Can you give me a little background on how you got into development?
I vividly recall being 10 years old in Nigeria, and playing with computers. Suffice to say, I liked it a lot. I initially went to college to get a PhD and do robotics research, but fell in love with startups. I graduated with a computer science degree, after working at 2 research labs, but working in industry appealed more to me than research.
I worked for a few different startups in Atlanta, until eventually joining the team at Luma, a startup working on WiFi routers. There, I helped build and scale an over-the-air-update system to update 50,000 IoT devices, and worked on embedded router software, all in Elixir. After working in Elixir for almost two years, I decided to join the team at Mailchimp.
I really love working at Mailchimp because they built their own PHP framework, before there were any good frameworks out there. It is great to see the guts of framework design and be involved in that. It’s useful for me to compare that with how Elixir and Phoenix are evolving, and consider how we can steward the growth.
Has Mailchimp ever considered open-sourcing their PHP framework?
It is something we have considered. However, there is a lot of work necessary to open source a framework, and we haven’t tackled that yet.
Have you found any opportunities to use Elixir at Mailchimp?
There is a lot of opportunity to experiment with new technologies at Mailchimp. We haven’t found any solid use cases for Elixir yet. If something arises, I’m sure we’ll evaluate how we can make use of Elixir.
How did you end up speaking at ElixirConf. 2017?
At ElixirConf last year I met Chris McCord along with a bunch of other great developers. I talked with them about Luma, and found out that it was one of the larger instances of Elixir and Phoenix being used in production. At that point, we had five production Elixir applications, with over 40,000 WiFi routers running Elixir in homes across the country.
I was thinking about ways I could contribute to the community and wondered if speaking at ElixirConf would be a way to do that. They agreed that with my experience developing and managing production Elixir applications, it was a good fit.
What do you do in your free time?
I organize the Atlanta Elixir Meetup. I also run small workshops or classes when I have the time. I am hoping to find the time to do more open source as well.
What advice would you have for other developers or what knowledge would you impart?
Two things really.
Build, build, build. Just hack on stuff. One thing I always did was find tutorials or courses and work on them, as best I could. That’s how I learned Photoshop and Illustrator in high school, and it’s how I approach learning new things today. As you’re doing this you’re generating questions like “what is this”, “what does this mean?”. It’s the best approach I’ve found.
Second, find mentors. Go to meet-ups, pick up the phone, go online. Find the right people to associate with who will help you in your learning.
These two things are an incredibly powerful combo.