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.
March 2, 2024

You can own more than one type of computer!

I probably wouldn't have done a deep dive on Apple alternatives without the announcement that they were killing progressive web apps (PWAs) on the iPhone in the EU. Most people don't switch operating systems willy-nilly, and for good reason: They're different! And different is weird at first! But I'm actually glad Apple gave me the fin...
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February 29, 2024

Fonts don't have to look awful on Windows

I always thought it was a software problem — or at least a difference of aesthetics expressed in software. But it turns out the reason many Mac owners, including yours truly, so strongly dislike how fonts typically look on Windows is actually a hardware problem! See, every Mac with a screen has since 2018 shipped with a retina-class di...
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February 27, 2024

Finding The Last Editor

Some programmers can code under any conditions. Open office? They'll bring headphones. Whatever editor is on their system? They'll make it work. Using a different framework or language every few years? No problem. I envy that level of versatility, but I've come to accept it just isn't me. I bond with a quiet room, an editor, and a prog...
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February 25, 2024

Switching to Android was easy

In addition to trying out Windows for a week, I also switched my main phone number to Android recently. And that turned out to be far easier. Dangerously easy, you might say, if you were in Apple’s shoes. But it’s all down to how deep you’re mired in the platform services soup. I used to be all-in on the Apple software story. Apple Mai...
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February 25, 2024

VSCode + WSL makes Windows awesome for web development

I’m kinda shocked. Windows actually got good for web developers. Between VSCode, WSL, and Intel’s latest desktop chips, I’ve been living with a PC for over a week that runs my programming tests faster than an M3 Max, ships with an excellent window manager out-the-box, and generally feels like a completely viable alternative to macOS fo...
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February 13, 2024

Every generation needs their own apocalypse

Danish 8th, 9th, and 10th graders vote in a mock election every year in Denmark. The results for 2024 were a startling refutation of the idea that young people must be inherently left-leaning. The dominating winner was Liberal Alliance, a center-right party that speaks to the virtues of individualism, entrepreneurship, tax cuts, and a ...
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February 12, 2024

The compounding seeds of creativity

Early on in my career, I learned a very important lesson about creativity: It can’t be saved for later. Creativity is perishable, just like inspiration. It has to be discharged regularly or it will spoil. And if you let enough of it go to waste, eventually your talents will sour and shrivel with it. This was counterintuitive to me. I n...
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February 7, 2024

Campfire is SaaS without the aaS

It hasn’t even been a week since we started selling Campfire under the new ONCE model, but we’ve already sold more than quarter of a million dollars worth of this beautifully simple installable chat system. People are using it to replace existing systems costing tens of thousands of dollars per year, as well as all sorts of backup- or ...
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February 6, 2024

Celebrating a million copies of REWORK

It’s been 14 years since REWORK was first published. It was our first big-publisher book, and it hit the New York Times bestseller list right out the gate. In the first two years, it sold over 200,000 copies. And then... it just kept selling. Now it has passed one million copies sold around the world! The book consists of 87 short essa...
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February 5, 2024

It’s easier to forgive a human than a robot

One of the reasons I think AI is going to have a hard time taking over all our driving duties, our medical care, or even just our customer support interactions, is that being as good as a human isn’t good enough for a robot. They need to be computer good. That is, virtually perfect. That’s a tough bar to scale. Let’s take the cars for ...
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February 5, 2024

Basecamp turns 20

On February 5, 2004, we released the first version of Basecamp to the world. It was built to solve our own problems running client projects as an agency where we found email alone to be lacking. The first version was really just the basics: Messages, todo lists, milestones. We didn’t even have file uploads! But it was easy, it was affo...
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February 2, 2024

Dare to connect a server to the internet

The merchants of complexity thrive when they can scare you into believing that even the simplest things are too dangerous to even attempt by yourself these days. That without their rarified expertise, you’ll be left vulnerable. So best just to leave ever-more of your burdens to them, and they’ll happily carry (for a fee!). Don’t listen...
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February 1, 2024

Campfire is now for sale

After a couple of weeks of final Patek-level polishing with early-access customers, Campfire is finally for sale for all! This is The Moment of Truth where we get to see whether all that excitement turns into credit card swipes. That release rush. I love it. And I especially love this release, because we’re trying to validate an entire...
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January 30, 2024

Where next for DEI?

It was a rough 2023 for DEI. After the ideology completely conquered both the corporate and cultural world from 2020-2022, the reversal last year was astounding. The Supreme Court ruled the use of race in college admissions illegal, Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracst Research center fell apart in scandal, the former Meta DEI executive plead gu...
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January 26, 2024

We need a Right To Compute

The App Store dispute can be boiled down to one big question: Is the iPhone a computer or not? If it’s a computer, we ought to have the right to compute. Like consumers have won the right to repair. If it’s a computer, it ought to be yours, and you ought to have the right to install whatever software you should so choose. If it’s not a...
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January 25, 2024

Apple’s new extortion regime to keep big app makers

Apple’s recent threat of financial audits for developers who dare link to their own website was a big, revealing moment to a lot of people. Folks who perhaps didn’t think Apple would be “that kind of company”. That they wouldn't so blatantly threaten developers into compliance with such overtly onerous and punitive terms. But they did....
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January 23, 2024

Is greed really seasonal?

As the tech layoffs continue, there’s naturally a search for someone to blame. People are losing their jobs after all, so that must mean someone is acting malevolent, dammit. This is when the age old accusation of greed is trotted out. Companies are only laying off people now because they’re greedy! If only we could eradicate greed, ev...
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January 23, 2024

There are no secrets left

First-time entrepreneurs are often insecure about all the things they believe they don’t know. Maybe if they just get this one investor involved, they’ll know everything they need to do to crack product-market fit. Maybe if they just compose a board full of smart people, they’ll avoid all the common mistakes. If only it was so, but it ...
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January 22, 2024

The benefit of seniority ought to be bandwidth

Juniors are judged on effort, seniors are judged on outcomes. That’s a common and useful heuristic for evaluating employees. It neatly separates productivity from effectiveness, and places a premium on the latter. But the biggest benefit of this distinction ought to be of the second order: Increased bandwidth. With junior people, you n...
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January 19, 2024

Campfire is ONCE #1

With the successful launch of HEY Calendar a week in the rearview mirror, we’re ready for our second big launch of the new year: ONCE #1. And... drumroll... it’s a rebirth of Campfire! The original web-based chat system we built back in 2006. Brought back to the future as installable software you only need to buy once. You’ll find the ...
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January 17, 2024

Microsoft taught Apple nothing

Apple is protecting its App Store racket with the same kind of indignant entitlement that characterized Microsoft during its darkest monopoly days. They’re in full “cut off the air supply” mode in Cupertino, pursuing Epic for a $73m legal bill in a lawsuit they partially lost. But the red mist of vindictiveness is blinding Apple’s view...
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January 17, 2024

Apple actually lost a court case for once, but they refuse to comply in good faith

Apple just lost an appeal on the ruling from the Epic case that mandated the company allow app developers the right to link to their own websites. And it seems like Apple had been preparing for this outcome, because immediately thereafter, Apple revealed an elaborate bad-faith compliance with the ruling. Okay, sure, the company says, y...
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January 14, 2024

Multi-tenancy is what’s hard about scaling web services

Computers have gotten so ridiculously fast that there is scarcely any organization in the world that can overwhelm a web-based information system running on a single server. All the complexity and sophistication required to run web services today stem from multi-tenancy. From having a single system serve millions of users at the same t...
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January 13, 2024

Rails World and Rails 8 in 2024

The first major Rails conference on the European continent in over a decade was a smashing success this past October in Amsterdam. Not only did the conference sell out more than 700 tickets in less than 40 minutes, but it was the atmosphere from those in attendance that really made it soar. It was simply electric. So much so that I was...
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January 12, 2024

The tech layoffs continue

A quarter of a million tech workers were laid off last year from the likes of Google, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and thousands of other big and small companies in the industry. And it looks like this year is not going to bring any relief. Google just announced more layoffs, Twitch cut 35% of staff, Discord is axing 17%, and Unity is cutt...
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January 11, 2024

Google Cloud cuts egress and promotes cloud exits

The absurd egress fees charged by major hyperscalers have been one of the biggest impediments for companies to leave the cloud. We’ve been preparing for our own departure from AWS S3 at 37signals, and the price for taking our data elsewhere is in the crazy-land region of $300,000-$400,000! So imagine my surprise seeing the announcement...
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January 9, 2024

Apple approves the HEY Calendar

I’ll admit it was a bit cheeky to make our new HEY Calendar app “do something” by including Apple’s own history as a preview for people who don’t have an account. And I didn’t give the gambit better than 30% odds of succeeding, but lo and behold, it did! Apple has approved our app, and it’s now available in the App Store! What a relief...
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January 8, 2024

We’ve resubmitted the HEY Calendar app to Apple

Apple waited until end of business on Friday to send us the formal rejection of the HEY Calendar app. It seems they love to play these little games to try to drown any controversy with the cover of a weekend. But we don’t roll over that easy, so the team worked through the weekend to prepare a new build to appease the App Store’s bully...
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January 7, 2024

Pessimism is on the retreat

“I feel it in the feed. I feel it in the discourse. I smell it in the vibes. Much of the pessimism that once was is lost, for none now wish to remember it.” We’ve lived through some strange years in the recent past. Much stranger than any I can remember since my earliest, solid memories of the broader world from the mid-80s. I’m not go...
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January 7, 2024

Keeping the lights on while leaving the cloud

It was a big year for ops at 37signals. In 2023, we moved seven major applications out of the cloud. Including HEY, our email service, which had been born there, and has an extremely high level of uptime criticality. Moving out of the cloud could not interfere with that obligation, and thankfully it did not. In 2023, HEY had a stellar ...
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