MJS 031: Mike Hostetler
[00:50] – Introduction to Mike Hostetler
Mike was on episode 133 which was like 2.5 years ago.
[01:45] – How did you get into programming?
When Mike was late high school, he decided that he knew enough coding that he was going to try to get a job. He ended up finding web development companies in the phone book and calling each one of them, trying to explain that his 16-year-old self could help them code and build websites. He ended up landing a job and was paid minimum wage to build HTML sites – a lot of 1×1 pixels transparent gifs, coding HTML by hand and notepad. Then, he ended up working for that company for his first couple of years of college as well.
The role that Mike was in next was building a touchscreen capable device. They needed custom plug-ins to provide the highlight focus effect around the button. He needed to write a plugin to do that and jQuery has just been released. So, he stripped all the prototype code, throw JQuery in there, and then, write a plug-in to navigate this interface by keyboard.
Mike’s first participation was on the JQuery project. If you ever use the JQuery plug-ins site, the old site, that was his contribution. He ended up running infrastructure for JQuery for several years. JQuery launched his business career. He switched into an entrepreneur around 2009. Since then, he’s contributed in numerous ways through speaking, leading training, and writing articles. He was a co-author of the JQuery Cookbook.
As Node began to get more popular, Mike switched his attention to Node and found passion around the Sails.js project. It was a Node framework that made it easy to build Express-powered apps with Node and limit a lot of the convention over configuration elements of the Sails framework. That morphed into ES6 rewrite of Sails called the Trails framework. Currently, he is an organizer of the Chicago Node.js Meetup and he’s a contributor to the Trails framework.
[11:50] – JQuery challenges and experiences
Mike and the team made community’s problems their problems so the gravity of what they were working didn’t hit them very much until jQuery 1.4. They had an online conference. They all recorded talks and they’re releasing a talk a day for jQuery that will be going to accommodate the 1.4 release. He remembered that he was setting up, managing the servers, and was doing some last-minute configuration. Then, John had tweeted that 1.4 was ready, pointing to jQuery.com. The web server just ground to a halt as he saw the traffic come in off a tweet.
For anybody else that maybe listening, find a spot where there’s new ground that you can contribute to and just dive in and do what you can to solve a problem to make it better. You’ll catch your wave.
[21:00] – How to pick frameworks
There was a Reddit thread about Node frameworks in 2017 that listed out all the possible frameworks. The classic answer is to use the right tool for the right job but Mike’s answer is: Node has grown so big that different frameworks are built to different people on the learning curve of Node. The other thing that Node has done is they have this culture of really running away from any Monolithic one-size-fits-all solution. The community of Node has made sure that they make space for an incredible diversity of solutions and frameworks.
The anti-pattern is: what is the best framework of 2017. That’s the wrong question in the Node culture. Look at your team, look at your project, what framework can you be most productive in and what framework can you contribute back into the community with? That is one of the key reasons that Node itself has remained and continued to grow in popularity.
[23:40] – Role in Sails and Trails
Mike’s not contributing to the Sails project at the moment. He has been focusing on the Trails project. He has written a couple of Trails packs or the equivalent of plug-ins, messed around with GraphQL. He is also helping answer questions in the Gitter chat – small ways.
[24:25] – Best ways to contribute
Go on to Stack Overflow. Subscribe to tags where you can answer questions. Every answer on Stack Overflow is a contribution. Go, watch, subscribe to the issue queues for the projects that you use. Just even sharing your experience with how you solve a problem, there is somebody that you could reach down to and answer their questions that take their burden off.
Get involved in the Gitter chat. Listen, watch, stand on the sidelines, and see what’s going on how the community works.
The next step, if you see a problem, submit a pull request, listen to see what the roadmap is, and see what you can contribute.
A lot of projects need help in infrastructure in their build scripts to produce better-written code. You can document for them. If you wait for the next sexy thing to do, you’ll never get there. Be humble.
Remember that open-source is fun. If it becomes a drag, you are doing it wrong. Look for the opportunities that are aligned with what you do so it’s a fun, happy experience.
[26:45] – What are you working on now?
Currently, Mike is taking on a new role as Director of Front-end Engineering at Raise Marketplace. It is a marketplace start-up in Chicago. His focus is rebuilding the front-end of Raise on a micro service Node.js in Go service architecture. They have also been listed to help some folks at Google in the web performance team. They are always hiring. If you are looking for a remote role for a start-up. Feel free to reach out to him on Twitter or on Raise.
Mike’s side-project now is a website called ModernWeb.com, where they help connect companies with teams of software developers and tell the stories of those software projects. A lot of developers are great at writing code but are terrible at telling the awesome things that we do. So, ModernWeb exists to tell the stories of development. The great side effect is companies want to work with you when you tell your stories. They help complete that circle. Go over to ModernWeb.com and you can contact them through the website or you can drop him an email at email@example.com.
Charles Max Wood