iStyla: my first serious web app

Date:6 November 2012 Tags:, , , , ,

By Jacques Blom

In this post I would like to tell you the story about the origins of my startup called iStyla, and how it came to be. I started developing iStyla in February of 2012. It all started when I saw one of those all too famous ‘pink Facebook’ scams…

First… allow me to tell you about myself. I’m Jacques Blom and I am 14 years old. I live in Cape Town, I love living here and I think it is the most beautiful place ever. I am a JavaScript and PHP programmer. I have been programming for as long as I can remember.

I started with basic HTML, moving on to CSS and eventually JavaScript and PHP. I fell in love with technology, computers and programming at a young age. (As a matter of fact I got my first computer at the age of 3.) Technology and programming are now my biggest passions. I love technology mainly because it is around me everyday and I basically grew up with it.

I program every day, and I learn something new every time I do. I love doing it and I always will! I’m just like most kids I suppose. Some play piano, some play violin, some paint. I just like to show my creativity in a way I guess very few children do. I like to be different.

Apart from programming, I do have other interests and things going on in my life. I love food, animals (especially my two sausage dogs) and most of all I love my family. My family is a wonderful Afrikaans family that loves to get together and eat.

Let me start telling you how iStyla came to be… I saw this link on my Facebook wall shared by one of my friends, claiming I could turn Facebook PINK! I quite love the color pink, so I clicked on this link, expecting my Facebook to soon turn pink. They first asked me to share their page (like my friend did), press the like button on their page and finally complete a free survey (they obviously get paid when you fill in that survey). Eventually, the website told me that they do not support my browser. Seriously, like they would not support Google Chrome, the world’s most popular browser!

Anyway… I accepted that I just wasted my time on an elaborate hoax. This hoax, however, got me thinking. What if I could make a browser plugin to make Facebook pink? If it could be pink, why not light blue or lime green or even red?

I went on to write a simple JavaScript Google Chrome plugin to inject CSS into Facebook. This worked well, but it was only Pink Facebook. Nothing else.

It took me another 6 or so months to create a proper plugin and theme store. Over that time I learnt a lot about PHP programming and JavaScript programming. That knowledge I had acquired will be invaluable to me in the future.

It was a challenge for me to balance keeping my parents happy by doing well at school while working on this too. iStyla took up a lot of my time. I worked on it for many hours a day.

I even created a theme designer, so anyone can design and publish their theme in the store. The store was another challenge too. I had to learn how to integrate PHP and JavaScript. I had to do this so that the user can install a theme, and have it immediately show up on Facebook on any computer, if they are logged into Facebook and have iStyla installed.

This is how iStyla currently works:

  1. You sign up for iStyla
  2. Install themes from the online theme store
  3. The plugin injects the correct CSS styles into Facebook (wherever you are logged in)
  4. The plugin detects if you are on another Facebook user’s page and temporarily switches to their iStyla theme (this took me a while to figure out and to make it work)

As you can see… iStyla was a good idea, combined with a wish of my own, but also coupled with lots of blood, sweat and tears. I really feel proud of what I have achieved thus far.

I would appreciate you taking a look at Styla. This would really help, as I have a limited budget for marketing and you (the readers) can help me with that. If you have any feedback, please contact me to let me know. Please check it out at www.istyla.com. I have over 2100 users as of this date. 100+ new users sign up each day, too. I hope you will enjoy your new Facebook design!

E-mail Jacques at contact@istyla.com