Epic Web Conf '24 Speakers

Ben Ilegbodu

Frontend Architect

Talks

  • Thursday, 1:50 PM1:55 PM
    What is “DivOps” engineering?
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Bio

Ben is a Christian, husband, and father of 3. He also is a Google Developer Expert in Web Technologies and an international speaker, with over 15 years of professional experience developing Web user interfaces. Ben currently is a Frontend Architect at Stitch Fix on their Frontend Platform team, helping develop their Design System and build out their Frontend Infrastructure (aka DivOps). He enjoys playing basketball, DIY, watching movies, and tweeting (@benmvp) / blogging (benmvp.com) about his experiences with new web technologies, especially with React & TypeScript.

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Interview

Hey, what's up, everybody? I'm excited to be joined by my friend Ben Elagbedue. How are you doing, Ben? I'm doing great. Thanks for having me. Thank you. Yeah, thank you so much for coming. Super excited to have you on the stage at Epic Web Conf in April in Utah. That's going to be an epic event, and it will be epic to have you up there.

So I want people to get to know you ahead of the conference so that they're, like, super stoked to meet you in person. So could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Yeah, so my name is Ben Elagbedue, like you said. I work a lot on front-end platforms, basically.

So that is design systems and what I also call DevOps. So that is all the stuff that has nothing to do with actually building the UI. So that's your Babel configs, formerly Webpack configs,

TypeScript configs, ESLint configs, setting up the next development platform, all of those things that are necessary in order for an app to run but aren't the actual UI to build.

So I call it DivOps instead of DevOps because, you know, it's the web, so Div. Yeah, I like that. Actually, did you coin that phrase? I don't think I'd ever heard it before you said that. Actually, a friend of mine, former co-worker of mine, technically came up with it,

but I have adopted it and said it more times than he has. So I'll accept it. You popularized it. Popularized it. There you go. Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. I love the idea of DivOps being a thing. When I was at PayPal, that was a big part of what I did

was just all of the tooling, wiring things together. Why do you think that's such a thing in the JavaScript ecosystem? I don't feel like that's as much of a thing in other languages and frameworks.

Yeah, I think it's because JavaScript has decided to have different libraries that you get to piece together yourself. So you can make your own framework or your own platform, but the result is that somebody has to figure out which library to use

and then how to configure it and how to put it together with everything else. So it's kind of the nature of the beast in how we set things up. But why I've continued to talk about DivOps is that I want to legitimize the work. A lot of people have seen it as,

oh, this is this tangent that I have to go on in order to solve this problem, but it's actually legitimate work in order to make your app optimized or to make the developer experience optimized and such. So just like you mentioned it, you were doing it at PayPal.

I'm sure there are lots of people who are doing it a little bit at their job. So first to recognize that it's like an actual discipline and then also feel confident and encouraged and empowered for doing it.

Yeah, I think that it's good for people to recognize that, yes, like you said, it's a discipline and that they'll have the opportunity to connect with other people who are doing that. So I think that's really helpful to know that you're not alone working on this

and get ideas from other people. I think it makes sense that this is the sort of thing that happens mostly at bigger companies, whereas at a smaller company you typically wear lots of hats.

And as an engineer at a smaller company, you probably are a DevOps engineer, even if you didn't sign up for that. You're a DevOps engineer, you're a front-end engineer, you're probably a CI engineer and everything in between.

Yeah, so the bigger companies probably have a better spot for this. But even if you are at a smaller company, having a little bit of vocabulary around this and talking with other people about what they're doing about DevOps

are probably really helpful for wherever you work at all. Yeah, I agree. And like I said, just seeing it as, okay, I'm focusing on DevOps,

I'm trying to make us all better or make our app faster or better user experience. All of these things kind of go together. Like, oh, I need to make sure we have Jest set up so we can run unit tests so that our app is healthier so we know when things are broken

or I have to set up a playwright experience. All of these different things are really helpful to ultimately deliver a better experience for our users. If it doesn't do that, then it's a waste of time. But a lot of this DevOps work is ultimately, although indirectly,

but ultimately impact our users positively. Yeah, 100%. So I have a blog post titled, Your Users Care About How You Write Your Code, or something like that. Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah. So that's the sort of thing that people are like,

yeah, your users don't care what framework you're using or whatever. I'm like, yeah, I mean, technically, no, they don't. But the choices that you make on that end are going to affect their experience. And so, yeah, they care about your productivity as an engineer and all of that stuff, too. So it is indirect.

And actually, I think giving it a name and having some common vocabulary around it also allows us to have conversations about what we're doing. Because the objective of DevOps is to positively impact the user experience in some way.

And so let's make sure that the things that we're doing have a connection and are actually returning on that investment, right? Right. Exactly. Exactly. Well, cool. So at the conference, Ben, we're going to have people. Of course, people are going to watch online

and hopefully get all the awesome knowledge that you're going to share on stage there about DevOps. But for the folks who are in person, they're going to be able to come up and talk with you, and you're going to be able to talk with them. What are the sorts of conversations you're hoping to have at EpicWebConf?

Yeah, I'm hoping to hear, in both ways, to hear what others are doing to solve similar problems. So, for instance, for monorepos, what are you using? Are you using TurboRepo? Are you using NX? What are you using and how has that gone for you and such?

So I've talked to people at Microsoft and what they're doing at huge scale. Talked to other people who have, you know, six people and they have a monorepo. And why did you use it? Why didn't you?

And similar things, like even like to the small granular of, oh, I use this ESLint plug-in to solve X. Like all of those kind of conversations, I think, help me. But then it can also hopefully help others to take back and say, oh, you know,

I learned these five different things that we can use to optimize our build or to make us all 10X engineers, whatever the case may be. But having those interactions, I think, are helpful. And then, like I said, to come back and say, oh, you know, I do DevOps engineering 50% of my time.

I used to think 50% of my time was wasted, but actually, you know, this is legitimate. So the tangibles and the intangibles, I'm hoping for. Yeah, I like that a lot. I think that that's one of the things that people get from attending the conference as opposed to watching online,

is that you get the opportunity to have those conversations that are very specific to you. So the speaker may get up on stage and share a lot of really helpful and useful tips that you will learn from. But then you can go and ask like follow-up questions in the hallway and things.

And that's the place where I really enjoy being at the conference, where I'm actually having back and forth conversations rather than just having somebody talk at me. It's the same thing with like a workshop versus a course, you know, like a live workshop with an instructor and stuff.

There's a lot to be said for having those back and forth conversations. And there's a secret, like there's always two or three things that I miss when I give the talk or two or three things I had to cut from the talk for time reasons.

So then having that interaction with people allows me to share those things or, oh, yeah, I meant to say that. So they get more information. It's talk plus having those conversations afterwards. Yeah, well, good. So, Ben, this is not the first time that you have been in Utah before.

What are you looking forward to? And actually, I think you've been to Salt Lake maybe every time you've been. Have you ever been outside of Salt Lake? Yeah, OK. So we're going to be in Park City, which is like a 40-minute drive outside of Salt Lake. And it's a really beautiful area.

But is there anything in particular you're looking forward to seeing when you come back to Salt Lake or to the Utah area? The Utah area? I don't know. Is it like the Utah Jazz? I don't know if there's a game. I think there might be a Utah Jazz game. I need to check.

So every time I go to a conference and I visit a new city, I always check the schedule of their basketball team to see if there's a game. Because my goal is to visit every NBA arena in the United States plus Toronto, I guess I'll say.

So I've gotten about 10 of them, I want to say. Unfortunately, a lot of conferences are during the summer and basketball doesn't happen in the summer. So we'll see. I'll have to check the schedule.

Yeah, I think that somebody in the Discord, Simon, mentioned that there's a basketball game going on like on the Tuesday before the conference or something. So yeah, definitely give it a look and see if you can come out. It would be pretty sweet. I'll be wearing my Rockets gear.

I may be the only one there, but I'll still go. Yeah, well, you rock that Rocket. That sounds good. I'll be wearing a Rockets game and they're playing the Blazers or something, but I'll still wear it. That's great. That's awesome. Ben, I'm excited to have you come out to Utah.

I hope you can get to a basketball game, but whatever you end up doing, I'm sure we're going to have a good time. And yeah, I'm sure people are going to enjoy meeting you and chatting with you. So thanks for giving us some of your time to get to know you today. Oh, appreciate it. Thank you. Okay. Bye, everybody. See ya.

See you at the Epic Web Conf!

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