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James Qualls: Top Codementor, Senior Software Developer, Distributed Systems Architect, and Hacker

Published Mar 16, 2017

James QuallsJames is a senior software developer with 7 years of experience in the IT industry. He’s held positions ranging from UX designer, to project manager, director of engineering, and CTO. James has worked with a variety of clients, from startups to medium and large-sized companies.

Since he joined Codementor, James has shared his expertise with dozens of developers 60+ sessions. He’s maintained a consistent 5-star rating, becoming one of the platform’s top mentors. Jmes is part of CodementorX, our network of top software engineers available for hire.

What are the most exciting projects that you’ve worked on?

Here’s my shameless plug. Convrrt is the most interesting project I’ve worked on. We’re a really small start up trying to create a better experience for sales hackers and marketers to deploy websites and landing pages. As one of its co-founders and CTO, I try and guide our team to move fast. We are solving a number of issues by leveraging cloud services, modern languages and frameworks, and continuous deployment to keep up with and surpass our competition.

What are your favourite technologies, and why?

I am a Google Cloud Platform fanboy. I’ve used AWS, Azure, DigitalOcean, Heroku, Packet, and a few other cloud hosting providers. Google has quickly won my trust as the best platform to build any kind of application. When they released app engine, it was a bit ahead of its time. But with the rise of cloud computing and its exponential adoption by enterprise, it’s driving massive competition between the major players, which always results in better pricing, more features, and more flexibility for everyone involved. Google’s first class support for Kubernetes (GKE) makes their platform a no-brainer. Install Deis Workflow on top of Kubernetes and you have an near instant Heroku style developer workflow powered by the best open source container orchestration managed for you by Google. It’s a wonderful time to get into DevOps. Own your infrastructure, learn Kubernetes, learn Google Cloud Platform, and you will reach a new height as a developer.

What inspires you?

I have a serious passion for startups. I love finding a niche and solving its existing user experience issues through testing, rapid development, and continuous delivery. It’s exciting when you make it to the MVP and you continuously ship features that people are thrilled to use.

If you didn’t have to work for money, what would you do?

If money wasn’t a factor, I would choose to spend my time evangelizing technology and mentoring new developers and entrepreneurs. I would love to travel and share my knowledge and experience. When I first started out as a developer, it was a very painful but rewarding process of write code, not sure why it worked, write more code, not sure why it’s broken. We have an unnatural artifact in this industry where there is a massive skill gap. Developers would be more productive if they had mentors to show them how to get over roadblocks rather than spending hours and hours searching stackoverflow and crossing your fingers. This is why I love Codementor. It gives me a way of giving back and spending some of my spare time helping new developer learn faster.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Someone once told me to find what I love to do and get educated in it enough to make money - education that is not limited to academia, but education through passion, trial and error, and experience. If you love what you do, you will naturally spend all your time doing it. It won’t feel like a job it just feels like you’re living the dream everyday. The last part of his advice was to never be afraid to fail. Be afraid of never trying. People who don’t try will never make progress.

What do you wish you knew when you started programming?

Reading stack traces, properly logging, and debugging are some of the most valuable skills you can have as a programmer. Strengthen those skills, and you will be able to move much faster.

What were your best collaborative experiences?

Codementor is my best collaborative experience. It’s allowed me to work with many different people who have experienced a wide range of problems. I love meeting new people, and I love helping people solve problems.

What was your first encounter with technology?

I’m a 90’s baby so I barely remember life without the internet.

What tools help you be productive?

Any laptop that has at least 16GB of RAM, a modern intel CPU, and supports Linux or OS X.


James Qualls

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