CTO Think

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Covering everything from Rails for Zombies to Code School to Vue Mastery, we talk with one of the original online tutorial creators, Gregg Pollack, and how he decided to invest in the Vue.js community and a new front-end open source project.

Gregg also throws in a number of great suggestions for folks that have thought about creating their own tutorials and why CTOs might choose Vue JS among the frameworks out there.

Show Notes

Show Notes


Megan Schemmel: Welcome to CTO Think, a podcast about leadership, product development, and tech decisions between two recovering chief technology officers. Here are your hosts, Don VanDemark and Randy Burgess. 

Randy Burgess: Hey, Don what's on tap for this week? 

Don VanDemark: So today we have uh, Gregg Pollock with us Greg is a um, Somebody I've known for a while here in the Orlando area. He's a major part of the Orlando Tech Community here. Um, he's done a number of things. I I remember back in the days of barcamp Orlando Greg being kind of the one who organized that um, I think that was about the same time Envy Labs, uh, which was a web development firm. He was founding um, as well as he founded a CodeSchool, which was a online software programming school that Pluralsight acquired for about 36 million a little while back. And finally he also uh founded StarterStudio, which is uh, Uh almost an incubator for startups and and Gregg

Randy Burgess: what what are they up to now? They have to the 10th or 11th cohort now.

Gregg Pollack: Yeah StarterStudio still going strong down at The Exchange building here in downtown Orlando and where I think applications are open for our 10th class. It's a really, you know, all communities need these types of technical accelerators to help, you know, mostly us developer technical types figure out how to do sales and marketing and create successful product.

Don VanDemark: Right. Well, it's great to have you on Gregg. We've had we've had many short conversations over the past decade probably so great to have you here. Um, So so the newest venture that that you founded is VueMastery, which is really an online resource for Vue.js developers. Um people that trunk a little bit go ahead and talk a little bit about what Vue Mastery he does.

Gregg Pollack: Yeah. Well, it's we're trying to be the ultimate resource for view developers. And so that sort of long-term goal. We're building out content basically producing one video a week to keep you up-to-date with a technology or. Even get you up to speed really it's creating the same sort of really high-quality technical learning that I love producing that I've always loved producing because I know that your time is valuable as a developer.

You only have limited amount of time to learn. So what I try to do is take concepts out there really dwindle them down make them really digestible so that you can sit down watch a 10-minute video get up to speed and not feel like you're being talked down to and uh can be really understandable. So, um, Deep into the Vue community not only do we release a video a week on VueMastery, but I also helped produce the official VueNews podcast.

So if you get into the tech, you can stay up to date by what by listening to our five, six, seven minute podcast every week where we discuss the latest libraries that you need to know about because you know, no matter what ecosystem you're in there's new stuff that comes out all the time. And if you want to stay up to date with your tech, you need to be consuming it.

So we try to sum up all the most uh useful yidbits in the community so you can just listen to it or even read the newsletter that we helped put together amongst I think 

Randy Burgess: So along like for the folks that don't know you that well and they don't know your content. There's a lots of people coming into the industry.

I want to take a little side bar here and just say thank you Gregg and the team at CodeSchool because I forget how many years ago it was but I was a PHP developer working in the Drupal world, frustrated with that code and there was a video series called Rails for Zombies that I watched probably twice to get everything and the amount, everything you just described with about the Vue courses and content I can vouch for on the rail side from a while back as high quality doesn't talk down to you very consumable fun like, when like when do you see fun anymore on online tutorials? Like it kind of went away despite the fact that it worked so well and introducing so many people to Rails and CSS a lot of CSS code school stuff. So I just want to say that I can vouch for what has been done the past by your teams and that I personally benefited a ton from what you all produced.

I got into Rails because of what you all are teaching. So anyway, 

Gregg Pollack: awesome. That's great to hear appreciate it. 

Randy Burgess: What along that line though? Um, I've always been very curious about how you your teams have made choices on the technologies that you've chosen to kind of invest in and there's always a lot of um, There's a lot of choices that CTOs, technical leaders make to bring technology what technology what tools do you use for their companies, but you have all you had to look at it from a number of different perspectives which are still relevant.

And so I'm curious about kind of two paths that you took because when you came up and Rails, Python, and Django were kind of the other, um, you know, maybe Node was in there too, but, you all chose Rails and you invested a ton of time and work into the Rails side And then now we're kind of more on a front end full stack JavaScript community, you all have chosen Vue and I'm really curious about what you all like what your team's assessed and how you made those choices on this two key technologies. 

Gregg Pollack: Yeah, I'm not sure was very technical but I can tell you how we got there. Um so with uh, so I came from the Java side of the world. Um, I was big-time Java programmer many years ago probably like 11 or 12 years ago.

I even have one of those Sun certifications and the and uh, when I moved to Orlando it was around the time, you know, I went to the Java users group here and there was this conference it still goes on called No fluff Just Stuff. And I remember going to this conference and at the time Dave Thomas it was talking and who is you know, he used to give a lot of job the tops without the time he gave a bunch of Ruby and Rails talks.

This was even before rails was oen point zero, and he showed Java developers just how easy it can be creating web apps with Rails and you know, I remember very vividly him showing like look how look how much code I don't have to write and looking around the room and seeing all the jaws of these Java developers going, how could it be this easy? I don't understand. Um, so I was like, this is really cool. What was brilliant about Dave is that he ended up writing a book called The you know how to what was it that The Agile Book The Agile Book for Ruby on Rails and what was brilliant about that book is that not only did it show you how to create projects in Ruby on Rails, but it kinda showed you how to do consulting work.

It showed you how to create a project from the web app from the ground up with the client with you know, screens and figuring out what you know, how do you create how you do data modeling. How do you build forms and it gave you all the basics you need to know and it so happens around that time I was out of work and I thought maybe I can make some money doing consulting work.

So provided a recipe for me to start doing consulting work using Ruby on Rails that technology that was, at the time, just years and years ahead of everything else out there including things like Django had a bunch of stuff that Django just did not have um, and of course since then, um, a lot of the frameworks, you know, over the years have taken a lot from Rails and so they don't look all that different anymore.

But at the time when it first came out Rails really had so much new innovation that it just became such a pleasure to code in it, so I started doing consulting work and then um started the Ruby users group and through there, um realized I really enjoyed presenting about this stuff and there was a couple people in the community I really admired and they were presenting and um, that's really where I found my joy of teaching. Um, and so I one year very quickly after that. I was like, I wonder if I could just like go out and like speak it as many conferences as possible and of course when you do that you start to learn that, you know, not all conferences are worth your time.

Um, but but still it kind of I really enjoyed that and then I had a friend in the Ruby user group that was like, hey Greg, let's create a blog. I've got that responses domain. It's called Rails Envy. Why don't we just uh start blogging on here was like sure and so I started blogging whenever I'd write a blog post man.

I I wouldn't write just like small post it would end up being like a guide and um, I would get so much positive feedback that I was this I'm really enjoying this. So, you know, I just happen to be in the Rails Community when I started figuring out my joy for teaching and then um, I would figure out how every few months to put out education, free educational content for developers.

And then CodeSchool was just me figuring out how to monetize the educational content that I loved producing. So that's the kind of a long story short, um how we ended up with Vue was um with uh, you know left CodeSchool about two years ago now and what I wanted to do is really, you know, I realized if there's one reason I'm put on this Earth that I can help with innovation, whether it's like to help get, you know technology that eventually gets a person to Mars or find a cure for cancer probably the best thing that I can do is figure out how to accelerate the growth of the most innovative open-source tech and so for that it was like we took a look at out at many different open source projects for sort of the first technology because we might do this with other technologies eventually, but we looked out at the ecosystem out there and wanted to stay with what we're familiar with which is more web development and we looked at everything out there and it was really clear very quickly that Vue was a slowly blossoming community, it had not yet reached mainstream. So there was a huge opportunity to start working in Vue to start teaching in Vue to help accelerate it into the mainstream and make a big impact. The other thing that really excited me what besides just picking one because with CodeSchool like we were always at the beginning of teaching right and we stayed at the beginner content, but I always really wanted to go like deep with one subject and try that on as a business model.

So I'm excited to try that on top of that. I wanted to build into the business model a way to give back. So if you go to VueMastery.com, you'll notice when we talk about subscriptions over there that 25 percent of our revenue, not profit, 25 percent of every dollar we make goes back to support the Vue project itself.

We're actually giving that back to the project which is a huge gift back like, um, we wrote a check to the Vue community for over for almost four thousand dollars last month and that's that's huge and I love the fact that we have that built into our business model and ensures that into the future, we keep on giving back.

Sorry. I know that was a long answer. 

Don VanDemark: Oh, my that was great for sure. So so let's um, I wanted to talk a little bit about your the past decade or so has been teaching. Um, yeah, it seems to have been what you've been doing. So, um, I the way I was most exposed to the the courses on CodeSchool. So uh living here in Orlando were CodeSchool is based every every once in a while.

You all would put out a note saying hey, we need people to come in and beta test our courses, um there this Friday or this Thursday at 7:00 come in and run through a few lessons. So I did that probably for four or five different ones. 

Gregg Pollack: I remember appreciate you doing that 

Don VanDemark: sure. I I was exposed to a few of those um, it's the style you all used was was very um bright, um, um engaging, uh, you had built in uh, an editor right within the the core system itself. Um, it was I cartoonish in a positive way not cartoonish isn't cheap cartoonish and engaging in a way to make it light. So, um, nowadays, it seems that online courses are a bit cookie cutter.

Um, if you go to a site like Udemy even Pluralsight to a small degree is is also um a little bit commoditized it seems like very cookie cutter and and CodeSchool was not that so what what. How did you approach how you were going to teach the uh, the different things that you're you're trying to put out there?

Gregg Pollack: Yeah, well, what were you would do usually with giving technology? Um, I love that we were able to afford to do this. Um as we would sit back and ask really like what would be the optimal way to learn this. What's the optimal learning environment? And so not just you know how to create an effective video, but how do we engage?

How do we what is learning by doing look like for this given technology and let's invent the interface from scratch. I like and if we were in a really unique position there where we could afford to spend like between, you know, $80 and $100 thousand dollars to produce what really sometimes amounted to just like.

An hour's worth of video and maybe three more hours worth of exercises between all the videos. So it was like a little tiny bit of content, but we got to put so much effort into it. And that's what made it kind of magical was the um instructional design put together with the videography put together with um user interface design which was different for each technology. So we would kind of reinvent the wheel every time we would have a technology because we you know, some tech is your learning HTML, for example, you need HTML editor one side need the visual and the other side if you're learning how to do tests, well, you need to be able to run the test the good feedback move there. If you're learning CSS, you need a different if you're learning responsive design. I mean, we even created this interface where you could, like responsively change the size of the design. So if you were designing for you know, uh for mobile device, you could change it to that or um, just over and over again.

We invented these interfaces for learning that um really was very unique and that's why you know that was kind of our special sauce that we could spend that much effort on a small piece of content, which is hard to do like we were in a real sweet spot for a long time and when I think back to it like man, we very quickly were popular because I had spent the last five years before we launched building audience with the Rails community because and that was just that wasn't to drive towards CodeSchool that was to build business for the consultancy. Sure, so I would put out tons of free content all the time to build business for the consultancy and then you know, as soon as we put out paid content people are like oh yeah Gregg's got this thing.

Oh, yeah, I'll pay for it because he's put out so much stuff. And so here I am now with uh, the Vue community building up a new startup it is not as easy I'll tell ya, and online learning has kind of become more commoditized your right to become a little more cookie cutter and it's a little bit unfortunate that it mean I'm happy that there's a lot more people doing it, but you know there never can be enough online education and there's always room for people like me to step in and create premium content 

Don VanDemark: for sure for sure and that that's certainly what was done there. Um, when. So let's let's bring it around to internal teams, when when you have a project that you're starting up and and the team itself. So Randy and I've talked before about how do you choose the language you're going to use to to build this project in and and a lot of the time what we came up with was really it's kind of who you have. Um, if if the team you have knows a technology, it's probably not a wrong choice.

It may not be the best but it's probably not a wrong choice, but for whatever reason you're faced with a client or a specific need to introduce a new language of new technology. Um, what would be your advice for how to teach that to a team, to a small team of maybe three to six to ten individuals within your organization, right?

Gregg Pollack: I'm us. What's the most affordable way to do it? First of all, I totally agree with you. It really matters really is all about Who had who you have on your team what sort of expertise you have. So I agree with you first you take inventory of that. But once you get past that and you sort of, you know agree to take on a new tact, um, and really get your team up to speed there's all sorts of different ways of doing that.

Um, I'm always a big fan of figuring out how to get your team to a training right? So if you're big enough company, of course you can you know invite you can pay for someone to come on site to give you a two-day training, but the more affordable way to do it is just to look out there and see if there's a conference coming up and if there's tutorials attached to that so that you can bring your team surround them with other people who are learning that technology.

Um, like for example, I think in let's see September in London. I'm helping do like a day long Intro to Vue tutorial that's attached to view London. And then I think the next month after that in Atlanta there's a there's a conference called ConnectTech. Which also we're doing a one-day tutorial there and so, um, you know, I've first thing I would do if I was to adopt a new technology with the team as look for one of these conferences that has a tutorial attached to it so I can just bring my whole team.

It's also of course, you know good for morale to have everybody out at a conference where they get to be surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do. And that's also where you can ask them to, you know, make connections. Um, if you're using a new tech, um, they also piece of advice that I often give people is if you don't have a domain expertise if somebody on your team with domain expertise. Then identify someone outside your company that you can pay, you know, get them on a contract for maybe three or four hours a week for the next you know four months so that this is the person you can consult with you know that you can bring issues to that you can tell to do code reviews that you can have pair with your team to do the most difficult tasks.

Um, so they can get up to speed that way you've got sort of the oversight that you need. It's always a I'm always amazed at how many teams don't do that? Find the outside, you know domain expert you're gonna obviously they're gonna do not going to be cheap, but they're going to be worth their weight in gold.

Even if you're paying them 150 bucks an hour. They're going to make sure the code that you're writing is premium and that you're not falling into all the same, you know, the pitfalls that you're going to fall into if everybody on your team is new with the technology.

Don VanDemark: Sure. Sure, that that certainly something I faced in the past is is needing to bring in that outside expert we've got this real thorny problem.

My guys are not Postgres um DB Masters, so let's go get someone who really spends the majority of their time doing database work. Yes. We're going to pay them a premium to do it, but they're going to cut right through to the heart of the problem. Um, The hourly rate may be high, but the number of hours are going to spend is going to be rich and be yeah, um, very fulfilling.

Yeah, and don't tell anyone this, but I'm not a Vue Master. Hey, like, I I have not studied Vue for two years, but I know the content that I'm producing is premium because why why do you think because I have a guy that I pay from the Vue core team that looks over my rough drafts of my scripts and my rough drafts of my videos so that I know I'm creating premium content.

I don't have to be an expert to teach it. As long as I have the oversight to know that I'm teaching at correctly efficiently and entertaining. 

Randy Burgess: So you talked earlier about diving deeper like one of the things about educating your team on the on any kind of technology is that there's everyone kind of needs to know the basics together at the same level, but then as your team starts to split off into what they have to to build, there's needs for learning some more specific education scaling issues that kind of thing and then you talked about wanting to dive deeper in your training for Vue compared to you weren't able to always do that with CodeSchool. What are you kind of trying to do with Vue and teaching that deeper, um, the more I guess complex are beyond the basics type of learning. What are you all aiming for there? 

Gregg Pollack: Yeah, so I was always really interested because I would see websites out there like Lauracasts like rails cast going really deep on one Tech and they become a reference library. Rather than a place where people begin to learn.

I mean one of the disadvantages of CodeSchool. Was that even though we were the most entertaining place to start people would take a course and then could they go like what now? What more do you have for me? And they'd be like, okay. Well unsubscribe. So, you know, our goal is really to become that reference library not just a place where you go to learn but we replaced that you have a subscription to so when you need to learn how to do tabs, or how to use a certain library or how to do routing properly that you.

Check to see if we have a video on the topic. Unfortunately, it takes it's taking us home like it takes a while to get there. I'm realizing that sort of like, uh, one thing I did not foresee is that if we're creating a video a week like to get to the point where we teach more advanced stuff, we first have to get past the basics and there's a lot of basics and if I want to teach them at a high quality level, it just takes time.

So, um, you know, we've got what like maybe you're approaching about 30 videos on there. High quality, which is good, but we need more um, and we already have some really great advanced stuff on there which even if you're not a Vue developer if you know JavaScript really, well, you'll and you're into JavaScript Frameworks, you got to check out my Advanced Components Course on Vue  Mastery.

What's really cool about it too is um because we work closely with the core team of Vue in between a lot of the videos that I put up on there. I actually sit down with Evan You, the creator of Vue and we work on his desktop to go through some of the source code of Vue and like, dive, into it. So if you're really into JavaScript and then the frameworks, um, I think you'd really dig it.

Even if you're not if you code or yet. It's really cool to see you know, somebody who's an expert talk through the coming 

Randy Burgess: I can speak for I have been building for the last six like the last year. I've worked on React stuff less you're going to half maybe and then the last 6 months started looking at Vue and I can say with I guess some you know, just from my experience the Vue Community feels more like the Rails community.

Um, some of the has to do with Evan of he's definitely less in your face than DHH ever was but he's also he's also way more accessible in that sense like you could definitely sit down just like you sit down I could see myself sitting down with Evan and talkin about technology and stuff with him.

Whereas with DHH, I think I've already just sit there and listen and then let him go do this thing. So I really like the community and Vue is way more accessible and I mean everyone liked Rails and this is what DHH had going for and was he made choices and that's kind of what was the recommendation that people did and he left it flexible to some degree, but you know Turbolinks got in there because he's like this is what people should use people chose like differently, but it's still there was like a figurehead that a benevolent dictator that just said hey, this is the the path that Rails development should go and compared to React I would say Vue has that too, but it's with less force is just more of here's the pattern that we follow, here's why, and that's what I've always been missing in the React Community is there's not really a consensus on the best way to build and I feel like Vue in a lot through your efforts and the Vue core team we are getting that from the on the Vue side. So that's at least what I can speak for as what I've seen in the short time. I've been working on some Vue stuff. 

Gregg Pollack: Yeah, yeah. I've been pretty happy with the community and the people in it. They're really nice. Um, it's really been fun. Especially going to Vue conferences and talkin with all sort of the core developers and the community.

Um, you're right it does feel a lot like the Rails community and everyone, uh, really likes each other. It's really neat. 

Gregg Pollack: So one, uh one quick story. Um, Randy, do you remember having the conversation of React versus Vue and and why I said I was I was starting to really pay

Randy Burgess: I don't remember why you said that no, 

Don VanDemark: I what I said was look, look at this company Greg Pollock is starting this company called V Mastery of Greg Greg's on board with you. Then it's probably something we should be paid. 

Randy Burgess: Well, there's no doubt. I mean it's a validation for me because of what I said earlier. I I learned rails a certain way and I remember how I learned it.

So if that same group is going to put out content at that same level then at least that's the huge vote in my book. I think that there's a big gap. Yeah. The problem is a little bit of a gap between the the development community since boot camps kicked in don't remember Rails because rails did not stay at the forefront Node and backend JavaScript kind of took over at some point, and I don't know.

I don't I feel there's a gap there between who remembers that and you know, but I I mean there's people I mean, I remember my I worked at a consultancy and this has nothing to do with rails teaching but we were told Dev team of Engineers took the the um, iOS you guys had an iOS emulator for one of your courses and we all sat there thinking that looks like the most complex thing they had to do. How are they how are they getting this to work? They just have a bank of iOS devices sitting on like in somebody's closet like we've written a bunch of engineers were just amazed at this emulator was working online. For this type of tech and I think later on you may have explained how you did I can't remember but I remember just the how people were impressed with that and it still like we don't see the people are not putting in the same investment and creativity with their courses, which I don't know if that's bad or good for the companies that are producing tons, but it shows afford to it.

Don VanDemark: So well, I let's let if you don't mind let me grab the that statement right there. Um, you came up with Rails for Zombies and it was it was right there. It had it had some good technology in it had high production value. How did you decide and this this speaks to broader investment decisions that people make all the time.

How did you decide to invest the time the money, the energy, the focus into what you needed to build to teach it your way before you actually have the customers on board to do it to validate that you made the right choice.

Gregg Pollack: Right. Well, the first kind of interesting thing is Rails for Zombies existed because before CodeSchool like wave like maybe like 78 months before it goes school, and it was just another thing that I did for free for the community as a way to help the community and bring in more consulting work.

All right. So every few months, I would like almost every three months I put out some big initiative, uh, that was like free education content because I love putting it out there. I loved helping people and we put out Rails for Zombies, which was the first time that we combine my style videos with interactivity because basically we were there was a website out of the time called Try Ruby which was allowed you to really type code in the browser and this was before CodeCademy did.

And um, we were like what would happen if we did like driver rails we should do that. Maybe combine it with videos. Yeah, let's go ahead and try it. So we put it up there just for free and tons of people found it and tons of people loved it. And then we had people coming at we at that point. One of the big book publishers that I really respect when I have no reason not to say who they are.

Um, some of my friends from O'Reilly reached out and basically said, hey Greg when we get in discussions with the about the future publishing in any conversation Rails for Zombies always comes up like can we please pay you to like create more of those in some way? I always tell people like pay attention to what people want to pay you for there might be something there.

Um, we were like, oh, hey, maybe there's something to this, you know, it was that combined with other factors that made us think maybe we should do this again and this time charge for it. Yeah. Well, let's try it. Let's try that. Yeah. Okay. Let's just do the same thing again. Let's create on there.

Oh and what if there was like a platform kind of like steam like a gaming platform? What if there's a platform where people could buy these courses? So if we make one and people like it we can make it another and so that's kind of how CodeSchool was born and um, you know, because we had Rails For Zombies when we launched CodeSchool.

You know, we already had a mailing list of over probably 10,000 people that loved Rails For Zombies. So he had a means to go up-sell plus, of course, you know, I had um, really the branding that we needed and sort of the visibility because I had been pretty visible in the Rails community for the past um, you know, four years prior that when we why put out, you know content that's appealing to Rails developers everybody kind of jumped on it. So, that's really. How CodeSchool kind of came to be

Don VanDemark: but that sounds like it was still a significant, um investment of oh, yeah everything but for what was going to be a free, um, a branding exercise if I can if I can boil it down to that and and you say it was it was really to get back to the to the Rails community but was also a branding exercise as well as far as hey we, we have something that we can provide to the community and we think that the community can learn from this or we can grow the community I guess is a better way to put it since it's more of an intro course. 

Gregg Pollack: Yeah, you know you would the way to think about it I think is you know, uh, it's important if you you know, either for to get consulting work or take to increase your reputation as a company to go speak at conferences, right? That's like one way you go and you increase your visibility as a company and you know people want to work there and they respect your company's you go speak at conferences, and we would do that all the time when we do tutorials and all that and so, you know doing the online learning is just an extension of that.

And that's where Rails for Zombies came and that's why we were able to didem eyes putting so much time and work into it is because it would pay off in the long run. Um, so Rails for Zombies. Yeah, we probably spent probably maybe $20,000 building that you know, 20 to $30,000 building Rails for Zombies initially.

And um, I guess the only reason we could do that is because we knew. That those sort of things would pay off. And also I was CEO the company. So what I wanted to do might have had a louder voice and others and I was surrounded by developers not business people and so maybe they kind of looked at me like I knew what I was doing.

Randy Burgess: So now you've seen online learning from. Like the your part of the early community that was teaching development and tech skills, you sold to a company that has basically built this huge library and now you're back in the saddle so to speak of building up another set of courses around tech and you just kind of mentioned earlier, you're a little bit it's not going as fast as you would like which is that you're applying a lot more quality to it. It's going to take some time. But I guess what I'm curious about or what do you see going forward? Where do you think online learning is going to go? Um in terms of like right now what you've experienced since you left Pluralsite to what you could see happening with what you're building with on the VueMastery stuff.

Gregg Pollack: Um, well there's still a ton of opportunity. Um, You know, I always would talk to people like they be like, oh, yeah online learning. The Space is really crowded and I'd be like, what are you talkin about? Um, there's always room for more online education, um, just because it and that's because it's hard right?

It's hard to put together, you know, a to really understand hard to learn technical topics combine that with instructional design ideas to create content that helps people. Um, So there's always room. You know Innovation comes at the intersection of disciplines, right? So the intersection of technology and the intersection of teaching.

Um, so, you know, I'm really happy to see how many um, additional developers are teaching these days. There's lots of developers out there now that have taken the risk that have taken the online business courses and followed the rules to create, um, these online courses and the whether it's publishing through Udemy or creating on their own.

I'm more of a fan of people that sort of create the courses on their own and then do the sales and marketing to get the word out there admittedly it's harder but um, there's kind of a sentiment I think that I've heard from a few online teachers that's interesting, which is that like Udemy is not doing us any favors that Udemy is kind of driving down the value of good online learning because you just so cheap over there.

Yep, um to get courses. Um, so. Yeah, so, you know, I think it's I'm happy to see that more teachers are finding their own path and putting stuff out there. The only thing that you know, they're always going to struggle. Well developers are always going to struggle with when we build products, um of any kind whether it's teaching or not is.

Um taking the time to do sales and marketing, you know, I was just talkin to a guy I felt you know, who when he created a course and he's like, yeah, man, I went away for a few months and I just cranked this thing out as just as amazing course that has all these examples and blah blah blah and I'm like how many people have bought it and he's like 6 and I'm like God and it's probably such good content, but if you don't invest the time like, I always tell entrepreneurs like you need from day one.

If you want to build a company, you got to spend 50% of your time doing sales and marketing from day one like before you build anything. You don't need a product to sale at or Market it you just don't um, you got to start building a mailing list from day one, which is what we did with VueMastery.

So with VueMastery it was interesting because now I had to take eat all the dog food that I was telling everybody else. So like back in um, December we put out a you know the Vue Cheatsheet. Write the official Vue Cheatsheet. We did a nice cheat sheet that has all the beginners syntax. And of course we worked with the Chris Fritz's on the core team there to make sure it had all the great syntax and Damien she's also part of the core team.

Um, and so by the time we had paid content we were approaching maybe like nine thousand emails. Pretty awesome, right? So that's your goal. It's like before you even have the paid content. You got to be building the funnel right? Because if you can't have a funnel of continuous customers that are coming in and getting driven to your website, you just not going to make money and it's hard. It's still really hard but it's nice to see more individuals getting into it and doing it. Well, there's so many more people doing well right now than there was, you know, five to 10 years ago. 

Randy Burgess: Do you still think the email list beats out? The other forms the Instagrams, the Tweet of, the Twitter like any 

Gregg Pollack: absolutely absolutely.

Yeah, do you email list is the most important thing because those are those are where you find people that are engaged with your content. That's your means of reaching out. Um, it's more important than any of the other social media. Not that it's not the other social media is an important social is really good, um for having conversations whereas email is more about just letting people know, you know about coming back to your website staying engaged engage with us.

Here's more content that we have come back check out this new feature. Um, which of course you put on social too, but it's not going to be as effective of drying driving customers typically sure. 

Gregg Pollack: So so that's that's all really really good advice. And and that's something Randy and I are working through ourselves as we we continue to build, um what we've got going.

So, um, really really appreciate that advice. 

Gregg Pollack: Yeah problem. 

Don VanDemark: Um, So what is the what is coming up in the next year two years for VueMastery? Um one thing you didn't mention I don't think is is if you go straight to to Vue. You've produced the the tutorial video for for Vue.js as yourself, correct? Is it for yourself?

Or is it as part of you master? I don't remember how that was branded. 

Gregg Pollack: It's part of him Mastery. So um, yeah. I was interesting because you know, I wanted. I had a theory that I wanted to test and I wanted to use science and that was you know, my goal is to help increase engagement with open source, and so my theory was if we put a video on the front page that really explains the technology well, the theory is the people who watch the video are going to stay more engaged with the technology and more likely to adopt it. And so what we did is we did that first with Bulma this CSS framework called Bulma.io meant that I the guy who um runs it was open to us creating that intro video for him.

So we did and we were able using Google Analytics combined with what Vimeo allows you to do with Google Analytics to show exactly that and we did that again, you know, and so like. Um, so I can show using science that the people using who watch the video stay on the website longer and view more pages.

Thus you might conclude they're more likely to adopt right because they're more engaged. So we took that data from Bulma we brought it to the guys, you know from Vue and said, hey, we want to create a free video for you guys, like we're not going to charge you a dime. But will you be willing to work with us to create a the ultimate intro video for Vue because what we found with Bulma is that if you can create this people stick around longer and they you know, thankfully we're open to it. So we worked real closely with the guys in the core team to produce the ultimate video put it up there and they dug it and we found the same thing, but the people who watch the video are more likely to engage.

Don VanDemark: Sure, and and that goes right into the uh, the documentation part of it as well. I mean the videos is great and I it's one of the ones I watched when I was learning Vue, um documentation on Vue is also very very good. Yeah Chris Fritz it's is uh brilliant writer Some of the some of the technologies.

Don't do that very well. Um, there are certainly things I've started where the the tutorials were were very they were written by people who knew what they were doing I guess is the best way to put it as opposed to writing for those who don't know what they're doing. Um, so so that's always part of that that learning experience of of how to get involved in something new.

The resources kind of need to be there and I think Vue has done a great job through through your video and through the documentation. They created um thanks to be welcome. 

Randy Burgess: I feel like that space to another benefit of another attribute of the community or the Vue dev team is that they have and the Ember team actually had this pretty well done, too.

They had a key leader, they had a great group of developers and everyone was doing specific roles. So when you brought up documentation Greg spoke out about Chris Fritz, is that the person doing the docs and yeah, and so the problem with a lot of Open Source areas is that they are everything is run by a core developer who only cares about coding and it seems like the Vue team cares about everything and they are actually slicing and dicing the work up amongst people that are dedicated to other pieces other than just pure development and you even said I'm not a VueMaster but you certainly are in the Mastery level of online learning and video production and high quality marketing in that area and that's what you're contributing to that community and it matters it shows.

So I think it that's what that's what the Vue community has going for it that not I'm not knocking React, it's just that what Facebook is doing as the steward of React is largely engineering focus. They're catching up on the same attributes that we've kind of had with Vue since it launched, um for the lab at least for the last few years.

So so that's what I've noticed. 

Gregg Pollack: Yeah, I totally agree and part of that is Chris Fritz and all the people who work on the documentation team and how much they care about keeping it accessible to beginners and it also you also have to point back to Evan You just because he has a good user interface sensibility, um user experience sensibility.

Um, so that he wanted to create a framework that he knew people could adopt incrementally, one piece at a time, which makes it very accessible to try out and start adopting piece by piece. 

Don VanDemark: That's that it fits my philosophy on actually joining companies as well as that that strong leader um, right at the forefront of things.

I'm really Lynn's to successful Ventures. So, um, what what is what's on tap next for VueMastery? 

Gregg Pollack: Uh to try to become profitable some gate someday get paid. Okay. Yeah, we're making money now we uh opened up our paid subscriptions a little about two months ago. But um, It's going to be uh, you know more than a few months.

I think before we are at break even so right now I'm just putting my own money into the project. Um, and uh keeping the team small. So we're hoping that we can become sustainable within a couple months. We'll see how it goes, you know as a start-up so there's no guarantee, um, which is really scary.

Um, because it's not like we've got a hockey stick going on or anything. It's just slow and steady. So we're we're having a lot of fun, you know just accept the fear it so I'm all about trying to I'm gonna try to embrace the fear certainly a part of me subscribe or is it people subscribe for a year?

And we're on the hook and we need to be sustainable eventually, but will it happen? I don't know but that's why I like startups. Yeah, they're you know, they're they're scary but it's also means that um, they're exciting as well. Yeah, the excitement is certainly what I'm engaged in startups as well.

Go ahead Randy. 

Randy Burgess: Well, I guess the question I will I'll in my questions on on this and I'm not expecting you to be the sales spokesperson salesperson for Vue. but if a technology leader is coming to this point where the fork in the road that can go the Angular route, the React route or the Vue route.

What like what would you tell them, One, why is Vue, what are the points of Vue that you think are worth strong consideration? Not necessarily kicking the other two out and then, Two, what's the best way for them to get started and talk a lot about but what would you say like you want you've chosen Vue, what do you do next those I guess those are the two questions I have 

Gregg Pollack: why would you want to consider it? Because I mean, well number one. It has all the features of a modern web framework and you want to use a modern framework. So you're going to want to pick something that is established. So now you're looking at react, Vue, or Angular.

Right. So let's let's just say that, you know, it's wise to pick a framework. That's all supported that has a community that has a library behind it. So at least you get that far then when you compare them all um, I think the how easy Vue is to adopt is a huge selling point. You don't have to learn a whole lot.

It has a great friendly community like you said earlier. It has amazing documentation. That's really important. Um, and what's great about it is it's. I mentioned earlier to its incremental adoptable which means you don't have to you know, start adopt the whole Vue philosophy at first and do things of you and walk down the golden path.

You can pick a small piece of your project that you could do in Vue and just give it a try and get your team starting to get familiar. You don't have to invest a ton of money into education. You have one person on your team that wants to try it out, you know find a small task for them to try it out on if there's a small project.

Um, and then you know, I've got a big project and you just try it with a small piece then maybe you move on to a bigger piece. Um, the other big thing is, um, how Vue allows you to do, um single file Vue components, which I think are once you get into the really big selling point. So this is a way that you end up creating web components where you've got a one file that contains your template, your JavaScript, and your CSS and your scoped CSS, right? So um, once you start looking at this and you start realizing, oh, wow, if I'm designing a component, it makes a lot of sense for me to have all these pieces in a single file instead of spread out in a weird way.

Um, it just feels something about just feels right and you know the with um, React when I got into that and taught even a little bit help people teach it what I couldn't get over is how people were putting HTML. I know it's like xhtml inside of their JavaScript. I got flashbacks to Java servlets.

I'm like, yeah, I did Java servlets. I put HTML inside my Java code. It was ugly. Everyone realized it was a bad idea and we moved on. And so I but you know, it goes back and forth and I know there's ways in react to keep your template separate which is cool, you know do that, but I just like the fact that you know, uh that this is supported inside view as sort of the best practice.

Um, one of the things I'm a little a lot of the great things in the community that allow you to um, what else I didn't in the community in the library. I think just libraries that are supported our are out there. Um, And are moving pretty quickly into the future, you know, I want to invest in a framework that is that is cutting edge but it's doing so in a way that's sustainable that is not going to you know, I don't feel like I've upgrade every few months and it really feels like view is on the the track there.

Um, so the next question you had was about getting my team up to speed over on I'm gonna do some shameless self-promotion just because I do that. I'm not ashamed to market. Um, but if you go to view Master, we have a free beginner course over there. There's like 11, 12 videos that are completely free.

That are great for getting up to speed with Vue. There's even little code challenges in there. If you want to play around with it, the nice thing about Vue you can jump into you know plunker or a codepen and quickly start. Um, just fooling around having some fun with it. It's very quick to pick up.

Um, So if I was to get a team up to speed I would maybe throw more to Vue Mastery check it out and get up to speed that way. Of course also, check out the official documentation. And of course, there's lots of free content out there on the web. You know, you're not going to pick up one book. So I'm not going to tell you that Vue Mastery is the end all, be all but um, you know, because you learn a new technology, you're not going to pick up just one book on you're gonna do several.

So, um, I so I think that's a good starting point start a Vue Mastery go to documentation. And then uh, see what else you find in the ecosystem. And if you have like a subscription to like pluralsight or something, they've got courses to well. What am I? 

Randy Burgess: Well, I was gonna add those a selling point that I would bring up if you are asked this again, and this is what I've noticed the difference between the two.

When it comes to core React pretty much you have one way to do the the basics of React, but then as soon as you reach for the router piece or the State Management piece, you are jumping into areas of React that aren't supported by the core React team and when you when you use Vue, I'm using a router that the Vue team is supporting a there are conventions in place that I don't have to sit there and guess how do I use this best? Yep, and the same with I haven't even used the Vue state management piece because I'm like, I don't think I need it. Yeah, I haven't even needed it. Whereas I've all with React World. I've always constantly asking do I need any Mob X do I need Redux? Do I need Relay?

And then does anyone care to keep those going because of something else that pops up and so there's a yeah, it's really nice. And it's all about there is a significant trust I have with the Vue team and I admit I have not built a lot with Vue yet. But I feel confident that the core team is supporting more of the additional thing tools.

I'll need to work with Vue and that's as a CTO I want my team to be I want to make bets on tech I want to make bets like that, um myself. So that's just that's the selling point that I've noticed just with very I built one app in Vue and thought this is significantly different and this is why I like working with this tool right now, so.

Sorry, Don. Good know that that's really good point. 

Don VanDemark: Yeah. Thanks Randy. So I think we'll wrap here. One thing I did want to say, uh, you mentioned your Advanced components course, uh earlier and um be again being here in Orlando I get to see previews of things and I think part of that advant is the one talk you gave at uh at the Orlando JS about about reactivity within Vue and you are absolutely correct you did.

Have to know Vue for it. It was it was very JavaScript heavy very hey learn how JavaScript works is essentially what it came down to so it really broke it down really well, I really enjoyed that. Um, and I think thanks I really yeah, you're Advanced Component I guess is just a bigger version of that.

Gregg Pollack: Yeah. It's a more detailed more high-quality. Um, because yeah when it comes down to whatever framework you're going to use if you really want to be confident scaling it, you know using having your team use it then the best thing you can do is get a feel for what's going on under the hood what's going on?

On the internals it's going to make it easier debug and scale and even extend it if you need to and so that's really what I do inside of that Advanced Components course, I give you what you need to know kind of internally about how Vue is functioning. So you have a little more confidence in using it because I know as a developer, I would always get nervous the more other people's code.

I would you. Because I don't know what's really going on. I want to know because I want to be able to dive in there and really be able to debug. Um, and so I think you know with taking the advanced components course, you're going to end up feeling much more confident understanding how Vue works and how its laid out so that when you run into problems you can debug them much more effectively confidently dive into the source code if you need to.

Don VanDemark: Awesome. Well, thank you again Gregg for joining us today. I think we had a number of things and I'm really appreciative of you taking time out of your day today. 

Gregg Pollack: Yeah, no problem. I appreciate uh talkin with you guys and all of the uh, the kind words that you sent my way sure this did turn into the v the Gregg Pollock fan club, but that's okay.

We're okay with all right, well, Thank you again. And uh Randy we will talk again soon later. Thanks. 

Megan Schemmel: Thanks for listening to the CTO Think podcast. 

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A pragmatic podcast about leadership, product dev, and tech decisions between two recovering Chief Technology Officers.