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That's a really good point about passive time before the actual building. We had definitely been thinking about the problem for a while, and analytics.js[1] had already existed for at least 6 months in its current form and another 6 months in a prior one.

It just takes a while to start developing solid, bigger-picture ideas about a problem. This is also why it's hard to realize the negatives of "pivoting" all the time, since we take for granted how much we've already invested in groking a particular space.

The same thing happened recently while hacking on Myth[2]. To everyone on the team it felt like building the entire thing only took a couple days, but really I had been experimenting with a similar idea[3] for multiple months, and it was already being used in production for our own CSS. The piece that took a few short days was just figuring our the best way to design the landing pageā€”much less scope that conceiving the entire idea.

It's really hard to quantify that kind of time investment, and even harder to explain that to friends who think that everyone is launching fully-formed, successful MVPs in a single weekend without much thought. It definitely seems like something that can only be learned through experience. It's just an earlier stage version of the classic problem of founders always thinking that successful startups spring out of nowhere, when really the multiple years of living in a cramped room and almost killing each other is just shielded from view.

At least it makes things more defensible :)

Random other thought: I often catch myself bundling up tons of logic into a "first commit" and wishing that that wasn't a common practice, so that we could learn about how the beginnings of codebases are iterated on.

[1]: https://github.com/segmentio/analytics.js

[2]: http://www.myth.io/

[3]: https://github.com/ianstormtaylor/rework-pure-css

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