David Heinemeier Hansson

Creator of Ruby on Rails, co-owner & CTO of 37signals (Basecamp & HEY), best-selling author (REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, REMOTE), Le Mans class-winning racing driver, antitrust advocate, investor in Danish startups, frequent podcast guest, and family man.
Pinned post from October 19, 2022

Why we're leaving the cloud

Basecamp has had one foot in the cloud for well over a decade, and HEY has been running there exclusively since it was launched two years ago. We've run extensively in both Amazon's cloud and Google's cloud. We've run on bare virtual machines, we've run on Kubernetes. We've seen all the cloud has to offer, and tried most of it. It's fi...
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August 12, 2021

Modern web apps without JavaScript bundling or transpiling

I didn't much care for vanilla JavaScript prior to ES6. Through all of the 2000s, I chased different approaches to avoid writing too much of it. First there was RJS (Ruby-to-JavaScript). Then there was CoffeeScript. Both transpiling approaches that turned more enjoyable-to-write source code into the kind of JavaScript that browsers wou...
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August 11, 2021

Too many fights on too many fronts

Compared to its big tech compatriots, Apple has only recently reached Grand Scrutiny Station. The place where everything you do is met first with skepticism and scrutiny – by an influential segment of the masses and the media – more so than courtesy or curiosity. That's undoubtedly a foreign place for Apple, after so many years of unad...
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July 1, 2021

Broken software invites collaboration

After two decades of open source participation, I’ve found it easier to cultivate community collaboration around software that’s obviously a little broken. Waiting until the project is pristine before sharing it with the world creates an aura of perfection that intimidates and alienates. So releasing before every bug has been squashed,...
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June 23, 2021

Here comes the law

It always seems impossible until it’s done. And few fights have demonstrated this more than that against the monopoly abuses of big tech. For over a decade, the likes of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook have been able to get away with murder in digital markets without fear of consequences. Wrapping their tentacles ever more forceful...
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June 15, 2021

Bringing Hotwire to Basecamp

Hotwire is now powering Basecamp 3 on the alpha version we're running internally, and I thought it'd be helpful to document the upgrade process. Although upgrading is perhaps a big word. It's not like we rewrote all the JavaScript we have to make this happen. Coexisting is probably a better term. While existing JavaScript code stays as...
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June 8, 2021

Email spy pixels are dead now that Apple will follow HEY

There's no advocacy as effective as competition. I could have yelled and screamed about email spy pixels till I was blue in the face, but it was building a serious set of defenses into HEY that turned the argument into action. And now the entire email tracking industry is about to be turned upside down, as Apple has announced they'll f...
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June 3, 2021

We're hiring!

In the past few weeks, we've filled a bunch of vacancies at Basecamp with wonderful new coworkers. People we mainly found through our personal networks and other informal channels. But now it's time for the first big open call. We always do these with a bit of trepidation, because it's a lot of work. We usually get hundreds of applicat...
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June 3, 2021

Building Basecamp 4

Since launching Basecamp in 2004, we've rewritten the entire system not once but twice. First with Basecamp 2 in 2012, then with Basecamp 3 in 2015. Yet unlike other infamous rewrites, we didn't do it due to technical debt. We did it because we wanted Basecamp to be a radically different product every time. The big ideas that animated ...
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May 28, 2021

You'll pay for it either way

“If you need a machine and don't buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and don't have it – Henry Ford” I was thinking of this quote all week, as I worked on a new internal operating tool for supporting Basecamp. We must have wasted thousands of hours over the years on routine support questions for Basecamp tha...
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May 25, 2021

Targeted ads are staggeringly unpopular so we should ban them

People really don't like getting tracked around the internet by targeted ads. I mean really, really don't like it. A staggering 96% of users in the US are declining the privilege of being followed around their apps and websites for the grand prize of "more relevant ads" when given the choice in iOS 14.5. The American public can barely ...
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May 24, 2021

Who owns your iPhone?

You can spend up to $1,399 on an iPhone 12 Pro Max in the US, but even though the button to commit to this extravagant purchase says "buy", the transaction isn't really a sale in the traditional sense. Because even if you pay lavishly for this magnificent pocket computer, it's never truly yours. The Right To Repair You'd think that aft...
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May 21, 2021

Not just what you read but how

The concept of a media diet has gotten a lot of attention, and it's surely an important one. If you fill your mind with drivel, it'll soak your thoughts in kind. But how you choose to fill your mind matters too. Even if the sources are ace. For many years, I consumed media in a continuous, never-ending stream from morning till night. I...
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May 20, 2021

Speeding up HEY's The Feed

Modern emails are essentially HTML pages. Particularly newsletters, which are full of images, styles, and tables. Showing these HTML emails inside a web-based email client is not a trivial problem. Unlike a normal HTML page that has the whole browser to itself, these HTML emails have to be shown inside the navigational chrome of the em...
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May 20, 2021

After the storm

It's been three weeks since Jason and I announced the set of workplace policychanges that led to a public firestorm and a really difficult, stressful time for everyone at Basecamp. Since then, we've been regrouping, hiring new colleagues, and continued operating our services without a hitch. We have a great team in place, and everyone ...
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April 28, 2021

Let it all out

Casey's reporting for The Verge brought some of the dirty laundry that helped motivate our change of directionregarding societal politics at Basecamp onto the public record. It erased part of that fine line we try to toe between sharing as much of the inner workings at the company as possible while respecting the confidentiality of emp...
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April 27, 2021

Mosaics of positions

If you learn enough about someone, you'll eventually be disappointed or dismayed. This is nature, this is normal. While some conservatives love to throw the word snowflake around as an insult, I take it as a compliment. The most interesting people I know really are unique, quirky, and even contradictory. To illustrate, I'm going to lis...
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April 26, 2021

Basecamp's new etiquette regarding societal politics at work

Jason announced a raft of changes we've made to Basecamp earlier today. By far the most controversial is a new etiquette around societal politics at work, and the stances we'll take as a company. So to expand on that, here's a segment from what I wrote internally on that topic, as part of the announcement to employees at Basecamp. As c...
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April 26, 2021

Don't promise, just ship

Despite telling ourselves and the world that software roadmaps are a bad idea for well over a decade, we still made the mistake with HEY and custom domains. I'm sympathetic to why we did that – given just the endless avalanche of requests! – but a mistake it was. The first problem with roadmaps, and other kinds of explicit or implicit ...
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April 23, 2021

HEY will soon let you recycle your emails

Gmail taught us to save every email forever so they'd have an endless data trove to mine for purchases, behaviors, and connections. Endless fields for machine learning to roam wild, sowed by the anxiety of WHAT IF I NEED IT ONE DAY. But saving every email you've ever gotten does not make any sense. Neither ecologically, practically, or...
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April 23, 2021

Legacy without nostalgia

It was Signal v Noise that connected Jason and I, back in 2001. A quick call for programming help, answered from four thousand miles away, lead to a twenty-years-and-counting partnership. It was on Signal v Noise where Jason and I first wrote most of the essays that became REWORK, which has since sold over half a million copies around ...
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April 21, 2021

Apple is an accomplice to fraud

Today's blockbuster story in The Verge about Apple's gross negligence in managing the App Store is wild. Wilder than wild, it's bananas. Absolutely bonkers. Go read it right now, then come back. Didn't I tell you? B-a-n-a-n-a-s. How on earth does a two-trillion-dollar company like Apple allow themselves to be exposed like this? That's ...
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April 20, 2021

What is a computer?

When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, it was a milestone for the tech industry. They called it a phone, but the revolution was shrinking a general-purpose computer to fit in your pocket. That was the progress. But when Apple introduced the App Store the next year, it cemented the fundamental regression that had been present with the ...
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April 9, 2021

The App Store is broken because it wasn't designed to work

When Kosta Eleftheriou first started revealing scam upon scam in the App Store, I have to admit I didn't quite get it. How were all these multi-million dollar scams being allowed into the App Store in the first place? And why weren't they being expediently removed when scores of customers complained in their 1-star reviews? The answer ...
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April 5, 2021

Stop talking about product

Business people just can't stop referring to whatever their company makes as "the product". It's the great tell of whether someone's in it for the business or the beat. You hear it all the time. Car executives who talk about "producing compelling products" rather than "making good cars". Game executives who talk about "best-selling pro...
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March 31, 2021

It's hard to draw lessons from your own failures

Andrew Wilkinson's tale of how he blew $10,000,000 building a to-do list app perfectly illustrates the danger of trying to analyze your own failures. It's so easy to fall in love with one of those infinite alternate universes where you just did that one thing differently and everything worked out. Like "if only we had raised venture ca...
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March 26, 2021

No more platforms please

We have enough social media platforms, and they are all broken. Content moderation is bust at even moderate scale, and algorithmic amplification is broken at any scale. We need a reboot. We need to double down on the ideas of Web 1.0, and the tools that make carving out your own place on the internet possible. Not more platforms luring...
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March 19, 2021

A world without trust is not better

One of the reasons I've never cared for crypto currencies is that the associated utopia of trustless society had zero appeal to me. I don't think the world is better off by erasing the need to trust in our transactional counterparts, so turning these transactions into pure computing always struck me as a regression. (There are a millio...
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March 17, 2021

Google affirms the duopoly grip by following Apple's 15%-on-the-first-million scheme

I can imagine Machiavelli advising Apple on attempting to appease App Store scrutiny by throwing some inconsequential concessions into the ring: What if y'all just lowered the totally obscene 30% cut of revenues to a merely utterly obscene 15%, but then only for the first million in revenue? It would cost you bupkis, but the plebs migh...
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March 17, 2021

Apple in China: Privacy, principles, purses, and pickles

It's easy to commit to principles when they don't cost you anything. That's why most mission statements ring so hollow. They're filled with free platitudes, and thus provide no guidance on how to actually drive "the mission" when trade-offs must be made. That's by design. The flowery mission statement is usually meant as a fig leaf ove...
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March 16, 2021

What you read is none of their business

There's this scene in the 90s movie Se7en where the detectives played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are able to hone in on the serial killer via a secret FBI program that monitors people's library habits. The killer, played by Kevin Spacey, has been reading Dante's Divine Comedy, Milton's Paradise Lost, and other books about the seve...
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