Monkey Do

A List Apart Opens Up

If you missed the fun this week, A List Apart has lifted the curtain and put all their front-end assets and ExpressionEngine templates up on GitHub.

As A List Apart’s tech director, I was the one responsible for making sure ExpressionEngine was ready to publish in a GitHub-friendly manner.

It was a little more difficult than we expected — partly for technical reasons, but mainly because ExpressionEngine isn’t open source. How do you make open-source parts of a thing, but not the engine?

We made it work. Mat Marquis lead the Git end of the effort, and together we figured out how to make the CSS, JS, images and ExpressionEngine templates available without publishing the closed-source workings of the CMS itself. We also installed the site on its own virtual dev server over at Digital Ocean, and Mat worked out the procedures that take the files from one server and push them over to the other.

Response has been great — and exactly what we were hoping for. People submitted a few issues (“This thing is broken!”), but we also got a few pull requests, which means people are actually exploring our code and making improvements to it. As soon as we accepted the first pull request, A List Apart became a collaborative project.

GitHub is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our projects, and — as far as I’m concerned — it’s both the best source control and the best collaborative project management tool out there.

You should get in there!