By Jenn Schiffer

March 15, 2024

Wow, Glitch is 7

Happy 7th birthday, Glitch! 🎉

Last month was my own 7th anniversary of working on Glitch. Milestones like this are an opportunity to reflect and look forward, and so I figured I’d talk a bit here about what has kept me motivated here and what the future of Glitch needs to be, given what I know from the last 7 years. A lot of that future is themed around falling back in love with the internet, and preventing a future where we keep having to leave our online communities and start from scratch. Our overall mission is still the same since day one: empower everyone to build a better, creative open web.

“here is the part where i am supposed to tell you why i'm joining fog creek over anyone else but in my own brain it seems totally obvious: my goals for working in the industry were always to champion the open web, promote open source development and education, work in a nice community that stays nice, and make people feel empowered to ask for help when they need it and in return help others.” - me, March 14, 2017

The day I wrote that, Glitch was an incubator project within an independent software company. A year or so later, it was a startup. A few years after that, it was acquired by a public company. Rollercoaster tycoon players are shaking right now. I attribute my joy through work during this corporate rollercoaster in part to wise affirmations from heartland crooners like Tom Cochrane, as well as getting to be on the Glitch team – the best in the biz! There are no truer words spoken or sung than "life is a highway" or "Glitch is the friendly community where everyone builds the web." The hope we had on that launch day has been wildly exceeded by the reality, as we’ve had millions of community members come to Glitch to create tens of millions of apps.

But it’s because of you, our friendly Glitch community, that I’m still here, full stop. You're the driving force behind some of the most open, creative parts of the web: building WebXR experiences, galvanizing your communities around important movements, making us laugh, teaching us how to code and love, and essentially showing how powerful and fun building the web could be. I'm proud and humbled to be a part of it. When any of us on the Glitch team say "we can't wait to see what you create" we mean it with our entire hearts and inspired minds. And we strive to have you feel the same about us.

The future of Glitch is open.

In case you’ve missed it, we have a public preview of the new Glitch that you can log into today. I met with the team yesterday afternoon to figure out what we’re going to focus on the next few sprints. Of course, a lot of that work is focused on discovery, but we also are energized about making Glitch something the entire community can build with us. What we internally think of as “the community site”, which is everything that helps you browse and discover on except the editor, was once an open source Glitch app that quickly got too big to run on the early, less robust version of Glitch. We’re working on a path towards making it open source again so we can build it in collaboration with all of you in the community. (Maybe you can help us improve our search!). We’d love your feedback, bug reports and feature ideas on this work.

The future of Glitch is discovery.

Changes across the social web are driving a lot of the conversations and plans that we have in store for the future of Glitch. The hardest problem in computer science today is answering the question “where do you find cool websites and apps?” We’re thinking a lot about ways we can enable discovery far beyond just the apps made on Glitch. The open web is not about requiring everyone to have to build their cool websites and apps on our platform. Lock-in is not how you build and empower a community.

The future of Glitch is focused.

Something you may not know about Glitch, but may explain a lot, is that the very first prototypes were originally going to support all the languages. Before we launched, the call was made to focus on supporting just Node on the backend. This is why many other languages have uneven or out-of-date support on the platform.

Okay, I promised myself one tangent per blog post and I’m taking one now. Our version of Node is out of date, too, and I know that’s been very frustrating. Updating Node for the number of containers we are running is unfortunately not as simple as running an nvm command locally, but the work that’s going on as I type this will get us there very soon. For the past couple of years we’ve had to sacrifice moving at the speed of the community in order to keep your projects up and running. Tangent over; back to “focus” lol.

Whether it’s trying to enable all languages or trying to please everyone, not narrowing down your scope to only what you can do excellently and consistently is simply setting you up for a bad time. We’re going to be focusing more on what we can do really well and getting support in what we don’t. For example, we are not always excellent at hosting full-stack apps, but we have peers who are - like, have you deployed a project to Digital Ocean? Is there another platform you’d like as an option to deploy? Let us know. This focus connects back directly to our work on discovery and celebrating creators who build the web — no matter what platform they use to host it.

The future of Glitch powered by Fastly.

It’s also been almost two years since we joined Fastly, a fortunate milestone that many acquired startups don’t get the chance to hit. Fastly has given us not only the opportunity to keep the train rolling, but also the access to crucial components of the internet that we are working to pass onto the community: security, performance, reliability - you know, table stakes for the web today. It doesn’t hurt to have hundreds of amazing colleagues within the company using, helping, and rooting for Glitch; our team has been tiny but mighty. I think there were only 13 of us when we were acquired – you only need one hand to count how many engineers it takes to keep millions of developers’ able to build and share on the platform! By the way, did you know that in the right conditions, a koi fish can live past 100 years? 🎏

“Life is a highway” - Tom Cochrane

I’m excited for this future of Glitch, and I can’t thank the community and my team, along with everyone who was a part of it over the course of its history, enough. You all have helped my announcement about Glitch seven years ago not age like milk. I can’t wait to see what we all create.

See you on 👽
Jenn Schiffer, Director of Community

P.S. Now I’m kicking myself for not making the Community Code Jam prompt “nostalgia” - there’s always April, I guess! These jams have been a fun creative outlet for me, personally, and the community’s submissions have been really cool and inspiring. I’d love for you to join me as I continue my screensaver jam submission tomorrow, live at 2pm Eastern on the Glitch Youtube page. And there’s always our community forum where I’d love to hear your hopes and dreams for the future of Glitch.