Tech Leader Spotlight: Matt Webb

                                       Matt Webb

                                      Matt Webb

 

This week, Code sat down for some Ecuadorian coffee with local tech leader: Matt Webb. Matt is the founder of DenverScript, a co-organizer of Develop Denver, and is currently a front end developer at Blinker. Matt has worked on projects for BBC, WWF, National Geographic, Sony, Discovery, GABF, Stanford University, and more.  

Learn about why he got involved in the community, his favorite up-and-coming trends in the tech world, his prediction for the technology of 2017, and more in the interview below.

What is your involvement in the Denver Tech community?

After the Denver JS meetup somewhat died out, there wasn’t really a great JavaScript community anymore, it was just broken up into multiple smaller meetups. So, I started DenverScript because I wanted to bring that group of developers back together, and so far it seems to work pretty well. I also help co-organize Develop Denver, which is an annual developer conference and this year will be our fifth year.

One of the main reasons I got involved in the developer community was seeing how much Drew Dahlman, the founder of Develop Denver, had given back to the community. The community was just always so supportive; there are always people willing to help me with projects or finding new jobs, things like that. Because of that support I wanted to be involved, and it’s why I’ve stayed involved.

Why did you choose Denver?

I actually used to be a semi-professional skier, and my sponsors said they would drop me unless I moved out west, so that’s why I originally moved out here. I thought Denver was pretty cool, and even though I don’t ski professionally anymore, I decided to stay just because of the weather, mountains, and the awesome people I’ve met here.

When I first moved out here, I went to The Art Institute of Colorado for interactive media design which, in short, I ended up learning how to code. I found that the development community here is really strong. There are plenty of places that also have strong communities, but Denver is different. The community is small enough that everyone knows someone, so basically we all end up somehow knowing each other from one place or the other.

What types of projects do you like working on for fun?

Since I work so much at a computer, I’ve gotten into building stuff with my hands. I just finished building a reclaimed wood Colorado flag to put over my fireplace, and I’m building a bar right now, because all developers need a bar.

                       Matt Webb on Instagram | @creatifyme: Finished! #coflag 

                      Matt Webb on Instagram | @creatifyme: Finished! #coflag 

Additionally, I got into using Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and using JavaScript to interact with hardware...so just messing around. Like, making a nerf gun turret. It’s very relaxing to do fun little side projects that aren’t driven by work.

What is your typical work space like, and why do you like it?

I’ve usually have a standing desk, so I’m standing for most of the day, which I like. Music is always playing, too, and usually a decent amount of natural light. It’s also important for me to have the ability to swap back and forth between places. I have my desk, but then I’ll go work in the lounge area for a while, then the kitchen. I like a change of scenery, like if I have a mental roadblock I like to find a brewery, sit on the patio with a beer, and work. It helps me get out of a mind funk.

What is the coolest technology you are currently working with?

At Blinker, we are using React, Redux, ECMAScript (ES) 2016, Babble, and Node.js server side rendering. We’re building full on JavaScript apps that don’t rely on needing any backend support. Being able to use the latest and greatest JavaScript features has completely spoiled me.

What are some up-and-coming trends in the startup/tech community you are most excited about?

At Blinker, we’re focused on component based architecture so we’re breaking up a lot of our features into modules that could be exported and interchangeably used in different projects. This gives us the ability to create our own private package repository, so when we start a new project we could pull in those components and reuse them. That’s where we’ve been moving with things, so we don’t have to keep rebuilding.

Another really amazing tech from Blinker comes from out computer vision engineers. They can take the photo of your car and analyze different parts of the car to help determine make, model, or other unique features of the car.

Internet of Things (IoT) is always something fun and exciting. It might be going too far, especially with the new smart zipper app that tells you if your zipper is down. But the home automation side of IoT really interest me. I bought a Nest, 3 Nest cameras, and a Nest protect to start automating my house. I recently bought a Tessel with climate sensors that I’ll program to talk to my Nest system. This way if my bedroom gets too hot at night, it can turn on the A/C.

What is the best and worst part about the Denver tech community?

Well, there’s really no shortage of people here that are willing to help. Even if you are just getting started in the community there are so many resources, like the Denver Devs slack channel. It can help you get involved, learn about meetups, ask/answer questions, and even find gigs. Everyone is willing to help out and judgement free.

Also, the amount of smart people here in Denver is awesome. Normally, you’d think you would have to talk to a developer in San Francisco or New York, but no, we have those people in Denver. Our community has really blown up over the last couple of years and it’s amazing.

As far as the worst part I would just say the diversity of the community, which isn’t just a Denver issue. There are groups working on changing this, like Women Who Code or Dinosaur JS, which is a JavaScript conference here in Denver where 60% of the speakers are women. But the community is still dominated by dudes, typically white dudes. I’m not sure if it’s just Denver or the entire tech community but getting any type of diversity is difficult.

 

What will the most important technology be in 2017?

Well, because I am a front end developer, I’m going to be a bit biased and say ECMAScript (ES) 2016, which is the standardized specification of JavaScript. As of 2015, the ES board has started releasing a new spec every year and this year’s version made JavaScript development so much better.