Q&A: Chris Granger, creator of Light Table

Granger: “I’d like to see someone like O’Reilly Media take an interest”

On Monday, we reported that the visual IDE project Light Table had hit the 3,000 backers mark, raising more than $140,000 on Kickstarter. Now, as the week draws to a close, the project boasts more than 3,700 backers and over $175,000 in the pot. Against the naysaying predictions of some in the community, Light Table has managed to maintain momentum, and it looks like it will easily break through its self-imposed $200,000 target.

We got in touch with Chris Granger (@ibdknox), the project’s founder, to find out a bit more about his plans . . .

webdev360: Without wishing to tempt fate, how much money do you think Light Table’s Kickstarter page will raise by June 1? According to Kicktraq, it’s “trending toward” more than $425k, but I don’t think their algorithms are particularly sophisticated  presumably interest will keep dropping off as things go along.

Chris Granger: It’s hard to tell. I’m fairly confident at this point that it’ll break the $200k barrier, how much higher it will go is a crapshoot. I have some really neat things to show before the end of the campaign though and I have a feeling that will drum up some more interest. If I had to guess, I suspect it’ll hit $250k and if the Python crowd really rallied behind it it might make it to $300k.

WD360: You mention in the FAQ that you're looking to “assemble a small team”  have you given much thought to how you’re going to go about hiring, or do you already have a group of people in mind? Have you had any expressions of interest?

CG: This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and I have a few people in mind that I’ve worked with before on dev tools. Not sure exactly how things will take shape though, a lot of it depends on how much we raise and who I can afford to get involved. One nice thing about working on a “cool” development tool, though, is that there’s no shortage of developers looking to scratch their own itch. I’m still getting a few emails a day from folks wanting to be involved.

WD360: Do you think the project will manage to pick up any corporate sponsors in the $5,000 or $10,000 pledge brackets before the deadline? Are there any particular companies that you’d like to get the word out to and encourage to contribute?

CG: Well, we just got one today and I know of a few others who have hinted at being interested in doing so. I’d really love to see one of the major tech players get involved and I’d especially like to see someone like O’Reilly Media take an interest. I think Light Table presents an awesome opportunity for teaching people how code works and I think that meshes really well with O’Reilly’s mission.

WD360: According to the FAQ, “[t]he fact that there's an instance of webkit as the UI layer is completely an implementation detail.” Will the IDE always be a standalone app? In light of things like the SSH Chrome App that was released earlier this week, do you think the browser has a future as a development environment specifically and an OS more generally?

CG: Will it always be standalone? Probably not. Initially the focus is on something that runs on your machine, but it’s being built in such a way that how it is delivered is very flexible. The way I see it, the browser is simply a new frame for us to put content into and we’re doing a lot of things with it now that we wouldn’t have even thought possible 5 years ago. I mean, a beautiful version of the Quake engine in a browser? People would’ve laughed. Given that, I think the browser has a future for all kinds of content and hopefully Light Table can help push that forward a bit. Ultimately my decision to do so comes from a desire for flexibility, accessibility, and speed of creation.

Browsers are everywhere. A lot of people find it relatively straightforward to write HTML and you don’t need fancy designers to do it efficiently (this will make plugins easy), and there are few UI frameworks you can just throw something together so quickly in. From that perspective, I think the browser is a great platform, but it is a very immature one with lots of very rough edges. You’ve got to skate to where the puck will be though, if you want to win.

Check out Light Table's demonstration video here and its Kickstarter page here. Follow webdev360 on Twitter (@webdev360com) for all the latest web and mobile development news.

Louis Goddard

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