First Look


I’ve told probably a hundred people about Zapatag since I first started thinking about it three years ago. And when I started getting serious about it at the beginning of the year, I shared the spec and several screenshots with maybe a dozen good friends. But those were Photoshop fantasies (rudimentary though they were). Now that developers have actually been writing code, little bits and pieces of the site actually exist. And earlier this week, I posted the above screencap to Flickr.

Of course, the license plates above look almost exactly like the Photoshop mocks, which in my view is a good thing. While the programmers sorted out how the states and plate numbers would be handled, I created the blank license plate backgrounds. It took considerably longer than I expected, and some state plate designs came out pretty horrid. In a few cases, I just opted for a simple colored field and text. But there are a few plates that came out quite nice, even if I do say so myself. I’ve certainly come to appreciate the different designs and the different icons that represent the 50 states.

Yes, I know, there are special plates. I found some states have maybe 30 or 40 unique designs to commemorate everything from sports teams to social causes. There’s no way in heck I’d be able to design all of those, and at present, I don’t even know how they work. Do they have special numbering sequences? Can there be a “standard” plate and a “special” plate with the same characters? These are all things I think I’ll have to learn the hard way as real data starts to come in.

Today I finished the last state: Wyoming. And that, essentially, will be the extent of my real contributions to the development of Zapatag. I’m not much of a designer, but I’m even less of a developer. From this point forward, all I can do is look at the things the developers create, try to break them, and ultimately refine them.

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December 2008
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