July 20, 2016 | Written by: Mary Ferguson
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This Bluemix Personalities series showcases some of the developers, thought leaders, and strategists that work on and promote the Bluemix platform. As Bluemix continues to evolve and expand, you will learn all the latest developments and get a unique look into what goes on behind the scenes.
Raymond Camden is a developer advocate for the IBM MobileFirst platform, and his work also focuses on Bluemix, hybrid mobile development, Node.js, HTML5, and ColdFusion. As a developer advocate, Raymond shares his knowledge on the MobileFirst platform with other developers and teaches how to use it with technologies like Bluemix to create powerful mobile applications.
Raymond, why don’t you share with us a little bit about your role and what you do as a Developer Advocate?
Sure. So my job is to help developers understand what our products do and also inspire them about what can be done with our products. While documentation tells you how to do something, I try to provide examples that are exciting and fun. It’s both educational and inspirational.
You work with Bluemix and MobileFirst. Can you talk a little bit about that and what you like about it and how those two work hand in hand?
So my experience in the mobile area has been with hybrid mobile devs, specifically with Apache Cordova. And when I joined IBM, my primary role was a MobileFirst dev advocate. What I have learned about MobileFirst is that it’s very helpful for mobile developers. It does a lot of the kind of backend bookkeeping so to speak that, as a developer, I don’t necessarily want to worry about. I want somebody else to worry about it — I want IBM basically to worry about it. So I like that.
You know, all of the things that it does are things that are applicable to, I think, a lot of different industries and a lot of different needs and it leaves me to focus on whatever it is that’s weird or unique for my application. In terms of Bluemix, it’s just a great complimentary service to my mobile application. So being able to fire something up that I can throw Node.js on and hit some various Bluemix services. Having it all there and easy to use is especially nice.
How do you keep up to date with everything that’s going on and especially with different industry trends?
Well internally, it’s mainly just speaking to coworkers. I definitely have contacts in engineering and we use Slack quite a bit as well. It’s mainly just trying to pay attention to what people are talking about. In the outside industry, there are a couple of newsletters that I follow that typically have a collection of links. And while these links in general may be a bit random, I try to see if I see any particular themes.
So if testing is a big thing or — for example, React has been kind of a big thing in the areas where I’m involved in and seeing, you know, more and more people talking about that and more of these newsletters being consumed by talking about React is another way that I kind of figure out where
things are heading.
How do you see Cloud adoption advancing within developer communities?
I think it’s going to a point where it’s just less and less visible. It’s just, you know, you’ll be working at the command line and you won’t even know that you’re working with the Cloud. So when I first started using Bluemix, I did everything via the website. It’s only been fairly recently that I did some things with the command line and it’s fascinating how, you know, you’re doing everything at your terminal and I know that I’m deploying stuff to the Cloud.
And I’m doing things on Bluemix online and all of that, but it feels like you’re just doing something locally on your machine and it’s just kind of natural. I think we may see more of that where you stop thinking about it as the cloud and just this is where my application happens to live and I don’t have to worry about getting a real iron server someplace.
You do a lot of work with IBM developers and outside developers. Do you hear any major concerns that they have with cloud and the transition to the cloud?
I’d say probably performance and up-time is the thing that I know I’m mostly concerned about. If I’m going to use some particular cloud-hosted service, I really want to have some level of confidence behind it and also have a backup plan. So if this goes down, then I know what my application is going to do while it’s down.
So even though we’re kind of seeing more and more of this, where you magically hit this button and you have a server and that’s nice. I think people are kind of rightly saying, “okay, so, what can you tell me about how well you perform and when you do go down, what is the plan to get back up? How do
you let me know?”
What would you say that you love most about your job?
I get to play. I get to try things. I don’t have to build an application that’s going to make millions of dollars. If I want to show someone something cool about our technology, I can build something totally for fun and not worry about it actually being practical.
Do you think there are any misconceptions around your job?
Oh, well certainly writing is a huge part of it. More so then presenting skills and stuff like that. Actual writing and being able to explain things in a way that makes sense is, I think, crucially important.
Yes, absolutely. Do you have advice for people who are novice programmers, as well for cloud experts themselves?
Well I think for novices, I’m just a big fan of writing a lot of code. When I’m learning something new, like a new language, I will rebuild something that already exists because I already know what the functionality is. So I’m not wasting any time thinking about what I should build. I know I’m building a blog, for example. And I just focus on learning this particular technology. I learned multiple languages over the last 20 years or so of my career and I’ve always done stuff like that. It’s always made it easier to pick things up.
In terms of people who are interested in my type of role, you just have to be extremely public about what you’re doing. So I launched a blog over 10 years ago and every single thing that I learn, every single thing that trips me up, every little stupid little toy I build, whatever, I blog about it. I share it. And the things I think are kind of stupid, typically get a lot of traffic and a lot of comments. And the big serious, this is an important blog post, will get, like, nothing. There’s no filter at all. I share it all.
Is there a place where they can go to read your blog?