Hone

Side project. 2014–2016

iOS, Android, macOS, UIKit, AppKit, Git, GitHub, libgit2, Node.js, sound design, project management, formats and protocols

Brief

Invent, design and build a tool for better designer-developer collaboration for design details.

What I did

Over many past projects, and most recently at Wire, I kept encountering inefficiency of implementing and tuning design details. When engineers do not implement the design to spec, it may require a lot of back and forth between designers and engineers.

Together with a few fellow Wire designers, we conceived a system where an engineer could instrument and parameterize their real code, and a designer could then interact with the real app using a designer-oriented tool to tweak the parameters.

Hone was a complete system, consisting of format and protocol specifications, libraries for client platforms, a designer-oriented Mac tool, a web product/service for centralized version control and syncing, and an example iOS app to showcase best Hone practices.

I built all of the system myself, except the Android library, a lot of Alarm code, and sound design for Alarm. For these, I found some contractors and worked with them for the relevant pieces.

We worked iteratively and adjusted course as we gained followers, spoke with them, and learned about what worked and what didn’t. For example, initially we did not have the Alarm demo app, so there was no easy way to experience Hone end-to-end. So we got that built.

Outcome

We published our public beta in April 2015. We immediately got a great writeup in Wired that validated a lot of our thinking and direction. For many months, we spoke with developers and design agencies, and there was quite a bit of interest in our approach.

We never had a real business, though. Hone could be called a technology demo. There was a large gap between the demo and a business that we could have filled, had we committed to it. The three of us all lived in different countries at the time and had a decision to make: do we really want to commit to this?

We decided not to commit at the time. Since technology rots fast and it would have taken quite a bit of effort to just keep Hone running with all the underlying constant platform updates, we froze it in time.

We are all proud of the work that we did on this project, and believe it remains an interesting vision to be fulfilled.

hone.tools

Article in Wired magazine

Hone blog for historic interest