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Q&A with Brian LeRoux

Software developer, Adobe | Open source mobile web

Hello, I'm Brian LeRoux from the internet. I work at Adobe on open source mobile web things. My primary focus is the PhoneGap project, and it's open source upstream Apache Cordova. I also lurk around the nascent but totally badass Topcoat community. At night I fight crime and hack on weird junk from hardware to Node. I once created a site called wtfjs that sort of follows me around.


My current kit includes a Macbook Air, Nexus 7, HTC One, iPhone 4s, Blackberry Z10, Kindle Paperwhite, and a Nintendo DS with only all the Zelda games ever published ever. Suffice to say, I carry spare batteries! I have all the adapters and a obsessively organized nest of wires. I recently added a homebrew Raspberry Pi proxy to this setup. I carry all of this bullshit in a sweet ass Lexdray bag.

Being a mobile dev means I am basically a fucking mobile hardware store.


I am big believer in the web and as such I try to live in my browser as much as possible. And working this way helps me find the edges we need to fix. I use GMail, Github, Campfire, Hangouts, GDocs, and usually a tab with Kindle Cloud Reader open to some tech book.

Otherwise I live in the terminal (iTerm). I author/read and edit text files in Vim. I have a custom setup you can steal on my Github called 'quick-vim'. Though recently I have found myself sneaking over to Brackets. I also have Dash, and Alfred installed.

For my work on PhoneGap I have the Android, iOS, and Blackberry SDK's installed. I flirt with Windows Phone at least twice a year in a VM. (The new Visual Studio support for NodeJS is jaw dropping btw.)

Obvious companions to my work are Git, Node, npm, Grunt, Browserify, Cordova, and PhoneGap.

Dream setup

A perfectly transparent aluminum sphere, capable of supersonic flight, with a zero gravity environment internally, unlimited clean energy power, and an omnipresent 1 Gbps internet connection.

I would suspend myself over the Canadian rockies to write code while contemplating the terrible beauty of our march through time.


Tech is fun. You become the instrument of change. There is a checkpoint in every hackers' lifetime where all syntax, platforms, and fucked up tools melt into the background and you can literally conceive of, and execute ANYTHING. The Zen of software is in its malleableness.

Check out this quote from Fred Brooks:

"The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures...."

I love that quote. It captures everything. But this strength is the weakness of our craft.

Limitless flexibility is paralyzing, and why we leave a trail of half finished concepts and outright failed projects in our wake. Sadly, programmers further distract themselves with the latest tech fashions when almost all of what we're doing has been done before, battle tested, and well proven. It is ironic that limitless possibility is so crippling. Finding balance within the void of possibility is very elusive to traditional thinkers and young programmers alike. And this is where I work best.

I love channeling and focusing within the flow of change and possibility. I am very good at identifying opportunities, constructing a singular vision, and building software teams that execute. I still write code, and read even more of it, but most of what I write tends to be blueprints or prototypes of things for other people to manifest. My sweet spot is showing just enough direction to let someone else really find, and more importantly OWN, the solution. I have found this is what I love to do. I really enjoy the process of creating change and then observing it to make things a self re-enforcing cycle. It requires constraint, focus, and the right people in the right roles.

As much as possible my work is in the open source world, and that really comes back to the web. Those factors amplify feedback and really drive personal improvement, course corrections, and motivation. I will be working with the web for the rest of my life and, in knowing that, I focus the lens of my day to the legacy of that work. Perspective is everything in our relative reality.