Every week here and in our newsletter, we feature a new developer/blogger from the DZone community to catch up and find out what he or she is working on now and what's coming next. This week we have something a little bit different, though: Hernâni Cerqueira, Lead Software Engineer for DZone and AnswerHub. He is also a husband and father, and lives in Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal.
1. What have you been working on lately?
I’ve mostly been working on the next DZone website, which we expect will be awesome and make DZone even more interesting and fun to use.
2. You've been the Lead Software Engineer for DZone and AnswerHub for a few years now. What was the biggest development challenge you faced during that time? How did you solve it?
AnswerHub by itself was a huge challenge. We wanted a fast and scalable application, but at the same time we wanted ultimate flexibility, and it’s a well known fact that flexibility usually comes with a big cost in terms of performance, and that was very challenging. I believe that to some extent we achieved those goals, and that’s the reason AnswerHub powers such a diverse group of communities for a lot of happy customers. But to be honest, the biggest challenge of them all was (and still is) to force myself to think less as a developer and more as a user, and think about the user experience first. I don’t think I've solved that issue yet, but I’m learning, and find myself more and more stuck on trying to make it easy.
3. Are there any particular developer tools or resources you couldn't live without?
I’m very flexible, and can adapt very quickly to any tool/framework/programming language/methodology, but I’ve been spoiled by good IDEs and that’s probably the thing I would miss the most if I had to go back in time. Code autocompletion (can’t possibly remember all those names), syntax highlighting (so much easier to read), quick navigation and good refactoring capabilities are a must for me nowadays, so I can keep focusing on the problem I’m solving and not on finding my way around the project.
4. Do you have a favorite open source project (or projects) that you've contributed to recently?
I occasionally contribute with my own findings or patches for various open source projects that we use, but I haven’t really been active on the open source community since I stopped being active in the OSQA project, AnswerHub’s little brother. I’m still very proud of it and blush with pride whenever some Google search takes me to an OSQA-based community.
5. Do you follow any blogs or Twitter feeds that you would recommend to developers?
I don’t have much time to follow anything in particular with greater attention. I follow a few mailing lists of projects that we use, and I obviously follow DZone.com, which is a great source of developer-related material.
6. Did you have a coding first love -- a particular program, gadget, game, or language that set you on the path to life as a developer?
When I was in elementary school, my parents bought a 386 machine running MS-DOS 3. Supposedly, my father was going to take a computer course, but he got tired of it quickly, so I adopted the computer for my own purposes. All it had inside was MS-DOS and Quick Basic, which had two example games, one named Nibbles, if I’m not mistaken, similar to the famous snakes game in old nokia phones, and another named Gorillaz, where where two gorillas would throw explosive bananas at each other. I played those games a lot, and then I started digging into their source code and doing some modifications of my own. I knew them both from end to end. Then I started creating my own simple games, and that was my favorite toy for a long time.
7. Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
Nothing in particular.