Work inspiration with Bram Stein

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Bram Stein

Web developer from the Netherlands
@bram_steinBram Stein

I’m Bram Stein, a web developer from the Netherlands. I work at Adobe Typekit on web font serving and several other projects. In my spare time I run the State of Web Type and build a lot of tools for advanced web typography.

How did you get started in development? What is your background?

I actually started out working as a designer and then slowly moved to programming. A couple years later I enrolled in a computer science programme and got a master’s degree. Although I’m quite happy I did that, I often wish I could have pursued a double major: one in computer science and one in design.

What are you working on now?

At Typekit I primarily work on maintaining our web font serving infrastructure and improving our performance. My unofficial job description is to make sure web fonts are delivered to your browser as efficiently as possible.

In my spare time I work on a several projects. I mentioned the State of Web Type already, but I also give conference talks and write for several magazines. There isn't really a single side-project that has my undivided attention right now (though, perhaps there should be).

What software do you use for your work?

I use Vim for programming (though I’m trying to switch to Sublime Text), Illustrator for design, Slack for team communication, Spotify for listening to music while I work, and iA Writer for writing. Chrome is my primary browser, but I often use other browsers to test and develop.

However, I wouldn’t say any of those are my favourite. If something better comes along, I’ll switch. Right tool for the job and everything.

And what hardware?

I work on a MacBook Pro 15” model combined with a large Apple Thunderbolt display and a Logitech trackball. I’m considering buying a Thinkpad laptop and using Ubuntu because I’m growing increasingly frustrated with OS X.

What is your ideal work environment?

My ideal work environment is a quiet office. I easily get distracted when working in public spaces, so I prefer to work from a private office or my home. Luckily Typekit lets me work from home, so this hasn’t really been an issue.

Strangely, I manage get a lot of things done on airplanes. Having something to do distracts me from the tediousness of long flights.

Who are the developers you admire most?

There are several people I admire, but one stands out above all: Donald Knuth. He has contributed a tremendous amount to both computer science and typography. His body of work is amazing, I highly recommend reading up on the design of TeX if you're into computer science and typography.

Closer to home, I really admire the developers, designers, and support people at Typekit. They’re incredibly smart, hard working, and care a lot about what they do. They are great fun to hang out with as well. I enjoy working with them.