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HTML9 Boilerstrap: The Story and the Unexpected Explosion

HTML9 BoilerstrapFor a while now I’ve been wanting to set aside some time to do some sort of web development parody. I’ve done this sort of thing before and it’s fun to see people’s reactions.

I knew it had to be something centered around the ‘framework’ movement, mainly poking fun at the well-known HTML5 Boilerplate project. So on Tuesday night this week, I took the idea of HTML9 Responsive Boilerstrap JS from concept to creation. I finished it that night, including registering the domain, setting up the site, and gritclonemerging its own bogus repo.

It’s really not a hugely complex site — there’s not a single script on the page, just CSS. Some people found it interesting that someone would choose to spend ‘so much time’ on a nothing project like this. This is definitely not like me. I rarely have time for this kind of goofing off. But it was just 3 or 4 hours of work, plus a few adjustments afterwards.

The Crazy Stats

I wasn’t even sure when I would officially make the site public. I was thinking of doing it next week some time. But it was pretty much done, and it was early in the day on Wednesday, so I decided to tweet it at around 11:30am Eastern time. I thought maybe a few hundred of my followers would pick it up, have a laugh, and maybe share it with a few people.

But the result was astounding. Within just a few hours, Google Analytics for the site was showing over 30,000 page views. To give you a comparison, Impressive Webs usually gets around 10,000 page views, on a good day — and that’s a full day. As I write this article (shortly before midnight on Wednesday evening), H9RBS.js has had over 70,000 page views.

Update: 24 hours after the original tweet, the site is now up to over 100,000 page views. A tweet from a tech publication that has 1.4 million Twitter followers certainly helps.

Why Did It Spread So Fast?

I didn’t do anything to promote this. Just a single measly tweet to my modest 6,000 followers. No blog post, no submission to Hacker News or Reddit or anything else. Normally when I tweet a link, if 100 people click the link, that’s considered a huge success (as far as Twitter CTR). But somehow, within 30 minutes this one had gone ballistic, and everybody was re-tweeting it.

Update (May 11, 2012): I figured out that it had to be Chris Coyier’s tweet that got the ball rolling. I had tweeted about Boilerstrap at around 11:26am, and his tweet was 6 minutes later. Many other big-name designers and developers follow Chris, so…

I don’t want to explain exactly why I personally found this concept funny. I probably don’t have to explain it; I think it’s obvious to most people.

But why did this subject seem to strike a chord with just about every designer/developer/agency/programmer on Twitter? I’m curious to hear what others think.

47 Responses

  1. mat:

    This is pure gold. I laughed hard.

  2. Havent we all been waiting for a Commandore 64 framework?! Just need to attackclone the grit repo pushmerge… That site just made my day, laughed so hard.

    Im gonna share this next time someone says “Hey, isnt there a framework that would solve this” =)

  3. Moes:

    This is gold love it
    couldn’t stop laughing hahahaha

    always be appy

  4. Shu:

    Pretty hard, but fun :)
    iPad appification is te4 best.

  5. Found it so funny and actual that I burst out laughing in the middle of the office!
    Can’t help but help spread it :)

  6. Will you port this to a TRS 80? I mean really without it this will be useless :-) and a follow up. Will this be compatible with the new Dingleberry 1.0 framework? I went to college to program and in 4 years derivative frameworks is all I have learned….Where is the user group for this? This certainly a load or I mean stack, and what a stack it is.!

  7. I couldn’t get this to install, could it be a permissions problem (currently set to 755)?

    :-)

  8. kev:

    You, sir, are a comedy genius!

  9. Bravo, sir! I saw this on Twitter last night and snickered for nearly half an hour! My wife thought I’d gone crazy. (I believe her only comment was “You’re such a NERD!”). Seriously, though, parody as a form of commentary on our profession’s preoccupation with frameworks/libraries = viral success.

  10. I think you did a good job of hitting all the catchwords that have been used to describe all these frameworks. I have compiled a list of frameworks (see http://remotesynthesis.com/skins/remotesynthesis/jsFrameworks.cfm if you are interested) that I have been presenting. More than once I’ve heard the complaint that all the descriptions sound the same and I am tell them, “Well, that is the way they each describe themselves.”

    I admit, it is very hard to differentiate many of them just by visiting any of their sites. Words like “lightweight” and “unobtrusive” have lost real meaning. I am not criticizing people who share freely their hard work – but I do wish these sites would start with the question, “What makes my framework different?”

  11. Scott:

    Louis, I think you simply tapped into people’s current feeling about the number of frameworks, their almost dependence on minor server-side technologies, and the current backlash against Twitter bootstrap.

  12. Thank you, this made me laugh really hard!

  13. This is funny as *!*!*, nice one.

  14. I loled so hard at the promo page. Baked-in :D

  15. PLEASE make a version for BBC/Acorn Electron (c.1990) that loads from a data-cassette player. It’s all I have.

  16. You made my day! Keep up the good work. Let me know when it work on Ubuntu.

  17. Hahaha amazing. Thanks for that.

  18. YES, hilarious – thanks for the great boilerstrapping laughs, Louis!

  19. Why did it have to be pedobear?!

    • Wow. I’m speechless. Is there anything on the internet that doesn’t have an offensive connotation?

      If anyone’s wondering what this person is talking about, the actual obfuscated JavaScript that’s in the GitHub repo writes out an ASCII art picture in the browser. It was just supposed to be some cheesy animal picture or whatever, so I just Googled some ASCII art and threw in some funny looking bear that I found. I didn’t know anything about the “pedobear” meme.

      Nonetheless, apparently the meme is supposed to mock pedophilia. But I would never intentionally include something that might potentially offend people.

      So I’ve removed that image and used a different one instead. My apologies to anyone that was offended by that. That really was not the main part of the joke anyhow — the site itself was the primary joke.

      • That’s what pedobear does: worm his way into places where he’s not wanted.

        BTW I’m another retweeter of the H9 project. It’s the perfect parody at the perfect time.

      • Matt:

        - But I would never intentionally include something that might potentially offend people.

        Better not post anything, then :)

  20. Zulu:

    There will be H9 stickers for my laptop? Where can I buy 100?
    The funniest part was people’s interactions in Github, a lot of pull requests and a guy complaining about uploading minified code! LOL^2

  21. Strangepants:

    Thanks for making my week!

    If you wanted to cash in a little, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be willing to put down cash monay for H9 merchandise.

  22. It’s funny (and not funny at the same time) because it’s all so true!

    “Just attackclone the grit repo pushmerge, then rubygem the lymphnode js shawarma module”

    That line makes just as much sense to me as a lot of other stuff I read when I try to understand Github….!

  23. velohomme:

    This was awesome. I laughed so hard I cried. Thanks for keeping things light.

  24. Just saw this on Web Monkey. I’ve been building wordpress themes all week and my eyes are about to melt. The website made me laugh. I wish there was more programming humor out there.

  25. 3Dom:

    That was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in about 5 years. I laughed really hard the whole day. Almost peed my pants.

  26. PA:

    Can’t stop laughing, thanks!! :-D

  27. Paul:

    I won’t believe this is real until it’s featured on The Changelog podcast.

  28. dave:

    “I didn’t do anything to promote this. Just a single measly tweet to my modest 6,000 followers” ?
    Err… then in fact you did do something to promote this: you sent it to 6000 people. Self-promotion to 6000 people does in fact fall into the catagory “I promoted this”.
    Your HTML9 boilerstrap is very funny and had me chuckling. Nice work.

    • Yeah, sorry, I meant to say I didn’t do anything special to promote it, I just tweeted it. And although 6,000 followers might sound like a lot, most of those will not be logged on at that time of the tweet and even if they are, other tweets in their stream will drown it out. That’s why normally when I send a tweet, I don’t get 6,000 click-throughs. More like 50 or 60.

  29. This cracked me up! You may not have submitted it to Reddit, but someone did: http://www.reddit.com/r/web_design/comments/texkr/html9_responsive_boilerstrap_js/ , which is how I first saw it. :)

  30. KS2 Problema:

    Would you please clean up the coffee all over my keyboard and screen?

    It is the least you can do.

  31. Jessie *** BEATIFUL WEBDESIGN ***:

    This is so beautiful, I would like to offer serious webdesign to make you happy. For free. Valuable content, too! Please, thank, bye:-)

    LUV, JESSIE

  32. Kevin:

    html5 is the beginning of javascript hell.

  33. Kevin:

    what html5 lead to is the recreation of all class library that exist in .net or java into little small .js framework. the downside is the learning curve is huge since they are all open source/deregulated and not consistant (style, standard and such). this will make the developers’ lives much more difficult.

  34. Rod:

    Cross universe compatible. Love it!! I gotta download that sucker.

  35. Ahahahaha nice one!

  36. Luca:

    Thanks! :-)

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