David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.
June 8, 2024

Visions of the future

Nothing gets me quite as fired up as discovering the future early and undistributed. That feeling of realizing that something is simply better, and the only reason it hasn't taken off yet is because the world hasn't realized it. It's amazing, and it's how I'm feeling about Linux right now. That "how did I not know it was this good" sen...
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June 6, 2024

Introducing Omakub

Linux can look and feel so good, but it often doesn't out of the box. It's almost like there's a rite of passage in certain parts of the community where becoming an expert in the intricacies of every tool and its theming is required to prove you're a proper nerd. I think that's a bit silly, so I created Omakub: An opinionated web devel...
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June 2, 2024

Why I retired from the tech crusades

When Ruby on Rails was launched over twenty years ago, I was a twenty-some young programmer convinced that anyone who gave my stack a try would accept its universal superiority for solving The Web Problem. So I pursued the path of the crusade, attempting to convert the unenlightened masses by the edge of a pointed argument. And for a l...
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May 24, 2024

Linux as the new developer default at 37signals

For over twenty years, the Mac was the default at 37signals. For designers, programmers, support, and everyone else. That mono culture had some clear advantages, like being able to run Kandji and macOS-specific setup scripts. But it certainly also had its disadvantages, like dealing with Apple's awful reliability years, and being cut o...
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May 20, 2024

Beautiful motivations

Programmers are often skeptical of aesthetics because they frequently associate it with veneering. A thin sheen of flashy marketing design covering up for a rotten or deficient product. Something that looks good from afar, but reveals itself to be a disappointing imitation up close. They're right to be skeptical. Cheap veneers are the ...
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May 17, 2024

System tests have failed

When we introduced a default setup for system tests in Rails 5.1 back in 2016, I had high hopes. In theory, system tests, which drive a headless browser through your actual interface, offer greater confidence that the entire machine is working as it ought. And because it runs in a black-box fashion, it should be more resilient to imple...
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May 17, 2024

Paranoia and desperation in the AI gold rush

I've never seen so much paranoia in technology about missing out on The Next Big Thing as with AI. Companies seem less excited about the prospects than they are petrified that its going to kill them. Maybe that fear is justified, maybe it's not, but what's incontestable is the kind of desperation it's leading to. Case in point: Slack. ...
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May 16, 2024

Open source is neither a community nor a democracy

Using open source software does not entitle you to a vote on the direction of the project. The gift you've received is the software itself and the freedom of use granted by the license. That's it, and this ought to be straight forward, but I repeatedly see that it is not (no matter how often it is repeated). And I think the problem ste...
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May 14, 2024

Meta is shutting down Workplace

The saying "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" is at its essence about risk management. The traditional wisdom goes that if you buy from a big company, you're going to be safe. It may be more expensive, but big companies project an image of stability and reliability, so buying their wares is seen as the prudent choice. Except, it is...
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May 14, 2024

The endangered state of normality

When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, I had friends who were socially awkward nerds, friends who were cool but didn't like school at all, friends who were good at school but couldn't muster the will to finish their math homework, and friends who were tomboys. None of these kids ever got a diagnosis. They were all well within the sp...
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May 10, 2024

DEI is done (minus the mop up)

In November of 2022, I wrote about the waning days of DEI's dominance, and enumerated four factors that I saw as primary drivers of this decline. Those waning days have now been brought to a close, and DEI, as an obsessive, ideological preoccupation of the corporate world, is done. Witness this tabulation of DEI (and ESG) mentions in e...
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May 9, 2024

Hating Apple goes mainstream

This isn't just about one awful ad. I mean, yes, the ad truly is awful. It symbolizes everything everyone has ever hated about digitization. It celebrates a lossy, creative compression for the most flimsy reason: An iPad shedding an irrelevant millimeter or two. It's destruction of beloved musical instruments is the perfect metaphor fo...
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May 7, 2024

The last RailsConf

Few numbers exemplified the early growth of Rails like attendance at RailsConf. I think we started with something like 400-600 attendees at the inaugural conference in Chicago in 2006, then just kept doubling year over year, as Rails went to the moon. If memory serves me right, we had something like 1,800 attendees in 2008? It was rapi...
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April 30, 2024

Magic machines

There's an interesting psychological phenomenon where programmers tend to ascribe more trust to computers run by anyone but themselves. Perhaps it's a corollary to imposter syndrome, which leads programmers to believe that if a computer is operated by AWS or SaaS or literally anyone else, it must be more secure, better managed, less bu...
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April 29, 2024

We're moving continuous integration back to developer machines

Between running Rubocop style rules, Brakeman security scans, and model-controller-system tests, it takes our remote BuildKite-based continuous integration setup about 5m30s to verify a code change is ready to ship for HEY. My Intel 14900K-based Linux box can do that in less than half the time (and my M3 Max isn't that much slower!). S...
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April 26, 2024

I could have been happy with Windows

After more than twenty years on the mac, it was always going to be difficult for me to leave Apple. I've simply not been in the market for another computing platform in decades. Sure, I've dabbled a bit here and there, but never with true commitment. It wasn't until Cupertino broke my camel's back this year that I suddenly had the moti...
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April 25, 2024

The gift of ambition

The Babylon Bee ran this amazing bit last year: "Study Finds 100% Of Men Would Immediately Leave Their Desk Job If Asked To Embark Upon A Trans-Antarctic Expedition On A Big Wooden Ship". Yes. Exactly. Modern office workers are often starved for ambition, adventure, and even discomfort. This is why there's an endless line of recruits w...
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April 25, 2024

Villains may live long enough to become heroes

The first tech company I ever really despised was Microsoft. This was back in the 1990s, the era of "cutting off the air supply", of embrace-extend-extinguish, of open source as a "cancer", and of Bill Gates before he sought reputational refugee in philanthropy. What made the animosity so strong was the sense of being trapped. That the...
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April 23, 2024

As we forgive those who trespass against us

Google's announcement that they're done discussing politics at work widely echoed the policy changes Coinbase and we at 37signals did a few years back. So yesterday, I did two separate interviews with media outlets on the topic. And we spoke in part about those early weeks of reaction to our changes, as Twitter went crazy in response t...
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April 19, 2024

We are a place of business

After the disastrous launch of their Gemini AI, which insisted that George Washington was actually Black and couldn't decide whether Musk's tweets or Hitler was worse, Google's response was timid and weak. This was just a bug! A problem with QA! It absolutely, positively wasn't a reflection of corrupted culture at Google, which now app...
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April 15, 2024

Forcing master to main was a good faith exploit

I never actually cared whether we call it master or main. So when the racialized claims started over how calling the default branch in Git repositories "master" was PrObLEmAtIC, I thought, fine, what skin is it off anyone's or my back to change? If this is really important, can make a real difference, great. Let's do it. How naive. Thi...
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April 12, 2024

Imperfections create connections

The engine is in wrong place in a Porsche 911. It's hanging out the back, swinging the car like a pendulum. And that's key to why it's the most iconic sports car ever made. This fundamental imperfection is part of how it creates the connection. This is true of mechanical watches too. They're hilariously complicated pieces of engineerin...
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April 11, 2024

Enough problems to go around

The worst kind of company is usually not the one where there's too much real work to do, but the kind where there's not enough. It's in this realm the real monsters appear. Without enough real problems to go around, humans are prone to invent fictitious and dreadful ones. This is the root of David Graeber's Bullshit Jobs analysis. That...
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April 10, 2024

You're not guaranteed a spot on the team

I've always hated the saying "we're like family here" when it comes to work. Because it's obviously not true, and it's usually cynically invoked by management to entice an undue obligation of sacrifice. Implying that you should give it all to The Company -- constantly working weekends, always being available on vacations, and all the r...
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April 3, 2024

Le Mans 2024

This will be my 11th attempt. The first time I showed up on the grid at Le Mans was in 2012 -- some five years after I had first driven a real race car, and even less time since I made participating in the world's greatest endurance race the ultimate goal. But it almost didn't happen this year. See, motorsports relies on a curious mix ...
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March 31, 2024

Bad Therapy

This book nails it. What it's like to be a parent with school-age children in America right now. So many kids with a diagnosis of one sort or another, so much monitoring of children's every move, so much anxiety over the most trivial things, like the sugar content of a cupcake. Abigail Shrier ties all these threads together into a damn...
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March 15, 2024

Chart the course, set the pace, hold the line

I break the essential responsibilities of the company executive into three distinct buckets. They are: 1. Chart the course Where are we going? What are we building? Who is it for? Any executive running anything has to know the answer to these questions in order to lead anyone anywhere. If you don't have a clue where you're going, any r...
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March 15, 2024

Beware the leviathans

I've been pleadingwithantitrustauthorities around the world to do something about Big Tech for years now. Especially with those awful app store monopolies that have been choking out developers left, right, and center. But now that something finally looks to be happening, I'm suddenly concerned that it might, and that we'll end up wishi...
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March 13, 2024

Developers are on edge

It's a double whammy of anxiety for developers at the moment. On the one hand, the layoffs are dragging on. The industry has shed more jobs in a shorter period than any time since the dot-com bust over twenty years ago. Seasoned veterans who used to have recruiters banging on their door nonstop can suddenly barely get a callback. And n...
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March 12, 2024

Be less precious

The essence of the book Radical Candor is the concept of ruinous empathy. That by trying your best to couch employee performance feedback in overly gentle language, you end up confusing the message, and cheating the recipient out of the clarity they desperately need to improve – or prepare for what happens if they don't. This concept e...
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