Will is a Software Engineer working for about the last 5 years at Learning.com. He is a fan of Firebug and Charles. He identifies some good links and useful books with us too. We appreciate Will taking the time to share some information with us.
What is your technical background?
I’ve had a variety of experience in web design/development and software engineering, starting with my first experiences in Java programming (all the way back in Java 1.2), and leading me to my current position as an ASP.NET software engineer.
Do you consider yourself more of a software developer or QA professional?
I consider myself to be much more of a software developer, though, of course, I try to do as much QA on my own code as I can before delivering it to our QA team for further review.
When and why did you get into this industry?
Interestingly enough, I started about twelve years ago in the IT world, doing everything from house calls for local families to network administration for small businesses. Somewhere along the line, I transitioned into primarily corporate technical support roles and started some software development projects on the side, and this took me into a position at my current employer as a Software Support Engineer. Working for a small company (about thirty employees or so when I started) allowed me to get an in-depth look at the processes of our development team, and I started working with them to fix bugs in the software whenever I could. Luckily, my previous Java experience transitioned quite nicely into C# development on our ASP.NET platform. After about a year, I was doing more software development than technical support and I was promoted into my current position as an ASP.NET software engineer.
What is your specialty? Why?
As I mentioned above, my role is the development of ASP.NET web applications, but my specialty is UI development and design. We’re currently working on a project to transition some of our older user interfaces which depended upon primarily Web Forms programming into a more advanced implementation that uses the ASP.NET AJAX framework and jQuery heavily.
Do you have any cool tips/tricks for performance tuning?
Firebug is a *huge* help in every aspect of web development, and has been helpful to me in the past for performance tuning as well, because it gives me such a great view into the client-side workings of the application as well as the amount and the speed of data transferred between my development machine and the testing server.
Besides Firebug, I’ve had great success with a little application called Charles, a Java based web debugging proxy, and VMware Player, for testing server configurations and having the ability to throttle performance by increasing or decreasing resources allocated to the machine.
If you could make a career from one of your favorite hobbies, what would it be?
I feel incredibly lucky in this regard, because I already have made a career out of one of my favorite hobbies. =) I love working with new technology, and I love the problem solving aspects of programming; both of these aspects keep me interested in my work and motivated to learn more.
I sometimes joke with my coworkers about how much I enjoy getting to spend my day doing the same kind of work I’d do in my free time.
What are your favorite testing or development blogs (other than your own)?
I think my taste in development blogs is a bit eclectic because I spend almost as much of my time involved in the design aspects as I do in the C# code.
For CSS and general design tips, I can’t think of a better blog than Smashing Magazine. Every day I find something incredibly useful and directly applicable to my work.
In regard to ASP.NET development, my two favorite blogs to read are:
Both of these guys are well regarded experts in the field.
What is your favorite web application or testing book that you own? That you wish you owned?
It’s hard to nail down a favorite right now since I’m still building my collection, but the books I’ve been using the most recently are:
Both are from Wrox, who has a great collection of dev books.
That wraps it up for this interview. Once again, thanks to Will for sharing his experience in software engineering with us. You can follow him on Twitter as @willwm. Tweet him a thanks for his thoughts.