Flasback: My First Programming Project That Went Viral

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r3bl.me Flasback: My First Programming Project That Went Viral

A month ago, the owner of DJ TechTools (called Ean Golden) released a video where he told the history of DJ TechTools. Now, I decided to share my story about DJ TechTools with you.

Background

For those of you who don’t know, I spent most of my teenager years being in love with the music. I was playing around with different DJ-ing software and I started playing music in various clubs in my town. I had decided to give up on DJ-ing just a few months ago. I realized that DJ-ing took far too much of my time and I decided to focus my time on my IT career instead. I used two different aliases. One of them was Eric Zone and I used it in the beginning of my career while I was playing house music exclusively. When I decided to experiment with different genres, I switched my alias to r3bl, the alias I still use for various purposes.

For those of you who don’t know what DJ TechTools is, it’s an amazing place full of awesome tutorials about DJ-ing. His owner Ean Golden is one of the pioneers in digital DJ-ing (as in DJ-ing with a laptop) and thanks to him, digital DJ-ing went to a whole new level.

My Story

In the beginning of my DJ-ing “career”, I could not afford to buy a MIDI controller. All I had was an ancient desktop computer (2.6 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM) and a pirated version of excellent DJ-ing software called Traktor Pro 2 (developed by the company called Native Instruments). Because I didn’t have a controller, it was hard to actually learn to DJ, but that didn’t stop me.

So, one of my first “hacks” was re-programming the computer keyboard so I could use the software without actually spending hundreds of € to buy a MIDI controller.

Traktor comes with a feature that allows you to map any input device you want to so it does anything you want it to do inside of the program. You’re able to re-program any controller without any coding knowledge thanks to its graphical interface. Of course, clicking hundreds of things is not an easy job. It was a painstaking process, but I did it. I re-mapped all of the keyboard shortcuts so it activates certain things inside of the program.

I called it Simple Keyboard Mapping and shared it on a site called TraktorBible back in 2010/2011.

At the time, I was a regular DJ TechTools reader. I read hundreds of articles posted by them and I was able to learn to do so many new things thanks to their tutorials. In the meantime, I bought my first MIDI controller called AKAI APC20.

So, one day, by following DJ TechTools on their Facebook page, I discovered that DJ TechTools wrote an article called DJing With A Computer Keyboard. Of course, I got interested and decided to read the article. I wanted to remind myself how difficult it is to actually control the software without a MIDI controller.

Now, imagine my surprise when I saw my mapping linked inside of that article!

In the beginning, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I re-read that part of the article dozens of times and once I realized I wasn’t dreaming, I started jumping all over my room out of happiness. I felt so damn proud because of it (and I still am). Soon after that, I started spamming my colleague DJs on Facebook and bragging about that article.

I don’t know about the rest of the music industry, but it’s really hard to stand out of the crowd if you’re a DJ or an EDM producer. It’s easy to become a DJ, all you need to do is to buy some equipment and learn how to use it. If you’re using a laptop and a MIDI controller, you can learn how to be a DJ in less than a month if you have a good tutor. If you want to learn to DJ using CDs or if you want to take it old school and use vinyls, the process is very different and much more difficult.

Now, of course, there’s a huge difference between becoming a DJ and becoming a good DJ. You will need to invest a lot of time and effort to become a good DJ. You will need to get a lot of experience to get to know what the crowd needs in a certain point of time and how to deliver that to your audience. In the meantime, everyone from the crowd will make a huge negative reaction if you make a single mistake. Because there’s so many DJs, it’s easy for the crowd to be nitpicky.

But that article made me stand out. It opened new possibilities for me. I managed to built some reputation as a DJ. I wasn’t able to do so before that article was published.

Unfortunately, because DJ-ing on a professional level is hard and it can’t provide food on the table for you and your family unless you get really famous (which is exceptionally difficult if you’re not producing the music as well, which is much harder to do and learn than DJ-ing), I gave up on my dream of becoming a famous DJ.

But my mapping still remains as the first publicly accepted showcase of my hacking skills. While I’m writing this, TraktorBible counts over 10,600 downloads of my mapping. Imagine that! Something I “programmed” was being used by over ten thousand aspiring DJs! I was able to help a huge number of people to pursue their dreams! How can I not be proud of my accomplishment?

So, this article is dedicated to the DJ TechTools, to its community and every aspiring DJ out there. Here’s for another 8 great years DJ TechTools! Keep building excellent products and writing amazing tutorials!

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