In this issue of Behind the Dev, we're going to be taking a look at the day-to-day of the Laravel core team member Joe Dixon.
Joe has recently announced a new app, Fead, that you can use to keep up to date with your favourite blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels. If you haven't already signed up, I'd definitely recommend checking it out!
If you don't follow him on Twitter, make sure to check out his profile at: @_joedixon!
Behind the Dev
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure thing! I'm Joe, and I live in a small city in the UK called Norwich with my wife and two kids. I'm one of the Laravel core team members, where I spend most of my time working on Vapor, Laravel's serverless deployment platform.
How did you first get into web development?
When I first left college, I didn't know what I wanted to do and fell into a telecoms apprenticeship. I wouldn't say I loved it, but I pushed through the training and, in doing so, had the opportunity to move to London for a while which was an incredible experience.
During that time, I started dabbling with HTML in my free time, and it quickly became apparent that web technologies were something I really enjoyed - way more than the day job!
Fast forward a few years, and I decided to return to study, starting a degree in Media Technology and Internet Computing. I still needed to figure out exactly where I wanted to end up, but I felt this subject would expose me to a wide enough subject matter to help me narrow it down.
The course covered everything from Photoshop and 3D Studio Max to Java and database normalisation - a real mixed bag.
However, I quickly realised that what I enjoyed the most and what came most naturally was the programming side of the degree. So I pushed myself in that direction whenever possible.
Towards the end of the three years, one of my lecturers approached me with a potential opportunity to work with a local company to rebuild one of their applications in ExpressionEngine - a CMS built on top of CodeIgniter - and that was the start of my journey with PHP!
As a developer, what's your typical day like?
My day starts somewhere between 8am and 9am, depending on whether or not I'm running the kids to school.
I love good coffee, so I always spend a few minutes making a cup before heading to my desk to check in on customer support.
I'll then pick up my main task for the day and usually fire up some music on Spotify to help get in the zone.
I usually end the day somewhere between 5pm and 6pm and hang out with the kids for a few hours before they go to bed. At that point, I grab some food with my wife and decide whether or not I have enough energy left to get the laptop back out for an evening coding session on the couch!
Are there any tools that you use on a daily basis?
Plenty! Here's the list of tools I can't do without:
- Code editor: VS Code
- Database GUI: TablePlus
- Terminal: iTerm
- Browser: Firefox (though I've been trialling Arc)
- Tinkering: Tinkerwell
- Notes: Notion
- Todos: Todoist
- Email: Spark
- Music: Spotify
- Communication: Slack, Basecamp, Telegram
Is there anything in particular related to development that you enjoy working on the most?
Let me start by saying software development is the best job in the world!
The part I enjoy the most is finding a solution to a problem without any prior knowledge of the subject. I love that I get to continually learn new things and level up every day. I used to find this daunting, but now I think it's a superpower.
If you could go back in time and give younger Joe some advice when you were first starting in development, what would it be?
When I first started out, I was a solo developer, and I used to work a lot in isolation. In some respects, that was great as it forced me to learn and take myself out of my comfort zone. However, looking back, I should have pushed myself to engage with the community more. I guess imposter syndrome got the better of me.
Do you have any hobbies outside of web development?
I love to hang out with my family; that is how I spend most of my free time.
I stay healthy by running 3-4 times weekly where possible.
Any other spare time is mixed between watching Formula 1 and a little bit of gaming.
Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
I feel incredibly privileged to work at Laravel. I was a Vapor user before I got the job, and now I'm fortunate enough to work on it every day!
More recently, I just announced Fead - an app to help you discover new and keep up to date with your favourite content creators.