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Demystifying DivOps with Ben Ilegbodu

In this episode, Kent C. Dodds chats with Ben Ilegbodu about the concept of DivOps in the JavaScript ecosystem, its importance in optimizing apps and developer experiences, and what to expect from their upcoming engagement at Epic WebConf.

Kent C. Dodds welcomes Ben Ilegbodu to discuss his work with front-end platforms and the coined term "DivOps," focusing on non-UI aspects like configurations and optimizations that enhance app performance and developer workflows. Ben shares insights into why JavaScript's ecosystem fosters a unique need for DivOps, emphasizing its role as a legitimate discipline crucial for app optimization and improved user experiences. The conversation also touches on the diverse challenges and solutions within DivOps, expectations for the Epic WebConf in Utah, and the value of community and knowledge sharing in advancing the field. Additionally, Ben's personal goal to visit every NBA arena adds a personal touch to the discussion, illustrating the blend of professional and personal interests that enrich the tech community.

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Meet Ben at Epic Web Conf.

Guests

Ben Ilegbodu
Ben Ilegbodu

Transcript

Kent: Hey what's up everybody, I'm excited to be joined by my friend Ben Ilegbodu. How you doing Ben?

Ben: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.

Kent: Thank you, yeah, thank you so much for coming. Super excited to have you on the stage at Epic WebConf in April in Utah. That's gonna be an epic event and it'll 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

Ben: here.

Kent: tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ben: Yeah, so my name is Ben Ilegbodu, 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, 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 of, you know, it's the web. So Div

Kent: Yeah,

Ben: instead of Dev.

Kent: I like that actually. Did you coin that phrase? I don't think I'd ever heard it before you said that.

Ben: Um, actually a friend of mine, former coworker of mine technically came up with it, but I have adopted it and said it more times than he has.

Kent: Yeah,

Ben: So I'll,

Kent: you

Ben: I'll

Kent: popularized

Ben: accept it.

Kent: it.

Ben: Popularized

Kent: Yeah.

Ben: it. There you go.

Kent: Yeah, yeah. That's awesome. I love the idea of div ops being a thing. When I was at PayPal, that was a big part of what I did

Ben: Mm-hmm.

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

Ben: 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. 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 and you know, how we've set things up. But why I've continued to talk about DevOps is that I want to legitimize the work. Like 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

Kent: Mm-hmm.

Ben: also feel confident and encouraged and empowered for doing it.

Kent: 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, right? So I think that's really helpful to know that you're not alone working on this and get ideas from other people.

Ben: Exactly.

Kent: I think it makes sense that this is the sort of thing that happens mostly at bigger companies.

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: 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

Ben: Yeah,

Kent: that.

Ben: you're

Kent: Yeah.

Ben: a DevOps engineer, you're a front end engineer, you're probably a CI engineer and

Kent: Mm-hmm.

Ben: everything in between.

Kent: 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

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: about DevOps are probably really helpful for wherever you work at all.

Ben: 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. Like all of these things kind of go together. Like, oh, I need to make sure we have just 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.

Kent: Yeah, 100%. So I have a blog post titled, your users care about how you write, or about how

Ben: Don't

Kent: you write

Ben: care.

Kent: your code or something like that.

Ben: Yeah, oh,

Kent: Which

Ben: I've read

Kent: is like,

Ben: it. Yeah.

Kent: 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 like the choices that you make on that end are going to affect their experience. And so yeah, they

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: 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 is what we're doing, because the objective of DivOps is to positively impact the user experience in some way.

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: And so let's make sure that the things that we're doing have a connection and are actually returning on that investment, right? Yeah.

Ben: Right, exactly, exactly.

Kent: Well cool, so at the conference, Ben, we're gonna have people, of course, people are gonna watch online and hopefully get all the awesome knowledge that you're gonna share on stage there about DevOps.

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: But for the folks who are in person, they're gonna be able to come up and talk with you and you're gonna be able to talk with them. What are the sorts of conversations you're hoping to have at Epic Webcom?

Ben: Yeah, I'm hoping to hear in both ways to hear like what others are doing to solve similar problems. Right. So for instance, for monorepos, what are you using? Are you using Turbo repo or using NX? Like what are you using and how is that gone for you and such? So I've talked to people at Microsoft and what they're doing at huge scale. Talk to other people who have, you know, six people and they have monorepo and why did you use it? and similar things, like even like to the small granular of, oh, I use this ESLint plugin 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

Kent: Mm-hmm.

Ben: kind of 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

Kent: Hmm,

Ben: hoping for.

Kent: 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

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: 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

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: actually having back and forth conversations rather than just having somebody talk at me. It's the same thing with like a workshop and or versus a course, you know,

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: like a live workshop with an instructor and stuff. There's a lot to be said for having those back and forth conversations, so.

Ben: Yeah. And there's a secret, like, there's always two or three things that are missed when I give the talk, or two or three things I had to cut from the talk for time reasons. So then

Kent: Mm.

Ben: 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.

Kent: 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

Ben: Yeah.

Kent: been outside of Salt Lake? Yeah, okay, so we're gonna be in Park City, which is like a 40

Ben: Mm.

Kent: 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?

Ben: Oh, the Utah area. I don't

Kent: Is

Ben: know

Kent: it like

Ben: actually.

Kent: the Utah Jazz? I don't know if there's a game. I think there might be

Ben: Oh,

Kent: a Utah Jazz game.

Ben: 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,

Kent: Oh.

Ben: plus Toronto, I guess I'll say. So

Kent: Uh-huh.

Ben: I've gotten about 10 of them, I want to say. So unfortunately, a lot of conferences are during the summer,

Kent: Mm.

Ben: and basketball doesn't happen in the summer. So. We'll see, I'll have to check the schedule.

Kent: Yeah, I think that somebody in the discord, Simon, mentioned that there's

Ben: Uh

Kent: a

Ben: huh.

Kent: basketball game going on like the, on the Tuesday before the conference or something. So yeah,

Ben: Hmm.

Kent: definitely give it a look and see

Ben: Good to know.

Kent: if you can come out. It'd be

Ben: Yeah.

Kent: pretty sweet.

Ben: I'll be wearing my rockets gear, so

Kent: Hahaha.

Ben: I may be the only one there, but I will still go. Ha ha ha.

Kent: Yeah, you rock that rocket. That sounds great.

Ben: Yeah, I'll be wearing a rockets game and they're like playing the blazers or something, but

Kent: Yeah,

Ben: I'll still wear it.

Kent: 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

Ben: likewise.

Kent: game, but whatever you end up doing, I'm sure we're gonna have a good time.

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Kent: And yeah, I'm sure people are gonna enjoy meeting you and chatting with you. So thanks for giving us some of your time to get to know you today.

Ben: Oh, appreciate it. Thank you.

Kent: Okay, bye everybody, see ya.

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