Twingly Team Interviews: “We’ll see web pages being built with a mobile first approach”

Today we bring you our 8th Twingly Team Interview – an article series where we chat with Twingly employees about their time with us as well as about the past, current and future state of the web and blogging. This time we interviewed Kristoffer Forsgren, 28 years old, who is Interface Developer at Twingly.

When was your first contact with programming?
I think around the age of seven. At that time I discovered that the computer came with something magical called “Quick Basic” and a bunch of example games. Quite fast I started to investigate how I could modify parts of the code to get different kind of benefits. After following a few examples in a book my father had, I coded a program that allowed me to enter all the VHS movies we had and get them saved in a text file. To me it was very thrilling that it was possible to make the computer do basically whatever you wanted it to do. Then at the age of 11, I came across a “HTML school” in a computer magazine. The structure made a lot of sense to me, so I started to learn HTML straight away. My computer didn’t have a web browser, but I still enjoyed writing HTML. My interest grew even stronger a couple of years later when the family got an Internet connection, and since then I’ve been keeping on learning Javascript, CSS, PHP and so on. Later I decided to to study computer science and IT security among other things.

And when did you get in touch with Twingly?
Well, I guess it depends what you mean by “got in touch”. The first time I got to know about Twingly was as a blogger, a long time before I was hired. I joined Twingly back in 2008 thanks to a project called “Twingly Summer of Code“. We were a group of four people who set out on a journey to build a huge map tool to visualize the blogosphere. A bit like Google Maps, but with blogs instead of cities. When the project ended I was asked if I would like to stay. I said yes right away.

You say you heard about Twingly for the first time as a blogger. When did you start blogging?
That was in 2005. Originally I used a blog system I built from scratch, but after some time I made the switch to WordPress. To me the Twingly service was interesting, I liked the idea to connect bloggers and newspapers. That type of connections had been a standard among blog systems for a long time and it seemed like a natural thing to widen the areas where those connections could be made. Twingly seemed like a really nice company, and the Summer of Code project proved it to be that way.

Do you still blog today?
It’s been quite a while since I posted on my personal blog, and even longer since I wrote something on the blog I started back in 2005. I guess I really should sit down and get a few posts written, but it’s easy to prioritize other things. I do use Twitter, which is considered a microblog, so I guess you could say that I still blog… ; )

You are the Interface Developer at Twingly. What tasks does this role cover?
“Interface Developer” basically means that I code (and design) the front end stuff, the things you see in the web browser when you are visiting our site. That doesn’t exclude that I code other parts of our system as well, but mainly I’m coding away in the stuff our users see. Mainly I code HTML, CSS, JavaScript and C# / ASP.NET. But I do spend quite some time in Photoshop as well.

What have been the most fun projects for you during your time at Twingly?
It was a lot of fun to work with the Summer of Code project, we had a great time within the group and it was challenging to get things to work the way we wanted, partially because we where using early pre-release tools. Things could change and break as soon as we switched to a new version, which we had to in order to access a new feature we needed. It might have been a bit chaotic from time to time, but it never stopped being fun. Twingly Channels was also a really great project to develop, although it could get quite intense just before the release…

What are your thoughts on the future ob web interfaces? What kind of services or apps do impress you the most right now?
I believe that it will be more common that we’ll see web pages and services being built with a “mobile first” approach. Smartphones are basically becoming the standard phone, thanks to iPhone and Android. Since they have advanced web browsers it makes sense to make sure that web pages are as easy to use as possible when being viewed on such devices. I don’t think that it means the death of smartphone apps though, nor do I believe that desktop apps will be completely eliminated either.

Right now I’m pretty impressed by the growth of Instagram, but I do find it a bit odd that they still haven’t added any ability for users to browse their photos online. There are quite a few other web services for that, but I really do believe that Instagram should develop some way for users to interact through a web browser as well. Dropbox is also a service that amazes me. They have brought file syncing to the masses in a very user friendly way, and thanks to their API they have enabled sync opportunities to a lot of other apps. They managed to make my digital life far easier than it used to be.

If you could change two things of the digital world today with the snap of a finger, what would that be?
I’d like to see good export functions on all web services and apps. I want to be able to download my data (and have it in a sane format) at any given time. I would also add a unified API (yeah, utopia, I know) between different web services/apps. Imagine being able to connect your Flickr and 500px account to Facebook to have the photos being displayed in your photo album there, and at the same time having comments pushed back to the services you have connected.

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