Software Developers Journey Podcast

#203 Jess Archer found her people in the Laravel community


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Jess Archer 0:00
Often at some of these things, it can be very hard as a woman when there's like just pretty much all guys. But everyone that chatted with me, it was just all about the code. There was nothing that felt dodgy or anything like that. We were just all united by a love of Laravel. And lol just felt very, very genuine and people seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say

Tim Bourguignon 0:20
hello, and welcome to developer's journey to podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers. To help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host, Tim bourguignon. On this episode 203, I received Jess Archer. Jess is a full stack developer maker podcaster. And a speaker from Brisbane, Australia. She has been coding for 20 years and in that time, has built software for banks, police, governments and hospitals. Guess Welcome to their journey.

Jess Archer 0:50
Thank you, Tim. Thanks for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 0:53
My pleasure. My real pleasure to have you this morning this morning for me this late afternoon for you. But it's the first guest I think I have from Australia, this

Jess Archer 1:03
breaking new ground. Absolutely, absolutely.

Tim Bourguignon 1:05
But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guest. So, as you know, the show exists to help listeners understand what your story look like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as always, as usual on this blog on this on this podcast. Let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your debt journey?

Jess Archer 1:57
Oh, that's, that's a good question. I guess like depends what you like to find as developer. I think for me, some of my earliest memories are of pulling apart things when I was a kid. So toys, pulling them apart, breaking them, seeing how they work inside, trying to put them back together, often failing. So although that wasn't strictly like development, I kind of feel like that's what started. Like, that was kind of the early signs of me wanting to see how things worked on the inside and create things and even try and, you know, make new toys out of my existing toys by like combining things together. So yeah, I feel like that's kind of where it started. But if we want to talk about like, you know, coding in particular, back when I was in high school, I was a really big fan of a TV show called Red Dwarf. And so I wanted to make a fan site for it. So like, you know, a website dedicated to that. And this is back in the days of like geo cities, and all this sort of stuff. So I remember using like these kind of like a WYSIWYG editor. So like, what you see is what you get. So it's almost like building a website in Microsoft Word, right? And so you'd like you put your images in and you type things in, and you'd make things bold. And then that was all good. And well. And then I discovered there was a tab that said HTML. And when you flick to this tab, there's all of the code that has been written for you. And so then it was a case of, well, what happens when I change this and what happens when I do this. And then I started finding things that I wanted to do that the WYSIWYG editor wouldn't let me do. And it kind of just went from there, I've just hacking on things, taking the code that was written either by a machine or that I found online, and just changing it and working out, like how I could make it my own. I think after that, a lot of my development stuff was kind of driven by hobbies. So back in the day I was onto I was into IRC a lot. The Internet Relay Chat, kind of you know, predates slack and all these sorts of things. Right. So there was a chat client called mIRC. And you could script it to do things that you wanted to do. So you could make it show what music you're playing. Or if you type slash away, it could have a fancy away message. And if someone sends you a message, it could automatically reply with like canned responses. And, and so that kind of was my, like, probably my first exposure to like, what a call like actual scripting, because I hate shemales very presentational, right? You're just saying put this thing here, put this thing here, but there's no if statements and variables and all that. So yeah, I'd say IRC scripting was kind of the the entry point to like logical development. And again, it was a similar thing of like, find some script online. That was kinda like what I wanted. And then just pull it to bits and break it and then fix it and break it again and fix it again. And yeah, I feel like that kind of shaped. The way that I even develop now is just just Hacket things and break them and so now when software is broken, I think I'm actually quite good at fixing it because I've, that's how I learned was by fixing things. I don't have any formal qualifications in development or anything like that. I basically just yeah, a code hacker.

Tim Bourguignon 5:14
That's awesome. Just speaking from, from my experience, and then in twisting it into a question, do you remember when you transition from the static web, to bringing more dynamic in there, from going TO to just HTML to adding maybe at first JavaScript snippets? And then trying to make something responsible? You said no, if that means at the beginning, when you started using if statement and how that changed you?

Jess Archer 5:39
Yeah, so there's, there's two distinct things I can think of. So as far as JavaScript, like back in the GSC, these days, it was popular to have like something that will follow your cursor around. So you could have like a little animated thing that would follow you around, and I wanted one of these, like, I had to have this thing. And so that was probably my first exposure to like, like the JavaScript side of making your website dynamic. But in terms of the server side stuff, the story is, it's a little bit darker, but not in like a bad way. It's just in like a dodgy way. So there's a there was another chat client, everything seems to relate to chat clients called ICQ. And it was kind of like a desktop application, it talked to like their server, all this sort of stuff. And at some point, they introduced ads. So there's a little ad down the bottom of the chat window was really annoying. Everyone hated it. And there was a way of like running this executable that would modify the binary and remove the ad. So there was just something you could download and remove the ads off it. So like, that was cool, easy to run. But then I also discovered some of these like, kind of hacking tools that would give you like remote access to people's machines. And you can package them up inside another executable file. So of course, what did I do? I put a backdoor in one of these ad removers, and then we're just message random people. Now hopefully, this doesn't incriminate me too much. It was very, very young at the time was a long time ago, you know, statute of limitations, hopefully. Absolutely. And but I wasn't, you know, like it was just being a kid and being basically like my equivalent of, I don't know, pranks, and vandalism and all this sort of stuff, right? Instead of doing in the real world, I did it on the internet. And the people that I would target, it was just, you know, see what their reaction was basically, if I made their CD tray pop open or something, but this one person was like, fascinated, was like, how did you do that? How did you do that? So we ended up getting talking for a while. And this this person, I don't remember his name or anything other than the fact that he asked me Do I know PHP. And I know, I don't know, PHP with PHP. And so this was like, I don't know, PHP, four point something. And so that was when I kind of got into, like, actual writing my own code from scratch with PHP. And making things happen, like, yeah, like a back end server side kind of thing. And, yeah, I still write like, PHP is still my favorite language today. I've tried. I've tried a fair few, but I always come back to PHP. So yeah, does that answer your question?

Tim Bourguignon 8:03
Absolutely. It does ring so many bells. I had not the ICQ hacking story, but I still remember the ICQ tones of burnt in my mind the this type of light it's it's still burned there with the with the modem 560 Bow modem trying to get online. Yes. Is Bernie in there somewhere as well. But this transition to PHP as well. I created websites in the in the 90s, as well really static with some JavaScript snippets. Snagit fun, right and left to make the cursor animated and some stars following it and stuff like this. This rings many bells. But I remember when somebody said, Hey, have you tried PHP and have you tried not writing the index dot HTML before just having an empty container, and then filling it up with PHP as you can do that? Wow. And just a world of opportunities opening up and say, Oh, feeling I touched something massive there. And I remember this moment, and I still remember who it was and where it was and what the context was. It's really burned in my mind. It's fantastic. It's so I can really relate to this. It's like, now it's starting.

Jess Archer 9:14
I think like you just got, I was gonna say, I think what was I gonna say? So you go ahead. I can't remember.

Tim Bourguignon 9:21
Did you have any idea at that time that this could become a career this could become your life? Or was this still a hobby and meant to stay there?

Jess Archer 9:31
It was purely a hobby. To start off with I had been expelled from high school because I was wearing a necklace that someone gave me that had a marijuana leaf and I didn't do marijuana. But this friend that I really liked, gave me this necklace. And so it meant a lot to me. And I was asked to remove it and I refused on principle, a very, very, very stubborn child. And so then I took basically a whole year at home just playing on my computer, and thankfully, my mom let me do it. She didn't kind of, you know, I went and got like a small job, you know, stocking shelves, all that sort of stuff, but she kind of just gave me the space to play with the computer. And I'm so grateful for that. Because I feel like that's the reason why I'm here today is I had that time to just just hack around without actually having to make anything that you know, made any money or anything like that it was purely just exploring things based on passion alone. And, you know, played with flash, you know, back back in the days and Flash was a thing, or, you know, all those sorts of technologies, playing with it all PHP, obviously. And you know, when I started with PHP, it was a case of like, oh, I can include a file. That means I can reuse code. Now I don't have to copy things. And that was like, that was the thing PHP sold for me. But then later on, it was like, Oh, I can actually like, now I know what a post request is. I've seen POST requests, but I don't know what you would ever do with one. And now I was like, Oh, I can actually accept data from someone and do things based on the thing and return stuff that's customized based on that. So yeah, absolutely magical.

Tim Bourguignon 11:03
It isn't. Absolutely, I'm not sure people can really relate to to this transition, when we're really something happened. We can really, okay, this is a world opening. And I'm not sure if they'll pick you must have this this kind of relatable experiences. Well. I'm all just I think like culturally,

Jess Archer 11:25
anyone that's, like, for me, like developments, very creative endeavor. So, like, I used to like to include woodworking, and I get the same kinds of like buzz from woodworking because you're still solving problems. Coming up with solutions. There's, you know, hardware and gear involved and techniques that you can learn and ways you can improve and you'll never ever be like finished. You never ever kind of like reach the top and you know, everything, you're always continually refining things, stuff changes, new things come out. So it's been this like evergreen source of fun stuff to play with.

Tim Bourguignon 12:04
Okay, have you had this this kind of aha moment with, uh, with with working as well? Where where something happens, and then you realize, oh, this is opening? This is giving me new ideas like hell,

Jess Archer 12:14
yeah. And there's, there's always, you know, you see things made, and you're like, how did they do that? Like, how does that how's that thing made? How's this thing engineered? And then you find out what it is, and you find out the trick, you know, behind the curtain of it all. And then it's always so simple when you kind of see it. So yeah, there is but there's, there's nothing that's really on par with the development side for me. And just, I don't know that it's kind of a lot more unlimited in terms of what you can do. On a computer, you're not like constrained by physical things. It's quite cheap to get involved in as well. You don't have to continually buy like hardware like, you know, timber and lumber, or whatever people call it around the world. And you know, all the big expensive machines, like you can do web development on a very, very modest computer. And with all free software, it's, yeah, it's just so so good.

Tim Bourguignon 13:02
And there is no right click View Source

Jess Archer 13:04
on the keyboard. There is no, there is not

Tim Bourguignon 13:07
awesome. So how did you then go from this year of, I want to say sabbatical, but I'm not sure it's it's medical this year of doing something else, to, at some point getting into professional programming, I've been making air quotes in my head right now.

Jess Archer 13:23
So I guess like around the same time, in addition to like coding, I was also getting into just computers and servers, and all this sort of stuff in general. So I was playing with Linux a lot. And obviously got quite good at fixing people's computers. So my first kind of tech job was an IT support person. So basically fixing spyware and installing printers and all that sort of stuff kind of progressed up that a little bit and was then doing things for businesses and setting up like servers in people's offices, so they could collaborate before the cloud existed, all those sorts of things. So I kind of like that was kind of the opportunity that that arose for me because actually, like when I first moved out of home, my landlord ran an IT consulting company. And so I basically just started Yeah, I started working for him doing this sort of stuff. So the development stuff took a bit of a backseat then because I was mostly like professionally at least was now doing you know, nine to five kind of job fixing computers and building servers. But after a while, like the the kind of the the wanting to actually create things was still very, very strong. And after a while I got pretty bored with it side of things, it didn't really fit my brain as well. So I ended up switching careers to do like web design and web development. And so making websites for me at the time was making websites for you know, plumbers and hotels and all these sorts of things. And then that I think like it was a fairly natural progression from building websites to building like web apps. And you know, moving from you know, WordPress to Laravel and, you know, going For a much more application thing, like Yeah, web application. So that was kind of the that journey. And now yeah, I still build web applications in Laravel.

Tim Bourguignon 15:11
So let's do one step after the other. How did you go from one day saying, Well, I'm doing it support and stuff, I'm bored. I'm gonna do website.

Jess Archer 15:20
So one of my clients needed a website. And so because I had the ability to make websites, it was kind of just one of the services I could provide. As an IT consultant, I could build little websites, someone else wanted a small like to do list like a web app thing. So I built those. But then it was just through a friend of mine was working at a, you know, like at a web design. It was it was kind of like a software company, but they had a web design arm. And so I kind of got that job. And then that became my main gig was, yeah, it was building building websites. And that allowed me to do a little little bit of graphic design work as well. So it's using things like you know, Adobe Fireworks and building in our back in the web 2.0 days where everything had massive gradients and big shadows to make it feel like the computer was coming out of the screen, you know, things like that. They still exist, but we've settled them down a lot. Now, I think when people first discovered drop shadows, it was like, give me the biggest drop shadow you can possibly have.

Tim Bourguignon 16:17
I remember that again. When was that in the timeline? Something mid 2000? Oh,

Jess Archer 16:23
good question. So that would have been? Yeah, probably early 2000s 2000. Okay. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 16:30
Do you remember how you decided to build stuff on top of WordPress back then, or do it on your own?

Jess Archer 16:36
So I think like the first like, website platform I used, you know, after I, you know, like moved on from just writing my own code would have been things like b two or cafe log or something like that. And it was what became web. So I kind of transitioned from from that to WordPress, and then started building more and more complex sites with WordPress using things like advanced custom fields, where you could actually make these much, much more bigger interactive websites. And then, you know, writing WordPress plugins and themes and really trying to basically build like web applications in WordPress, but that gets frustrating pretty quickly. WordPress is a great CMS, but it's not really an application platform, in my opinion, people do it more power to them.

Tim Bourguignon 17:22
I'm bubbling my head saying, that's really. Okay. Did you have any, any any fears of going away from your code to work a CMS? bitubo? Yes, back then.

Jess Archer 17:36
Definitely. So when I first like, when I was like, using WordPress, kind of in more of like a commercial sense, it didn't have like navigation menus at the time, kind of like a lot of stuff, you still had to do very hacky, like, creating custom post types and things to achieve that. And so at one point, I decided, Alright, I'm gonna make my own CMS, because why wouldn't you? I'm a developer. And so I made my own CMS, the company, I was working for a kind of like, sold it to them, like as a white label thing. So they could put their own name on it. And they could use that. And for a while, my CMS I felt was better than WordPress, for like, for its task. Like, obviously, WordPress had a lot more features that man didn't have, but for the kinds of websites I was building, it was perfect. And then at some point, Wordpress, kept going bigger and bigger and better. And then I realized, okay, WordPress is now better than my, my CMS by a long way. And so it kind of switched back to WordPress again. Yeah, yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 18:33
I remember exactly at this point, there's so much follows. They're really building my own stuff. And at some point, realizing, okay, maybe I should get on the bandwagon, maybe I should stop being cocky. And, and then,

Jess Archer 18:45
like, when I kind of moved more to web application stuff, I played with a few frameworks, you know, k can be and all these sorts of things. And I just didn't really like them. And they didn't fit the way that I thought about code. So again, of course, write your own framework. Well, you know, that's what we do as developers again, and I kind of Yeah, I stayed on that path for a little while of rolling my own stuff in I'm like, I'm, you know, I don't need these frameworks they get in the way, it's kind of makes it hard to do stuff. And but then I discovered Laravel. And I found this framework that fit the way that I thought about things, but not only that, it did things that I'd never even thought of that I was like, That's brilliant. That's how this should be done. And kind of yeah, very, very much hitched my wagon to Laravel. And,

Tim Bourguignon 19:28
okay, so not using a CMS anymore, or using CMS builds on top of

Tim Bourguignon 19:32
Laravel. Or well, at this point, yeah, this was when I was kind of more transitioning to doing like web applications rather than website so didn't need to have as much you know, WYSIWYG editing for customers and all that. As a quick side note, the amount of customers that want you to build them a web with a website that they can edit themselves. And so you build it in WordPress, it takes a lot longer because you've got to like, you know, if you're just building a static site, it's very, very quick and easy to do, but you build it in WordPress. things take longer, you hand it over to them. Cool. And then they send you all their change requests. And so then you've got to make the change requests using the WYSIWYG editor when, like, for me, personally, I want to just code in HTML. Like I'd rather write an unordered list in code than I would have, like, you know, the WYSIWYG editor to build one and tracking all these extra spans and all this extra code that was, you know, to me quite messy. So that was kind of a frustrating thing was having a lot of people Yeah, wanting a CMS because they thought they would have their own website and then never even wants doing it.

Tim Bourguignon 21:20
Okay, do you have the chance to try out some try out for them and say, Okay, let me build something in three days, then let us put that online. And and when you ask me for change for the third time, then we'll be the time to create it. Again, do WordPress,

Jess Archer 21:37
that would probably have been a really good approach to take. I was still quite young at the time, and you kind of just do what you're told. And I was often working for companies that were like, Yeah, you build it. This is how we build stuff. You do it this way. And I don't think I was confident enough then to, like challenge. What I was told for, you know, for a lot of those sorts of things like, yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 22:02
no, no, no, no, often, it's, I have the feeling when you rationally think about it, it's the obvious answer. But still, today, when you ask people or push people to doing this, they will have a negative reaction saying, well, but you're going to do things twice, so why not doing right the first time and you have to augment you have to explain them the idea of continuous feedback and building incrementally, etc. And it's still not completely in the mindsets of our generation. No, definitely.

Jess Archer 22:34
Yeah. It's something I still bump into. And even myself, I still sometimes over engineer things because of the what ifs and it's a really conscious effort to like restrain yourself and go no, just build, you know, the the MVP, kind of, you know, build just what's required don't try and future proof against a scenario that's not even on the cards yet. Because even if that scenario does actually come along, it'll probably not be in the same shape. You predicted it anyway.

Tim Bourguignon 23:03
Do you have a most favorite scenario you covered for who never, which never happened? That's hard one. Sorry.

Jess Archer 23:10
Not that I can think of off the top of my head. I'm still just very bitter about all the all the WordPress sites I built that I had to then, you know, edit in the WYSIWYG editor.

Tim Bourguignon 23:21
I feel you Oh, my websites are markdown now, which was Jekyll and have a few Python scripts, updating things? And,

Jess Archer 23:28
yeah, that's, that's how I want to edit a website, obviously, you know, a non technical person doesn't want to do that. But if they're just going to email you the changes anyway, then at least let me edit the website in the way that I want to.

Tim Bourguignon 23:40
Yeah, yeah, you could make the the the financial arguments of saying, Well, I couldn't make it this way, it's going to cost that much or I can make it this way. It's going to cost 10 times less than that when you want.

Jess Archer 23:52
If it needs a CMS later on, like, you can convert it to have the CMS.

Tim Bourguignon 23:58
Absolutely, absolutely. So have you been always employed or doing freelancing? Or how were you on the employer side?

Jess Archer 24:06
So I've contracted probably most of my career, I'm a little bit funny with employers, I kind of don't like being like locked down and having to like, send leave requests and all these sorts of things. Like, if I say, I'm sick, I'm sick, I don't want to have to, like get a doctor's certificate and go to the doctor that I wouldn't normally need to go to because I know how to, you know, take care of, you know, they're gonna say, oh, rest in bed. I'm like, Cool, thanks. So, there's all these little things kind of made it so that I didn't really like employment where I could avoid it. I have done it, but most of the time I try and contract but they're always mostly long term contracts. I have tried to do some freelancing stuff, but it tends to be just very, very short and sporadic and not stable. One of my problems is that I am not. I'm not a good marketer, or a salesperson. And although I probably could get good at it, if I tried, something that I know about me is that I basically can't learn something, if I'm not passionate about it, I just won't happen, I can read a whole thing. But if I'm not interested and excited, it's just gonna go in one ear and out the other. And because I'm not really excited about like, the marketing and sales side of it, I just know that it's not something for me. So that's kind of where I feel like I need to team up with other people who can handle those aspects of the business, the accounting side and developing leads and all those sorts of things. I'm definitely more of a collaborator rather than a solo person these days.

Tim Bourguignon 25:42
Okay, let's, let's jump on that. And so you mentioned at first in terms of having a company doing the this older kind of work. But what about working in teams only more a solo worker in in usual your projects? Or more team person? How do you approach those with with this particular mindset? Yeah.

Jess Archer 26:02
So a lot of the places I've worked have, I've been on teams, but they really only feel like teams in name because everyone's given separate tasks that you work on separately at your desk. And I can remember, like, some jobs where, if you were spending too much time with someone else working on a problem, they'd be like, oh, you know, I've got two devs working on the same problem. And so yeah, for a while, I was kind of conditioned to not collaborate with people, which is pretty sad, really. But yeah, more recently, that's the places I've been working at now, I guess, like, you know, a lot more remote work and all those sorts of things, like pairing and all that has become, like something that I actually, like, seek out and want to work at companies that support, you know, pair programming, and all those sorts of things. Because I do love working with, with other people I love working on really, really complicated problems. And those sorts of problems are ones that are very hard to solve all by yourself, because you need to that other person whose head is in the same spot who you can bounce ideas off and challenge things and continually refine stuff I'm not, I'm generally not satisfied with the first pass of code that like works, because I want it to, you know, the code to be maintainable and, and something that when I come back to it, I'll understand it. So I like to iterate on code and test it with other people and get other feedback on it and refine it. So I'm kind of big on that at the moment. Well, that's

Tim Bourguignon 27:29
cool. That's cool. That's, that's something I've done my fair share of consulting and directing as well. And say this, when you're in the receiving end of the contracting, it's always been hard to evaluate, okay, I'm part of the team, but not really, I'm told what to do, but not really, I'm here to bring my knowledge and expertise, but not really, it's always kind of a hard trade off, if you have the chance to be able to pick and choose and do whatever you want, where you can always say, Okay, thank you, I'm gone. If it doesn't fit, but it's not always the case. And so then you have to do stuff that you would always naturally want to do. And

Jess Archer 28:04
that's, that's definitely the challenge with working for a company even contracting. They're often dictating like, the solutions to things, not just telling you what the problem is. And I generally don't want to be told the solution, I want to know the problems so that I can, because maybe I'll see a different solution. I'm open to hearing people's solutions, obviously, but I don't want to be prescribed, this is what will be built. And, yeah, often when you're working for a company, and they've got clients, there's all these layers of stuff, where there's all these decision makers that can you know, impact things. And I'm like, no, no, I think it'd be better if we did it this way. And it's just kind of something that's happened, you know, as I've, as I've gotten, you know, more and more senior in my career that people now listen to those sorts of things, and do take my advice, and I've carved out roles where I can be very instrumental in how things but ultimately, when you still got a client paying for it, they're gonna make their decisions, for better or worse. And obviously, you know, my decisions are not always better than their decisions. I'm not saying that I know everything, but it is nice to, like, at least try my idea. But

Tim Bourguignon 29:08
absolutely, absolutely. It really, really sucks when you when you have the feeling, the higher the set of hands and other brain.

Jess Archer 29:15
Yeah, it's like going to the doctor and just saying, Give me this medicine, as opposed to going and saying these are my symptoms and then going okay, this could be this will try this. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Like if you're hiring me as a, you know, engineer to like, create something, then let me use my expertise. I don't know. Yeah, tell other people how to do their jobs. I want them to do their job.

Tim Bourguignon 29:38
Hopefully, with the the recent market dynamics that we have around software development, you're more able to pick and choosing the kind of workout

Jess Archer 29:48
very, very fortunate with the developers in general, we've got, yeah, we've never had it better. I don't think we can be very, very picky with what we do. Even the types of companies we work for and the culture and all those sorts of things. It's So that's a fantastic time to be a developer.

Tim Bourguignon 30:03
Yes, it is. And that I'm saying this as a non developer anymore. Okay. I would like to steer the discussion a little bit toward community and at some point, your podcast, I know you've been involved with Laravel community, I'd love to hear how that came to be. And how the yo podcast at some point emerged probably from this or from the experience question mark.

Jess Archer 30:22
So I can't remember how many years I was using Laravel. Four before I kind of joined the community, but I've generally online been, you know, what they call a lurker, right? I'm in the communities, but I never post anything. I'm just reading, you know, just reading everyone's stuff. And I think 2019 would have been the first law recon in Australia. And so this is my first, like, proper conference, like a developer conference, I went to law recon AU. And it was like a switch flipped. I found my people. Even though I've been working with the developers, they weren't. They weren't as passionate about like, the community and the software as I kind of wanted them to be. And obviously, you know, different developers have different priorities in life. But for me, coding is what I do as my hobby as well, in my spare time, it's you know, it's not just a job to me, it's it's my passion. So I joined Twitter, like, on the at the airport on the way home from the conference. And started like, just Yeah, following all the people in the Laravel community learning, like, obviously, I knew some of the big names back then. But then I started learning about all the other names in the community and following them. And then, like, actually engaging in conversation, not just following, I started replying to tweets and making tweets. And it was yeah, it was amazing. I was very welcomed in the community. I started just trying to see how I could give back to Laravel, as well, you know, creating little plugins, and packages and all these sorts of things. And that really opened up so many doors for me, like things were good before then. But things like after I kind of got involved with that I had people coming to me asking, like, Oh, I saw you doing this? Do you want you know, can you come and help me and all that sort of stuff. So I had a lot of job offers after I got active in the community. And yeah, like the podcast. There's a guy in the community called Jay Mac, he's kind of Yeah, he built a product called Laravel shift. And he's done like a bunch of audiobooks and books on, you know, Laravel and clean coding, and I bought one of his books. And the thing said, you know, you'll get an audiobook version and the PDF version. So I'm like, oh, cool, I'll buy that package. And so I get the text version. And I didn't get the audio version, like Oh, is the audio version, and hadn't actually recorded it yet? Because they don't even have just gone live with this thing. And it was like, okay, as soon as someone asked for it, I'm going to quickly get it and do it. So he did the audio version for me. And yeah, we just kind of got chatting backwards and forwards after that. And he's like, Hey, do you want to do a podcast, he wanted to start one up, he was looking for a co host. He kind of liked the idea that, you know, he's in America and in Australia, guy, girl, there was all these kind of like, little differences that gave all these interesting different perspectives on things. So yeah, started doing side of the base code podcast is what we ended up calling it. And after doing that, like, yeah, even more people started contacting me. And then, you know, I my first Larrick on, I remember the company I was working for was like, Oh, if we're going to pay for you to go to the conference, we want people to speak that, you know, we want you to speak so that we can get some free advertising basically. And at the time, I remember thinking like, there's nothing I could tell this, this group of people that, like would be amazing. I'm just using Laravel I don't know, I don't have any cool infamy, but after like engaging with the community more and and that the next Larrick on, I submitted a talk and was accepted. And so I spoke at Alera con, which was amazing. And, yeah, like more followers, more engagement, more opportunity. It just yeah, it just keeps on going. And, you know, speaking at other conferences, and I spoke at a conference, but before I did a meet up talk, so then I did some meet up talks. And then I wanted to try some live coding, because I always found live coding talks engaging but terrifying. So I thought, Okay, I'll do live coding, but I'll do it as a local meetup talk. So that if I, you know, if I mess up, it won't be as bad. And something that I've always tried to do as well in my career is if I feel uncomfortable with a situation, if I feel like I'm stepping out of my comfort zone, to me, that's a good thing. That's like, that's like, Okay, I know I'm on the right path here because I feel nervous about this. I feel unqualified, you know, the whole imposter syndrome thing to me having like impostor syndrome is almost a sign that you're doing something good because you're challenging yourself and you're growing. And so I Yeah, people asked me to do that, you know, you asked me to do this podcast, and I'm terrified. I'm like, I don't know you're I don't know. You know, I'm terrified to talk about myself, I'm happy talking about code, but talking about me is scary. But I say yes. Because I'm like, Well, this is scary. I should do it. And so yeah, it just keeps going. So I've been guest, a guest on a full podcast now. Every time is scary, but just Yeah, it's, it's always a good experience. I'm always so happy. I did it afterwards.

Tim Bourguignon 35:20
Glad to hear that. Just to speak of scary experiences. And in linking back to the live coding, I did live coding one of my first live coding experiences on stage in a room of something like 1000 Half seats, filled up with 25 people that would say, and freezing up on one of the commands, I created myself on the DSL, I created myself to create regex out of out of fluence of API's and freezing in front of 25 people in the room in a giant, gigantic room and saying, Okay, this is really the live coding experience, I expect. But it became better.

Jess Archer 36:00
One thing that really helped me was at the conference I first spoke at one of my heroes was doing a talk there. And he had a problem on in his life coding, thanks. Something wasn't working, right. And he was so cool and calm about it. It was just he didn't panic. He kind of just handled it. And I was like, Oh, that wasn't that hard. Like, there wasn't the terrifying thing. He kind of didn't make a big deal about it. He kind of joked about it. And yeah, I think he got it working. But even if you just had to move on, like, as an audience member, I wasn't like, oh, this was mortifying was like, oh, no, it was cool. So I have, in one of my live coding things, I had a problem. And I kind of my mind just went blank. And someone in the audience, like pointed out what it was, I was like, thank you. But I just remember every time I panic this late, you know, just seeing Freek give his talk comes into my head. And it's like, Just be calm, because everything will be okay.

Tim Bourguignon 36:57
Did you have some, some tricks nowadays, to be sure that you can pick up at one point or that you can fall back on to something that is working any trade from that?

Jess Archer 37:07
Yeah. So the very first one I did, I basically was building a service container from scratch. Because I wanted to teach people how like a dependency injection container works. And so the trick for that was I wrote all of the tests for it. And in the tests, I kind of put notes. And so the talk was really me going through the test. And my notes that I was specifically talking about, were kind of there. So I had all my prompts. Basically, I could have my notes on screen, which was nice. And then I just go write the code. And I practice with a whole bunch of times to the point where it's almost muscle memory what I was doing, but because I had the test there, every single time, it's just make this very small thing work. I'm just writing like a couple lines of code, run that test, it passes, I can move on to the next thing. And so having that test suite pre written I wasn't writing the test suite from scratch, I was just doing the implementation from scratch. It made it so much easier. It kind of Yeah, it felt like cheating, almost.

Tim Bourguignon 38:04
TD LCS test driven live coding session. Exactly, exactly. It's a fantastic idea. That's really, really cool. You're really driving yourself through this code extension. Well, you one step at a time.

Jess Archer 38:18
And because like a test to me should read like documentation of what it's doing. It made it very easy to kind of like go through the test case, I'm explaining it to the people I'm talking to. And as I'm explaining it, it's effectively telling me what I need to code, right. So then it's just a case of go and type that bit of code. Run the test passes. Sweet.

Tim Bourguignon 38:35
Awesome. This is quick trick. Thank you. Thank you, Mina, I want to come back to to one thing, and that might be the piece of advice. I'm searching for you today. You said you said when you started being in use communities in those conferences, you felt welcome. Can Can you put some words on? What made you feel welcome in those communities?

Jess Archer 38:55
Oh, good question. I think I mean, part of it was was, you know, chatting with people that had the same sort of passion that I had for Laravel. That was a big part of it, just having people come and talk to me, that was very, very helpful. And I don't know, it was it was never like, often at some of these things. It can be very hard as a woman when there's like, just pretty much all guys, but everyone that chatted with me, was just, it was just all about the code. You know, there was no, there was nothing that felt, I don't know, dodgy or anything like that. It was we were just all united by a love of Laravel and all these sorts of things. So it all just felt very, very genuine. And yeah, people seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Yeah, was great.

Tim Bourguignon 39:45
Okay, cool. I want to plug in to two tips I learned along the way and I always like to to put them in. The first one is the Pac Man rule when you're, you know, this one when you're

Jess Archer 39:55
talking like Pac Man like the waka waka waka

Tim Bourguignon 39:58
Exactly, exactly. So when you're in a group talking like like in a circle, try to open up the circle a little bit like Pac man's mouth, to allow somebody to come in and and join the group. That's a good one. I like that. And in conferences, I've been diligent in trying to do this to really get some some some people you're in a group, you know, everybody or almost in the new you allow somebody else to come in. And that's, that's the first thing I've used extensively and it works really well. That's lovely. I really liked that a lot. And the other one is to ask someone for some kind of referral. So asking someone, you you, would someone say, Well, I'm interested in Robbo plug in blah, blah, blah, do you know someone who would be interested in this as well? And if you go to a conference organizers or something like that, so somebody like this, they have, it's basically a question that allows them to, to give you an a direct answer, or for what you to somebody else if they don't want to talk to you. And I found that this this is this possibility for them to just deflect, deflect and say, no, just go away, is really working well, because either way, you win, either. You become you started discussion with this person about the topic you wanted, or you have a new name to start this game again with him. Yes. works wonders.

Jess Archer 41:16
That's really good. Because you're basically giving them giving them an out if they aren't the right person, or they're, but it's, it's not like a harsh shutdown out. It's like a Yeah, it's a friendly.

Tim Bourguignon 41:29
I'm trying to avoid the no, yeah. Apprentices go away, goes back. So yeah, and those two have made my life in conferences way easier. I'm not the most extroverted person in the world. And so had problems as well to to talk to people in this context in real use, oh, no, nobody and everybody's looking at you or you think they're looking at you. And starting discussion like this. sends shivers down my spine. Just two tricks, works wonders.

Jess Archer 42:02
I love it. I will hopefully be having some more in person conferences. And I will I'll keep both of those in mind. Thank you.

Tim Bourguignon 42:10
It seems like ages ago, any conference in the last two years. In person conference

Jess Archer 42:16
or no in person conferences? No. I think the last one I went to was probably Yeah, would have been the one I actually spoke out was was, I guess was 2019. So the first layer of congressmen 2018 2019 I think was the one I spoke. I also flew to New York to go to the Larrick on in New York. And then I was asked to speak at Lara con in Atlanta, they were going to fly me in amazing all flights accommodation paid to go and speaking in America, and that's when COVID

Tim Bourguignon 42:45
April 2020. Yeah, that was

Jess Archer 42:48
something happened around that time, and it became an online conference. And for me, it was like, I think my talk was like four in the morning or something was, yeah. Yeah. timezone is a rough one.

Tim Bourguignon 43:01
I haven't online conferences. It's not my thing. It's not the same. Any hope? Jess, it's been a blast. Thank you.

Jess Archer 43:10
Thank you. It's really, really fun.

Tim Bourguignon 43:12
Where we know the best place to to find you online and start or continue this discussion with you.

Tim Bourguignon 43:18
Sir. I'm mostly on Twitter. So Twitter. My Twitter handle is Jess Archer codes, all one word. And GitHub is just Jess. That's yeah, those are kind of my two Hangouts. My podcasts I do with J. Mac is base code field. guide.com/podcast. Yeah, that's kind of those are my my spots.

Tim Bourguignon 43:38
Awesome. Then I will add the links to those three in the show notes. You just have to scroll down and click and Up you go. And thank you very much again. It's been a blast. Thank you. Have a great rest of your day. You too. See ya. And this has been another episode of Deborah's journey, and we see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on our website, Dev journey dot info, slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Would you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week store is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info. Talk to you soon.