NEW YORK—“I am a failure-driven developer,” Nebrass Lamouchi says. “Every activity I did is based on a failure I had before.”
For example, Lamouchi struggled to learn the Apache Shiro security framework, which had no documentation, so he wrote an unofficial guide that was adopted by Shiro’s founders. Lobbying for his favorite Java code editor led him to join the prestigious NetBeans Dream Team. Failing to pass the OpenShift certification spurred him to write a book and create courses about deploying Java microservices on Kubernetes and OpenShift that have educated hundreds of students and junior developers in his native Tunisia, other parts of Northern Africa, and Europe.
That string of “failures” led him, just seven years after starting his career, to win a community-voted Groundbreaker Award, presented by Oracle at a free one-day developer conference in New York City.
Lamouchi, who lives in Paris, was one of four recognized by their peers, via Twitter voting, for contributions to the developer community at large. Also honored in New York as Groundbreaker Award winners were:
- Sao Paulo-based Carla De Bona, founding partner of Reprograma, an organization that trains women for the technology workforce
- Oslo-based Rafael Winterhalter, creator of the popular open source Java library Byte Buddy
- Colorado-based Venkat Subramaniam, a globally recognized author and speaker, founder of Agile Developer and agilelearner.com, and a professor of computer science at the University of Houston
Champions of Community
While Subramaniam is a genuine celebrity among Java developers, Lamouchi, Winterhalter and De Bona are all young and comparatively unknown. Their focus on community, however, illustrates a core value among developers—one that rarely makes the news.
“Nobody in software can get anything done by her or himself,” says Winterhalter, emphasizing that open source like Byte Buddy requires a collaborative effort. “We try to isolate the guru, to tell the hero tale, because it’s a good story.”
However, he also admits to dedicating his life—sometimes with maddening focus—to a small niche in Java. The result has been extremely successful: Byte Buddy is a runtime code generation and manipulation library that is downloaded 20 million times a month, according to Winterhalter, and is used in popular Java tools such as Hibernate and Mockito.
Technology Changes Us
As a user experience designer, De Bona channeled her own insights into how software can modify behavior—she points to how apps like Airbnb, Uber, and Tinder have made interacting with strangers easier—into a focus on bringing more women into technology careers, since that’s where promising opportunities await. “If you can provide environments that empower women, and teach them how to code, these women can change their lives,” she says.
De Bona launched Reprograma in 2016 with partners Mariel Reyes and Fernanda Faria, offering a free, six-week course for 20 students. Three years later, the program has educated 180 women in person in Sao Paulo—most of them formerly unemployed—and another 30 online, with an 83% employment rate.
She sees three critical aspects of creating a training program that works for women. First, Reprograma provides female role models: “We create community and a support network because for women that try to enter in the market, it’s very difficult. You don’t see anyone like you, so you have to be very strong.”
Second, encourage a mindset that embraces mistakes and rejects perfection. “To iterate is normal,” De Bona says. “Angel monitors” help convey this cultural sense, following each online student to mitigate the loneliness of solo study. And third, partnerships with major tech companies show students what to expect in a real-world programming job and expose them to recruiters.
He Might Be a Hero
Spending time in New York was a thrill for the award winners, but several said that spending time alongside Subramaniam was even more exciting. Lamouchi expressed awe that he was being honored with the man who taught him most everything he knew about Java.
Dispensing wisdom and inspiration with trademark humor, Subramaniam held forth in his keynote address and on multiple discussion panels throughout the day. In a talk about diversity and mentorship, he described his own path to absorbing knowledge and eventually becoming a well-known author and educator.
An early mentor in his native Chennai was a computer science professor who made house calls: “At 10:30 at night he’d knock on the door of my parents’ house and say, ‘Venkat, we have to work.’ We’d spend till late in the night talking about computer algorithms.” When he came to the US to start his programming career, he soon found himself chafing at corporate life and eager to share his knowledge, including through books.
“I only started speaking English at age 18, so the first people who had to read my books weren’t called editors, they were called victims,” he said. He described spending days at Dave Thomas’s house in Texas, where the author of The Pragmatic Programmer would coach him to rewrite large sections of his first book.
It’s a truism that giving is often more beneficial to the giver than the receiver. Lamouchi expresses a sense of joy at realizing how far his desire to educate and write books has taken him.
“Sharing knowledge is just a good activity,” he says, reflecting on what he’s learned from spending a day fielding questions alongside Subramaniam, De Bona, and Winterhalter at the Code event. “Getting such a prize from Oracle—from the company that is supporting the most beautiful programming language in the world—is proof that sharing knowledge has the same importance as doing code.”
- Subscribe to Oracle’s Developer newsletter for new releases plus insider tips for cloud native development
Left Coast Kratom is here to help you experience the freshest highest quality kratom powders and extracts at competitive prices.