illustration for Ives Van Hoorne, creator of CodeSandbox

episode 18

Ives Van Hoorne, creator of CodeSandbox

We are joined by Ives Hoorne, a developer at Catawiki and creator of code sandbox. Today he talks about how he began writing code, how Minecraft modding made him love it, his interest in the company Catawiki and how he taught himself web development to work there, and finally the future for his projects.

Ives began coding at 11 years old. He was fascinated by secret languages, so he and his friend made a program in Visual Basic that would jumble text and another that would decipher the text. They would send these to each other as public facebook messages. It fell off after this project for awhile. After a few years, Ives got back into it when Minecraft came around, and he started writing mods for it.

The success and popularity of Code Sandbox made Ives happy. He enjoys how it became popular and how some of the bigger names such as Dan Abramov started talking about it. Though Ives discussions about how this positive feedback caused him to attach his self-worth to the project, and how he had to let that go so he wouldn't be hurt by snarky feedback and other forms of negativity related to his project.

There were a couple of surprises in the development of Code Sandbox. Code Sandbox stores all files and directories in their Postgres database. When they fork Code Sandbox, they copy all the files, directories, and sandboxes over. Ives thought this wouldn't scale but somehow they now have 400k sandboxes, and the database is only four gigabytes! One of the negative surprises was when there was an error in the sandbox when someone tries to share their sandbox, the preview service would try over and over again to take a snapshot. The following month their hosting bill was a dozen times the price as it usually was!

Ives' first experience speaking at a conference was much better than he expected. When he was presenting, he noticed that he was talking with a bunch of people who were willing to listen to him. It was such a cool experience for him that he now loves speaking at conferences for him. Ives says he wants to start talking about things besides Code Sandbox, such as UI driven development for example. He says that it can be greatly improved, npm installing is still manually typing npm install package-name. He says that this can be made much better by being able to search for dependencies and directly add them with a single click.

Finally, Ives talks about his plans for Code Sandbox. He plans on adding a dashboard because currently, it's very cumbersome to navigate to your sandbox. The dashboard will give you the ability to put sandboxes in directories organizing them that way. They are also managing offline support. Finally, they are adding team support so multiple people can all work on a sandbox at once.


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