Q2 2023Live-Coding Notebooks, SDF Spreadsheets, and a DIY Pen Plotter


Today marks my three-month anniversary at Replit!

Going from 10-ish person research lab to 100-ish person startup definitely is an adjustment. For one, it's impossible to know about everything that's going on. Two, small details matter in addition to the "big vision". With exploratory research, it's often a good idea to hand-wave at things that would be solvable with additional engineering time, here, you have to do the "additional engineering" too, which changes the pace (and focus) of the work quite a bit. And three: you actually have feedback from real users and the outside world, and while sometimes emotionally difficult, it dictates a real goalpost to go after.

Working at Replit sometimes feels like building an IDE, and sometimes like iterating on a new operating system. I'm excited about how integrated the product can become, about blurring the line between working alone and collaborating, and between developing an app, deploying, and debugging production issues.

We're growing and hiring actively across the board, feel free ping me if you have any questions!

I managed to publish two projects since the last newsletter issue that you might have missed:

For both, there's more info in the linked write-ups, and SDFSheets even has a live demo that you can play with!

I've also been very slowly noodling on an extremely over-engineered pen plotter, with a hope to later turn it into a CNC (hence the overkill of motors and supports).

Plotter design

I don't really have a need for a pen plotter, or a CNC for that matter, but I missed making things with my hands (again), and this project is a good excuse to do that.

I'm also doing this completely from scratch, and it's a good excuse to learn about designing more complex machines, and how to use a grown-up CAD software in the process (previously I only used SolveSpace, which is great, but not enough for a project like this one).

So far I'm almost done with the first pass at the design, and starting to print initial test parts to see if they actually fit (nothing ever does on the first try). I'm hopeful that this thing will be able to draw something with an actual pen by the end of the year.

What I've been reading lately:

On the web:

Have a great summer (touch some grass!), and catch you in a couple of months.

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