Igor Minar got hooked to technology after working with a text editor to draw some ASCII art. Today, he is a software engineer at Google and the leader of its Angular project. You will have a chance to meet him personally in a few weeks as one of the guests at the upcoming ReactiveConf in Bratislava.
I found a great statement on your LinkedIn profile saying that „software engineering is a healthy mix of science and art“. What represents the science and what is the art part?
The science part comes from the fact that there is a lot of logic and math behind how computers and software works. We also do a lot of research, measuring, trials and experimentation just like in many other scientific disciplines. But at the end of the day, the software that we build interfaces with people and people prefer solutions that “feel good”. In order to achieve this abstract quality, one has to rely on artistic senses to make the right decisions about how the software should be built.
How do you recall your first touch with the field of technology? What was the moment you realized that “This is it, that´s what I want to do for a living?”
When I was 2 or 3 I used to draw a lot. My parents would give me these small rectangular pieces of scrap paper for my art. Often these pieces of paper had holes all over them, which made my art projects more challenging. Only when I was much much older, did I realize that the scrap paper I used were punch cards used by early computers. My parents would bring these home from work for us to play with. I believe that was my first “interaction” with computers. The first time I got to use a computer was when I was about 6, my dad worked as an electrical engineer at the computing center of an oil company. One day he took me to his work where I got to use a terminal and a text editor to draw some ASCII art. I’ve been hooked ever since.
After your job at Sun Microsystems, Google – the dream of many engineers – came along, with a short stop in Oracle. What is the story behind? Did you apply for the job at Google or did they get in touch first?
I came to Oracle through acquisition of Sun Microsystems. A few months into being at Oracle, I realized that the company culture was not right for me, so I decided to leave. I knew a few people at Google and wanted to work with them, so I reached out to them got a referral for an interview.
From today´s perspective, what are the key factors or decisions that have influenced you the most? If there was an engineer in Slovakia eager to work for Google or to develop a new technology as AngularJS, what were the 3-5 hints you would give him?
Spend some time understanding why you are doing the thing you are doing. Be persistent, there will be issues along the way you’ll need to overcome. Work with people you like and admire, this will help you get over the rough times. Have fun.
Can we explain to an uninvolved person why AngularJS is so popular? What does it bring and why do people consider it to be revolutionary?
Angular makes web development easy. Browsers have been originally built for displaying static documents, but Angular made it simple to build dynamic applications that run web browsers. This allowed many developers that previously avoided browser development to become web developers and build applications faster than ever before.
How did you manage to push AngularJS forward in Google? What did the beginnings look like?
We built Angular outside of Google as an open source project. We gathered all the requirements of internal projects but disregarded all the constraints a typical Google solution would start with. We wanted to make sure that developing web applications was simple, productive and fun. Other things were secondary. We then brought Angular to Google and worked with internal teams that used it. Contrary to what people usually think, it was the popularity of Angular as an open-source project that drove the adoption of Angular internally at Google. Looking back, it’s actually quite amazing to see how the internal Google development adjusted to Angular as opposed the other way around.
Where do you see the future of AngularJS?
The interview is brought to you in cooperation with ReactiveConf, which takes place from October 26th to 28th 2016 in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Photo: Igor Minar