No? Maybe you do and just don’t realize it yet. This post will introduce the concepts, explain the essential technologies and platforms like Zoom’s new SDK, then build basic applications using the various APIs to show you how they work.

This space is on the cusp of a boom that can be compared to the web in the late 1990s and mobile apps in early 2010s. New platforms and APIs have become available that make it literally hundreds of times easier to build scalable video communications applications. …


Applications are digital spaces. What can the software industry learn from architecture and construction workflows? This is the middle of a three-part article, so please read Part 1 first.

What is construction in software

After reading the Moss Design guide, you now know how a building comes to exist as digital models. It starts from sketches, proceeds through design development, and ends with final construction documents that provide details of everything needed to actually construct the thing — structural drawings, electrical plans, surface material specifications, and so on.

With the construction documents at hand, a building needs a permit to actually get built. There’s no…


Applications are digital spaces. What can the software industry learn from architecture and construction workflows? This is the end of a three-part article, so please start with Part 1.

Levels of development (LOD) and the model path

In the previous section we started exploring Autodesk’s toolchain based on a publicly available class presentation. The same presentation offers one more useful concept that can be translated to software, the “LOD” or Level of Development:

When you’re surveying stakeholders about whether your new internal app should even exist, you’re at LOD 000. When you’ve got wireframes or Sketch renderings of your new app, you’re at LOD 100. When your developers…


Applications are digital spaces. What can the software industry learn from architecture and construction workflows? This is the start of a three-part article that dives deep into existing and proposed software solutions.

Last year I wrote about how vector graphics drawing programs like Sketch are too limited to describe software UX concepts because they’re designed around an antiquated “pen-on-paper” metaphor. In this post, I’d like to explore other modeling approaches using comparisons with the world of physical construction and architecture.

Essentially, today’s applications are digital spaces for people. A person enters the space with a purpose in mind. Within the…


A map of Manhattan and Wall Street in 1661. Like “New Amsterdam”, blockchains are still just getting started.

Blockchains. Decentralized protocols. Distributed ledgers. Cryptographic hash functions. Consensus algorithms. The sheer amount of terminology around cryptocurrencies can make you feel like someone transported in time from the 18th century. Not only are you trying to familiarize yourself with some of the more mind-bending concepts in computer science, but you also have to deal with a great dose of economics jargon.

Blockchains are bringing together two opposites of the scientific mindset, which may initially seem to be at odds with each other. On one side of the ring, we have the extreme unforgiving rigor of cryptography: a math-heavy branch of…


The popular design app for Mac is a refined evolution of the “pen-and-paper simulator”, but does not attempt to model user experiences. Even the people who built an entire React renderer just to be able to use Sketch for UX design are looking to switch away from it. The future is somewhere else.

Drawing vector graphics was one of the very first professional applications for personal computers. In those Wild West days of the late 1970s, as soon as there was a microprocessor and a display device of even bearable quality, you would also find the brave hacker trying to…


Meet the 99.9% weight loss plan for desktop apps built with web technologies

Electron is a popular runtime that lets you build cross-platform desktop apps with web technologies. The appeal is tremendous: a software developer who already knows HTML, JavaScript and CSS can leverage that knowledge and turn their website into a real app that runs on all PC and Mac desktops out there. Some of the most widely used apps made with Electron are Slack’s desktop client, Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code and the Atom editor.

The downside of the Electron approach is that each app comes with a copy…


A new medium has huge creative potential… But the technical methods of expression are not there yet. Is it 1892 all over again?

When were movies invented? The most common answer is 1895. That year the Lumière brothers, a pair of French inventors, introduced the first motion picture camera using 35mm film (a physical format which remains the standard for non-digital movies) and produced a series of short films. The most famous of the Lumière films is probably “Train Pulling Into Station”, pictured below.


Scientific consensus is a funny thing. Some writers, especially on the American/British right, seem to regard scientific peer review as essentially a refined version of schoolyard peer pressure. For a practical example, see this short but caustic Breitbart opinion piece named “When You Hear a Scientist Talk About ‘Peer Review’ You Should Reach For Your Browning”.

Even if you don’t quite agree that experts are “very likely a bunch of charlatans and chancers”, and you’re not inclined to point a Browning at researchers, you may feel that there’s something suspicious about this kind of science. Why the necessity to reach…


Last Tuesday, 59.7 million Americans voted against a concept long cherished by Silicon Valley and American business élite: “disruption”. The word itself was never mentioned by the two candidates vying to become Leader of the Free World (*cough*), but its shadow loomed large.

At this point you may reasonably object: “But the vote was actually for disruption! Disruption in Washington, disruption of the élite” — and that is also true, but it’s a different context compared to the more common business-oriented one. Here is a definition of disruption vs. innovation from Forbes:

“Innovation and disruption are similar in that they…

Pauli Olavi Ojala

"Say the words" is how the world's oldest surviving book begins. Writing is the original magic. 💮 Video tools @ Facebook. Previously Vidpresso (YC W14), Neonto

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