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Striking the Right Balance on Content: A Conversation with Chris Coyier

In many cases, the business side and the engineering side of content seem to be working at odds with each other. Developers want tools for content that are flexible and easy to integrate with their preferred tools while the business users want the ease of editing, previewing and publishing, without needing developer intervention.

Over the course of his career, Chris Coyier has been on both sides of the issue, having built a business focused on publishing content while also being a developer working on the code. In this discussion, we’ll chat about some of the challenges in choosing the right tools for handling content, how to balance the needs of the business users and the needs of developers, and hear about his experiences with full-stack solutions like Wordpress to fully composable “Jamstack” solutions.

Chris is a web designer and developer that tries to help other people get better at those things. He’s also the co-founder of CodePen, a social development environment for web designers and developers.

Chris has co-hosted a podcast called ShopTalk, a show about building websites, for over 10 years and 500 episodes. He also built CSS-Tricks, a website all about building websites, and ran it for 15 years, from 2007 to 2022, before selling it to DigitalOcean.


Brian Rinaldi 0:13
I’m really excited to have Chris Coyier here. Most of you probably already know who Chris is. But Chris is a web designer and developer that tries to help other people get better at those things. He’s also co founder of code pen, co founder, social develop social development environment for web designers and developers. Chris has co hosted a podcast called Shop Talk show about building websites for over 10 years and 500 episodes. He also built CSS tricks. Some of you may have heard of that one, a website all about building websites, and it ran for 15 years from two and he ran it for 15 years from 2007 to 2022, before he sold it to Digital Ocean. So we’re thrilled to have Chris here for just a fun discussion. Welcome, Chris.

Chris Coyier 1:04
Hey, thanks for having me. Hope it holds up for you. Yeah, this is really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference. It’s all about content before, but I couldn’t resist when you asked me that, because I was like, oh, that sounds so cool. I don’t know. Because I like I like live in that world, but a little outside of it. Because I’m like a mostly a tech guy, I guess. But obviously content is pretty close to my heart.

Brian Rinaldi 1:29
Yeah, yeah, I, you know, it was kind of a I get these wacky ideas for events all the time. And I’m like, you know, what, if we do talk about this, nobody ever talks about that. So that’s what I tried to like, and this was this was one of them. So okay, one of the reasons I wanted to have you on is because you’ve kind of been on both sides of like, the coin, you know, you have been, you know, the developer who developed a site that was all, like focused on content, and you have also been the, you know, the person in charge of content and one of the main creators of that content. And so like, I felt like you had a particular expertise for, for both of these things, especially because, you know, one of the things that it strikes me, in all my years and doing this stuff, is that the needs of developers tend to be pulling in one direct direction, and the needs of like, the marketers and content creators are pulling in the other is that is that your experience, too? And if so, how have you handled it?

Chris Coyier 2:34
I mean, that would be unfortunate, a little bit, you know, you’d like to think that people could all be on the same team and pulling in the same direction on things, but I think I get what you mean that, that, I don’t know, developers often prioritize simplicity, and, you know, deterministic things and whatever. And because of that, there’s there is some weight on developer shoulders, like when things go wrong, it tends to be developers who are left to to pick it up. You know, and if there’s some desire to do something new on the site, guess who implements it, it’s the developers, you know, so there’s, there tends to be work put on their plate. And it tends to be a little uneven to, you know, here’s an idea might come from anywhere. And how hard that is to implement is totally, you know, who knows, you know, it could be afternoon, or it could be a month long thing and be like, you know, developers are guarded, because of that you’re like, what are you going to do to me next? You know, you got to think, I don’t know, I think of that in a way. Whereas, whereas if you’re in marketing, you’re just like, oh, we should do this, you know, and I like that, you know, like, it’s good to you don’t want you want to encourage ideas. I mean, that’s, that’s good stuff, but without them having a technical background, which they may not, then what, you know, that the they could be coming up with a month long development project, just out of thin air.

Brian Rinaldi 3:57
Yeah, totally. I mean, you know, the, the reason I said that, this is like more, because I felt like, you know, from a marketer, content creator standpoint, I want more flexibility, I want to be able to do whatever it like, and not have to ask the developer, hey, you know, I wouldn’t be able to do this in and I need you to implement it. Whereas the developer, like, tends to want to kind of constrain those issues because they can cause problems on the site, maybe accessibility issues, maybe just, you know, you know, design issues, like, you know, oh, I suddenly give you an editor that allows you to pick colors and then suddenly your colors, your choosing rainbow colors for text kind of thing. And, you know, not that, that happens that commonly but just an exact an idea that you give more flexibility and it gives you more room to have something that is broken.

Chris Coyier 4:49
Oh, I see what you’re saying. Okay. Yeah. I always you know, have you ever used notion, that app for, I don’t know, I think you might be marked down based under the hood, but you’re really, you’re really just crafting documents and databases and stuff, I always appreciated their approach to it. Because you can change the text color and notion and you can even put a background color on certain things and you can put a header up here and but they will they don’t let you do too much. It’s not a it’s not a totally open playing field. As far as document design, there’s no just arbitrary color picker and notion. And I always liked that they put those like it was like bumper Bowling for documents kinda like you can’t pick a bad color, you can’t the all of all the colors, they’re all going to be fine, even yellow in notion is kind of going to be fine, which I think is just smart. You know, like, if you are in the CMS world that might be tempting to, to look at that. Like, can we do the same kind of thing, where we give people lots of control, and you can do cool things, but but nothing that’s gonna like totally ruin the legibility, readability accessibility of the content.

Brian Rinaldi 5:57
So okay, we got our first question from the audience. Somebody named Cassidy, you may have heard of her. So, Cassidy says, Chris, I’ve always admired just how much content you produce all the time do you have? Do you have like a queue of ideas that you are going? Or do you just sit down and write?

Chris Coyier 6:18
on? I mean, also, thank you, Cassidy. And I admire you as well. Cassidy also produces an absolute ton of content. So high five to content people here. I tend to rock the ideas thing. So yeah, I’ll give you two. One of them is I use the Mac App things, which is just a To Do app. And it’s like $50. And I just can’t, can’t believe that they get that for this app. But at the same time, I’m like, Oh, it’s my favorite. It works. So super well. Anyway, it’s just a really nice to do app. And I use it for all kinds of stuff. But it’s, it’s just personal to me. But I have like a for this blog. And it’s just loaded with ideas. And I’ve recently even started to do like a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, like bucket, and then like drag ideas into them almost to like force myself to do it. Like that idea that’s happening on that day. Or if it’s something weekly, as like, as you know, I’m at code pen. And I’ve started doing since the since I sold CSS tricks, I could not turn my brain off to like, stop producing content. So I kind of started just doing a weekly, you know, and Cassie does a weekly to y’all get her newsletter, right? Super good. Anyway, I called a Christmas corner, maybe a little self righteous or something there. But I put it in our weekly newsletter at code pen. And the way that I handle that one is, is in notion that I just mentioned, they have this tool called the notion Web Clipper, which is a pretty neat tool. It’s just a browser extension. And any page that you’re on, you can just activate the browser extension. And it will drop it into a database with like the title, the URL, some metadata, I added columns, like tags. So if I it’s an article about CSS, I’ll tag it CSS, and things like that. And I’ll just accumulate this big database full of links, right? Like if Cassidy writes a great article, which she does all the time, I’ll it’ll probably end up in there. And I’ll probably tag it. And then by virtue of the tags, they’ll be like, Ooh, I have like five tags about that thing. I wonder if there’s like something in the water in the industry right now. And I can kind of connect the threads. In a way somehow. I’ll try. I’ll try to do that if I can. So that ends up being like a source for writing, that I won’t just like, sit down and be like, What should I write about? Chances are I’ll be staring at this like wall of links, trying to find something that I want to say about them. In a way.

Brian Rinaldi 8:42
Yeah. Yeah. You know, I’d love especially on your blog lately, like ever since you’ve moved on from CSS tricks, like, you’re kind of talking about all different topics, and you usually pick like, Oh, here’s a here’s a blog post, I found interesting, that kind of spurred a bunch of thoughts in and go from there. And it’s been, it’s been like, I enjoy reading those a lot. And Cassidy also says that she’s a huge fan of Chris’s corner. And by the way, it’s so.

Chris Coyier 9:11
Nice, I get a really weirdly little feedback on that, that newsletter that is mostly written by Marie Mosley at at CodePen, she picks out the stuff that goes into that newsletter and we send it out each week is read by millions of people, you know, it’s just, but for whatever reason, the medium or something, it’s not like we get a lot of people that that hit reply to the email and respond, maybe they know they can’t do that. There’s not exactly a call to action in there, but I get it’s weird to write and get so little feedback, but I guess that’s a part of content too. You know, for anybody out there running documentation sites or blogs or anything. Do you choose to accept feedback, you know, like in documentations, you’ll see like the thumbs up thumbs down. I think that’s like kind of a cool, lightweight way to get feedback was this Ah, helpful or not, but on a blog, it’s often just a comment form. And that’s a real choice. That on or off, you know,

Brian Rinaldi 10:10
I took them off, because it just wasn’t like that I didn’t get very many in the ones I was getting. I mean, granted, my blog doesn’t get much traffic.

Chris Coyier 10:18
Yeah. Could be a lot of technology for a little.

Brian Rinaldi 10:21
Yeah, but, but, you know, even when I did, some, they were often like, relevant or spammy, but Cassidy as a follow up question, How often do you revisit your old content and or rewrite any of it, if ever?

Chris Coyier 10:37
Um, while that’s a good question on CSS tricks, it was pretty often actually, surprisingly, so for example, we’d have I’d have a page like an admin page, that would just list all the articles we had in their Almanac, and that page, that was like a almost like alphabetical list of CSS features, values and properties. And I would, I would just have a dumb WordPress loop that would just query for all of them, you know, like, return them all, and order them by last updated date, in descending order, or whatever, the oldest ones at the top. So you’d be like, Oh, that page hasn’t been touched since like, 2009. You know, like, that probably would do it. And I would just, you know, that’s, that’s like couch writing, just hit the edit button on that post look in there. You can even do it mindlessly, like Oh, this isn’t using, like some of the latest conventions that we do in these posts. So I’ll just fix that up. And that kind of turns your brain on and be like, Oh, that’s not right. anymore. Let me fix that up quick, you know, and just hit save. And you get this like, internal good feeling that the last updated date on it is newer, which we would you could see in the almanac would say last updated on you know, and I even think that Google appreciates that too. And that, that there’s, and that’s just a feat that I don’t have anything to back that up. But I have a feeling when when I just I had a gut instinct that, you know, Google was was good. SEO wise to CSS tricks, and that, and yeah, you know, good tell that updated content. Maybe they gave us some points for that or something. Yeah, my personal blog, I don’t go back that often, you know, you know, what helped was when WordPress switched from the old editor to the new block editor, you could open it up, and you could click this very satisfying button, that would be like update to blocks. And it would like attempt to make it into the block, Enter. And I’d be like, yeah, that looks good. And then I would save it. And it was just a cheap way to just look at an old post, because that my personal blog has been around even longer. And when I was writing, I was like, in my young, 20s. And Stein, I would write some stuff that was a little like, you know, either really dumb or like, maybe put it in something that might even have been like something you could send or hurtful these days, you know, I’d say so a word that do we don’t say anything or something like that. But a lot of times I just delete it. Like I don’t, I’m not such an archivist that that old dumb thought needed to stick around, you know, like, be gone with it.

Brian Rinaldi 13:06
So yeah, I remember once upon a time, I basically wiped years worth of blog history, just because it was just going to be it’s like now I don’t, you know, it’s fine. Even the nominees go back to those the world, but it’s gonna be a pain to migrate it in. Anyway, um, so so. Okay, let’s see, we got one more question. I’m gonna go back to the questions here. Kyle asks, What kind of tagged you put on the articles? So I guess, I guess he’s talking about when you tag the links, and put them into your system? What kind of tags you put on?

Chris Coyier 13:44
Yeah, that’s a good question. You don’t have to tag anything if you don’t want to, you know, just that is a choice. And I think it should be a premeditated choice. That happens early on. I think it’s if it’s always weird to me to, to just two years into producing content somewhere, but like, I’m gonna start, I’m gonna just put the tag lunch on this one, you know, like, what do you do and I, it’s almost worse for me to to do that. Because then you’re like, then now you have this half assed tag system that’s just not helping anybody feel like if you’re gonna do it, you’re like, you know what, I’m gonna start taking content taxonomy seriously. Then take it seriously, then schedule a day or something where you’re gonna go tag everything you ever wrote on this site, that and then incorporate into the design of the site so that the tags are really there. That can be useful, it can be cool. I’m sometimes jealous of sites that have like really good, robust tagging stuff, you know, you ever read Kottke He has been tagging for a million years on that site. And I feel like it’s almost like second brainy. You know, people swear by it and obsidian right that it’s the tags are this way to connect content when you’re leaving your notes and stuff that help your brain draw connections to things that it should be that can be true of a content site as well be like, Oh, when’s the last time I posted something about cool typography? Maybe typography is a tag then on your site and just clicking on that tag will show you everything you ever wrote about it. I think there’s some value there. I don’t know if there’s SEO value there. I don’t know. It seems to me like a tricky, Arnaud. Like, I don’t know that there’s so much value in tags that every site in the world should do it. Unclear Yeah.

Brian Rinaldi 15:33
I struggled with this even like trying to see if he because I added tags. Because the I had like kind of top level categories. And they got so big that I’m like, well, it’s not very useful anymore. You need to kind of

Chris Coyier 15:45
And use like category not tag, right? Some sites WordPress is notorious for this has had both. But what’s the difference?

Brian Rinaldi 15:52
Yeah, I have both.

Chris Coyier 15:52
What’s the difference between a category and attack? It’s they have some in the UI of the site. But really, it’s just an arbitrary taxonomy. And it just so happens that they made categories. Well, how do you say like, they can have a parent child relationship, whereas tags are flat and cannot? But, you know, that’s these are strict questions for the real content strategists which is, which is not me really.

Brian Rinaldi 16:18
Yeah, not me either. But you know, I put them the difference for me was the categories were broad. And tags were very precise. So like,

Chris Coyier 16:28
right, right. Right, right.

Brian Rinaldi 16:31
So by the way, Cassidy mentioned, there’s a plugin for Obsidian called Tag Wrangler. That’s amazing. It’s open source. And when I apply it to your other stuff, I think, yeah, so

Chris Coyier 16:41
What I could see would be cool as even if there’s some AI tool or something that could look at a whole body of work and suggest tags for it and then make it more like a okay, not okay system? Because that does doesn’t that sound daunting? Did anybody sweat? When I said go back through your entire body of work and apply tags to it? That sounds awful. But you know, yeah, imagine a, a one time use AI tool kind of helping you with that, which could be cool.

Brian Rinaldi 17:07
Yeah, that would have been nice. I mean, I only had like 250 post things to go back through. But it still hasn’t been the but go one by one manually tagging them. I do want to actually get a little bit to the tools and technology like stuff with so because I mean, you did CSS tricks was WordPress, your blog, you said was WordPress? Or is WordPress, right? And then you’ve also I remember you doing a lot of stuff with like JAMstack tools and other headless type stuff. You know what, in your experience, like having done kind of both things, we’re where do you like? How do you choose between them for a project? What are the pros and cons that you see each? And then we only got

Chris Coyier 17:54
that? It’s the ultimate question, though, isn’t it and I’ve really I feel super strongly about how weird we’ve gotten ourselves into in this in the world of content, because I am, I’m like a hot on both trains. Meaning like I like I like my WordPress baby, I really I have a lot of years invested up into it. And I think the content creation story on WordPress is phenomenal. I can write a blog post so fast in a such a satisfying way. Oh, type B type type, oops, select, I’m gonna hit Command B and bold that sentence, oh, I need a video or like an image, I’m just going to drag and drop it in there. And I’m going to upload it and it’s going to be optimized, it’s going to use responsive images can do all this smart stuff, oh, I need to have two left and right columns over here. Oh, in the left column, I’m gonna make a highlight color with a background of orange. Like you can do all this stuff, which is Clicky. Click, click, click quickly. It’s amazing. And then I just hit publish, I can have you know pre publishing reminders in there. I could think I can tell you if I made a list of 100 things that makes creating content and WordPress great. I could do it. I could I could tell you, man, this is amazing place to write content. But the DX of building sites in WordPress, well, it’s not like groundbreaking Lee awful it’s kind of bad, like this idea of, of handcrafting PHP templates and prettier doesn’t even really do PHP that well. You imagine writing code without prettier? It’s the worst. They don’t have. They don’t really have a good story for component tree, which is like all the developers of the entire world, every JavaScript framework in the world’s like, oh, you build components, you pass it props, and you style the components themselves. And that’s how you build sites. The DX has skyrocketed on that side of the fence. And jam stack gets to take advantage of that a lot of the JAMstack key sites like Astro I’m totally on the Astro train amazing product says build whatever components you want. I mean, I ended up thinking you’re going to veer towards using Astro components but still like they tend they support spell components and all that stuff. They have a pretty good story that way, like the DX world and JAMstack land is so good. It’s phenomenally better than WordPress. So isn’t that weird? Like, it’s when you start a new site, you’re like, do I want my my beautiful content creation machine WordPress, or, or, but then on zimsec said, it’s like, oh, just right, just use markdown. You’re like, yeah, markdowns, okay. I don’t like hate markdown, but then if you’re really seriously going to be making a lot of content quickly, you probably should hate markdown. It’s not I don’t find it an efficient way to, to craft stuff. I don’t know. Yeah, whatever. It’s, it’s a weird situation.

Brian Rinaldi 20:42
I, you know, you kind of made my point about, like, the two sides pulling in different directions, right, like, you know, but this is my great, you know, writing experience, but that’s my great developer experience. And, and somehow they like, you know, the, the can’t seem to have both at the same time. And, and even getting to mark down like, one of the things I’ve, I’ve often had to remind developers is like, but why can’t they just write markdown? Like, we’re talking about content, like, content writers, we’re not developers, and it’s like, Markdown is actually kind of difficult. It’s like, I mean, in that it’s easy, but I can’t do everything, right. Like I thought to teach you markdowns, like, and then they’re like, Well, how do I add this? This? You know, I need an anchor link here. Oh, we can’t do anchor links.

Chris Coyier 21:26
Even links are annoying, you know?

Brian Rinaldi 21:29
Yeah. So I was like, you know, now I got to teach you HTML to add that anchor link in, you know, oh, just do a little HTML here and a little HTML there. And then now I’m teaching HTML and markdown. Right.

Chris Coyier 21:41
The second that you’re the second that you’re like, oh, just use some HTML and your markdown and you’ve already you’ve already lost. So I think that’s a that’s not good. Yeah, although I’m not I think I feel a little differently about MDX because I feel like that’s, that actually kind of makes sense that they’re my components that I crafted that I want to use in there. That maybe makes a little more sense. But yeah, it’s got I feel like I’m, I’m being anti markdown, but I feel like Markdown is great for your notes and a comment form where you’re just writing little stuff and the people that like it, like it, and if you don’t, you don’t you don’t have to use it, it’s not not a big deal, but as to as to be like the number one format for your whole CMS for, for perhaps a whole team doesn’t feel right to me. You know, it’s funny about the you know, when WordPress went to the block editor thing, you know, used to be called Gutenberg. Now, it’s just this block editor or whatever. That is an independent open source project. And they’ve been big on showing off other people using it like, like Drupal is another big CMS. You know, I don’t know if Drupal people showed up here, but it’s still going strong, very popular, very big in government, that type of thing. You can use the same block editor in WordPress in Drupal, if you want. There’s rather writing apps that use the block editor, they’re saying, please use the block editor. In fact, their mobile app, which is not a web wrapper, it’s like native code, they made the block editor work in native code as well. So you can use it and that Epson is totally open source. So it’s kind of like, it’s got me like, Oh, I wonder if that’s going to, like not I applaud them for doing that. But if jam stack could pick up that great block editor experience and deliver that, and which I can’t imagine is even particularly difficult. It’s like, man, that’s what I want. I want the best of both both worlds. So you’d think that I’d be like you and be like, I’m gonna do everything headless, I’m gonna, I’m going to make a WordPress install, I’m going to have edge functions grab the content from WordPress, but then build the site in Astro or next or something. I’ve always been tempted by that. But it to me it’s like you’re then you’re standing up both of those stacks. That site you are now responsible for twice as much maintenance, and perhaps twice as much hosting and twice as much button clicking crap. And I’ve always been like, Ah, it’s too much. I can’t do it. It’s too much. Yeah, want the best of both worlds? I

Brian Rinaldi 24:07
took my follow up question, which was gonna be like, have you tried every time like headless WordPress but yeah.

Chris Coyier 24:16
I don’t want to do it.

Brian Rinaldi 24:18
Yeah, I mean, I that makes sense to me. It’s like you know, in a way I mean, I the reason I think it could be useful is more like from it’s hard to do what I like if I have a particular thing that I want to build that’s harder to do it like a WordPress front end, then I could more easily do it in Jamstack that I don’t know that would be the case, I guess, but I can see how you have to stay involved.

Chris Coyier 24:44
Sure. So there’s plenty of examples don’t let me talk you out of it. I’m sure there’s lots of people being successful with it and I’ve had a little bit of experience in it for for a little while. At code pen. I had a our WordPress installed, I crafted up the editor. To make landing pages, no fancy blocks and stuff, but I really wanted but we install WordPress different at a different place than we installed our Rails app. But I don’t want my landing pages to be at the blog URL. I wanted them to look like they’re at code So I we ended up wiring up a Cloudflare function that would that would run and make a fetch quick on the, at the Cloudflare worker level to the WordPress site, grab the content and just put it in a blank div that was sitting on the page. So it was kind of SSR. You know, it wasn’t a client side fetch. And it arrived with the HTML there. I guess that’s headless WordPress. Yeah. But it was it was scoped down. It wasn’t like we were publishing something new every day. That’s what would be harder to me. It’s like, oh, well, how do you know, if I’m writing a blog, then the second that I hit publish in WordPress, what I want it to do is fire off a web hook that then goes and rebuilds my astrocyte and deploys that, that story is always meant a little weak to me, too, because you need that, like, I’ve deployed now to be wired up into into the WordPress side, which is not you know, there’s hooks and stuff in WordPress, but it’s not a no brainer to have the publish button trigger a web hook. That’s not a first class citizen of WordPress, let’s say.

Brian Rinaldi 26:23
Yeah, no, that’s true. But I mean, I think also the the other tricky part ends up being previews, right, like, cuz I can,

Chris Coyier 26:29
hugely, hugely, just can’t see anything, you just got nothing. Oh,

Brian Rinaldi 26:36
which has always been I know, there’s tools like like Stackbit and stuff, which, you know, Netlify acquired to trying to bridge that, and even Contentful. And other tools are trying to kind of build in that headless, like, preview, Live Preview kind of thing, but, but it has been like, it is a struggle, because when when you move to headless, I’ve been to companies, and we’ve made that move. And it’s like, suddenly the you know, folks in marketing are creating their page. And it’s like, okay, I’m plugging this content. Okay, I get it, I hit publish, I understand everything. And then suddenly, it’s published in that line breaks weirdly, and it just looks terrible. Like it throws off the whole design. And now I gotta go through the whole iterative process to get that back out there before, you know,

Chris Coyier 27:17
right? It’d be one thing if you were running the builds locally. But if you have just a content person, which that’s plenty common in the world, they’re not running on your stack. Third. I don’t know what they’re doing with, you know, in the in the jam stack world, but they’re using some kind of other tool to do it. Yeah, I don’t I don’t know. Yeah, that story is weak, but it’s too bad. It’s like, it feels like, we can’t be too many years away from a best of both worlds kind of situation with, with content creation, and, and the DX story of, of, of JAMstack. Although I know that even saying that word is weird, but I generally mean just, yeah, I don’t know, modern site builder tools, or something?

Brian Rinaldi 28:04
I haven’t, I haven’t yet to come up with a good replacement term, even though I know that that term is. Anyway, we could have a whole other. We’ll save that for the jam dot dev in January. Great. So yeah. Okay. So I wanted to talk to you also about, like, how you deal with issues of like, this, obviously, your background, you’re also like, you been both a developer and designer, you know, which I struggle with. I’ve always just been purely on developer kind of leaning towards back end, even though I do front end stuff like, and, and how have you deal with like, issues of like getting developers to better understand issues of readability and accessibility, and all that stuff? I mean, I think it’s something that we tend to kind of ignore, because we’re focused on the tools that we build something with. And then, you know, unless on how that actually is consumed by people.

Chris Coyier 29:10
Maybe I mean, are you are you being self reflective?

Brian Rinaldi 29:14
I am, but I don’t think I’m alone. I don’t think I’m alone.

Chris Coyier 29:17
No, but I mean, I don’t know. I just don’t want to throw you under the bus without knowing that you’re talking about yourself a little bit. But don’t you think it’d be us? Well, I mean, wouldn’t it be weird to be like, I just, I make the tires at the car factory. I don’t know about cars. I don’t know. I don’t know anything about driving cars. I just make the tires, you know, that would just be like, dumb. You’d be like, What are you talking about? You make your part of a whole, you make tires to make driving better? Like, you can’t just check out of the final experience. You know, like you’re, you’re using your tools to make something for users. So you can’t just be like, I don’t know. It’ll be like I don’t care about accessibility or whatever like you Part of the whole story doesn’t mean you have to be an accessibility specialist. If you’re like way deep, you’re the database administrator for some place like you can say, Oh, I get it. That’s different. That’s my camera shut off. Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. Hold on.

Brian Rinaldi 30:18
No worries. You know, here I would have thought I would be I would be you’d be talking to yourself with that practical hurricane it was we’re

Chris Coyier 30:26
gonna get this new angle. Oh, wow. Backup Camera. Just we’ll just do this. Put it up there. What’s up? Everybody really? Likes? Oh, it fell down. Yeah. I’ll scoot you over in front of it. That works out just fine.

Chris Coyier 30:52
Yeah, I mean, I take your point, though, right? Like it’s almost a cliche a little bit. Like, I’m just, I’m just a back end Dev. I don’t know about fonts or whatever you like. And that’s, again, that’s kind of fine. Like, you don’t have to be a typography specialist. Also, but but to, to, like, actively not care is worse, though, to pretend that it’s not important is not cool? Yeah. You know,

Brian Rinaldi 31:18
I think, you know, and I guess my point is like, not not, it’s not that, like, even for me, it’s not that I don’t care. It’s just I don’t, I can’t, you know, I don’t know enough about it. And I feel like in many cases, I mean, it depends on the where you’re working, but like, like, you know, this idea that you’re a full stack, hey, you know, you know, front end, you know, back end, you could do it, all right, like, you know, CSS, and the idea that everybody would know everything, you know, and that you can can kind of get away with having one person know all these things, and you just can’t possibly do that.

Chris Coyier 31:52
Isn’t that part of the, I feel like that’s why stuff like Bootstrap became popular, because it’s like, I don’t know, I can’t be troubled to style a component really, really nicely. I’m just going to use that you’re just kind of outsourcing that particular task to that tool. Not not not the worst idea. In this case, you know, or if you’re like, I need to make docks for our new product. Because I’m at a startup right now. You don’t need tools aren’t there, like, make your docks with this? Astro has their own it’s called starlight. I’ve never even spun it up. But it looks nice. You know, the Astro docs look nice. But I know, there’s like a, you know, view one that was popular because it did the view doc. So if you pick that if you’re like, Oh, it’s my job to make the docs for my new startup. Huge, and you don’t know nothing about fonts and typography and accessibility and legibility and readability and all that. Then pick one of these. Because, yeah, no.

Brian Rinaldi 32:49
Yeah, there are there are. I mean, that’s what, that’s what I guess what developers tend to do were like, like, I don’t know how to do this, I’m gonna find a tool that does it for me, right? Yeah, it’s Yeah. You know, right.

Chris Coyier 33:01
It goes the other way around to like, right, I can’t write a CMS. So I’m gonna pick one. Right? That’s gonna help me.

Brian Rinaldi 33:08
Oh, my God. I’ve been around for so long that like, back in the day, we did write a lot of our own CMS is like, I had for a while I was doing, you know, freelancing, actually, in Wisconsin, where where you’re from? Yeah. And I was, you know, my freelancing was basically like, you know, there wasn’t really great CMS options. So like, we were, it was like, Oh, you need you need a site, I’m going to build you a front end that actually has a custom back end. And we’ve started to the point where you kind of built your own CMS, but it was like, customized every single time.

Chris Coyier 33:44
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I could have it could be, I’ve never been blessed with the feel like I was close, probably. But my career trajectory went other ways. So I cannot be accused of having handcrafted a, my own CMS. I can see it’s really tempting, though, you know, there’s that there’s that what is it called not invented here syndrome, right, that if you, you know, you’re never happy with anything else. So you, you decide that you’re going to write your own and then that can be good, because then all the expertise is in house. But I feel like in this day and age, for most of the tools that we’re using, that’s probably more of a negative than a positive. You know, like, there’s a lot of software out there. That’s pretty good.

Brian Rinaldi 34:28
Exactly. I would say that that’s something that has part of it was at the time there were CMS, but they were like big enterprise, very, very expensive CMS, and those still exist today. Like you can get your big enterprise the CMS but like it’s the same Oh, you sure can. Yeah, yeah. But now there’s so many other tools there’s so many different options that can fit like a smaller cite that make a lot more sense in that case, whereas right really wasn’t that

Chris Coyier 34:52
also can scale pretty high to like, you can you can do a lot with with with with anything with any one of these open source as tools to, but you need some level of expertise. And I always thought that was fascinating. I once had a buddy of mine back in Wisconsin who worked for a university. And part of his job became for a little while vetting out CMS is to use for new parts of that University’s site, right? He’s like, Oh, we had a, you know, we had a like a demo today. And one of the enterprises CMS has came in and in the pricing started at a million dollars a year. And I was like, million dollars a year. And I was so I was, like, incredulous about it at first, because I’m like, What are you talking about? That’s, that’s, that’s nuts. Right. But then it’s started to occur to me that like this a, this is a job for the whole university. And the end, their plan was to have no tech staff at all. There’s nobody on staff at all that was going to be managing the software that ran that thing, right. And if you think about it, from that perspective, you’re like, the second you have a, you hire up a technical team to be your website team. Guess what else is gonna cost you a million dollars a year? Yeah, like that’s, that’s kind of comparable, almost. If it’s, you know, the same number of people, it depends on where it is and what the salaries in that area are going to be and stuff. But, you know, it is a it’s a just a different world when you’re you want to do something of a large technical scale, but not staff it. That’s why Yeah,

Brian Rinaldi 36:23
that’s true. Yeah, I thought they said AI was coming for our jobs. But apparently CMS is came for a jobs. Yeah, you know, back back then it was funny, because I had this thing. I was involved in a lot of like, people who evaluated a CMS, but these were like back, you know, these enterprise the CMS is and it was like, oh, you know, I was, I would always be like, Oh, we got down to our finalists. I’m like, pick one, you’ll hate me here. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick. I actually don’t feel that way. Now that now I feel like there’s really a lot of really good tools out there. You know, before we got like, tell me, I mean, other than WordPress, give us give us your your list of like, Hey, these are the things that I’m really interested in right now, when it comes to not just content like, but also like, just generally, but you know, obviously, with the content, focus a little bit.

Chris Coyier 37:13
Yeah, I feel like I’ve said probably all the things that I like, I don’t have as, like, an absolute ton of time to spin up everything that I see. So, you know, I really do still use WordPress and don’t hate it after all these years. So not bad. But Astro is really a joy to work with. So I’m gonna give big props to that. But you know, I work on a next Jas app. And I like working in next two, I think they do a perfectly nice job, although, you know, I don’t mind the distinction that they tend to draw where it’s like, straws for content, and next is for apps or whatever, I kind of think that’s true. Or at least it feels true to me. Yeah, so that’s that. I mean, I don’t know, if I have any super amazing content tools for you at the moment. You know, it’s just it’s your

Brian Rinaldi 38:04
like CMS of choice Always, always. WordPress, or

Chris Coyier 38:09
is it? Yeah, you know, like, I used to even share an office with the craft CMS team. And I always thought that was like a very, very clear, I hate to say second, but it kind of is second choice to WordPress, because the technology stack is similar. And I do don’t always appreciate their approach of like, if you’re going to spin up a site here, the first thing you do essentially, is build like a schema, you know, like, what are the types of content I have? And what are the fields that go in there? That’s smart to me, whereas WordPress gave you these defaults that to this day are pretty bloggie still, like I I know, they’ve fought against that, but I’m like, Dude, it’s, it’s right there. Like, it’s very vloggy. You got to admit it. Whereas if you want to stop and be like, Okay, what are all my content types? And what are all the fields that go with this content types, you’re immediately reaching for a plugin, which I think is wild and WordPress land. advanced custom fields is such a big player in WordPress, that if you want WordPress to pretend it’s a more CMS like app, that’s it’s, it’s almost not optional to me that that that’s involved. So I don’t know, like, I think if I was going to if I was going to start something that just felt very CMSE like you need to make a real estate listings app. And you’re there’s going to be realtors, and there’s going to be zones, and there’s going to be homes and there’s going to be apartment buildings, and they all have these different characteristics, but they need to be tied together. I actually I probably wouldn’t pick WordPress, I’d probably pick something that is more like designed to be have a customized data schema. Like craft.

Brian Rinaldi 39:45
Right. Yeah. You know, I think most of the headless CMS has worked that way where you put you know, they don’t have like kind of preset, the one that I’ve used that you had to do a lot of like, you know, different predefining was sanity because you had to sit there and code and and like actually define that in great detail, which was great. Right in one some respects but like, also has a little bit of a learning curve. So

Chris Coyier 40:10
right right I never got the further than the Hello World was sanity although it’s spoken up so highly. I really and I’ve met and trust the fellas have had him on Shop Talk Show before i i would vouch for it without even having used it that seems like a decent choice to me as far as that type of thing. But yeah, it’s very coding heavy like a nobody using that that isn’t a coder.

Brian Rinaldi 40:34
Right, right. Yeah. Whereas like Contentful goes the other route where it’s more like, oh, it’s easy to just kind of add fields right in a visual editor. So

Chris Coyier 40:43
yeah, right. Yeah. Big player, too. So congrats to Contentful for being as successful and big as they are. Oh, it’s just looked at the pricing page that does that weird. There’s this other host I looked at today, Pantheon that does the same thing. It’s free. And then it’s $500 a month. You’re like, That’s so weird. How does that work? Contentful does the same kind of thing, like the generous free tier. And then the second you want to pay for it. It’s $3. But they just great. Great service, though. So

Brian Rinaldi 41:11
yeah. Well, I really appreciate your time here. We’re I think we ran out of time, unfortunately. But I really enjoyed the car. Right. And appreciate you coming out and enjoying this. Likewise. Yeah. So and I look forward to reading more of your Christmas corner and lots more loving all the content. So thanks.

Chris Coyier 41:35
Cheers. Yeah, thanks for having me. Take care, everybody. Thanks for coming to code. Thing, code, code. Code word, it’s code word. Yang and I have a tab open

Brian Rinaldi 41:48
to play. It was a play on on you know, Wordpress, we usually would appreciate it like I was like WordPress code, you know, code words, right.

Chris Coyier 41:55
It’s an amazing name. I like even all caps. I love it.

Brian Rinaldi 42:01
All right, Chris. Thanks so much. See ya.

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