The best way to promote Octane? Why, a killer app of course!

And I have one.

Okay, I will wait until you stop laughing…

Done? Feel better? Good.

I’d like to start by by apologizing for the length of this post. But I think it’s important and worth reading. Besides, it’s Friday => we’re all gonna screw off at some point. So maybe you can just swap reading this for viewing a couple of cat videos.

I think the premise stated in the Subject line is true. As for actually having a killer app… well, I hope I do. (Just like everyone else, right?)

Octane’s technical improvements are impressive. (Thanks to everyone who contributed!) But, as @locks has said, I don’t think marketing talks for Ember are interesting. So have Ember be the vehicle through which you deliver something interesting. Which @melsumner echoed when she said, The way to get people to want to use Ember is by making fun projects and showing them.

And a little while back, @mehulkar said, Now, more than ever, Ember should be working on a better experience for simpler apps, which has been a big selling point for Octane.

I think all of us agree with that. And to expand on it, I think the the most effective thing we can do to get Ember back on the JS-framework radar is to blast through the misconceptions that are killing us: Ember is difficult to learn, and that it is used only by large corporations with large software development teams – which leads people to think, “Desktop Only.”

These misconceptions were probably best distilled into one strong statement, which Gabby Jameson, a student, relayed in her talk at EmberConf 2017: she said her advisor told her that, Using Ember to build a blog is like using a rocket ship to cross the street.


This is what we’re up against.

So what if we had an Octane app that we could point to in talks and blogs? Like @chriskrycho said awhile back, It’d be fantastic if ended up being another high-quality Ember app that we could point to!

And what if this app was simple? And developed by just one person? And was getting hundreds of thousands (hopefully millions) of downloads per day? On mobile?!

Think about that, while I move onto the app itself…

I won’t go into detail about it here, but in general it is my attempt to get Big Money out of politics, specifically Congress. A quote from the book, So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of the American Government that appears on the About Us page says this:

We have a public that is just absolutely repulsed by everything that is going on in Washington. Essentially, they can’t stand all of the lobbying, they can’t stand all of the special interests, and they don’t think the public interest is represented.

I wrote the word “millions” up above, which I’m sure caused you to laugh. But I think you have to agree that millions of people do feel that way.

The front end is all Ember, and has been fully Octanized. (Or is that Octanified?) Regardless, I think I got it all, but no doubt have missed some small things.

The back end is Rails 6, with some of the major supporting players being MySQL, Devise, delayed job, redis/resque, Twilio (text messages), SendInBlue (emails).

It works on both desktop and mobile, in large part due to the work of @miguelcobain and the rest of the contributors to ember-paper. (Thanks to all of you for a great job!) If you’re not familiar with that, it’s Ember’s implementation of Google’s Material Design spec.

As far as it being a killer app with hundreds of thousands (millions!) of downloads per day – I think this is a real possibility, given what I said above, and the fact that all of the Democratic Presidential candidates have made the argument that this is one of – if not the - most important issue facing this country today. Heck, even The Donald harps about draining the swamp, and all of his supporters definitely seem to be on board with that.

I know I’m biased, but I feel this app has a very real chance of catapulting into the Zeitgeist. And if it does, I honestly cannot think of a better vehicle to get Ember back into the thick of the JS-framework discussions.

Now people giving a talk or writing a blog can reference a well-known, simple, mobile app, which will cause people to say something like, Whoa, wait a minute. So StupidTuesday is an Ember app? I never would’ve guessed that. Maybe it’s time I took another look at Ember.

Related to this, I proudly display a Powered by Ember Octane logo in the footer – which means a LOT of people could see that on a daily basis. And that footer-presence is probably something that most “real companies” would not allow. (NOTE: I know the footer needs tweaking, but since I’m not sure about the final color scheme, I did not want to waste time on something that is sure to change.)

So now what?

For now, I would like people to weigh in on this – about anything: the site, the concept, the assumptions, whatever. We all know how dangerous it is to develop something like this in a vacuum – and that is what I have done.

And later, I would like some help in both the technical (which includes usability) development/improvements of the app itself, along with promoting it (I am definitely not a social-media maven).

If the site sold T-shirts I could just hear the cynicism at this point: No shit he’d like some help. Because if this thing takes off he’s gonna get rich.

But that’s not the case. This is my “open source” contribution in the sense that it has been a labor of love, where countless unpaid hours have been spent in an effort to help others, not get rich.

And thinking about it, that’s another thing that could help Ember: the fact that our kick-ass community got behind an effort that most would agree is probably the biggest threat to our democracy. And that’s important stuff.

So that’s pretty much it. I don’t have a detailed list of the help that I would need – that can be part of this discussion thread – but as a heads-up, I’m thinking, in order:

  • Beta Test Staging
  • User Interface (No doubt a LOT here, but low-hanging fruit certainly includes improving the color scheme)
  • Usability and Accessibility (I shamefully admit I did nothing for the latter)
  • Promotion (Not yet; in fact, registrations are disabled on Production until at least some banging on Staging has taken place)

And then the following, which will serve to improve mobile download times - with the last two being things I believe the Core folks have their sights on anyway. (Maybe the site could be a good, simple, real-world, test vehicle for them!)

  • Remove jQuery dependencies (need to find alternatives for some of my add-ons)
  • SSR
  • Code splitting
  • Tree shaking

Thanks for taking the time to read and (hopefully) think about this. Color me corny, but I think the words “synchronicity” and “serendipity” come into play here. (We all have to look up the meanings of those two words, right? I mean, we all don’t know them off the top of our head, right?)

At roughly the same time:

  • Octane lands
  • StupidTuesday is ready to be released
  • The big-money-in-politics issue is in the forefront of the candidates’ minds and speeches
  • Millions of people are seriously pissed-off about this situation



P.S. I guess some website links would be in order…

Some background: Originally there was just one site for both normal users and admins: It had a Rails back-end, and the front-end was jQuery/jQuery-UI/jQuery-Mobile.

Like most websites, I decided that a JS framework was the way to go for the front-end, especially since it looked like jQuery-UI and jQuery-Mobile were no longer being worked on.

I chose Ember, and re-wrote the entire front-end in it. At first I tried to keep it all in one app/codebase, but in the end decided it made more sense to split it into two parts. I kept the lion’s share of the back-end intact, and modified portions of it to work with a separate Ember app. (Which, in retrospect, was definitely the way to go.)

There was no need to re-code all of the admin functionality (which, like most apps, is substantial) in the Ember app, so the Ember Octane app is for normal users, and the original app is for admins. (It still retains its normal-user capabilities – I didn’t bother yanking them – but they are no longer used.)

The lesser-used admin portion is now specified by a bnc subdomain, while the user-facing side is simply Still needing staging subdomains for both kept the confusion constant high, as now there are 4 URLs for basically just one website. (aarrgghh!)

Staging contains fake data for everything, for just 4 states (no need for all 50).

Production contains all 535 members of Congress, with over 14,000 real SellOuts (the site’s coin of the realm). I wrote screen-scrapers to get this data, figuring that If you build it they will come. But not if it’s empty.

User -> Staging: <Ember>

  • Can log in with a username and password of guest, but would prefer folks go through the sign-up process, and then update their profiles and settings.

User -> Production: <Ember>

  • You can view all of the real data for all of the real politicians without logging in

Admin -> Staging: <jQuery>

  • Can log in with a username and password of guest.

  • Will see most of the admin functionality. (There are 5 authorization levels: guest, member, reviewer, admin, stupid-admin. This log-in confers admin capabilities.)

Admin –> Production: <jQuery>

  • Fuhgeddaboudit :wink:

Would you be interested in some design/accessibility help for this site?


I really do think that having any small, simple, mobile app become popular would be The. Most. Effective. Way. to promote Octane. That is why I spent so much time writing my initial post.

And along those lines, I think that promoting Octane is The. Single. Biggest. Thing. that would help all of us, a la A rising tide lifts all boats. It would make it easier for all of us to find jobs (with corresponding better salaries) and for contractors and consulting firms to find new customers.

From seeing and reading your posts here and in Discord I know you must be incredibly busy, so I am very grateful for this offer. And I will try my best to keep it to a minimum.

Instead of going back-and-forth here, and since both of us probably spend waaay too much time at our keyboards, would you like to just chat over the phone for a bit? If so, I can dm you my phone number over in Discord. (Or you can dm me yours - I’m @larryh) Or, since you are the one offering, whatever you want to do is fine with me.

Thanks again, @melsumner. TBH, just 2 clicks on the “heart” icon after all that was incredibly disheartening - especially given the (IMO) just-mentioned importance to Octane, and what the website itself is trying to accomplish. (Like I said, it’s not just about me getting rich by selling t-shirts.)

This sounds very political and very US-centric. As an Ember user in Europe, it holds no appeal. It may be a good showcase but I don’t think its the best way to promote Octane to an international community.

Hi @conormag - thanks for weighing in, I really appreciate any kind of feedback.

I agree that this is US-centric, but as a single developer who has sacrificed a lot of paychecks so I could do this - having no help, throughout - I just did not have the time nor the resources to make it international. FWIW, I have always thought to myself since Day 1 doing this that there is nothing special about the US, and if it caught on I would love to be able to internationalize it.

Having said that, I don’t think I made myself clear: the main reason this could help promote Octane is because if it did catch on, then Ember Devs - regardless of where they live - could “point” (during talks or in a blog) to a small, simple mobile app that gets a lot of downloads per day and was developed by one person (or a small team) - something that breaks the misconceptions that people have about Ember; misconceptions that are preventing Ember from being mentioned in “The Big Three” (react, angular, vue) all over the Web - which hurts all of us.

So in that respect it’s purely a marketing tool in the sense that “pointing” to something real like this would be more effective than showing a slide with several bullet points touting Octane’s improvements. Kind of along the lines of “One picture is worth a thousand words”.

In that sense a similar app (small, mobile, lots of downloads per day) that sells wine and cheese in France would be just as effective for all Ember/Octane developers worldwide, again, because they would have something real that they could “point” to.

Octane has just been released, and to me, this is the opportunity to re-insert ourselves into the popular JS Frameworks discussions. That means we need marketing, and is what I asked over in Discord on Jan. 1st of this year: “What are we doing to get the word out on Octane”?

I think this could really help. If you or anyone else has another and/or better idea than I am all for it. And I don’t mean that to be snippy; I honestly do mean it, because anything that will help Ember and Octane will help all of us in many ways. (imo)

Again, thank you for thinking about this and sharing your thoughts.