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Sticking Around

Published by Chris Coyier

I'll be danged if I can find it but someone tweeted to @CodePen the other day something like: "Is it worth it for me to go PRO? Or are you going to up and shut down one day like so many startups do?" It was a hard question to answer, and not because I'm not sure what the answer is.

It was hard because saying something like "Don't worry, we aren't going away" is a weak and lame answer. Like I looked up how to respond in Corporate Social Media for Dummies!

So instead of a lame answer, I made a note to write up my feelings on the matter. This is that attempt.

CodePen isn't a fly-by-night operation. My plan is to build a business by building and maintaining a good product that is useful to people - and do right by those people.

There will be bugs. We'll screw up sometimes. But we'll always be working toward a better product and a better business. One that the Archiveteam doesn't need to worry about.

I know the only way to prove this is by proving it over time, so day by day we'll be doing that. But I can tell you this isn't some new revelation for me. Over many years I've focused the things I work on. I've stopped working on so many projects and have avoided picking up any new ones. I outsource as much as I can. Long-term work on a just a few things is what feels right to me. I wrote on The Pastry Box "Mediocre ideas, showing up, and persistence."

Don’t get distracted by some other idea and prance away to that tomorrow. Keep doing it until you’ve done everything you set out to do and everyone and their mom knows it.

Persistence is kinda my thing.

You're excited about it now, but what happens when the passion fades and you get bored of a project? Historically that tends to not happen to me for the things I work on that I care deeply about. But I suppose it could, in which case I would take care that the project is in good shape to be sustained with minimal effort and otherwise in good hands.

What if you sell it? There are no plans for that and I can't see it happening anytime soon. It could happen someday though, and my top priority would be ensuring a healthy future for it. I have been a part of an acquisition before with Wufoo and now, many years later, Wufoo is still going strong.

I was compelled to finally write this as I read Protecting Against Link Rot While Embracing the Future by Tim Murtaugh on A List Apart. Tim lays out a plan to keep embedded code demos healthy in the event that CodePen were to go away. He is 100% right and I'm glad A List Apart is approaching things in that smart future-proof way. It was just weird to read about the theoretical demise of my own project when I feel so strongly about it's own future-proof-ness. So here we are =).


  1. Permalink to comment#

    I think this is a pretty common question in the back of our minds, especially in an industry where so many tools, technologies, and open source projects are “here today, gone tomorrow”. At the core, we’re asking “can I trust this?”

    I bought a CodePen Pro account pretty early on and I can say without any hesitation that it has been invaluable; worth every penny and more. Not only that, but Chris and the rest of the CodePen team have been unbelievably responsive when we’ve hit a glitch. Every time, without fail.

    Every company will say “yeah, we’ll be here”, but few of us trust such a biased source. Typically it’s best to listen to the actual customers to get the real scoop. I’m a customer, and I’m chiming in to offer folks out there my perspective: CodePen rocks and I have no reason to doubt that it’ll be around for a very long time especially with this sort of team involved.

  2. Permalink to comment#

    I have just started using codepen a few days ago and I will defiantly be buying a pro account. I think the team has done a great job. Brilliant for testing quick things to see if it works.

    It’s good that you are looking out for your project and you are hoping to have a future for it even after you sell it. Still after you spend so hard and long working on something, how hard is it to let go even if a good offer comes in?

  3. jurotek
    Permalink to comment#

    I purchased a CodePen Pro account little over a year ago. Not because I needed it. It was my way to say thanks and contribute at least a little to someone who works hard and provides great source of web related information for all to enjoy and learn from each other. Keep up the good work.

  4. Jake
    Permalink to comment#

    Please allow non-pro users to source multiple external JS and CSS files…….. It’s the #1 only reason I don’t use CodePen.

    • You can just <script> and <link> up as many resources as you want in the HTML. The only reason you need to use the external sources is for 1) keeping it kinda nice and clean 2) using other Pens as resources. #2 is a complex software feature that takes time to maintain and support and thus we charge for it.

    • The man needs to put food on his table, if you need it so bad then pay for PRO.

    • Barry
      Permalink to comment#

      I agree with Daniel. If you’re already using and liking the product why not go PRO for those extra features, its only $9 a month.

  5. I’m just glad I am able to help with the cause by getting a Pro account.

  6. Going PRO! has to have been the best decision I ever made. It’s asset upload is enough to cover that cost, let alone the tools and other awesome features that come packed with CodePen. In fact, the whole “customized” CodePen themes for your profile was another selling point to me. It became like my own personal website to display snippets and projects, which I now carry confidently in my CV (purely because of the custom themes). You can view it by clicking my name, if you don’t understand what I mean by custom themes.

    I’ve began working on an Xbox API with Javascript (moreover Node.js and Express), that allows users to infinitely create a “Gamercard” (associated with their Xbox LIVE Gamertag) packed with design tools to customize it to their needs. I’ve been so persistent with it over the past week, that I have actually written up a quick mockup plan of how it will work. Though, I lack the technical knowledge of Express at the moment and it’s becoming slightly frustrating whacking up the docs in front of me every two minutes. But, that doesn’t stop me being persistent. I won’t give in as this is probably my largest project by far. Persistence and staying focused is the key. Grab a coffee every hour, look out your window, relish the sunlight and then back I go, cracking on churning out more code.

    It’s all about passion too! I know there’s the fine line between “I want to earn money for a living” and “I do this because it’s a passion”, but you start a project with passion and confidence, and IMHO, you should hold that passion and confidence until you’re ready to move on. Don’t think about the money. Money can wait. The most rewarding prize you can earn will only be achieved with persistence, passion and, well, spending countless, boring, tiring and stressful hours in front of a screen. But don’t let that not motivate you, let the end-result motivate you because that is what will reward you. Don’t stop, keep going. Everything good comes with a reward. :-)

  7. Barry
    Permalink to comment#

    I saw a really interesting talk about this sort of thing at FullFrontal last year. It’s good to know you’re actively worrying for the future of your users as much as the product.

    ( Relevant bit of talk: )

  8. Naser
    Permalink to comment#

    If Codepen close i really don’t know when i will get out from depression..

  9. Chris, you’ve helped me so much in the past. Both with your tutorials/tips and you insight into the world of a professional developer. Because of that, I fell this obligation to return the favor if the opportunity arose. So, simply, if you ever feel that you need help to keep something like CSS Tricks or CodePen going, I (and I’m sure many others here) would be willing to do what is needed to help. Whether it’s financial, or collaborating, or flat out taking on a project pro bono….. I know I would be willing to help, and there are plenty like me around here. So don’t worry about not being able to keep something going, ever. The development community will always step up and help fellow developers. We are basically just one big, very diverse family and that’s what family does. Keep working hard and doing the great things you are doing….. it helps people more than you could ever imagine.

  10. Permalink to comment#

    This is a great article especially on giving us pointer on sticking on what you started. I’m newbie here and I just started building my own blog so it will be very useful to me reading this article.. Juan On Web…

  11. Permalink to comment#

    Of course, you might need to worry about a shutdown following the coming Draconian internet censorship done in the name of security or neutrality, lest sites like CodePen be used to broadcast unapproved material/code.

  12. Permalink to comment#

    Eternity is impossible. People can only struggle that. To be able to hold onto something to the fullest, a person need of support and costs. Good luck Chris.

  13. Hi Chris, we’ve recent;y starting using CodePen Pro at the company I work for ( and it’s great – I’ve enjoyed it for some time now individually, and recently showed it to teammates here. Live/collaborative code editing is something a lot of people have tried to do, but CodePen actually does it right and is a pleasure to use.

    The question ‘are you going away’ is always difficult, but honestly even if the worst were to happen – it doesn’t grow to be sustainable for you guys and you have to shut it down – I’d wager the community by now is strong enough there would be a push to keep it in operation. Fortunately I don’t think you’ll ever have to deal with this issue – the product is solid, and everybody I know loves using it.

    Keep rockin’. :)

  14. Permalink to comment#

    Would folks find value and / or trust in creating some sort of Open Source Pledge for new projects and / or companies? It would require a good amount of thought, but the basic would be something like, if a product shuts down active production the code base gets open sourced. Maybe there could be some sort of fund to maintain servers too.

    I understand it wouldn’t be ideal and wouldn’t ensure all products to last, but I think I’d feel better if I better supporting a product that would, at worst, release the code to the world if it shut down.

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