Wow. So that happened. SmugMug acquiring Flickr was one thing. Microsoft buying GitHub? I mean, we all knew there was more than a passing interest in the idea, but I never would have called the $7.5 billion number for it. This acquisition has a lot of implications, and rather than trying to find one perfect article to sum it all up, we’ve linked a bunch down below to cover most of the pros and cons. Check them out, listen to the episode, and let us know what you think about it.

We spend a good amount of time chatting about that, but we still covered our normal roundup too, looking at Dieter Rams’ design principles, tools for GDPR compliance, WordPress debugging, and a couple article about professional development. In hindsight, we ended up with several articles that were lists of things, but so shall it be, once in a while.

Followup Resources

Microsoft Acquires GitHub

The Other Stories


Why couldn’t the programmer work late into the night?
She didn’t have a LAMP.

Thanks for joining us on episode 18 of Real Time Overview for Wednesday, June 6th. I’m your host, Michael Fienen. A little birdie told me I should consider including the date in these episodes, and I am nothing if not accommodating.

Before we get too far into things, obviously we need to address the elephant in the news when it comes to web development this week, and if you’ve been living under a laptop, that’s the announcement that Microsoft will be acquiring GitHub for $7.5 billion in stock. This is an incredibly significant development for the platform, and one that reminds me very much of SmugMug’s acquisition of Flickr earlier this spring. It’s also second only to LinkedIn in terms of the size of the acquisition for Microsoft – paying over three times the $2 billion valuation GitHub had a few years ago.

There’s already been a ton written on this, and I’m not going to call out any specific articles here and now. However, if you go by the show notes at, I’ll have links to several articles that look at both sides of the acquisition. Obviously developers of all kinds have had strong reactions to this announcement. But bear with me for a moment, and consider why this works out.

Much like Flickr’s acquisition, this is moving the GitHub platform to an owner that understands development and open source. Before anyone jumps all over me for that statement, understand that the Microsoft of today is not at all the one of years past. Depending on how you slice it, Microsoft as an organization is one of the top users of GitHub over the past 3 years. This move should be seen as one that positions Microsoft to be a powerful engine in the development world for years to come – for better or worse. But CEO Satya Nadella seems incredibly driven to create a company that helps developers thrive.

And don’t forget, GitHub wasn’t exactly in a good place. They recently reported losing over $30 million a quarter, on $350 million of venture capital. Without a major business model shift – one that developers likely wouldn’t have enjoyed – they’re lifespan was incredibly finite.

What do you think? Will Microsoft just monetize GitHub into extinction? Will the platform grow and thrive? Or should they have held out and hoped to find their financial footing? Will you stick with it, or move to another platform like BitBucket or GitLab? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this big piece of news, and what it means for open source projects moving forward. Let us know either through Twitter or Facebook, or leave a comment in the show notes.

Getting back to what we do best though, swing by Hacker Noon and check out Andrew Walls’ article on Dieter Rams 10 Principles of Good Design. Rams is an industrial designer who helped drive the success of Braun through the middle part of the 20th century. It was his thinking and technique that solidified the consumer product company’s success into the modern day. More importantly, he understood how to design for both form and function.

In fact, this is his second principle: that good design makes a product useful. Wells notes as an example when Apple removed the USB port from Macbooks. This was a decision made largely for aesthetics. USB ports are still incredibly popular and highly used, and the choice to take them out wasn’t the same as removing something like a floppy drive.

Another one of Rams’ principles that will weigh heavy on a lot of web designers is that good design is long lasting. Every month or so someone will put out an article on design trends for a given year or month. The consideration you have to make is whether or not the best designs can ever really be called a trend.

Much like Don Norman’s work, Rams’ approach to design is something that, while not rooted in web design, has an incredible amount of insight to offer to how we think about it and approach it. There’s a lot more in Andrew’s article, and you shouldn’t miss it. Go check it out at Hacker Noon.

Look, we’re all gonna deal with this a lot better if we just admit that we’re going to be talking a lot about GDPR compliance for the forseeable future. That being said, we might as well see if we can make things as easy as possible. Web magazine SpeckyBoy has an article that includes 8 Resources to Help Designers with GDPR Compliance.

Their list includes a number of helpful resources, collections, and tools that should help you feel more comfortable not just solving compliance issues, but also just generally understanding it more so that it’s easier to talk about. For instance, everything’s easier with a checklist, so they found a GDPR focused one you can use. If you’re a WordPress user, they’ve linked a plugin to help address a number of compliance related tasks. How about a command line tool for scraping your site and finding tools that might be breaking your compliance?

I’m a big fan of putting as much in your toolbox as you can get so that you can find the right tool for the job you need to perform. SpeckyBoy’s article is a nice starting point for some of those tools, which can also lead you down a rabbit hole that gives you a lot more to work with. You can check out the complete list at their site, and let us know if you’ve found any good GDPR resources yourself that they didn’t include in their list. We’ll be sure to share it out with our listeners.

If you’ve used PHP and WordPress for more than a hot minute, you’ve undoubtedly broken things in a way that simply drops you to the white screen of death. This can be a frustrating problem that challenges your problem solving skills, especially if you don’t know much about server logs, or have access to them. Thankfully, Spacema Studio has put together some tips you can review then next time your WordPress site goes down and leaves you wondering how to track down the problem.

Their suggestions range from the common steps of disabling plugins and themes, to how to enable debugging mode, and checking for things like failed updates. Their steps are fairly lightweight, but will help resolve many common issues developers run into. If your issues are more complicated and you need a bit more information, the show notes will also have a link to the WordPress Codex section on how to debug it and where the log file is stored for your site.

This week’s roundup feels like it’s just lots of lists of things, and Kerrin McLaughlin’s article fits that bill as well. A while back we featured an article on design philosophy from New York design firm Expand the Room. Kerrin is a UX designer there, and shares how working remotely has made her a healthier person.

As a remote worker myself, I love this topic, because working from home creates this weird balance where you feel both more sedentary, yet more active. Much of the advantage centers on things that benefit from having more time – whether that’s sleeping, hobbies, chores, et cetera. When you don’t have to deal with commuting, especially in a big city, this empowers you with a little more time in your day for things that help you out.

Kerrin also points out that you can eat better, since you can make your lunch right there at home. Of course, this makes perfect sense, but I would also comment that I eat out for a lunch myself a lot more, as that’s my chance to get out of my house for a little while and get some fresh air. So it’s a mixed blessing in that area in my experience.

Our field just naturally lends itself well to remote working though, and lots of companies and businesses are beginning to get comfortable with it and embrace it as a means to find the best designers and developers for their organization. If your remote well being is important, I’d also recommend checking out Jason Fried and David Heinemeier’s book Remote. They are the founders of 37 Signals, and their book looks at how you can make a remote worker model be successful.

Our final stop takes us by the folks who produce the UX folio platform. UX folio is a tool designed to help UX designers showcase their experience. This is not a product plug, and I don’t know if their tool is great or not, I just wanted to set that up to point out that this piece does plug their product at the end, but the article itself is still useful even on its own. Their article breaks down what companies want to see in your portfolio when you’re applying for a job.

When you talk to anyone in the career services industry, they’ll all tell you the same thing – getting a job is about standing out. UX is like any field, and the best jobs can be highly competitive, so looking at ways to improve your chances can make the difference between whether or not you’re earning a paycheck next month.

UX Folio emphasizes how the value of simple design skills as a showcase for your ability has entered the realm of diminishing returns, and how in terms of UX, organizations are much more aware of the importance of understanding process, stories, and workflow. They want to see how you collect data, how that drives your insights, and what your decision making process is. In short, businesses want to know if you’ll fit in to their schemes.

They wrap up by breaking down how they think a good portfolio should be structured to give you the most exposure and to showcase your skills. You can stop by the UX Folio blog for the rest of the suggestions, and let us know what you think is most important for a successful UX portfolio.

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