Marek Calus' blog

Inspiration behind open-fraksl

☕️ 3 min read

Inspiration behind open-fraksl

In June 2018 I was tinkering with some graphic generating apps like fluid sim or particle flow. That’s how I found Fraksl and sunk in it for good. Its idea is brilliant - it’s just visual feedback loop implemented as an app. It’s a very simple concept that allows you to generate so many different images that I was delighted by it. I wondered “would I be able to make such an app?” and had to try it.

There were also some libraries that I wanted to try out, like Material UI and Pixi.js, so I decided to wire that up into a new web app. I didn’t know yet that it would require so much work from me and I will learn so much working with it.

Goals

So my first goal was to make a fraksl clone, but soon I also realized that having all the infrastructure set up, I could make it draw any different things, like Pythagorean fractal from Swizec’s blog, or all the cool fractals I was learning in school. A lot of different ideas was coming to my head since I started it and now my goals are:

  • Make something that I will be able to have fun with (it’s 100% achieved!)
  • Acquire skills as a web app developer and have a project in portfolio that would confirm it (popular libraries, web app features like navigation, authentication, configuration, persistence, etc.)
  • Create something that would be impressive for other programmers - for example in terms of performance (for example, sandspiel.club made such a big impression on me)
  • Create an app that would be an interesting toy for every casual computer user - my mom, my friends, and their kids. Maybe even inspiring them to get interested in math?
  • Create a tool that allows creative people to make something beautiful/interesting and share it with the world (just like dwitter.net) (0% achieved yet 😓)

History

First, I did it “the pure way” - everything was a component, there was no imperative code, all state was held in redux store…

By “everything was a component” I meant that every rectangle drawn on screen was A SEPARATE REACT COMPONENT (thanks to react-pixi-fiber library, which is a jsx wrapper for pixi.js sprites) that was taking its props from parent component and redux store. For a newbie like me it was a pattern that helped me quickly move forward, but taking into consideration that I intended to draw hundreds of thousands of fractal elements, this wasn’t a good idea :P

So I guess that you can add me to the list of “people who try to stick their favorite library into places it doesn’t belong” :P (if you open the image in separate tab, you will see never-ending recurrent tree of Fractal components)

open-fraksl

And then, after commit “Further architectural refactor.” I stopped development, can’t recall why exactly. Maybe it’s because my second kid was born two weeks before that and I like really didn’t have any free time. 😋

Six months have passed and React hooks came. At this time, Kent C. Dodds did a great post that totally changed my opinion on the architecture of react apps (he shortly explains the idea of “colocation” without referencing React explicitly here - for people that are not from the React background). I was eager to test this new approach and I returned to my old fractal drawing app. I’ve rewritten it to use hooks, then split the state management from one redux-managed into multiple, react context-managed. I liked that and continued to work on that app.

Additional inspirations:

Sincerely yours,
~Marek

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