Kernest as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

“We Make Shitty Software… With Bugs!…We know our software sucks. But it’s shipping! Next time we’ll do better, but even then it will be shitty. The only software that’s perfect is one you’re dreaming about. ” – Dave Winer

Kernest, my web fonts service, has been publicly available for just under a month. In that time – it’s earned 400+ users, 200+ websites, and the became the first font service to sell a commercial web font license. An early success in my book.

This afternoon I had a fantastic hour-long phone conversation with a new user of Kernest. They had lots of questions about how it worked and we bumped into a number of bugs. Some I knew how to resolve easily, others require some more thought.


There’s lots there.

Ben pointed me to Kent Beck’s recent ‘Approaching a Minimum Viable Product’ post.

“By far the dominant reason for not releasing sooner was a reluctance to trade the dream of success for the reality of feedback.” – Kent Beck

The current state of Kernest validates 3 of my potentially-fatal assumptions:

  1. a font service can resolve browser-compatibilities and provide basic asset protections with a simple, standards-compliant URL. (YES!, better than I hoped)
  2. There are enough liberally licensed fonts of reasonable-quality that a reasonably-sized directory could be boot-strapped. (YES, 300 and counting!)
  3. Some commercial type designers will be happy to test out a web use license. (YES!)

Now that I’ve got those answers, it’s easier to iterate atop them.


“Cut it down to the bare minimum for you to do something with it, and ship it. Dog food doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s going to be 75% wrong. That’s the point. Who cares if it’s shit. Eat that dog shit and make it better. The sooner you actually put it up live, eat it, and invite some friends to eat it, the faster you will improve it.” – Jason Goldberg

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