Pittsburgh based web designer, Brad Frost (opens in new tab), is writing a book – Atomic Design. (opens in new tab) Frost will be writing the book live on GitHub (opens in new tab). As he works, the community can read what he's written and contribute to the work. More importantly, the community can start using learning and benefiting from the book before its complete.
"I don't think it needs to be finished before people can start using it," Frost explained. Going further, he told us: "The prospect of going away, hiding in a cave for a year and a half and coming out with a book. It doesn't work... We work in a fast paced industry. I don't want to go 'hey, look, here's an out of date book!'"
Atoms and molecules
Frost's book will be called Atomic Web design. It's a subject that's close to his heart, and one he's pioneered. Atomic Design (opens in new tab) is Frost's way to explaining how interfaces fit together.
Interfaces like all matter, are made of smaller elements that link together. Adopting this approach, Frost told us, means we break entire interfaces down into their fundamental building blocks, and work up from there.
The birth of book
Frost isn't new to his idea of designing and making in the full gaze of the public. "Last year, my wife and helped I redesigned the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank website, and we did it all in the open," Frost enthuses. "And it was an epiphany."
The Food Bank project was blogged and made available on GitHub. The idea being, other similar projects – who may be cash-strapped – can use Frost's work. And they can do it quickly, easily and efficiently.
The approach of designing in the open helped Frost. As he worked, the web community chipped in with ideas, code and – he says – the odd criticism.
"People would yell at me 'here's how I would do it!' So I'd cut and paste their code." Frost told us. "That was awesome." Even before the food bank project went live, the code took on a life of its own. When in New Zealand, Frost met a Professor who was using his work to teach her students.
The Food Bank project changed his creative approach and Frost says he's keen to see how the method will translate to writing.
Words: Martin Cooper
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