Published on

Q&A with Andy Appleton

Ruby and JavaScript developer at Heroku, Cookham, Berks

Hi! I'm Andy and I am a developer at Heroku. I'm lucky to work on a team responsible for building cool new features for the developers who use our platform. That means I get to work at different levels of the stack depending on what needs to be done. I mostly work with Ruby and JavaScript. We use Ember on the client and a mixture of Node.js and Sinatra on the server and it's really cool to be able to jump between them.

How did you get started in web development?

I studied and then worked in Mechanical Engineering but never really enjoyed it. Web development was always a hobby and I had started freelancing on the side. It took a while to realise that I could make a living full time as a developer but I haven't looked back since making the change, I'm so lucky to be in a job I really love now!

What software and hardware do you use for your work?

I use a 15" retina Macbook Pro hooked up to a thunderbolt display. I love my Microsoft sculpt ergonomic keyboard and have recently started using an Evoluent vertical mouse which seems to be helping a lot with the wrist pain I've had.

The desktop software I use every day is Alfred, Sublime Text, iTerm, zsh, git, Slack, Gmail, Cloudapp and Google Chrome. For JS development I prefer Node, Ember, jshint, and Jasmine or Mocha for testing. For Ruby development I like Sinatra or Rails and I prefer rspec for testing. Heroku has a particularly awesome API framework called Pliny, which is based on Sinatra. I default to Postgres when I need to pick a database, but have also enjoyed using CouchDB with PouchDB for its sync capability.

What is your ideal work environment?

I work remotely these days and I have a pretty great setup. It's quiet (when the house is empty), I have a comfy chair, plenty of good coffee, a big display and a fast computer and I finally feel like I'm using input devices which fit me properly. I'd love a separate office but we have a baby on the way so I have moved out of the spare room and am making do with a corner of the dining room. I'd love a room tucked away in the attic or at the end of the garden!

Top-3 your favorite books about development

  • Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby (POODR) by Sandi Metz is a must read in my opinion. It is full of great practical advice from someone who really (really, really) knows her stuff.
  • Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke is a great introduction to JS and has recently been updated with a second edition.
  • JavaScript Allong? by Reginald Braithwaite has a really interesting take on the language. It's full of examples which show how flexible JavaScript is and really made me rethink a lot of what I know about the language.

Who are the developers you admire most?

I love working with smart people who remain humble and open to new ideas. It's easy to become an expert in a particular field but it's much harder to do so whilst remaining open to the input of others and being willing to accept that the opinions of others. I've personally gotten a lot from working with some very smart people who have been willing to take time to discuss things and who are open to the idea that they could be wrong (even if they usually aren't).