use GraphQL will double or even triple. Also, as a secondary part of this prediction, I think once more people fully understand the power of the underlying concepts behind GraphQL, there will be at least one similar competing backend framework that breaks out on the scene.
  3. Machine Learning Goes Mainstream – Similar to GraphQL, the interest among developers to learn ML currently far outweighs the actual legit production usage. However, even through this past year I saw I significant change in the quality and quantity of practitioners who attended my Boston AI Meetup. The knowledge base and tooling for ML is increasing and getting better every day. For example, if you haven’t already, you should check out MachineLabs which makes it really easy for newbies to get started and for anyone to share their ML models and code.
  4. Angular Finds Its (New) Groove – While I don’t think Angular will ever dominate mindshare like it did in 2013, I do think it will pick up steam for people in two specific situations: 1) when you want to have one team that builds one app that runs on multiple platforms 2) when you would rather buy into one end-to-end solution for all aspects of frontend development instead of piecing together your own custom stack of disparate technologies. There is a lot packed into this that I will have to expand on in a future blog post.
  5. SEO Gets Even Harder to Hack – I have spent the past month focusing a lot of energy on SEO for GetHuman (after taking a couple years off). At first I was really shocked at how bad Google has gotten (compared to 3+ years ago) at picking out obvious spammers (for certain search terms). Then I started reading about how Google is starting to rely more on Google RankBrain (an AI-driven system for processing search results). It typically takes a long time and a lot of data to fine tune large, complex Machine Learning (ML) models. When you see incorrect results with a ML model, it is not always easy to get rid of those results. You have to tweak the model in small ways so that you get rid of the bad results without adversely affecting the good results. Despite this challenge, I know many amazing engineers at Google like John Mu are hard at work on this problem. By the end of 2018, I predict there will be a major breakthrough and spam (i.e. low quality search results that are often trying to make a quick buck off you) will be eliminated from most search results once again.