Here is an interview with Alexander Prinzhorn, the author of Skrollr – one of the most popular parallax scrolling libraries.
Interview with Alexander Prinzhorn
Let’s start with the most important question.
Do you hate tomatoes?
Hm, that’s a nice start…
And now little less serious, could you introduce yourself to our readers? Where are you from and what you do for living?
I’m Alexander Prinzhorn, 25, from Germany and I don’t drink coffee at all (I eat tomatoes though).
I’m studying computer science since 2009. I started programming when I was 14 and I always knew I’d end up in the software industry, but hacking was never enough.
I founded a company in 2009 and co-founded one in 2012 and each of them successfully validated that the idea didn’t work.
But don’t worry, I’m already planning to found another company.
It’s also somehow related to scrolling and animations, so maybe you’ll interview me again in a year about this new thing.
I started freelancing when I was 18 and that’s what I still do to pay my bills.
I don’t make noticeable money from skrollr, merely enough to buy some beer and pizza from time to time.
Skrollr is really popular, why did you start writing it in the first place?
But in fact I’ve never used skrollr myself (I don’t create a lot of websites anyway).
Multiple things came together which led to the creation of skrollr:
- Since the day I signed up for GitHub I wanted to have my own popular open-source project to play with the cool kids. I was simply not having the right idea.
- Impress.js was released and I was impressed (pun intended) by the simplicity due to the use of data-attributes. I mean, you can move stuff in 3D with like no code. How cool is that?
- I had a lot of time to spare since the only thing I had to do at that time was to write my bachelor thesis (I actually used impress.js for the presentation of my thesis).
- Nike released a very impressive website (I _think_ it was the Air Max 2012). I researched and was baffled that there was no easy to use tool to create similar effects. Nike probably wrote all the code just for this one website, insane.
I started hacking and had a prototype working after some hours (it was moving an element from left to right while scrolling). After some days/weeks (more like nights) of hacking I released it.
Can you share some numbers behind Skrollr ? Number of visits, downloads, hours/weeks spent working on it etc?
I don’t track any other numbers, but I can take a look at the non-public GitHub repo stats for you.
I have about 1000 unique visitors and 3000 visits per day on the repo. But peaks can easily be three times more.
I have no idea about the number of downloads, it must be at least a five-figure.
I’ve spent countless hours, I don’t think it’s good for your health to track unpaid hours.
Skrollr was also #1 on Hacker News twice within some months. I didn’t even know what HN was at that time and I still don’t care (I have no idea who submitted it back then).
You’ve seen a lot of websites using it, is there a website that you are the most proud of?
Given the current state of web development, what are the technologies and techniques that you are the most excited about and why?
I wish we could start this mobile web thing from scratch.
Apart from that there are tons of things I’m excited about. For example Emscripten, I mean, holy shit, right?
What would be your advice to someone starting with front-end development?
- I don’t care if you use tabs or spaces (_cough_ tabs _cough_), but please be consistent and trim trailing whitespace.
- Use Google before asking questions on StackOverflow.
- Sign up on GitHub and Twitter and connect with people.
Is there a tool, plugin or browser extension that you just cannot live without?
There are multiple. But I’d say node and npm are the ones that changed my work life the most in the past years.
There are so many node CLI tools I use daily, how did I get anything done before?
Or imagine me manually copying libraries (dll files) into my project (I started programming with .NET). lol.
How do you keep yourself up to date with the fast-paced industry we work in?
Twitter. I don’t read any websites regularly, I get all my news from Twitter.
No matter if a new open source project is released or yet another company gets acquired by Google, I will find out about it on Twitter.
I’ve spend years curating a list of people which tweet things I’m interested in and I get really mad when I hear Twitter’s plans to mess with my stream.
I don’t know what I’d do without Twitter.
If you was starting your career today and had 100$ to spend. What would you invest in and why?
What keeps you busy outside of the digital world? How do you like to spend your free time away from the computer screen?
What are you talking about? I left the house once, does that count?
Jokes aside, I love cooking, I do sports and sometimes I go fishing. I’m also single: so ladies, feel free to fork me and maybe I’ll let you push to my master 😉
Where can our readers follow you online?
Thanks for taking a time out of your busy schedule and chatting with us.
On behalf of the web design, web development and Ihatetomatoes community, I would like to thank you for all the work you’ve put into Skrollr.
Do you enjoy working with Skrollr? Have you created something worth sharing with us?
Leave your links and thank you messages for Alex in the comments below.
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