Meet the One – Elbert F.

by in Articles, Interviews
Elbert F

Introducing Elbert F.

Today’s interview is with a believer, like many of us, in the transition of desktop applications to the web, a believer in having the guts to pursue what you are passionate about and to enjoy doing it, a believer in making the user experience free of hassle. So, without further ado, meet the creator of and Twitchance, Elbert.

The Interview…

Q1. You are the "One" on SingleFunction this week, so, who are you really?

My name is Elbert. I’m a 25 year old self-employed web developer from The Netherlands, currently living with my girlfriend in Australia. I built websites for a living and often work on experimental projects for fun.

Q2. What made you start web development/design in the first place?

I’ve been a programmer since the first year of high-school in 1995 when I used recreate games like Tetris in DOS. I made my first website with the first iteration of Microsoft Frontpage somewhere in the late nineties and I started programming in PHP by hacking my own phpBB board in 2004. As a kid I always wanted to do “something with computers”.

Q3. What inspires you?

I like simple and clever inventions. Stuff like Twitter, which started off as a service with basically one feature and now the fastest growing social network on the web. People who come of with brilliant ideas and realize them while others say it will never work, inspire me.

Q4. What’s a typical day for you?

I get up, start my computer, check my mail and kiss my girlfriend goodbye as she leaves for work. I usually spend some time reading RSS feeds with a cup of coffee as I like staying on top of tech news. Then I boot up my text editor and start coding! Before my girl comes home I make sure dinner is on the table, and we relax behind the TV. What happens after TV, I don’t say.

Q5. How does your "Command Center" look like?

It isn’t much. I have my laptop (you can tell it’s being used) and an extra monitor dedicated to Twitter/TweetDeck and IM. I keep my desk clean and organized, I don’t like clutter. One thing you will always find on my desk is a glass of water.

Elbert F Command Center

Q6. What operating system do you use?

I’m on Windows XP. Ubuntu used to be my OS of choice but I always had Windows on a separate computer for software that doesn’t run on Linux (try opening a complex PSD file in GIMP). Right now I only have one PC so I’m stuck with XP.

Q7. What’s the programming language you are most comfortable with?

PHP. JavaScript comes second.

Q8. What’s your favorite tool/IDE?

I use SciTE, a very simple text editor (boots in a second). It has syntax highlighting and a tabbed interface, which is all I need. FileZilla is my favorite FTP client.

Elbert F Desktop

Q9. How do you start a new project?

I usually just work the idea out in my head. I start by creating a new folder in my projects directory and copying some files I will probably be using. Then I just start with code. I should probably begin with doodles on paper, diagrams, flowcharts etc. but I’m way to impatient.

Q10. What’s your design philosophy?

“The best interface is no interface at all.” I first heard that in an eye opening Google Tech Talk “Don’t make me click“. It means that you shouldn’t require user interaction unless it’s absolutely necessary. A good example is Google Reader where they removed the pagination and load more content as you scroll down. Less clicking, more enjoying.

Q11. What was your first website?

I made my first website to put photos of my artwork on-line, long time ago.

Q12. What’s your favorite creation?

I have to say one of my latest apps,, because it is everything I stand for. It’s simple, requires hardly any interaction (no buttons to press) and can be inspiring at the same time. It took me 2 hours to make and 5,000 people were on it the next day.

Q13. What’s hot now and you would like to let everyone know about?

My latest project is Twitchance, which is a viral and social marketing experiment where I’m going to give away $500.-. To join, all you need to do is post a message on Twitter with a message from the sponsor 6S Marketing.

Q14. What’s next?

All desktop applications will make their transition to the web. We are seeing the beginning with Avairy, Gmail and Google Docs etc. (cloud computing). I’m waiting for Internet2 or The Grid, we need a much faster web if we ever want to leave desktop apps behind.

Q15. Being the One, what’s the one advice you would give to the wannabes out there?

I’m not the One! I have a long long way to go. My best advise is to just do what you enjoy doing and be passionate about it. There will always be people to discourage you, which usually means they don’t have the guts to do what you do.

Elbert F in Australia

Wrapping Up…

Thanks Elbert for taking the time to answer the questions of this interview, and I wish you all the best.

Here are some links to get inspired by Elbert’s creations and design:

And for those who need to get in touch with Elbert, either leave him a comment here, or connect with him at the following sites:

Next week, same place same time, an interview with a software engineer who dabbles in side projects and loves to cook, so stay tuned…

One Comment

  1. Choc Chip welcomes new developer Elbert F | Choc Chip multimedia | Small business website design specialists
    April 13th, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    […] Elbert is a talented and creative developer who I was lucky to meet at the last Geelong Web Meetup. Not only is he a gun PHP programmer (the language we use to build our websites) but he is adept with many other web languages, has created his own sophisticated CMS, is a Twitter superstar and gets interviewed by web development magazines. […]