Blog Post

Pixel art of Justin Schroeder being interviewed

Interview with Justin Schroeder

Job Title:

Founder, Braid LLC, Founder FormKit Inc., Senior Full Stack Engineer.

Place of Work:

FormKit & Braid

Industry your place of work utilizes: 

  • FormKit is an open source initiative to make form building on the web 10x faster, more reliable, and more accessible. Currently for Vue.
  • Braid builds websites for clients of any industry.

What got you into Web Design/Development?

I started around the turn of the millennium. I was a bored 12 year old in 1999 and when I typed those first few lines of (very primitive) HTML and JavaScript into a blank document and opened it up in a browser I was hooked.

What does a typical day or week look like for you? What sort of things do you do?

Currently most of my time is spent on FormKit and it’s surrounding properties. There are tons of GitHub issues to address, documentation to write, and new features to ship. Most days look like coming into our office, brewing some coffee, putting my headphones on and going “heads down” for several hours at a time. The problems we are trying to solve are deceptively complicated and that makes for very enjoyable work. The people I work with are top notch A-players who are all motivated and excited by bringing new and exciting things into the world.

What types of web technologies do you work with most often?

JavaScript is my mother tongue. At this point I might speak JavaScript better than English. Vue is my front end framework of choice, but I’m having a bit of a secret love affair with Svelte as well. I do React when I have to, but there’s no love lost in that relationship. When I need to pound out some backend code, I generally turn to Laravel or cloud flare edge functions.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Seeing people building their projects using our tooling. It is so gratifying to know that the time we invest in our open source projects and even paid tools have real world leverage. We might spend 40 “man hours” on a given feature, but it saves our users thousands of cumulative hours. The tools we build might seem trivial (form building software) but the true impact is measured in time gained by thousands of people, improved experiences for thousands of users, and ultimately — a slightly better web.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

Bug reports cause stress. After all these years I’m not sure why, but anytime someone finds a bug in some code I’ve written it physically hurts…just a bit. I wish that wasn’t true.

Where do you see your section of the web development/design industry going?

Web software is converging on a set of core principles for what “good” web software means. Declarative, reactive, server rendered and fast. Ultimately, these buzz words mean nothing to end users — so my hope is we are heading towards a place where actual users — my mom for example — has a delightful experience the next time she needs to book plane tickets. If we can’t move the needle on what real users and doing in the real world, then what does it even matter?

What technology and/or skill do you wish you learned before you entered the industry?

I wish I had a better grasp of C. Specifically C. It is the core of so many underlying concepts, operating systems, and languages. If I had a better grasp of why memory allocation bugs were a big issue, it would give me a better appreciation for some modern advancements — like what is happening in the Rust space.

What are you looking to learn or what skill are you looking to build next?

At some point I’d like to tackle Rust and Web Assembly. There’s a lot of experimentation and new concepts that have yet to emerge there. I’d like to be part of that.

What question should I have asked that I didn’t?

Something about my personal life? I live in Charlottesville VA, I have a wonderful wife and 3 awesome little boys, and I bleed Nebraska Husker red.

What would you tell someone to do who’s looking to get into the industry? How should they best prepare themselves?

When you start learning to code, you’ll feel like the “complexity” is way over your head when you hear and read jargon that you don’t understand. It’s not — instead learn to be insatiably curious. Don’t just look up what a word means, try to reason about why that tool, technique, or syntax exists. This will slow you down at first, but you’ll emerge with a lifelong ability to keep abreast of the ever changing landscape. It’s the antidote to ossification.

Anything else you’d like to tell future designers and developers?

Don’t give up when a problem seems hard. Especially for developers. If you don’t fight through bugs and errors to figure out how something works, you will never advance very far in your capacity as a developer and ultimately in your ability to create new value in the world.

Is there a way people can get in contact with you to ask questions etc?

Follow me on twitter! @jpschroeder

Last Question: If you had to be a zombie and you had to eat someone’s brains, whose would it be and why?

A very, very old person — optimizing for quantity of life lost.