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Why Chroma’s getting behind Storybook

Welcoming Norbert de Langen and Michael Shilman to Chroma

Zoltan Olah
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I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Storybook’s core maintainers Norbert de Langen and Michael Shilman to Chroma! This post dives into what it means for Chroma and Storybook.

Frontend development is more satisfying than ever. The cornucopia of frontend tools such as React, Storybook, Apollo, Jest, Enzyme, and Webpack make it structured and joyful to transform ideas into code.

But user interface is still one of the hardest parts of the stack to master. Even with the invaluable component construct, the view layer is increasingly complex. It’s now responsible for delicate state management, responsiveness, business logic, and servicing millions of users.

UI engineering challenges captivate our team. Just this year my teammates Tom and Dominic wrote a book, over 20 comprehensive articles, a 9-chapter coding tutorial, and presented on two continents about UI development best practices. Tom also serves as a core maintainer of Storybook –the most popular UI component development tool.

Storybook’s core maintainers Norbert and Michael also share a passion for UI engineering. When we realized we could better solve UI challenges together, joining forces made perfect sense.

Open source is in our DNA

We believe in open source because the free exchange of knowledge naturally enables the best technologies to rise to the top. By continuing to contribute time and resources to Storybook, we hope to share the best tool for UI component development with the rest of the world.

Chroma has a long history in open source. We were one of the first companies to sponsor Storybook. Tom has contributed countless lines of code, PRs, and support over the past year and a half; he continues to do so. Our latest tutorial is read by over 6000 developers and has 3 translations so far (the site and content are open source too).

Tom, Dominic, and I helped launch Apollo GraphQL, a widely-loved open source project that’s used in production by Airbnb, Ticketmaster, and OpenTable. We also helped build Meteor, one of the first full-stack JavaScript frameworks.

With Norbert and Michael on board we can make an even bigger impact on open source dev tools.

Committing to Storybook long term

The great thing about Storybook is that it’s a democratic open source project — not owned and controlled by any one commercial entity. The team and I believe this model is the best way to create the healthiest, most sustainable, and ultimately best software in the world.

Norbert and Michael agreed to join Chroma so that they can dedicate more time to Storybook — Norbert will be working on Storybook full time. This ensures health and longevity for the project. Everyone benefits when the ecosystem’s core tooling receives full-time development:

  • Storybook users get more features and less bugs
  • Contributors get timely answers to PRs, issue reproductions and greater exposure for building their public profiles
  • Commercial service providers (like us) get a secure, stable platform, solid APIs and growth in the component development ecosystem

Following in GitHub’s footsteps, Chroma’s current and future commercial products will be free for open source projects. Our first tool Chromatic already sponsors continuous UI testing for Storybook, UK Home Office, Formidable, Auth0, Artsy and more.

If you have an open source component library, say hello in Chromatic’s in-app chat.

But how will you make money?

There’s a history of great companies built hand-in-hand with open source projects. Redhat with Linux. Nodesource with node. Hortonworks with Hadoop. Kong with, well, Kong.

Chroma plans to make money from Chromatic (our continuous UI testing tool) and other products that support frontend developers. Some stuff just makes logical sense as a commercial offering — Chromatic’s cloud rendering infrastructure for instance. With those earnings we hope to dedicate even more resources to open source tooling.

In addition, we’re going to offer enterprise support for Storybook to make it easier for mature companies to get a head start on UI component best practices, improve their workflows, and get configuration assistance directly from Storybook experts.

Our pledge to open source

Our pledge to fellow contributors is that we will treasure the health of the community and work with integrity to help maintain a safe, equitable, productive, and thriving open source project.

We’ll never put our commercial interests ahead of building the best open source software possible. We won’t withhold developing features that make sense to be in open source in order to monetize them.

Our goal is to create a symbiotic, positive feedback loop between Chroma and Storybook to grow the pie for everyone.

We still haven’t figured out why Tom doesn’t have shoes

So what’s next?

Chroma believes Component-Driven Development is the future of UI engineering and Storybook is at the cutting edge of UI component best practices.

With Norbert and Michael we hope to accelerate Storybook open source, expand Chromatic, and continue building the UI developer community.

The team and I look forward to creating the future of UI development with you!

Zoltan, Tom, Dominic, Michael, and Norbert

Read Norbert and Michael’s perspectives on what this means for Storybook development here and here.

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