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  • [Nick Pettit]: Paul, Thanks so much for being here.

  • I really appreciate you coming out. >>[Paul Irish]: No problem.

  • [Nick Pettit]: So, for people who don't know who you are,

  • how would you describe yourself?

  • Who are you, and what do you do?

  • [Paul Irish]: I am a developer advocate

  • on the Chrome team right now,

  • and so I kind of focus on--that encompasses a lot,

  • but I focus on everything I can do

  • to make it better to create compelling content for the web.

  • We've got a lot of great content inside of Chrome.

  • I wanted to help educate people about that,

  • help people understand how to use things like

  • the Chrome DevTools better.

  • I also come with a big history of front-end development

  • and open-source projects that I work on

  • to help developers

  • learn what they need to know

  • to do better front-end development,

  • make better websites and web apps.

  • [Nick Pettit]: That's awesome.

  • You're involved in a million different projects.

  • You're doing Modernizr, HTML5 Boilerplate,

  • which I use all the time by the way.

  • You've been on the jQuery team,

  • and you've made all these really handy tools for

  • front-end devs.

  • This might seem obvious, but

  • what's the motivation for working on all these different things?

  • [Paul Irish]: I think part of it

  • is basically that I feel a lot of satisfaction

  • helping other people, and so part of it is just that.

  • Also, the other thing--I think this is actually another part that's happened--

  • is that I have a really bad memory,

  • and what that translates into is

  • if I don't write something down, I'll forget it.

  • So, this happened in front-end development where you learn this technique

  • of using media queries or the viewport meta,

  • and you need to keep track of this

  • because this is the right way to do it

  • in this situation.

  • So, that eventually translated into what became

  • the HTML5 Boilerplate project,

  • where a lot of best practices were distributed

  • all over on blogs and books and things like that,

  • and I was just like we need to get this together

  • just to keep track of it;

  • so I can keep track of it and remember to use it on the next project.

  • So, that's helped me a lot and has helped other people.

  • The other thing for me that really drives me

  • is that I want the web to be

  • where people build great things.

  • I'm just really excited about anything that I can do

  • to help make the web be a stronger platform

  • for making great, really cool stuff.

  • [Nick Pettit]: So, you're very diligent

  • in tracking all of these different things?

  • [Paul Irish]: Because I can.

  • [Nick Pettit]: How do you balance your time working on all those different projects?

  • [Paul Irish]: I don't have a good mechanism

  • for time management right now.

  • I use a really cool tool called, 'WorkFlowy,'

  • which is like a super-enhanced

  • to-do method list app. It's really cool.

  • I set up priorities for myself

  • on a quarterly basis

  • and try and get them.

  • I think that's actually quite important,

  • which is to have a longer-term view of what you want

  • to attack, because it's so easy on a daily basis

  • to be totally distracted and

  • just be like, "I want to play with this new thing

  • and get it done. Oh, wow, something,"

  • and then you totally forget that you have this much larger,

  • higher-impact thing that you should be doing.

  • So, it's hard, and I'm still really bad at time management,

  • but I'm working on it.

  • [Nick Pettit]: I know what you mean.

  • With being involved with so many different projects,

  • I guess you kind of have to keep a big-picture view

  • as to what all those things are working towards.

  • [Paul Irish]: Yep, and what the priorities are. Yeah.

  • [Nick Pettit]: Cool. So, before we continue, I want to back way up

  • and just get some of your history.

  • Where did you grow up and what were you into?

  • [Paul Irish]: Sure. I'm from Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.

  • So, I'm from New England where we say,

  • 'wicked,' 'It's wicked cool.'

  • [Nick Pettit]: Wicked.

  • [Paul Irish]: I was into music.

  • I was in the marching band; I played the tuba.

  • I was into drama. So, I was a band and drama kid in high school.

  • I was really into music and, in fact,

  • the first time that I really got going online was

  • I created a music blog.

  • This was in--I put it out in 2004,

  • and I thought I was so late to the music blog scene,

  • but it turned out that I was one of the first 50 or so.

  • Having that environment where I had a website that had a lot of traffic,

  • and I could play with the design and experiment

  • and get a lot of feedback

  • on how people liked it,

  • that was one of the first times when I was really like,

  • This front-end development thing is a lot of fun.

  • [Nick Pettit]: That's when you first became interested in the web and technology?

  • [Paul Irish]: That was when I was like,

  • this could definitely be full time.

  • I'd been playing with websites.

  • Back when IE4 came out

  • they did this really cool marketing campaign.

  • This was when the DHTML term arrived,

  • and so they had this marketing campaign

  • where they rented out all these movie theaters across the U.S.

  • and invited a bunch of developers,

  • and I went and I got free popcorn and a free t-shirt

  • and a free Windows 95 install CD,

  • and they showed about what you could do in IE4,

  • and it was amazing.

  • So many great features came out then,

  • and so that was when I was like,

  • this interest of mine, there's cool stuff in here.

  • Eventually, it quieted down.

  • I went to college, but after that everything picked back up again.

  • [Nick Pettit]: So, did you go to school for this stuff?

  • [Paul Irish]: I went to school for--

  • I got a degree in technical communications.

  • I don't actually know--

  • I really do wish that there was more university-level coverage

  • for web development.

  • Front-end development is hard, and it's a pain,

  • and I wish that there was a more sophisticated education

  • program for this.

  • I got education in computer science and mathematics,

  • and management and communication.

  • [Nick Pettit]: With us being an education company,

  • I'm interested to know if

  • you feel like your degree really helped you

  • in your career, or--?

  • [Paul Irish]: Mine did,

  • and I think these days having a computer science background

  • has a very direct effect.

  • I wouldn't say 5 years ago that computer science would help in web development,

  • but nowadays, especially on the client side,

  • there's so much logic there.

  • You're writing jQuery, things are going good,

  • you're translating, you're writing larger applications.

  • [Nick Pettit]: It's getting complicated. >>[Paul Irish]: It's getting real complicated.

  • A background in computer science lays a lot of the groundwork

  • so that you're not making stupid mistakes

  • and taking 4 months to learn how you should have done things.

  • So, yeah, computer science has a big influence

  • on where the trajectory

  • of front-end development is going for sure.

  • [Nick Pettit]: Cool. Well, I think a big challenge

  • that's facing people coming out of college today

  • is how to make the transition to

  • a career and not just kind of hopping from job to job

  • or being unemployed.

  • How did you make that transition?

  • Were you just kind of in an internship,

  • and it was a really natural progression

  • or did you--?

  • [Paul Irish]: Yeah. I started out I was doing

  • some marketing for

  • a stationary company

  • that made wedding invitations and birth announcements,

  • and I wasn't even starting out with web stuff.

  • I was creating

  • a mail-merge Word document,

  • and then we were using that to fax blast all of our customers,

  • and I was customizing the mail merge to be

  • depending on the customer, and it was all this logic inside Word.

  • It was awesome.

  • That transitioned, within that job,

  • into working on their e-commerce presence,