Alan Mooiman is a front-end developer currently residing in New York, but soon to be a bonafide Cascadian in Portland, OR. He'll be speaking at CascadiaCSS about how the future of CSS will let us write CSS without being dependent on preprocessors. Alan kindly answered a few of our questions to help get to know him better:
What's a good Twitter-length description of your talk?
Who even writes vanilla CSS anymore? Preprocessors are awesome, and almost necessary for modern web development. But I’ll discuss the future of the web and how it might evolve to reduce our reliance on added layers of tooling.
Is this your first trip to the Pacific Northwest? Do you have other plans for your trip?
I’m actually in the process of moving to Portland from Brooklyn! The plans keep shifting, but I’ll end up there at some point this year, the current target is late September. I’ve been there a few times, and I’ve explored all around Oregon. Natural hot springs are amazing, and the hiking is way better than on the east coast. For this trip I’m going to arrive in Seattle on the 4th and it out little bit, as I haven’t been there yet. I don’t have any specific plans, but am open to suggestions!
What does your usual work day look like?
I’m in the process of looking for a new position to go with my new Cascadian life, but at my current job I work in the middle of design, development, and product, building prototypes of our new stuff to demonstrate to stakeholders and for early stage user testing. These prototypes are then used to jump-start development. My team acts as guide to best front-end practices for the rest of the company, so I’ll start my day following up on emails that the west coast teams sent after I left the previous day, approving implementations or giving guidance on how to build something. Then I’ll jump into our ticketing system and start working on one of the prototypes, all the while nursing a cold brew coffee (I’ve got a weakness for Blue Bottle’s New Orleans brew). I’ll check in with the UX and product teams when there’s an opportunity for me to improve something functionally in the design or for feedback on which version of a feature they’d like to go with. If it’s warranted, a component will go into our styleguide/framework for future use. Throw in a few meetings and an attempt to avoid crippling lunch indecision (midtown Manhattan has approximately a thousand options for lunch, it can seriously be overwhelming), and it’s suddenly time to head to whatever meetup or gym class I’ve got planned for the evening.
Who in the industry consistently blows you away with wonderful work?
I’m really impressed by the people that contribute to the evolution of the web as a platform and add badly needed features to it. Specifically, the people in the Responsive Images Community Group have done some really great stuff turning the
<picture>element into spec and then getting it in browsers. I’m looking forward to helping them out in future endeavors to keep the web moving forward.
Have you worked in industries other than the web?
I worked at Apple Retail during college, teaching people how to use their products. I then did a few months in desktop support before a conversation at the company holiday party led me into my first position as a front end developer. But I’ve always had my eye on the web, and found it fascinating. I was totally that kid in 8th grade building a Geocities site to post the homework to daily.
What does your dream job look like?
I find my work the most rewarding when I’m teaching or doing something that helps improve people’s lives. I’d love to find a role where I can build something that has a positive impact on the lives of others. From a technical standpoint, I love learning new things (I think you kind of have to in this field, though), so I want to be doing something that consistently gives me an opportunity to use new technology and allows me the opportunity to develop personally as well.
Do you knit, play the banjo, make beer, climb rocks or do anything that isn't on a computer?
I once built a hot tub in the back of a moving truck. Well, the truck wasn’t moving, that’s rule number one. Anyway, I find myself in all sorts of random situations, like costume parties in warehouses, hiking in the snow, camping in the desert in late August, or playing laser tag in a colonial fort. I live for adventure and would rather do something slightly outside my comfort zone than regret not doing it.