A Short Story About a Tweet, a Video, an Idea and it's Execution

I’ve just had a surreal 10 minute interaction that I am compelled to share. It involves code editors, touch screen devices, global communication networks and a small group of people hanging out in a basement apartment.

The Story

Codify pops into the internet. Nick Quaranto tweets it. Hacker News discusses it.

Robert Pitts: Hey, have you seen this Codify thing?

Lar Van Der Jagt: No, what is it?

Robert hands Lar his iPad. A video demo of Codify, an iOS game IDE starts. At 0:35 seconds the presenter passes parameters to a color method by taping and choosing a color from a color picker.

Lar: Oh man! I wish I could do that with vim.

A short discussion about possible implementation begins. Tim Pope enters.

Lar: Hey Tim, would it be possible to trigger an OSX color picker from vim that would insert the hex value of the color you choose?

Tim: Sure, if you can launch a color picker from the command line & have it output to STDOUT.

Lar Googles: command line color picker

The sixth result on the list is for a project named color-pick by Johan Nordberg. It’s a command line wrapper for OSX’s built in color picker.

  git clone https://github.com/jnordberg/color-pick.git
  cd color-pick
  make install

Lar: Okay, got it. Now how do I trigger this from vim?

Tim: Easy.

  # ~/.vimrc.local
  inoremap <C-X>c #<C-R>=system('colorpick')<CR>

Lar: control+x c. It works!

What Just Happened Here?

Codify was built by three guys in Australia. It may represent an early glimpse
of how the next generation will learn to create software. Steve Jobs & Apple
gave them a platform to build on and share their vision 3 years ago.

A network invented 21 years ago connected those ideas to three other guys on
the opposite side of the world. Those guys use and love a text editor that
began it’s life 35 years ago. They were inspired to extend the capabilities of
that editor by this video.

A search engine built 15 years ago led them to another guy halfway across the
world who had already done most of the hard work. His work is shared for free
on a 3 year old site named GitHub that has triggered an explosion in global

I find the sequence of events that led us here fascinating. The result may not
be anything world changing. I may never even use it after tonight. Tracing the
path of ideas gives me a zoomed out sense of perspective. We have worlds of
possibilities at our fingertips that previous generations could only imagine.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.