Andrew Levin writes:

I can provide some additional history on WebScissors, as my involvement with it (and Jos) started over a year ago.

I'm the engineer/UI designer who created WebTV's Page Builder tool. I started working on it about a year and a half ago -- at that point only part time. Around the middle of '98 -- I believe in July -- I came into work to find a yellow PostIt from someone I'd never heard of on my monitor. The note said something along the lines of, "I hear you're the guy working on Build Your Own Web Page [it took us another year to come up with a less awkward name]. Call me." That's when I met Jos.

Jos was working on what he then called "puller." What this did (or "would soon do") is read an HTML file at a given URL and create a page with nothing but the images from that URL. Once you got that page of images, there wasn't much you could then do. Initially, the purpose was not so much to create a product as to teach himself perl and show that he could create something spiffy.

He wanted to talk to me because he was starting to think that this would be a great way to get images onto a user's web page. He wanted to know what I thought and if I could help him with the part that would "FTP" the files onto a user's page.

While Jos was about a year too early, his idea fit perfectly with a design I had for a feature of BYOWP I then called the "shoebox." (OK, ok, the name was wacky. But I was hoping its oddness would inspire people to come up with a better name. [It didn't.] And besides, it made all the usability subjects smile.) The "shoebox" was a holding place for pictures so that the user wouldn't have to immediately decide what page to place them on.

Because of the timing, that fell into the background. I don't know if Jos worked on it anymore after that before its current incarnation, but my guess is that he didn't do much more with it. In any case, it wasn't the subject of our conversations again until May of '99, which is when Page Builder went beta. Indeed, it wasn't the subject of any BYOWP discussions until then; it was to be a stealth project.

As an aside: coincidentally, also in May, a number (a large number) of our users put together a petition demanding that WebTV create a tool to let users copy images off of other web pages onto their own (their own, that is, at sites such as GeoCities, Tripod, theGlobe, etc., as they didn't yet know about WebTV's Page Builder). What triggered this petition was unrelated to us. It turned out there was an existing "transloader" site -- for use only with these non-WebTV page-building sites -- that had decided to start charging money. Noel was the one who noticed that petition.

Anyway, between 5/14 and 5/24, on his own time, Jos put together an updated version, which can be seen at "http://bigmac/jos/pullPage.html" (inside our firewall). It was only then that we brought this up with the other members of the PageBuilder team (including Noel, Renée, Kieca, and Joel, among others).

I wanted to add, though -- and I guess this won't surprise anyone who knew Jos -- that, despite this having nothing to do with his regular work, Jos easily made himself a real member of the Page Builder team and apparently had a great time doing it -- participating in discussions, submitting his work for usability reviews, offering suggestions about other features, and, later, single-handedly taking on all the work to give ImageGrabber its home at WebScissors.