Aviary and the Recovering Front-End Web Developer

Professional Development

About a year ago I joined up with Aviary, the company that proved creative software doesn't need to be tied to the desktop with its Flash-based image/audio/effect editors. At this time, the war on Flash was in full swing and the job post I applied to was under the auspice* that I would be converting those awesome Flash apps into HTML5. Dream job material am I right?

Fast forward a year and we are solidly a mobile app company, or maybe better stated a "platform" company, and the Web is still one. But I don't exactly build websites anymore. No, I guess that's the old me.

What on the surface was a "do HTML5 like all the cool kids" opportunity turned out to be a "OMFG JavaScript architecture" job that has let me live in the same codebase for literally a full year. A full year of the same JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. What?!

For those that don't see that as unusual, as a "Front-End Web Developer" for the last 5 or so years, I can attest to this generally meaning you build the flavor of the week (and that's only once you've proven yourself within your team/company). But that never bothered me. Whenever I took stock of things, I was more passionate about users and their interaction with what we build than the code behind it.

An honest confession: I've written my share of spaghetti code. I'd like to think it was usually in order meet some demanding user interaction that forced me to eat complexity in tradeoff for something simple and clear for users. But this spaghetti code often had a pretty short shelf life before the next big idea came around and it's greenfield product time all over again.

Now I'm a "maintainer" and I'm hooked. And my appreciation for github and all of its fun little charts and graphs is through the roof. However, what I work on is still a product, as opposed to an open source project; I recognize there is a LOT more to experience when it comes to working on a big, long-living project, but I still consider myself pretty lucky with this one.

I guess, in short, Aviary has treated me pretty well thus far and it's been great to be a part of a small, ridiculously talented team that cares so much about their work and teaching others about their craft. We're growing the team and I'm not sure I could even pass our new interview process. And that's f*cking great! Cyclical humility has made me who I am today.

* Apparently the origins of this word have to do with the flight patterns of birds!