Working with developers for 22 + years, Laurence Moroney is an expert at recognising the obstacles developers face and devising solutions for these. After working for major companies including Reuters & Microsoft, Laurence has taken on the role of Developer Advocate at Google. In the run up to his mini Google Developer workshop at Apps World Evolution, we were able to get an exclusive interview with Laurence.
Can you start off by telling us about your experience and your position within Google?
Hi -- I'm a Developer Advocate at Google working on Firebase and Google Maps. I've been in the industry for many years, first as a developer, then as a development manager, before switching to Advocacy in 2005, after I started writing programming books. First for a startup called Mainsoft, before moving onto Microsoft and eventually Google!
Why does Google utilise a network of developer advocates?
The role of Developer Advocate is twofold, and essential for anybody who wants to build software that other people build upon. From an outbound perspective we are developers who want to use it in much the same way as our partners and customers, who play with it, come up with best practices, tutorials, samples etc so that we can communicate that at scale via videos, blogs etc. From an *inbound* perspective, engaging with other developers in this way helps us better understand how people use our products and how they *want* to use them -- which in turn helps us to scope out how to continue building.
How do you interact with the developer audience?
Lots of ways! I make a lot of videos on various Google Developers Channels, and feature in a series called 'Firecasts' which are short tutorials in how to do something useful with Firebase. Similarly I make videos called 'Geocasts' for Google Maps developers. In addition to these, I have a personal passion of helping put a human face on Google through a series called 'Coffee with a Googler' where I interview interesting people that work here, over coffee, from a developer angle. Beyond videos there's attending and speaking at conferences and meetups, as well as blogging and interacting with developers over social media.
What is firebase?
It's a set of tools and infrastructure that's designed to help you build better apps, through helping you build the essential common services that any app needs, without rolling out the infrastructure to support that yourself. Things like Authentication -- a common suite of tools to give you federated identity management that you don't maintain. Or a realtime database that is provided as a backend as a service. It also has tools that you can use to systematically grow your application smartly, such as App Invites, Dynamic Links and integration with Google Search via App Indexing...and a whole lot more!
To what extent have you faced resistance from developers to firebase?
To be honest I haven't met a lot of resistance, other than people not knowing that much about it. When they realize that it's a suite of tools, and they don't need to take *all* of the tools to use it, then they generally get more interested. I meet developers all the time that would love to use our authentication tools, but don't want to migrate their database (for example), and when they realize they can, then their eyes light up. And vice versa!
What are the habits of highly successful developers?
We've looked into Developers that are very successful -- with apps that are making a certain amount of money each month -- and learned about where they spend their energy. For example, not maintaining their own authentication infrastructure, having the ability to test across a diversity of devices, using systemic growth, using notifications smartly and lots more. One part of this is that we noticed that the really successful developers target multiple platforms -- iOS, Android and the Web. We've been crafting Firebase so that you can do the same.
You’re speaking at Apps World Evolution in June, why are conferences like this important for you?
Just look at the name. It's about the evolution of apps, and that's one of the things we'd love to help drive. There's so much competition for your eyeballs on your phone, and not just between apps. How do we help you get your app first and foremost in your user's mind? I'm convinced that the main part of this effort is to help you focus on your domain knowledge, and build the best app you can, instead of burning calories on maintaining infrastructure that could be done as a service. That's where Firebase comes in.
Who would you most be looking forward to meeting at Apps World Evolution?
Everybody! I'm particularly excited to meet app developers who have problems that we can help solve :)