For the first interview, I’m honored to interview Jordan Olthoff, a software engineer at SolarCity. In this episode, we learn that Jordan grew up in San Diego and came to the Bay area 6 years ago. He studied psychology in college and has pharmaceutical research experience. He recently started his career as a Software Engineer at SolarCity. We had an interesting discussion about how psychology might influence his thinking and help him in developing software.

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If you are a developer in the web development world, you know that we are in a fast evolving industry. There are tons of new things happening every day. In order to be productive and build great web applications, we need to learn everyday. Attending conferences is one of many great ways to learn. In the conference, I can observe what the current trends are, how people solve problems, and how to make our development lives easier with new tools.

 

Luckily, my company, SolarCity, supports me to attend conferences. Our team went to the 2016 Fluent Conference in San Francisco last week. It was my first time attending a large-scale programming conference, and I really had a great time learning from all sorts of topics there.

 

Below is my learning summary:

The web development world is really energetic. Lots of companies provide frameworks, tools, testing, deployment solutions, trainings, etc. The barrier to start building a web app is becoming lower and lower everyday. 

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If you are front end or full stack software engineer, you usually manage your app’s dependencies in your package.json (NPM) and bower.json (Bower). Do you have the experience that you need to update all the dependencies to the latest version?

 

I understand some developer don’t like to use the latest version of libraries because of compatibility issue. However, I feel most of the time, the updated version of libraries are more stable and reliable (bugs fixed and people’s open source contribution to make the software better). Our team at SolarCity before didn’t update some dependencies to the latest version for one of our apps. However, I found out that one of the error we saw wouldn’t even happen if we use the latest version of the library. Therefore, after discussion, we decide that we would use the latest version of libraries from then on. One problem is that it’s such a pain to update dozens of libraries in our json file.

Here is the package file for my previous project: OpenElect. Oh dear, how many dependencies are there…it will take years to manually update the version number.

package.json example

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Ask not what your industry can do for you–ask what you can do for your industry.

In Hack Reactor week 1, we had a class in which Phillip Alexander taught us about open source contribution. Before we talk about “contribution,” let’s find out what open source is. Wikipedia’s definition: “In production and development, open source as a development model promotes a universal access via a free license to a product’s design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.

 

The easiest definition for open source is this: it means anything that is free to use, reproduce, or redesign. We all know the power of crowdsourcing. If there are 10 thousand people reviewing and contributing to a project, we would assume it to have less typos/bugs. Open source contribution’s goal is to make software safer & better.

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In the tech industry, you sometimes hear people talking about whiteboarding during interviews. In a whiteboarding session, you do not code on the computer; rather, you write down your thoughts, pseudo code, and examples on the whiteboard. The interviewer can get to know you and how you think through this process, and might even decide that he does not need you to code on the computer at all. In Hack Reactor, we had several chances of practicing whiteboarding, and the following are my thoughts on how to do it right:

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