Dave Rupert co-hosts two podcasts (see below). He also builds tiny jQueries that aim to make developer’s lives (as well as their work process) a little bit easier.
During the day he makes up one third of Paravel, a web design and branding company based in Austin, TX.
Matt: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Dave. First of all, congratulations on the ATX Web Show reboot. The web design and development community is pretty big in Austin. Is there something special about the Austin community that keeps you so involved?
Dave: I love Austin and as my co-worker Reagan says, “Austin is the greatest city in the greatest state in the greatest country in the whole world”. The web community here is extremely healthy and filled with countless talented people. The last three meetups I’ve been to were standing room only to hear a tech talk. From what I gather, this is not normal around the country. To its credit, Austin has a low tolerance for bad meetup habits (argumentative people, self-aggrandizing companies, or sleazy recruiters) as those are a strict violation of the “Keep It Weird” mentality.
Even going beyond the high-calibur meetups with high-calibur speakers, this is where I get sappy, the Austin web community is filled with genuine friendships. So in that regard, it’s easy to keep involved because these people are my friends.
It’s well-known that Paravel is involved in the responsive design movement. How did the shift to building responsive sites change your old process?
At first we hated responsive web design. It threatened how we built and designed websites. If you look at sites like The Many Face Of or the Lost World’s Fairs, those are 18,000px tall PSDs coded to pixel perfection. We would actually do side-by-side PSD/CSS comparisons on these gigantic layouts.
Then responsive web design hit and we cursed its birth. The more we experimented with it, however, the more it seemed useful. Then the Do Lectures approached us for a responsive HTML5 video site. This was an opportunity to work with an organization we adored, we couldn’t pass it up, so we dived into responsive design. That project and responsive design in general have shattered our assumptions and allowed us to surrender some control to the fluid nature of the web, which has been a fun and challenging change in our process.
What’s your preferred method for handling retina display graphics on your projects?
Guuuuuuh. Responsive images (and retina is wrapped up in that right now) is a bit of a mess. There are a few strategies we take at Paravel. First, use CSS and web type when possible. Second, use SVG and icon fonts when appropriate. Tiny raster graphics tend to be the worst on retina screens. Then for the larger inline images, we’re looking at the div-backed picturefill from Filament Group until @srcset gets sorted out.
How much time do you spend researching new techniques versus working on projects? Is it difficult to maintain the balance of learning and creating in a dynamic and fast-paced industry like web development?
Part information addiction and part FOMO, I spend quite a bit of time scouring RSS feeds and Twitter trying to “keep up”. I can’t really quanitfy it, but usually I start my days with coffee and the virtual newspaper. In practice, actual knowledge tends to come through staying up late tinkering on side projects. Also, the aforementioned meetup scene is a great way to get exposed to new tech that you would otherwise never know about or have occasion to use. My motto: Always be learning.
You’ve mentioned, at Refresh Austin in June and on your personal site, that you graduated university with a degree in “Japanology.” Working as a developer is a huge change in direction from your undergraduate education—where, if at all, do the two fields of interest intersect?
My freshman year (1998) I started out a Computer Science major taking Japanese with the ambitious goal of working for Nintendo. After making C’s and D’s in Computer Science and straight A’s in Japanese, I decided to switch my major towards my strength. From there, making websites filled my spare time. The intersection between the two subjects is very small, but I suppose both fields deal with language. The easier you can grasp a new language, the easier you can grasp a new syntax? I sure hope that’s true.
Any forthcoming events or announcements you wish to share with readers?
My favorite thing Paravel is working on is a side project headed up by Reagan Ray called Heroes of Texas, a poster collaboration about the Texas Revolution. Beautiful and educational with super talented artists contributing. Beyond that, lots of fun stuff happening in the near future: new Paravel site, Shop Talk Season 2.0 with a brand new logo and website, and ATX Web Show improvements, and more!
Thanks for talking to me, Dave! It’s been a pleasure.
Thanks so much for the questions