Font Awesome

To Infinity and Beyond! Expanding FA’s Library with Modifiers, the Joy of Gaming, and More with Ed Emanuel

by Font Awesome

In this Podcast Awesome recap, Ed Emanuel, Senior Developer at Font Awesome discusses his work on the Icon Wizard project, his experience launching Space Awesome last year, and his love for D&D.

Icons are an essential part of web design that help make a website not only more visually appealing but easier to navigate. But sometimes you may need a custom icon that’s not included in your icon pack. Sometimes even a slight modification to an icon does the trick — at least that’s the idea behind the Icon Wizard, a project Ed has worked on the last few months. Here’s a short Q&A recap from the conversation.

You recently worked with Mike Wilkerson on an icon modifier project. When we were at our Snuggle last quarter, it seemed like there was a lot of excitement as we watched you guys work together on the Icon Wizard. Can you tell us a little about that?

During the Snuggle, a lot of times we try to come up with some small projects to work on. We like those to be kind of fun things — we call them snacktivities. They’re usually fun projects and it’s a bonus when we can create something useful. And Mike and I have been talking for a while about [the Icon Wizard] and he’s doing a lot of stuff with actually processing the graphics icons and stuff, all the SVGs.

And we got to talking about how we could take existing icons and kind of layer on some modifiers. We already have some of these icons available on the site, but our designers actually had to build them. So like a user with a circle and a plus in the corner or other symbols down in the corner.

Like a check mark, a minus sign, or a slash mark.

Yeah, or a slash to the icon, those kinds of things. And so we started experimenting around with things and over the course of the week managed to get up a working prototype where you could select an icon and then you’d have a list of these modifiers and you could just click on one of the modifiers and it would take that icon and that modifier and combine them together into a single SVG. Then we could let you add to your Kit on Font Awesome and then be able to use that on your own website.

That bumps up the number of icons to a ludicrous number of icon possibilities.

We calculated a couple of times. I don’t remember — it’s a whole lot of icons. I think right now we have like about twelve modifiers and I can’t remember the number of icons we have, but whatever that number is, you get to multiply it basically by twelve. At this point in time, I think we’ve got another bunch of modifiers we’re going to add to. So the final number might be 20 or 30 different modifiers, which is going to make us have even more and more icons.

So currently it’s about 19,000 icons that we have. And Font Awesome Pro times twelve —  plus. That’s almost an endless number of icons.

While we’re on the topic of “endless,” last year Ed launched into the final frontier with Space Awesome, a text-based game that’s a sort of homage to Oregon Trail meets a certain space western (that we’ll all be celebrating in a few days!) 

Last year you launched Space Awesome. For folks that haven’t heard about that, what was that project about?

So I built a browser-based game using mostly Font Awesome icons for the graphics, and it was a fun project. I used it to learn Vue.Js, and it’s out there on the Web if you want to play it. It’s pretty cool.

How did the launch go?

It went well. We had lots of traffic for the first couple of weeks. Not as much since then, but when I designed the game, I wanted to kind of respect people’s time. It does not require a huge investment in your time. You can sit down and play it for five to ten minutes, and while there are a lot of secrets to discover and things that you probably won’t encounter the first time through. There are no timers. There’s nothing that requires that you come back and play it every day.

And this goes back a while for you as far as you’re interst in tech space games. If I’m remembering right, we talked about how maybe that was sort of the pathway into you becoming interested in tech in the first place, right?

Yes. My brother-in-law, originally, I would have probably been 13–14 at the time. When this was back when I was first running the program, my brother in law had made a little text-based game on the TSR 80. And when I saw that, I just fell in love with the idea of programming and computers, and that kind of, like, kicked everything off.

And you always had sort of in your head, like, oh, I would love to create a text-based game. Did you give a shot at building anything prior to Space Awesome?

Yes. I have built a number of prototype games and just for whatever reason, never completed them. There’s nothing else out there on the web of anything that I built. So Space Awesome is the only thing that I’ve actually released.

And the great things is that you were able to do that on company time during a two-week cooldown period. And didn’t Travis suggest that you should create your game while simultaneously learning VueJS?

Yeah, absolutely. He kind of fueled that idea. And I spent most of the most of my cooldowns over the course of a year or so increasing my knowledge of Vue.Js, but also building Space Awesome. It was a great experience for me. Font Awesome got something cool out of it.

Play Space Awesome

Role-playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons, have been around for decades and have been largely considered a “dorky” pastime. However, over the past few years, role-playing games have become more mainstream due to a variety of factors, including popular shows like Stranger Things and the work of people like Matt Mercer. 

When did you start to take an interest in D&D?

Well, I think I can thank my brother-in-law for that one as well. When he started dating my sister, they played D&D and kind of introduced me and my other siblings to it. So I played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons back in the late eighties a little bit. And then we didn’t have any of the books. So we kind of homebrewed our own game for a while, just like everyone else. We kind of stepped away from it for a while and then, let’s see, it’s been five or six years ago, actually.

I talked Travis into playing and I ran a game for him and a couple of other friends and my daughter that’s been going on for quite some time now.

I seem to remember back in the day that D&D and role-playing games were a pretty dorky pastime. But I love the fact that there doesn’t seem to be that stigma there anymore, which is pretty great.

Yeah, it is super popular. There are a number of reasons for that: Stranger Things, Matt Mercer. It is very much mainstream now and I love it. I think it’s great. I think it is something that I’m glad more people are getting to experience because it is a very creative, imaginative outlet that I think can help a lot of people, help them be more creative, help them relieve their stress. I think it’s great.

Obviously it’s a community building thing where you’re having fun with your friends, you’re actually creating something together in real time. We definitely really got into it last Snuggle.

That was a super great game. You guys did a great job. I really enjoyed it. When you’re running a game, people ask me sometimes, “is running the game fun?” And I’m like it is, but it’s kind of different because it’s fun when you guys are having fun, when the players are having fun, right? And it’s like, I’m just kind of facilitating all of that, trying to create these scenarios and things so that you guys can explore your characters and have a good time and all those kinds of things.