Hard Lessons

The story of my (mis)adventures in SilverStripe education

Aaron Carlino (a.k.a. Uncle Cheese)


  • In 2010, launched LeftAndMain.com
  • A personal blog about my experience and contributions to SilverStripe
  • A showcase for my modules
  • Screencasting became a preferred medium

The Good

  • One of the earliest thirdparty SilverStripe resources
  • Relevant tutorials driven by case study
  • Created a small exo-community
  • Raised a lot of money!


  • Writing is like -- hard, bro.
  • Lack of inclusion, e.g. user-submitted content
  • No framework or methodology

The Renaissance?

  • 2012: SilverScoop podcast hits its stride
  • Web-based code education becoming more popular
  • Where are the SilverStripe education resources?
  • Offered up LeftAndMain as a stage
  • Started a Basecamp project that day
  • 4 Developers, 4 Continents

The Plan

  • A full-featured, systematic approach to SilverStripe pedagogy
  • Rich in screencasts
  • Categorised by level, topic
  • User-submitted tutorials
  • User rankings
  • Real-time application and testing of skills

The Result

(sort of)

Two years Later, 

It's Still Just a flat Image.

What went wrong?

  • A pathological obsession with features
  • Prioritisation of minutiae over core product 
  • Driven by perfection, not utility
  • Arbitrary and meaningless deadlines
  • Scheduling meetings to create the illusion of progress



The Re-Renaissance?

  • 2014: Failgile ideology dropped
  • Two-person team, achievable goals
  • A real deadline
  • 7 May 2014

What went wrong now?

  • Not the code cowboy I used to be
  • Unrealistic assumptions about time investment

The "Goal" COMPLEX

Got a goal? That's cool. Now shut up.

An opportunity

  • SS.org makeover
  • Iterative, but time sensitive
  • Review of wireframes
  • An invitation to join the team as an educator

Collision Course?

  • Directly opposed to the new LeftAndMain effort
  • But does that matter?

What to Expect

  • Target the early adopter audience
  • Lots more tutorials
  • Rich screencast library
  • SilverStripe podcast with guests
  • More outreach from SilverStripe experts
  • New and improved forum
  • Taxonomy of community members
  • Contests, events, and more community involvement

... And LeftAndMain?

  • Too good a domain name to abandon
  • Not interested in serving redundant content to ss.org.         
  • Theme store?
  • A new WordPress worship site?
  • (Dude, you can use a PHP application to edit the PHP that runs your PHP application!)
  • The perfect role for a Fanboy?

    • Blind love for a product is a death sentence
    • In human relationships, you love someone unconditionally in spite of his or her faults.
    • In open-source, you love a product in spite of its faults
    • But you really hope someone submits a patch.

    We want to hear from you!

    • What types of resources, features, activities, events, etc., do you think would make silverstripe.org a better learning resource?


    By Aaron Carlino


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