Speaker interview: Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin is President of the jQuery Foundation, and dedicated to improving web performance. He’s been using web technologies since 1996 and contributing to jQuery since 2006.
What project have you worked on recently that has really excited you?
Recently I worked with a client to make their web site faster. It’s awesome to see their load times go from 8 to 3 seconds and know that it will benefit every visitor to the site. I also had the opportunity to spread the gospel of performance to the company’s web development team so I hope their site won’t become slow again!
What piece of advice do you wish you’d received when you first started out in development?
Software development revolves around about a dozen common techniques, and they are re-implemented in whatever the hot new technology is this year. Usually we fall into the same sets of traps each time we re-implement them. It’s great to learn new things, but keep in mind the bleeding edge isn’t the best place to be when you’re trying to get work done.
What’s your favourite underrated tool/piece of software/resource for development?
Browsers have amazing developer tools built right into them. It’s hard to keep up with all the features they are packing into those dev tools, but becoming an expert with them will make it much easier for you to write or debug high-performance web pages and apps.
What new technology are you most interested in learning?
EcmaScript 6 has some really convenient features that should make it a lot easier to write clean code. Thanks to transpiler tools we can take advantage of ES6 even on older browsers, so we don’t need to wait until old browsers die to use a lot of these features.
How do you balance work and life, with so many new FE dev tools coming out all the time?
Keeping up professionally? I just can’t, at least not to the level I’d like. There are too many new frameworks and libraries coming out all the time. I try to understand the top-level concepts behind them, and when it comes to detailed information I usually find someone who’s actually built something using the technology and pick their brain a bit.
As for the life part, I really enjoy being able to participate in the web development community because it’s filled with amazing people. One day they’ll find out I don’t know what I’m talking about and vote me off this island. (You’re not publishing this anywhere, right?)
What new/upcoming browser features do you think will most change the future of web development?
I’m a fan of things like Service Workers, they’re part of the Extensible Web Manifesto thinking that says we should have low-level hooks and let libraries build features on top of that. Too many times we’ve tried to put fully-fledged features like App Cache into the platform – with the best of intentions – only to find that they don’t meet common use cases.
What do you think is missing from browser APIs?
We need more access to the components of devices to achieve parity with native apps: camera, accelerometer, lights, that kind of thing. Today you can build web-based apps using PhoneGap/Cordova to get around that, but really it should all be doable via a web page. Obviously there needs to be a permission API for that to be safe. The sooner we can agree on a standard there, the better.