Interview with Ian Hill

I'm starting a series of interviews with developers and designers from all over the world. Whether they work for a corporation, freelance, or they make stuff as a hobby, I want to interview them! Originally I was going to release a new interview every Monday, however due how hectic and random my weeks are, I'll release a new interview each week.

I know it's been a couple of weeks since the last interview that I posted, however to make up for it, I have a special one ready! The designer of Sublime Text 2 Soda Theme, Ian Hill!

Hi there, thank you for taking the time to chat with me :) Could you start by introducing yourself a little?

My name is Ian Hill and I'm a front-end developer and designer from Brisbane, Australia. I'm currently working at Wotif as the Senior UI Specialist, and my portfolio of work and side projects can be seen at http://buymeasoda.com.

Ian Hill

How did you end up in your profession?

It's a bit of a long story, and one that goes full circle.

After finishing school I started an IT degree - computers were always something I was interested in from an early age growing up with a Vic-20, then a Commodore 64 and so on. But having a strong interest in the arts: music, photography, film and design, I switched out of IT to study film (with a gap year or two in between).

One of the areas of film I enjoyed was editing - despite the fact that it was still being done via tape-to-tape dubbing or physically cutting and splicing film. At the end of the course, we had an opportunity to work with a professional non-linear editing suite and that's where I really started to get interested in digital design. Following the film course - to dive deeper into digital - I went straight into studying multimedia, and spent a lot of time learning motion graphics and 3D animation.

The web wasn't really much of a thing at that stage, the interactive parts of the course focussed on Macromedia Director and CD-Rom design.

Around that time, I started working freelance and contract in the music and film industries doing print design and album artwork for bands, along with motion graphics, and some large projects doing art department graphics for a couple of Australian feature films. It wasn't until Powderfinger asked me to build and manage their web site, that I really took the deep dive into the web.

And years later, I found myself once again in IT having coming full circle back to the beginning.

What does your desk look like?

My work setup is a 27" iMac with bluetooth Apple keyboard, mouse and trackpad. I really like to map out ideas and wireframes on paper, so there's always a stack of paper and pens around the desk.

At home or when travelling, I use a MacBook Air 13".

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Could you give us a bit of information on any tools/services that you use?

I mostly use Sublime Text, Photoshop, Chrome and Git running on Mac OS X for day to day work. Other apps I rely on are Kaleidoscope, Tower, Codekit, Image Optim, Slicy, Alfred and Xcode. I'm also keeping a close eye on Sketch which is looking really promising.

On the command line, Homebrew and node/npm are my go-to options for managing packages and other terminal tools.

For online services, I use Google Reader, Twitter and Pinboard to keep across things in the industry, and Rdio for music.

What websites do you visit daily?

I use Pinboard a lot for keeping track of bookmarks, and as a dump of "read later" links to check out. So I'll end up going into Pinboard throughout the day to catch up on past articles and links.

While developing, I inevitably end up on GitHub, StackOverflow, MDN, Quirksmode, CanIUse and CSS Tricks multiple times a day, as well as the jQuery docs. For visual inspiration, I like to visit Dribbble and 500px.

And not exactly a "site", but something I do most days, is listen to podcasts walking to and from the train. Currently I'm enjoying Iterate, Debug, ShopTalk Show, The Talk Show and JavaScript Jabber.

Do you have anything awesome happening in the future?

There's a lot of mobile web and responsive design projects on the roadmap at work, which I'm really enjoying, as well as rolling out more UI around geo based interactions and mapping.

I also recently released a project site for Soda Theme, my UI theme for Sublime Text 2 at http://buymeasoda.github.com/soda-theme/.

How and where can we find you?

Thanks Ian!

The Soda Theme is an absolute gem, and my first port of call when installing Sublime Text. Your designs are awesome and I wish you the best of luck in the future. Thank you very much for being a part of my interview series!


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