Barry Hess, hacker

Barry Hess

Hi There!

Over the past 20 years I have spent my time building software using everything from COBOL to Ruby. Most of the projects you see below are of the Ruby variety. I have been fortunate to build a lot of awesome software with many amazing people, and that software is being used by thousands of great people. I am very thankful! My creative outlets right now are cooking, woodworking, and learning Elixir. But for the moment I am primarily a husband, dad, brother, son, and friend. Those are quite big things!


I have been blogging since 2004. Over time it became a way for me to share the things I was learning as I left enterprise programming for independent and start-up development. Other common topics are general to career and lifestyle.


From 2007 to 2019 I was part of an elite team at Harvest building the best time tracking and invoicing software on the planet. Being part of the team from nearly the beginning, I held roles from fixing bugs to leading the entire engineering team of 24 members and everything in between. I helped execute projects and build processes that supported our work as the Harvest team grew from 4 to 60 members.


(Retired) A private online discussion area for your team to share short messages. We developed Co-op at Harvest to give our distributed team a bit of a watercooler to gather around. An interesting shared cache solution was built to integrate with Harvest at as high a speed as possible.

Follow Cost

(Retired) Built with Luke Francl, Follow Cost measured how frequently people tweet. This helped you make informed choices about who to follow on Twitter. Fun not only due to its usefulness, but also my first chance to experiment with Sinatra. I also created a userscript to bring Follow Cost into the Twitter web UI.


(Retired) I enjoy playing softball in the summer and I found managing the bits and pieces tedious. Scorebooker was an elegant way to quickly enter stats and schedules for your team. Rails helped me build this site quickly, and jQuery provided fine-tuning for user interactions.

Time Warp

(Retired) When writing Ruby tests, it is often desirable to bend time in order to test limits and edges of the day. It is especially useful to warp time to test results across the timezones of the world. Manipulating time is also useful to assure a day of the week, month or year every time the test runs. Time Warp sought to make this edge-case testing more bearable. Over 100,000 downloads!

World Clock Project

(Retired) At Harvest we put together a tight little Rails app with crowd-sourced photos of clocks from around the world. World Clock Project sought to have a timepiece for every minute of the day. It came close!


(Retired) For a long time I had wanted a photo blog with a single focus: large pictures. Inspired by The Big Picture, I started with the excellent Scanty blog engine and built this focused engine to address my needs. The software was open sourced.


Early on at Harvest we were still doing client work. In 2007 I spent a lot of time with the excellent AFS Intercultural Programs. I mostly worked on enhancements and bug fixes to the custom-built Rails CMS. The CMS managed many sites, in multiple laguages, around the world.


Another outstanding organization from Harvest's client days was Teachers & Writers Collaborative. I helped build the Radiant CMS site, including a shopping cart extension and PGP encryption extension.


(Retired) My first Rails app, Scrawlers was built as a combination learning project and personal passion. I partnered with Nate Melcher to build this online writing workshop focused on 100-word stories. It was a great way to learn Rails. Though the business-side of things failed, it was also useful to experience running an app with real customers and real usage demands.

Hai to the Ku

(Retired) Inspired by the sheer quantity of haiku on Twitter, I built Hai to the Ku to display a babbling stream of Haiku in a more friendly interface. Using jQuery, JSONP and the Twitter API, Hai to the Ku was a great experiment in building a bodyless app.

Paste Forward

(Retired) Early in the lifetime of many apps, bug tracking amounts to automated emails. As a team grows greater than one, discussing these bugs becomes tedious. Paste Forward was a general purpose service that takes the content of an email and turns it into a Pastie paste.

Magic Lunch Ball

It's silly. Every week you have a standing lunch date with three indecisive people. Being one of those indecisive people, I whipped up a little JavaScript app to randomize our lunchtime decisions. It's out in the open for you to use with your lunch group.


(Retired) Ventorium was inspired by the claim early on that Twitter was the killer app for bitching. If you mentioned Ventorium in a tweet, Ventorium would bitch at you. The interesting feature of Ventorium is that its bitching was crowd sourced, being taken and repurposed from the complaining of other Twitter users.

Crush It!

Gary Vaynerchuk is an inspiration to many. One day I got inspired and created a little bookmark that would bring his trademark phrase "Crush It!" to any site on the web. Not my most useful project.

Get Hoffed

(Retired) Get Hoffed arose from my desire to build something in one day. For some oddball reason I decided a single page to see all of the latest in Hoff would be a worthwhile use of my time. A simple integration with the Twitter and Flickr API's followed, using some Ruby scripts and the StaticMatic static website generator. · vcard