April 10th, 2012
Months of work big. Finally!
Spinto goes into public beta today.
Web editors and programmers use Spinto to build websites together. Editors change websites visually, and their changes are saved in Git for programmers.
The Simple Web
A few decades later than we might have hoped, it looks like we’ve found a pretty great tool for collaboration. It’s called Git, and it is everywhere now. If you work with any kind of code and don’t know what Git is today, you will soon. Sooner than you think.
There is a small snafu though. Git is a little, er, intimidating. For people who aren’t familiar with coding or the tools of the web, Git is going to be out of reach.
Timmy was Pretty Smart
Tim Berners-Lee famously created HTML, the cornerstone (one of the big ones) of the Web. But the fact that we write and read HTML as code is a mistake. Tim was a smart guy (and still is!). He knew writing code is hard, and not everyone is going to do it. So HTML was designed as a visually editable language.
Visual editors are just plain hard. A few decades later than we might have hoped, it looks like we might be getting back to editing the web in a visual way. Browsers are giving us new tools for making webpages editable with a click. It’s not perfect, yet. It’s getting better.
A Lingua Franca
Collaboration needs a lingua franca, a common language. Git is going to become our lingua franca of source code collaboration, if it isn’t already, and HTML is just source code.
Spinto brings non-programmers into the Git work-flow with a visual editor. Content editors and programmers stay in sync, in a way that a traditional CMS really can’t match. Some examples of why this gets me excited:
Tim (our programmer) plays in a killer rock band on the weekends. He built this totally rockin’ custom website by hand. Nick offers to write a bio for the band and put up some photos. Tim adds him to the website on Spinto. Nick, who isn’t quite sure what a “tag” is, logs in and make his changes without reading a word about Git. Even though that’s where his changes are saved. Because Tim specifies what parts of the page are editable, he knows nothing can go too wrong.
Tim’s fellow-programmer and friend Jill asks him to help change the design on a client’s webpage. Jill adds him to the project on Spinto, and Tim uses Git to fetch the website. It’s just one command to type, and Tim has all the source code, all the content, and all the history of changes to the website at his fingertips. No databases, no complex instructions.
Sam hired a designer to build a website for his restaurant last year, and they put it on Spinto. He wants to redesign the menu page to match his new menus, but the email address he has for the designer isn’t getting him in touch. Sam is terrible with remembering passwords, but Spinto logs him in with his Gmail account, and when he adds Tim to his Spinto site Tim can make changes right away. No confusing FTP credentials to keep track of, and because Spinto sites only use common web tools, Tim is confident he can work with the source code.
All Together Now
Spinto’s public beta is the proving ground for this idea, the idea that building the web should be radically simple for source code hackers and content editors. There are tradeoffs involved when you aim for radical, and there are many situations where Spinto will not be the right tool. But I hope where you do use it, you and your team have some of the most fun building websites you’ve had in a while.
Build something with the Spinto beta: www.spintoapp.com
And send me your feedback, thoughts, and troubles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, get out there and make some more web!