Scott Raymond

7 comments | Posted: 20 December 05 in Interviews, by Nathan Smith

Recently, when featuring the church website for Jacob’s Well, I noticed the designer is also the man who developed Blinksale and IconBuffet for the guys at Firewheel Design. Since I’m a big fan of IconBuffet, and very much liked the church site he did, I thought I’d better ask Scott Raymond for an interview.


How did you get your start in programming? Before Ruby on Rails, what would you say was your forte?


I started programming at the early age of 12 with HyperTalk, the language used by the late great HyperCard. It was a pretty great environment for learning to program and was ahead of its time in many ways. Once I got Internet access in the early nineties, I dropped that and started making static websites. Soon after I adopted PHP, then known as PHP/FI. I dabbled in other things such as Mod_Perl, server-side JavaScript and ColdFusion (_Editor’s note: non nuclear_), but PHP became my forte. That is, until I discovered Ruby on Rails, and renounced my former ways.


Renounced, that’s a bit strong! Some PHP gurus might have your scalp for that. What do you like about Rails, as opposed to other programming languages or frameworks, and are there any areas in which you find yourself missing your previous area of expertise? Also, how would you say Typo stacks up against other open-source PHP solutions such as WordPress or Textpattern?


A lot of what I like about Ruby on Rails stems from the fact that its creator, David Heinemeier Hansson has controlled its destiny fairly tightly. Many other frameworks feel like they were developed by a committee. If you pay attention when you’re using Rails, you can hear its authorial voice. The Rails
community calls the notion “opinionated software,” and people either love it or hate it. I love it. For me, working on Rails is sort of like having really smart, like-minded coworkers. It is inspiring, motivating and energizing.

Regarding Typo, the fairly popular Rails-based weblog system, I’m sorry to say I’m not a huge fan of it. The code doesn’t convey a lot of elegance to me. I’m using it on my own blog now, but only until something better comes along. ;-)


I can attest to the power of inspirational coworkers. I feel fortunate to be on a great web design team. Now, do you run Redgreenblu full-time, or do you have an alter ego that goes to a day job like I do? What advice would you give to other aspiring Rails developers?


Redgreenblu is my full-time gig. I’ve been doing freelance web development on and off for about ten years now, which has allowed me to stay plenty busy without too much marketing effort. That said, I’ve had great opportunities arise by just participating in the Ruby on Rails community. That would be my advice to newbies: find a project to get your feet wet with, and then get active in the community. Submit patches, answer questions in the list and IRC, post tips on your blog. It’s a virtuous cycle, because you’ll learn a ton as you do it, and your esteem within the community will rise, meaning job opportunities will come.


Those are very good tips. I agree, there is a certain synergy around open-source movements that isn’t quite there in a proprietary environment. Speaking of synergy, tell me a little bit about Blinksale and IconBuffet. How did you come to meet and work with the guys at Firewheel Design?


I suspect that I lucked into it, to some extent. Josh at Firewheel figured that Rails might be a good environment for his Blinksale idea, and I was toward the top of the “Available Developers” list on the Rails Wiki. At that point, I had a couple of Rails apps in production, which was about as much as anybody else.


Ah, so you were at the right place, at the right time – Cool. I have found myself fumbling into opportunities on several occasion. Come to think of it, most of my life has been fumbling! Anyway, would you please share your testimony, and how you came to faith in Christ?


Sure. I grew up in a Christian family, and so I was acculturated to faith early on. In my college years, I went through a cycle of doubt that ended up tempering my faith into something more personal and (I hope) more mature. At least for my personality, I think that cycle of questioning is essential for growth. The church I attend has been a wonderful “safe place” for that ongoing process of learning to follow Christ.


I can identify with that. It is so important for churches to be places of wrestling with doubts, in yourself and even God. I don’t think the Big Guy is threatened by us asking those tough questions. The first few years of college were pretty confusing for me, and I continued to wrestle with the balance between going all out for God, and just burning myself out needlessly. I like to think that perhaps I’ve found some sort of balance in my old age of 26. I guess that about sums it up for me. Did you have anything else you’d like to add before we close?


Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Otherwise, thanks!

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Yannick

    Nice Interview. Scott thanks for the advice for people who would like to learn more about Rails.

    I was just wondering Scott, you had some programming experience before learning Ruby on Rails would you say that that helped you to learn and understand RoR quicker, than someone who probably doesn’t have any programming experience?

  2. 2 Scott Raymond

    Yeah, I’m sure my prior experience helped immensely when learning Rails. Jumping into Rails with no programming experience would be an awfully steep hill to climb.

  3. 3 Mark Priestap

    Yannick asked my first question.

    Scott – do you have kids and a full-time job? If so, how do you juggle all that stuff? The biggest roadblock to success in this field seems to be TIME.

  4. 4 Scott Raymond

    Nope, no kids, and I do freelance web development full-time.

  5. 5 Chris Hall


    Do you have any advice for those of us who have been doing the ‘day job’ routine for a long time but are interested in going freelance?

    I’ve been a PHP developer for just about a decade and have recently moved to Ruby/Rails as my preferred choice for web development. I’ve made the decision to open up shop next year as a freelancer but I think my biggest hurdle is how to get that FIRST freelance gig. Any opinions/advice would be appreciated.


  6. 6 Josh Williams

    To answer the question on how we found Scott, it was more or less as he described. Only with a twist.

    His name was about the sixth or seventh on the list of Rails developers at the Rails site at the time, but it was the first name I clicked (for some unknown reason). Scott’s portfolio included a couple projects I was loosely familiar with, so I shot him an email.

    Scott was the only person we ever contacted. And I’m glad. Call it Providential.

  7. 7 Yannick

    That’s pretty awesome that you were able to find the right guy for the job and on the first pick too.

    Keep up the good work guys!


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