Epic Web Conf '24 Speakers

Tyler Benfield

Staff Software Engineer at Prisma

Talks

  • Thursday, 4:10 PM4:30 PM
    Epic App Performance Starts with the Database
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Bio

Tyler is a software engineer with a focus on making databases and data-driven applications more approachable through education and tooling. With over 10 years of experience developing software in consulting, startups, and large organizations, he’s gathered a wealth of knowledge that he enjoys sharing with others. In his free time, he enjoys playing beach volleyball, hiking, and repairing arcade cabinets.

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Interview

Hello everybody I'm really excited to be joined by my friend Tyler Benfield. How are you doing Tyler? I'm good everyone. All right so Tyler and I did we met originally like years ago but we had a really awesome conversation last year at

RemixConf and from there I was like man I just enjoy talking with Tyler about database stuff and and then Tyler you helped a lot with the the the data modeling workshop that I have as part of Epic Web yeah huge help there and so

yeah I'm excited to have you at Epic Web Conf in April. What I want to do is just give everybody an opportunity to get to know you a little bit so could you introduce yourself to us? Yeah hey everyone I'm Tyler Benfield. I'm currently a

staff software engineer at Prisma. I love databases. I've liked databases for many years and I really get into database performance which is how Kent and I got on a really good conversation there and I was fortunate to be able to to help out with some of the Epic Web content and now looking forward to

speaking about that at Epic Web Conf. Yeah so I want to talk about what you're going to be speaking about but to dive in a little bit more into what you do how did you get into databases? Yeah so for the first five years or so of my

career I was working building web apps and in doing that kind of starting straight out of college and getting that practical experience in a small company where you kind of had to wear every hat there was you kind of start to find I guess databases are a common problem especially for performance and you'd

learn the tricks to solve those problems and then as time went on I ended up going to a company that specialized in database performance monitoring software and that gave me a really deep dive into how indexes work how statistics work just general like really deep database topics and now I like sharing that and

bringing that into Prisma. Yeah sweet I think you're absolutely right like you can't go very far on the web before you touch a database but a lot of developers kind of lean one direction or another I know when I was like before I went

full-stack and decided I just like it all I very much leaned in the direction of front-end and stuff so what what kind of leads you in that direction of databases? Yeah that's a good question I originally was more of a front-end

developer I spent a lot of time in a react earlier on I think what I liked about databases was some of the the challenge there in that I guess there's a lot of content around how to help with databases but it's not as approachable to front-end developers all the time you kind of specialize one way or another

but once you start going more full-stack you start to see more patch solutions on top of database performance problems rather than getting to the root cause and I really like getting into that root cause so maybe that it's a root cause analysis is what brought me into the databases. Yeah yeah you know I

definitely can appreciate what you mean about seeing patched solutions to database problems and I think well why do you think that is? Why do people just go ahead and try to smooth over issues that could be much more easily

solved by addressing the database? Yeah I think some of that is sticking to what you know. I know JavaScript I know C sharp or you know Java I know these languages and I know how to work with them so doing something like in-memory caching or doing other querying techniques from the language

perspective that's that's something I know how to work with as a as an application developer and maybe the database feels a little bit more foreign so hopefully what I hope to do with my talk is break down some of that and show that some of these concepts on the database like adding indexes don't have

to be so unknown and they're actually very approachable once you kind of get a handle of them. Yes yeah and database performance isn't all just about like oh add an index and now thank you for the your ten grand check in consulting

but like there's a lot more to it that I guess can keep your attention as you get into that stuff too. Yeah it can definitely get much deeper I think in the talk we'll really talk about the indexes specifically because that's that's the first you know sort of line of attack against the performance

problems but I'll probably tease a few more things of where you can go next to learn some more. Yeah okay very cool so let's let's go over a couple of the things the thoughts that you have for the talk. We are still like three months

out or more for before we get to the conference but what are some of the things you're thinking about covering in your talk? Yeah so I'd really like to set up sort of a baseline knowledge about databases you know it's going to be pretty quick so we can't get too deep but just make sure by starting with the

common understanding of what we're going to be talking about. Yeah Epic web is an epic stack is built on SQLite so we'll kind of focus in on that but the topics we'll talk about are going to expand to pretty much any relational database and then even some non-relational databases to a degree. We'll move into a lot of

like how to analyze performance problems quickly and I guess symptoms that would lead you towards leaning towards the type of index and then how to create that index both with Prisma and then what Prisma would generate is that the SQL version of that index to create it for you and then we'll kind of wrap up

with those like where you can go next to learn some more. I hope it's a very like pragmatic exercise it's not like something you could just read in a blog post but we'll get it some examples going and I really want to share a lot of my experience too. There's a couple of times we'll interject with some stories that I have of like how indexes have helped me and others to improve their

software. Yeah yeah that's great. I know that like there are places where you can get the the knowledge and the learning online and in your tutorials and different things like that but the stories are what really capture people

in a talk and for me the job of a talk is to inspire me to go and learn more rather than to necessarily teach me much. I certainly I hope to learn a thing or two but mostly the the talk is there to show me what's possible and stories

are a really good way to relate to situations and you've got some good ones too so I'm looking forward to that. Yeah I love the big stories that I won't share here because it's spoilers but they're in the the Epic Web

interviews so there's some fun ones. Yeah yep yep it's it's wild. So yeah that sounds like a really fascinating topic to get into and especially for an audience that I'm guessing is mostly going to be experienced with front-end

stuff. Your experience as a front-end developer I think is going to help a lot in relating to the problems and things that we think about. It's interesting that all the traditionally front-end frameworks are expanding their level of

I guess what they cover as far as kind of coming back into the back end and fooling people into being back-end developers. That's what happened to me and I'm you know happy about that and so yeah I think you're going to have a lot

of people there at the conference who are traditionally front-end developers but maybe back-end curious and once you touch the back-end now you're like oh I mean I'm closer to the database I may as well just reach in there just a little bit. Yeah I'm excited for that I've seen that trend too and I'm I'm actually really excited for all these frameworks going to like bringing front-end

developers more full stack and maybe the opposite is true too I haven't seen that much you know talk about that in the community maybe some back-end developers are becoming front-end now too. Yeah it is exciting. You do see traditionally back-end frameworks getting more into the front-end aspect

of things and I the the attitude that I see from a lot of those is I just don't want to write JavaScript and so if my framework can let me do front-end stuff without writing JavaScript and I'm happy with it but you know I to be fair

I don't want to write Ruby I don't want to write PHP so like I it's it just so happens that my language of choice actually runs natively in the browser and it also can run natively on the back end too so I'm the lucky one. Yeah same

here I've used a lot of languages in TypeScript JavaScript it's definitely the most pragmatic that I've used in my opinion. Yeah yeah well Tyler while we're at the conference we're going to have plenty of time for people to talk we're going to have extended breaks and things and everybody it's a single track thing

so everybody is going to be seeing all the same talks what are you hoping that people will come to talk with you about and what are you excited to talk with people about while you're at the conference? Oh well obviously I love talking about databases so come tell me your database problems I would love to

hear them also Prisma I love working at Prisma I love engaging with the community there so if you have good or bad to say like come talk to me John will also be there to talk with and outside of I guess coding things I also am really interested in the snowboarding there I don't know if I get a chance to

do it this time the weather is looks like it's a maybe yeah but yeah outdoor sports hikings snowboarding I'm into it very cool yeah I definitely am excited for that as well I I am hopeful that we'll have some snow it this week it

seems like it's springtime already it's been kind of crazy but that the snow has a tendency to come back around so and like we've got plenty of snow up in the mountains right now but even if we don't end up with snow on the mountains we'll

still have like beautiful things and fun things to do around here April is a really good time of year in this area you'll want to have a jacket especially as it gets later in the evening but you'll be comfortable and that's it's a

good time of year for that yeah I went to RemixConf the last two years and Utah is just a beautiful place I love it every time I go well I'm excited that we get to expose you to more than just Salt Lake City this year I can go out to Park

City really really cool spot but still like super close you know I get off the airplane hop into an uber ride share or something and then like a 40 or 50 minute drive and you're in Park City it's pretty pretty quick and and now you're like it really at the base of the mountains it's just awesome so I'm looking forward to that to have you out there

same all right well thank you so much Tyler for joining us and giving us an intro to yourself and I hope to see everybody in April thanks Kent thanks everyone bye bye

See you at the Epic Web Conf!

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