JavaScript of the Week: a Conversation with Rich Harris

Updated: Jun 27, 2019

Hello and welcome to the first installment of what I like to call "JavaScript of the Week". In it, I want to feature one person from our beloved Node.js + JavaScript community asking them some interesting questions and getting some advice for the newcomers.

Hopefully showing that these massively influential people started just like everyone else, and if they made it, you can too!

My first victim is no other than Rich Harris (you can find him on Twitter by the handle @rich_harris), let's see what his answers are, shall we?

Rich Harris

1. Tell me a bit about yourself (hobbies, education, etc)

Oh man, I've forgotten what it's like to have hobbies. Work and open source haven't left me with a whole lot of free time this year. I guess my *aspirational* hobbies are reading, being outdoors (preferably at altitude), playing music, cooking. Normal stuff, no fire-breathing or unicycles.

Education-wise: studied philosophy at University College London, realized I'd probably wasted three years, did a diploma at a now-defunct journalism school.

2. How old were you when you started programming? And what language was it?

I remember playing around with BASIC V on our Acorn Archimedes when I was five or six. Don't think I was very good at it though. I dabbled with PHP after j-school because I thought it would look good on my CV, but again, was hopelessly bad at it. I didn't have another crack at it until I started learning JS.

3. How long have you been working with JavaScript?

About 8 years.

4. What got you started with it?

I was working for a personal finance publication, and grew envious of the data-driven interactive journalism that was being created at places like the BBC, Guardian and New York Times. I learned JS (with a bit of help from some friends) so that I could do the same sorts of things.

5. If you could re-define the language, what would you change?

Honestly, I'm pretty happy with the language we've got at the moment. Probably because I haven't spent any real time with other languages, so don't know what I'm missing.

6. What would you say is the best feature of JavaScript?


7. What advice would you give to someone who's just starting to learn JS/Node?

Work in the open. You'll learn faster that way than if you hoard code on your local machine for fear that someone will see it and think it's bad (it is bad, because all code is bad, and no-one will care). Build things that make you grin. Write the documentation before you write the code (the secret is you're writing it for your future self, not anyone else).

8. Any particular learning resource you'd like to recommend?

Other programmers.

9. Is there a project / website / something you'd like to promote while you're at it? is the thing currently occupying all my free waking hours.

We're proud of it and you should take a look!

10. Favorite superhero?

Loki, god of mischief

Well, there you have it, our Loki-loving Mr. Harris shared his thoughts, what did you think? I can personally relate to his first answer, having no time for hobbies is hard and even when it's super important to be able to disconnect, it's also one of the first things we tend to skip when we're too busy! How crazy is that?

Have you already checked out Do it you haven't! Also, feel free to leave a comment bellow if you have other questions you might want me to ask in the next weeks!

See you on the next one!