Jonathan Snook

Today we are joined by Jonathan Snook, of Snook.ca, Withcake, Haylia, and the Sidebar Creative.

Jonathan Snook Snapshot

DL: I assume a good portion of my audience knows who you are, but care to introduce yourself and share some facts about yourself with us?

Jonathan Snook: My name is Jonathan Snook and I’m a web designer/developer based out of Ottawa, Canada. I’ve been running my blog at Snook.ca since 2003 although I’ve had posts from 2001 before I really called my site a blog. I’ve been tinkering on the web since 1995. These days, I freelance full time all the while just trying to be an active member of the online community.

DL: You’ve thrown a lot of your support behind the CakePHP framework, and not to long ago, your personal site was also updated to use Cake as the backend rather than Movabletype. What do you like best about Cake that convinced you to switch and play around with it?

Snook.ca Powered by CakePHP

JS: The best part about Cake has to be the automation of mundane tasks. It takes the convention over configuration concept from Rails and does it in PHP. It’s been a pleasure to develop with and has given me the flexibility to customize my site in a way that wasn’t very easy to do in Movable Type or WordPress.

DL: On the topic of Cake, you also created your own CakePHP developer job board, called Withcake. With all the job boards already out there, how has Withcake been doing? Do you think it helps focusing on just one job field, in this case, Cake developing, as opposed to a bunch of different fields? (Personally, this would be my kind of job board – anything with Cake is usually good)

JS: By this point in time, I was hoping to see Withcake.com really see a surge but instead, it’s been in a maintenance pattern. Not enough people yet to have it complete at the level of other job boards but its specialization in a specific framework means it doesn’t have to either. There are companies and developers alike who’ve chosen CakePHP as the core to whatever they happen to be building. It’s great that they have a central place to go to and find like-minded people to work on projects together.

DL: The newest project just launched from Sidebar Creative is My Mile Marker. From what I understand, you were responsible for the UI. How long was this project planned for, and what was the inspiration behind it?


I’d have to look back but I believe the original idea behind this was Steve Smith’s. We often discuss various project ideas and this is one we had settled on as being the first as it would be fairly quick to put together and launch. There was no specific development plan; we just worked on it when we could with each of us providing insight or development along the way.

DL: Being part of Sidebar Creative, where each of you have your own obligations to other companies / sites / etc, how easy it is to find time for everyone to sit down and put work in on a project like this? Do you wait for everyone to have a free block in their schedules, or is everyone allowed to work at their own pace?

It’s worked out extremely well with each of us being able to pitch in at different times in different ways. None (or at least, very little) of the development was done simultaneously. We’d simply chat when we needed to, exchanging files until it was all done. It’s an oddly seamless process, that speaks to the power of the web and to the fantastic group of people I’m extremely happy to be associated with.

DL: Last project question, I swear. What do you hope your Haylia project accomplishes, and when can we expect to see it go live? For those that have not heard / seen it yet, Haylia is hosted blog solution for sharing adoption stories, inspired by your own adoption story. I think it is an excellent idea, and a great way to take the traditional hosted blog platform to a different, much more personal and focused level.


JS: I’d like Haylia to become a success, of course. Success means a few different things in this context, though. Sure, there’s the financial success one hopes for but more importantly, it’s enabling people to share their stories. My wife and I believe that adoption can be a great experience and one that should be shared with many people.

Launching the site for the masses, however, has taken longer than hoped. Working on it has taken a back seat while I work on client projects but I do intend to have it see a soft launch before the end of August. The majority of the functionality is already in place and ready to go. There’s just some polish and some templates that need to be added.

That’s been my biggest problem as a freelancer: I don’t spend as much time on my own projects as I should.

“It’s an oddly seamless process, that speaks to the power of the web and to the fantastic group of people I’m extremely happy to be associated with.” – Snook on working with Sidebar Creative

DL: If you could name five must have apps you use everyday (web and/or desktop based), what would they be?

JS: Very utilitarian, I’m afraid: Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Firefox, Mint (I’m a stats junkie), and UltraEdit (currently my text editor of choice).

DL: Alright, last question. Here comes your free plugging opportunity. Could you please share some sites you visit / read daily? They can be on whatever topics imaginable – they don’t have to be design / development related.

JS: With the advent of RSS, Google Reader has become essential. There’s no sites that I specifically jump to on a daily basis to check if there’s new stuff. The sad consequence of that is that there has been the occasional RSS feed that gets changed up and I’ll lose track of a site for a couple months until I suddenly realize I’ve been missing some good content. Now, there are certain sites that are consistently good like Roger Johansson’s 456 Berea Street, Andy Rutledge’s Design View, and Simon Willison’s site, especially his daily links. Natalie Jost also has really good, insightful posts. There’s so much talent in the industry it’s hard to keep up with everybody!

DL: Thanks for answering a few questions for me. Good luck with the many projects you currently have on your plate, and of course, we will all be awaiting to see what else is next.

JS: You’re welcome and thank you very much!

  1. By andrej posted on July 1, 2007 at 2:21 pm
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    great interview. great to hear something about jonathan snook and his work which he doesn’t post on his blog, for obvious reasons 😉
    and even though I’ve been reading his blog for about half a year I didn’t know half the things he told you.

  2. By David posted on July 18, 2007 at 5:21 pm
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    I always wonder about how people like Snook and Veloso do some of their work. So – thanks for getting a hold of him to ask some of the questions we all would like to hear about. 😉

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