Interview: Félicien François, Developer of TweakStyle

At Yellow Signal, we’re looking to write great reviews as well as interview great people. These interviews look into the lives of the creative geniuses who change things in the technology industry. Our interviews look at the personal side of some of the most influential people in our field today.

This is our second interview. You can view our previous interview, or subscribe to us on Twitter, Facebook or RSS.

In this interview, we look at Félicien François, the lead developer behind TweakStyle, a code editor for front end web developers and designers.


How would you describe yourself to other people not familiar with your work?

I’m definitely an engineer. I find, design and produce solutions to solve issues.

I studied software engineering and worked about ten years in web start-ups. I got various roles around software design and development, always cultivating my interest for user experience.

capture1-mac@2x

When and why did you decide to start creating TweakStyle?

It first started with a daily frustration. I was developing the front end of a web app and with the tools I had, the development process was really painful. I was switching all day long between tools that didn’t integrate with each other (code editor, build tools, browser & development tools) and was taking a ridiculously long time to make small adjustments.

I searched for solutions and discussed with friends who specialized in front end development and web design and I discovered that they had all the same issues.

In 2013, I started this incredible project: Creating the first IDE (integrated development environment) tailor-made for front end development.

What drives you to work on TweakStyle every day?

From the beginning of the project, I got a lot of support from the community. I would like to thank all our supporters for their enthusiasm. This is something priceless when driving such an ambitious project.

On top of that TweakStyle is a really interesting project. There are lots of challenges, on both the technical side and the user experience side. These are really engaging and I never get bored.

What tools allow you to do your best work?

I use both OS X and Windows (and sometimes Linux Mint), each with different toolsets.

Conception & Design

When designing, I used to use software — Balsamiq Mockups, Sketch, etc. — but I came back to paper and pen. I find it more efficient for a small team like mine and it allows me to step back from the screen and be completely free and open.

Project & Task Management

I tried and used lots of different tools (JIRA, Trello, etc) but I came back to the simplicity and efficiency of GitHub’s Issues. I also sometimes use paper written to-do lists (or even to-do lists in text files.)

Graphic Design

I both use GIMP & Adobe Illustrator (but I haven’t mastered any of them.)

Software Development

  • Eclipse: My favorite IDE for software development. A bit ugly and complex but powerful.
  • Electron: A framework that allows me to build cross platform apps with web technologies.
  • Typescript: Transforms JavaScript into a language I can rely on to build complex things.
  • VirtualBox & Vagrant: Allows me to compile and test TweakStyle for all platforms, from any platform.

For Websites

Communication

Others

Digitally Imported electronic radio streams.

Show us your desktop setup. What three apps do you depend on daily?

Félicien’s Mac Setup

Félicien’s Windows Setup

Other than TweakStyle? I would say Firefox, Eclipse and Terminal (a Git bash on Windows).

What do you find different about running a business or project like TweakStyle?

TweakStyle is not primarily a business. TweakStyle is a project. Making it commercial software and creating a company was the solution I found to make it successful and perennial. The business is not the purpose, it is a means of making TweakStyle sustainable, which sets TweakStyle apart from most businesses.

How has something you learned before helped you with making TweakStyle?

Well, for me, it’s more mindset than a knowledge. The taste for challenges and the intimate conviction that I’m capable. Every issue has a solution and I’m able to manage it, even if I have never learned to. With this mindset, everything becomes possible.

When I start getting overwhelmed, I apply a simple process: Step back, rationalize, list choices and evaluate. If the issue is too big to be handled, I split it in smaller issues to take on first.

What’s a challenge you did not expect to face when developing TweakStyle?

Planning and managing my time.
In past experiences, I used to make plans and budgets for a small team and I was quite good. Then we were late we worked a bit more to finish before the deadline and we never missed a deadline.

But making plans and budget for TweakStyle was much much harder.
First because there was a lot of aspects to this kind of project I was unfamiliar with. TweakStyle is a lot of research and development, and research is less predictable than production.

Second, I’m the key man in the development but I also had to spend time on the other tasks (managing the company, marketing, communication, websites, etc.). The biggest error I made was to underestimate the importance of those tasks and the time it would takes me.

If you had the time, what else would you like to do?

There are a lot of things I would like to implement in TweakStyle but that’s only a matter of time, I’ll do it someday.

If I had spare time I would definitely try to find associates and raise funds. From the start, the biggest lack of TweakStyle is people and resources. But raising funds and finding the right people also takes a lot time, without any guarantee of success.
For now I chose to take most of my time on the development, to make the software move forward.

What do you like to be known for?

I’m not looking to get known personally but I’m very proud of TweakStyle. I’m proud of what we achieved and I’m really excited about what we are gonna achieve. TweakStyle is still lacking some important features and is not yet as user friendly as I would like it to be, but this is coming soon!

Zaid is the editor-in-chief of Yellow Signal, and identifies himself as a millennial, and leads a busy life balancing clients, making apps, and attempting to do homework. When he’s not checking RSS feeds, listening to podcasts or tinkering with his blog, he’s writing here on Yellow Signal or reading something that catches his eye for a few minutes.