Here is an interview with Jan Paepke, the author of ScrollMagic – one of the most popular parallax scrolling library.
Interview with Jan Paepke
Let’s start with the most important question.
Do you hate tomatoes?
And now little less serious, could you introduce yourself to our readers? Where are you from and what you do for living?
Originally I am German, but moved around quite a bit. I did my MA in Graphic Design at LCC in London and worked in Advertising agencies in Germany after that.Most recently I worked as an Art Director in Vienna, Austria. From there my wife and I moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where we now live.
After working freelance for several agencies,
I now decided to focus on some personal projects, like ScrollMagic.
ScrollMagic is really popular, why did you start writing it in the first place?
Back when I was working with SuperScrollorama to create http://public.orsi-and-jan I soon stumbled on some shortcomings that I needed to overcome in order to finish the site.Ultimately I ended up contributing to Superscrollorama quite a bit. Even after the project there were still many things I thought could be better, but there was no way to integrate them into SuperScrollorama because of its architecture.
Through my contributions I got to know John Polacek, the original creator of SuperScrollorama. He is just a super nice guy and it was he that encouraged me to learn more about GitHub and open source in general.
So I took what I learned and challenged myself to be able to write a full grown plugin.
I wanted to make it right, build it from scratch, and focus especially on the things SuperScrollorama was lacking: object oriented approach, flexibility through on the fly modifications, comprehensive documentation and examples.
In retrospect: It was supposed to be a learning experience – and I did learn a lot.
Can you share some numbers behind ScrollMagic? Number of visits, downloads, hours/weeks spent working on it etc?
Since the launch of ScrollMagic on 1st of March 2014 there have been 190,000 unique visitors on the page, who generated almost one million page impressions.On an average weekday there are now around 1500 sessions.
Currently there are more than 3800 stars on GitHub and counting.
How much time I spent on it, is very difficult to tell, because a lot of it is support.
I’d estimate in total about 40 workdays.
In that time made over 220 commits and modified more than 150,000 lines of code.
ScrollMagic’s source code is fully documented and has more than 2,400 lines of code, while the minified version is only 14KB.
You’ve seen a lot of websites using it, is there a website that you are the most proud of?
There is no particular one I am proud of. I really enjoy if someone doesn’t use it for its own sake but to tell an engaging story.When over or misused scroll animations can easily become an obstacle rather than a facilitator to convey your content.
If the developer understands that ScrollMagic is a tool to present content, but not the experience itself, truly engaging websites are usually the result.
And every time I see one, I feel a little bit proud to have played a part in its creation.
Given the current state of web development, what are the technologies and techniques that you are the most excited about and why?
Furthermore, I am quite interested in AngularJS. I think it has a lot of potential and will be pushed to it, as it has Google behind it.
What would be your advice to someone starting with front-end development?
- Remember it is always about user-experience. The user will ultimately never know what fancy plugins or elegant programming you used. Put the outcome above all.
- If you don’t like how something works, try to fix it or make it better.
- Never think you know enough, always keep learning and don’t be afraid to try new stuff.
- Embrace open source.
How did you learn everything you know today?
Is there a tool, plugin or browser extension that you just cannot live without?
How do you keep yourself up to date with the fast-paced industry we work in?
Easy: I admitted defeat – I accepted that I can’t know everything.Whenever I pick something up on twitter or t3n (an awesome digital magazine in Germany) that strikes my interest I read up on it.
Furthermore I have friends sending me cool links or articles, when they find them.
Really trying to keep up with everything would be a full time job itself.
If you was starting your career today and had 100$ to spend. What would you invest in and why?
- Code school membership, because I believe in learning by doing.
- My own domain & business cards, because you need to get your name out there.
- Small donations to open source projects you believe in, because it motivates the authors and fuels the scene.
What keeps you busy outside of the digital world? How do you like to spend your free time away from the computer screen?
I love snowboarding and badminton.Also I am a big movie and TV-Show buff. Other than that I love to travel with my wife and discover the world one bit at a time.
Thanks for taking a time out of your busy schedule and chatting with us.
Where can our readers follow you online?
Download Free Toolkit
All you need to know to get started with GreenSock and ScrollMagic, in one single package. Straight into your inbox.