Recently, I had the opportunity to learn more about Jay: his work, his history, and his thoughts on the future of web development. In our chat, Jay shared insight and advice that should be useful to all web developers, newcomers and veterans alike.
How did you become interested in web development?
I am totally self taught. I come from sales and marketing schools. I quickly realized that I was not done for this life. I tried some stuff, first working for free as designer and then as a layout artist in print press and magazines. At the time internet barely existed.
With the 1997/8 internet big bang, I naturally passed from print design to web design to work in one of the first local web agencies. The agency was sold to a big international company and I then worked on ergonomics and interface designs for key accounts and managed a team of developers on these interfaces.
Seeing them work gave me the taste of development, so I starting to develop some personal projects. My skills as marketing guy, designer, developer allowed me to get some interesting results by myself.
Tell us about developing your Buzz demo. Was anything especially exciting, challenging, or rewarding?
The idea behind the Buzz library was to allow developers to creatively manage sounds on their websites. My fear was to see Buzz used to add sounds on button clicks or some unbearable music background loops. Everything I hate as a user.
I wanted to be clear and create a demo to show my vision of how sounds should be used on the web in 2012. This educational HTML5 game is inspired by games used by my 5 year old daughter on iPad.
What makes the web an exciting platform for you?
What is interesting is being able to quickly test ideas, share them with the world and see them used, improved, distributed and discussed by others. It’s invaluable to get hundreds of comments worldwide. It taught me a lot.
What up-and-coming web technologies are you most excited about?
If you could change one thing about the web, what would it be?
Clearly, cross-browser compatibility (I’m looking at you Internet Explorer). It is very frustrating to work a few weeks on ideas, to finally get the desired result and then move to the testing phase on different browsers to see that everything is skewed or unusable. This is what happened to me on the markitup! 2.0 development, which I have never actually found the energy and time to correct.
I dream to not worry about vendors prefixes, hacks and ridiculous compatibility barriers.
What advice would you give to aspiring web developers?
Be curious, be a sharer. Whenever possible do not hesitate to expose your work as open source projects. This is a great challenge to make your code public and have it judged by peers. It’s exciting and rewarding.
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About John Karahalis
John Karahalis is a software developer, a project manager, and a user experience enthusiast. He helps with web development on mozilla.org and project management on the Mozilla Developer Network, and he formerly led the Dev Derby contest.