Our interviewee this time is Mr Zulfa Juniadi who was recently awarded “Developer Hero” during the 2016 Rice Bowl Awards. He is a prominent figure, in the web developer community in Malaysia. Our developers here at Stampede have even trained under him for AngularJS. Because of that, we got to know him a bit more and were interested in knowing how he got to where he was. We sought him out to get in contact with him to learn his story.

Zulfa Main

Tell me about how you got to where you are now. I was born in Kajang, Selangor. My father was a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). His career required him to be at different places for a length of time, and we moved a lot because of this.

Growing up, I lived around Malaysia in places such as Johor and Sabah, while also spending my youth at Leeds, in the United Kingdom. When I returned to Malaysia, I entered a local high school and also briefly attended Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP).

I found myself working as a programmer over the next few years. Initially I started out as a PHP developer but found myself liking front-end work over time. It was then I decided to just go with both front-end and back-end development under belt.

What do you think got you nominated as “Developer Hero” in the Rice Bowl Awards 2016? During my days as a programmer, I stumbled upon JomWeb; a community of like-minded developers located in Malaysia. Like any developer group, people were asking questions on how they could achieve certain things in regards to programming. I started out as a regular developer in the group but did my best to answer and help them as much as I could.

This pattern led me to create open-source libraries for both PHP and Laravel which helped out the others who needed a solution to their problems. CastMyCode, a pet project of mine was built for teaching others. When I teach others on coding, some of them have errors in their code because they’d have to type out the code by hand. What CastMyCode does is share the learning files on the server so that it is usable on the web. Those who I am teaching at that moment can just access it right away. Most people in my programming classes are beginners, so this helps them out a lot.

Zulfa Teaches

I believe that if you are good at something, you should contribute back to the community wherever possible. If you spend the time teaching others, it won’t lessen your knowledge or waste your time. Instead, it will help you more because if you are able to teach something, it means that you have a good grasp of that knowledge. I probably inherited the love of teaching from my father, who I have mentioned, was a lecturer. From there on, I was being blogged about and featured in a number of online articles. The recognition probably came from there. Me being awarded the title of “Developer Hero” also helps me validate myself and my efforts.

How do you find time with your family as a busy developer?This is made possible thanks to my wife who has been supportive of my career. In a word, she is a ‘superwoman’, being able to take care of the kids while progressing her own career as a teacher. My wife has been with me long before we got married so she understands my situation. At home, the kids are being taken care by her. Every work day, I spend around 1-2 hours with my family during dinner. Out of the work days, I spend even more time with the family.

Zulfa & Wife

I believe that some people are too focused on their work. I do my best to get home by 6 PM, so I can spend those precious hours with my family. Even if there is a crunch time, I would be at home coding anyway. This way I will know if anything happens because they can always reach out to me since I’m physically there.

What are your thoughts on AngularJS for those who are starting out in it? To those who are learning AngularJS for the first time, they would need more training to understand the framework. My advice would be to read up as much as possible on it and also get a mentor who can guide you what you need to cover and learn.It is best to go to someone who actually does it. Also, Angular’s GitHub is a source of information that is great for reference.

Zulfa & Friends

When I was teaching the Stampede developers on AngularJS, I taught them Angular 1 instead of Angular 2. The reason for this is because, if you are a normal front-end developer, and suddenly make a jump to Angular 2, you will have a hard time. This is because Angular 2 is written in typescript, an enhanced version of JavaScript. You will need to get familiar with developer tools such as Gulp which takes in typescript and converts it into JavaScript so that websites can read it. Definitely not a straightforward process and a lot of preparation is needed beforehand. Also Angular 2 is currently still in beta, which means that a lot of Angular 1’s libraries have not been fully ported over to Angular 2. It will likely take around 1 to 2 years for the ecosystem surrounding Angular 2 to mature.

…to be truly good at something, you need to spend 20% of your time learning and 80% of the time doing it.

Do you have any advice for those who are interested in coding? If you are starting out fresh, you will definitely hit many brick walls – don’t be discouraged by it. If you have any questions on how to do things, reach out to the developer community. You will find plenty of folks who are willing to guide you. However, your best bet is to find a mentor who can set a learning path for you so that you don’t go astray.

My best piece of advice is, to be truly good at something, you need to spend 20% of your time learning and 80% of the time doing it. Coding is a skill, and like other skills, the more you do it, the better you will become.