Hello Handmade Network! 2024 has been great so far. Most notably, we held our first-ever Learning Jam in March, in which participants learn about a topic and share that knowledge with the rest of the community. We had great turnout for an experimental jam in its first year, and I’m excited to revisit it in the future.

But looking back, not everything we’ve done over the last couple years has been quite so successful. We’ve excitedly kicked off projects like our education initiative, Time Machine, even a 501c3 behind the scenes. Sadly, none of these have panned out. Making good educational resources with a Handmade flair is hard (really hard) and requires a huge time commitment from a rare type of person. Time Machine was a fun idea, but was never destined to succeed as a large community project. And the 501c3…we’ll save that for another time.

Community members did great work on these projects, and we learned a lot, but as time passed it became clear that we were neglecting the heart of the Handmade community: projects, and the people who author them.

Handmade software is literally the point of the Handmade Network. Communities that talk about programming are a dime a dozen. But Handmade software are different. It is so fast, so capable, so lightweight, so simple, that it shocks people with what modern computers are capable of.

At the end of the day, Handmade projects are what brings people to the community. This is not just me being nice; our Google Search analytics show that RemedyBG is by far the #1 source of traffic to handmade.network. #project-showcase is also the most popular channel on the Discord, and we frequently hear that it inspires people to dig deeper into their own projects. And ultimately, if we’re not making quality software, what’s the point?

So this year, we are 100% focused on projects. Our sole goal is to promote and boost the amazing work being done by the Handmade community. To that end:

  • We’re doing more jams. In addition to the Learning Jam, we’ll bringing back both the Visibility Jam and Wheel Reinvention Jam for another year—and plan to keep doing so indefinitely. The Visibility Jam will be in July, while the Wheel Reinvention Jam will be September. See this page for all the details.
  • We’re doubling down on Unwind. Our monthly Twitch show Unwind is an opportunity to dig deeper into technical details with the authors of various projects. The first few episodes have been a great time, but there’s so much more we can do with the show, and we hope to increase the show’s reach so that even more people can be aware of the great work being done by members of the community.
  • We’re redesigning the website. The current website design is very old, and doesn’t do a good job highlighting the actual work people are doing. Additionally, although the project system has been working pretty well for jams, there are many quality-of-life issues. The wonderful Jes Chuhta has been crafting a new design for us, and Asaf and I have been implementing it this month. In fact, I’m streaming the work every Monday and Friday this month over on Twitch.

As for our previous initiatives, we’ll be sunsetting them and archiving their content as necessary. Nothing will be lost except our time and our pride, but we’ll recover. 🙂

Before I close, a few key project updates:

  • Disk Voyager is coming along beautifully and already has dozens of very happy alpha users. He recently added a bookmarks / quick access panel, which I am very excited about. It will soon enter open alpha, so go to https://diskvoyager.com/ and sign up to make sure you get access.

    A screenshot of Disk Voyager's new bookmarks panel

  • Cactus Image Viewer has been receiving lots of quality updates recently, with more on the way, including a gallery of other images in the folder. You can download the latest version from GitHub.

    A screenshot of Cactus Image Viewer's new gallery UI

  • Orca is on the cusp of another major release. Shaw and I rewrote the Python tooling in C to reduce dependencies, Reuben added a complete libc implementation (no more shim!), and Martin rewrote the vector graphics backend in WebGPU. Make sure to subscribe to the Orca newsletter to be notified when it releases.

And finally, Abner has started a Discord server for Handmade Cities. You can read more about his rationale in this blog post, but if you are interested in meetups or coworking with Handmade folks, I recommend you go join.

Looking forward to many more great things this year! We’re just getting started.