Makerbase Is an IMDb for Developers

Who made your favorite part of your favorite app?

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Aug 4 2015, 2:49pm

Have you ever browsed a really well designed web page or relied on a particularly useful app? Your first thought was probably, "this is cool and I'm glad it exists." If you bothered to look for who's responsible, you'd probably unravel a thread back to some corporation or web development group that wrote some open source code that eventually became the backbone to the thing you've enjoyed using. But if you've ever thought, say, "I wonder who animated that cute little 'poof' in Chrome when you delete a bookmark," that search would be a lot more difficult.

Today, the minds behind Thinkup, a social media insight service, have launched a new directory called Makerbase that might make that search easier.

"I can watch a movie and see the credits at the end and know who made it," said Anil Dash, who co-founded Makerbase with Gina Trapani. "But I spend a lot more time on the web than I do watching movies, and I have no idea who made these things. There's actually no way to find out."

Makerbase aims to be a way for developers and users to get more clarity about who builds the web tools we use every day.

"There's no way to explicitly say 'I was working for this company when I did that.'"

Obviously developers have always needed ways to know who has contributed what to a project. Version control systems like Git, which creates dynamic repositories of source code and contributors, are not rare. If I want to know who wrote the functionality to an open source PDF extractor that lets me implement it in Python instead of Java, I could probably find that on Github, a web based software service that combines Git with an easy-to-understand graphical interface. For the smaller things, like this poof I mentioned earlier that I like so much, finding who made them can be a challenge.

You should think of it as more an "IMDB for developers" as opposed to another LinkedIn or Facebook. The profiles are more personal and colorful, and at least for now, job titles aren't even displayed. It's more about the people who make things as opposed to the people who employ them to.

"There's no companies at all," Dash said. "There's no way to explicitly say 'I was working for this company when I did that.' And that's on purpose...Putting your resume online or making a LinkedIn profile doesn't really show the way that a lot of people work. Especially someone that builds a cool project in nights and evenings that nothing to do with their employer or day job."

Makerbase launches to the public today. Who knows if developers will embrace it en masse and offer themselves up to the public, but its ambitions are certainly grand. Dash believes it can be a tool in the fight for greater diversity and representation in tech.

"So our last project was an open source project," he points out. "Gina's probably the most prominent lesbian coder in the world, certainly up there. I think it's no accident that we ended up with the biggest project on Github where the majority of code is written by women. I think that can be true for a a lot of other projects, to just say there's somebody like me there, maybe I can be a part of that."