1. Jake Archibald Larry Botha 47:04

Jake is a developer advocate for Google Chrome where he speaks regularly about Service Worker, application performance, and offline-first apps. Before joining the team at Google, Jake worked at Lanyrd honing his performance skills, and before that worked at the BBC creating an inclusive experience for users with disabilities.

Time Stamped Show Notes

0:56 – Jake started working at the BBC straight after university. He spent most of his time creating a Javascript library where he worked primarily on accessibility.

1:15 – Jake’s journey with offline-first applications started when he joined the team at Lanyrd in 2012. One of the reasons the Lanyrd team wanted offline capabilities was to address poor wifi conditions at conferences.

4:04 – Jake is passionate about the web platform. He loves that you can write something once and it runs on OSX, Windows, Android, as well as other obscure operating systems. He likes that someone can experience an app without any kind of install steps or too many compatibility issues.

5:13 – He finds it exciting going to conferences and hearing people talk about progressive web apps. He likes that people are choosing to build PWAs instead of native apps.

7:03 – Jake was in Bangalore a couple of years ago. He found a lot of local dev teams were using Angular 1 to build mobile apps. Angular 1 isn’t suitable to build mobile apps as the framework is really big and slow. It’s especially not suitable for apps in India.

7:54 – He is amazed that in just a short few years dev teams in India are now more focused on performance. Many are using Preact because it’s a smaller library than ReactJs or Angular. It also does server rendering which makes things run much faster.

8:09 – At a conference Jake ran, he did a site clinic where he and some Google team members did a performance audit on the participants’ work. One participant in particular builds sites for the US, however he builds them as if his target market is a village in India. His resulting sites work really fast in the US.

9:04 – Jake feels it would beneficial to bring US and UK dev teams to Bangalore to learn how to better site performance.

9:30 – In promoting offline-first Jake believes more privileged individuals need to be given use cases that are more relatable to their lifestyle. For example expressing that an app should still work when a person is on a plane with no access to data.

10:56 – Jakes says “luck” and “being in the right place at the right time” has helped him get to where he is today.

11:56 – He went to university in Middlesborough where he did a course in multimedia and trained as a Flash developer.

11:40 – In the third year of his course, he had to organise work experience. Jake found a job at Reuters in London where he learnt how to work for a company and communicate with less technically minded people. He was offered a permanent job after graduating.

13:22 – After Reuters Jake went to work for the BBC for four years where he learnt a lot about accessibility.

13:38 – At the BBC Jake got to engage with more developers and also started speaking at small meet ups.

13:51 – Jake’s big break was at his first conference talk while working at the BBC where he spoke about writing a JavaScript library at the BBC. The library had to support more browsers than usual and had strong accessibility guidelines.

14:41 – The following year, Remy Sharp got Jake to talk at the Full Frontal conference in Brighton. From there he started to do more and more talks.

15:50 – He was then invited to join Lanyrd where Jake learnt about offline-first and web standards.

16:37 – He was contacted by Google to assess and give feedback on the new Chromebook. When giving feedback at the Google offices he met up with some people including Paul Irish and Eric Bidelman. Whilst having dinner with them he was invited to interview with Google.

18:03 – Once he got the job at Google they asked him to work more on offline-first technologies. Jake said “No, I’m just the problems guy, I’m not the solutions guy!”

20:12 – Jake talks about how they deployed the Javascript library at the BBC using FTP. It wasn’t secure FTP, it was just FTP drag and drop. There was also a shared password! He remembers one experience where they had an issue with deployment. This resulted in BBC’s iPlayer crashing during prime time.

23:07 – Jake doesn’t feel particularly religious about tooling, although he likes Visual Studio Code.

24:35 – Jake would feel lost without Github. He spends a lot of his day on Github issues. He prefers Github to mailing lists.

25:47 – He feels there is a disconnect between developers and standards authors. He’d like to see this divide removed.

29:12 – At a W3C meeting in late 2017 Ryosuke Niwa from Safari presented an idea called template instantiation. Jake is really excited about it. Template instantiation provides a special way to use mustache-like templating inside a template tag. It takes a lot of cues from hyperHTML and lit-html. It also allows you to make updates without the overhead of “diffing”. Mozilla and Google are also getting involved to improve it.

31:37 – Jake likes to keep up to date with web standards and browser features. He keeps up to date with web standards through @intenttoship, by reviewing issues on the HTML spec and discussions in the YCG.

32:10 – Jake tends to wait until libraries and frameworks are popular before he uses them.

33:25 – The interesting part of ReactJS is the state and props model as well as the lifecycle of components.

33:37 – He likes the single direction data-binding that ReactJS offers.


Quickfire Questions

35:06 – Best advice about programming
Jake’s school art teacher said to him “you get better at painting with every painting you paint”. He believes everything you build, every library you write and every experiment is not wasted time.

35:40 – Habits for writing better code
He thinks coding makes him a “worse human”. He believes if you get trapped in coding, you can end up forgetting the humans behind it.

38:40 – Book
MDN helped Jake get more proficient in JavaScript. It continues to help him today.

39:35 – Inspiring devs
Jake admires Remy Sharp due to the amount he has achieved. Domenic Denicola and Anne van Kesteren for their involvement in web standards. He also looks up to Sarah Drasner‘s developer outreach, as well as her creative coding. He also admires Paul Lewis for his ability to design and code.

42:16 – How to learn to code from scratch
Use the MDN “Javascript Guide”, it will help you get into JavaScript. Also use Glitch. Glitch allows you to build quick demos of your apps. Read Jake’s blog. He says “it’s a back-up of his brain”.

44:07 – How to work smart
“Don’t forget the humans”. Think about your users! When using platforms like Twitter, don’t forget you’re communicating with another human.


Tools, Tips, and Books Mentioned

Contact Jake