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Speaker interview: Rich Harris

Speaker interview: Rich Harris

About Rich

Rich is an interactive journalist at theguardian.com, working on new ways to tell stories. He lives in Brooklyn, the capital of JavaScript.

What project have you worked on recently that has really excited you?

I’ve been working on a couple of side projects that I’m looking forward to sharing more widely. Gobble is a build tool designed for ease-of-use and debuggability, which frankly haven’t had the attention they deserve. Esperanto is an insanely fast ES6 module bundler/transpiler. Both projects have worked wonders for my own productivity.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d received when you first started out in development?

It wouldn’t have mattered, I would still have done everything wrong. For example you can tell someone ‘Don’t Repeat Yourself’, but until they’ve developed the right mental tools – from experience, the only true teacher – writing DRY code is hard. I guess ‘don’t be a hero – ask for help before you drive yourself crazy’ would have been useful.

What’s your favourite underrated tool/piece of software/resource for development?

Pen and paper, or a whiteboard if it’s a really tough one. Other things that consistently help me solve hard problems: showers, long walks and sleep.

What new technology are you most interested in learning?

I have an Oculus DK2 which has so far mostly gathered dust. In some parallel universe, where I have infinite free time, I’ve already written a bunch of games that use the WebVR APIs.

How do you balance work and life, with so many new FE dev tools coming out all the time?

Poorly.

What new/upcoming browser features do you think will most change the future of web development?

For me it’s all about features that will close the gap between web and native – ServiceWorker, push notifications, payments. I’m less interested in features that incrementally improve things we’re already doing, which is sadly where a lot of the energy and focus seems to be.

What do you think is missing from browser APIs?

I mentioned WebVR earlier – I really hope that VR on the web takes off, and we don’t have a re-run of native apps vs web apps. Vlad Vukicevic at Mozilla and Brandon Jones at Google have done some incredible early work – in an ideal world browser vendors would be able to throw more resources at them. Also, we can’t get to the future without cross-browser speech-to-text and text-to-speech APIs.

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