Seconds is a bit of an exaggeration, but we’ve made it possible to build a full Slack app in less than an hour. You can jump right in (limited number of accounts available — if the link has expired, click here to join the waitlist.)

How? Our very first package.

We’ve created and released a set of functions to make the best possible Slack API experience. No more writing an OAuth implementation from scratch — it’s just one line, and you can see it working right away.

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Here’s a peek under the hood:

Remember the Magic 8 Ball? Apparently not all of you do, including my colleagues.

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To correct this injustice, I decided to make a modern version in Slack in Dark.

We’ve just released a demo video of Dark. The demo is building out an office sign in application. You choose who you’re visiting (a host) and sign in with your name.

I highly recommend watching the video instead of reading this.

But… since the video moves quickly, we wanted to provide an easier way to see what’s going on. Also some people (*cough* me) won’t watch the video no matter how many times you tell them it’s useful.

Hello World

Before I get started in any new language, I like to make sure I’ve got the basics (like a hello world).

Let’s start by setting up a “hello world” JSON API in less than ten…

Today we’re unveiling Dark and moving into private beta.

Backends today are too complicated to build. Dark is designed to massively reduce that complexity. Dark is a holistic programming language, editor, and infrastructure for building backends. You write in the Dark language, using the Dark editor, and your program is hosted on Dark’s infrastructure. As a result, you can code without thinking about infrastructure, and have safe instant deployment, which we’re calling “deployless”.

Dark in Action

Today we’re releasing two videos showing how Dark works.

Today we’re announcing that Dark has raised $3.5M in seed funding. We actually raised our funding back in 2017, and have been quietly building Dark for the last two years.

Our team has developed a holistic programming language, editor, and infrastructure. You write in the Dark language, using the Dark editor, and your program is hosted on Dark’s infrastructure. As a result, developers can code without thinking about infrastructure, and have near-instant deployment, which we’re calling deployless.

We’re in the process of coming out of stealth.

We’re opening up for a couple more alpha users in our residency (so far, we’ve had two people build their business on it through a similar program, see below¹). Dark lets you write a backend really easily, and your infrastructure is set up as soon as you write code.

Since it’s still quite early, there are some risks:

  • You’ll be doing things differently. Dark combines a programming language, editor, and infrastructure into a holistic system, so you won’t be using something you’ve used before.
  • Things break! The editor sometimes has errors, and there may be features that don’t exist yet. …

In 2018, I read 158 books.

The way I made this list was by running through my Goodreads and writing down all the books where I thought “ooooh I wish I could have the feeling of reading that again” or “that was really useful.”

That resulted in twenty four books that I’m going to recommend to you: eighteen to enjoy, four for thinking about life, and two about managing engineering teams.

To Enjoy

I get books from a lot of places, but I will nearly always download something recommended by Maris Kreizman, Girl’s Night In, or the Skimm. I also use Bookbub and any other recommendations I happen to see on Twitter. …

Yesterday, I shared a lot of data about my 2018. I’ve always been pretty forthcoming online. I share a ton of good things, and some of the big challenges I’ve faced.

The older I get, the more I tend to share challenges after they’re resolved and it’s long enough that people won’t be able to identify them (i.e. this is really about one person). The upside to this is I can usually come up with better abstractions and it feels more evergreen.

The downside is that it feels much less vulnerable. Especially after we started Dark, I had a lot of people tell me I was living the dream, that I was so lucky that everything magically works, or that I make everything look perfect on the internet. …

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Most of my year was spent in this room.

As I mentioned in 2017 (more historical data: 2014, 2015, 2016), I really only focused on two big things: Tom and I getting married and Dark. That continued into 2018, without the wedding part.

My primary goals were to:

  1. Get a ton of work done for Dark.
  2. Have the energy to support people in my personal life.

The good news was that I could work on getting better, rather than just making it through!

My two primary levers to do that were prioritization and maximizing my personal energy level. Using these techniques helped me to get through some extremely challenging personal and professional situations throughout the year. …

TL;DR: just want the one email per day with a book recommendation? Sign up here.


I read a lot. I read a lot because everyone in my family reads a lot.

Since I was in elementary school, I’d been purchasing my aunt the Workman Book Lover’s Page-A-Day Calendar (last year’s). This was a major source of birthday and Christmas presents for the next year for everyone in the family!

Unfortunately, the calendar isn’t in print this year. I decided to make my own.

Sourcing the Books for the Calendar

As a last minute Christmas shopper, I only realized this on December 19th or so. …


Ellen Chisa

Something new, mostly recently started

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