Docker and ReactNative: a quick chat with Alessandro Nadalin

Just two days to Codemotion Rome 2016 and we are super excited!
As you know we have many international speakers, coming from outside Europe as well. Like Alessandro Nadalin, an Italian guy who lives in Dubai, working as VP Technology at Namshi, a fashion e-commerce in the middle-east.
He is a seasoned technical leader, who pays a lot of attention to enterprise patterns, methodologies and SOA. When he’s not working, you can find him speaking at some conferences, blogging or eating some Indonesian food in the old side of Dubai.
He is going to give two talks at Codemotion Rome: “React Native in the wild” and “Dockerize it: stop living in the past and embrace the future”.

Hi Alex, could you give us a quick introduction about your talks?

I’m going to lay myself open to ridicule talking about how Docker or, better, Linux containers can have a huge impact in the way we think of technology today, from running useful tasks on our dev machines to running our production deployments.
I am going to show some interesting use cases for containers (and not just Docker in general) and report of 2 years down the path of running a containerized infrastructure.

The second talk is about React Native and it’s going to be be a really tiny introduction to the platform, how it works, how to develop your app locally and problems we’ve encountered in these first public releases of RN for Android — this talk is going to have a bunch of basic code examples but should give the attendees a concrete idea about RN.

One of your presentation is about React Native: a platform that lets you build native mobile apps using Javascript. Is not the first time that we see this approach, (i.e. Titanium, Phonegap etc). What’s your feeling about it?

I feel it’s early, but we’re on track. When you see a player like Facebook that goes native, then moves to hybrid apps, then switches back to native and eventually tries to move away from it with their own tool… …well, it just makes you wonder if mobile development is as optimal as it should be.
I mean, these guys are really trying hard to avoid rewriting most of their code twice, why shouldn’t we share the same opinion?

So at the end of the day I think RN has still a long way to go, but will eventually force people to rethink how we develop mobile apps. Even if we’re not going to use RN in 3 years, my bet is that things will look quite different.

Docker is an hot topic nowadays, everyone is talking about it. Is it another buzzword/temporary cool technology or there’s something more?

Docker might be, containers won’t.
We’re evolving towards a tech landscape where hardware will be as abstract as possible, where you will talk ‘services’, not ‘machines’, where you will want to scale services with ease, boot them in time, configure them in a simple manner.

Now, VMs can do a few of these things, but containers do a lot of them much more nicely.
They are different things used to achieve different goals — and we used to do a lot of things with VMs simply because containers weren’t there yet (just a reminder: cgroups came out in 2006).

So at the end of the day Docker opened up a way for containers to become simple and stable enough so that everyone could use them, and see the benefits they bring on the table.

Docker itself might be a tool destined to disappear in 5 years (though let’s hope it won’t, those guys are great!), but containers are here to stay: we just need to understand when to use them, and how.

If you could improve one thing in tech conferences, what would it be?

I would ban talks that start before 10am, I’m not a morning person :)

Who are your tech heroes?

I got 3 names that should be on everyone’s “watchlist”:

  • Mitchell Hashimoto, the guy behind Vagrant, Pakcer, Consul, Terraform and “you can name it”. He’s been doing a crazy great job to improve the devops landscape
  • Roy Fielding, for his incredible contributions on HTTP and the REST architectural style
  • Mark Nottingham, “father” of HTTP/2 and a guy we should thank everytime we trigger an HTTP request

What worries you the most in the IT industry?

The dinosaurs who have legacy architectures and need to sign papers to make changes to their code. But, luckily, they’re disappearing :)

What was the last song you listen to?

I’ll rephrase: the last song I had to listen to. Some Punjabi music my wife listens to while driving to the office :)

One tip to the youngsters interested in coding?

Get into OSS as soon as possible: start (even silly) projects, benchmark yourself against others, get involved and learn from what others do.

No man is an island: you win as soon as you understand it.

Bonus point: get a mentor, someone in technology that you really admire / think is cool and try to build a relationship with him, so that you can always ask for an advice.
I sometimes get emails from random people asking me what they should do, which technology they should use and so on… …as much as I dont think I deserve to advise them (:-P), I am always happy to try to give my opinion when someone is genuinely asking for support.

If a wanna-be developer wants to start coding today, which language or platform would you suggest her/him and why?

I would suggest JavaScript simply because it will open a lot of doors to him / her. I think it’s an easy language to pick up, though the async part is hard to digest at the beginning — but it’s going to be much easier to think async to begin with rather than starting with a traditional scripting language (ie. Python or PHP) and then switch to JS.

So at the end of the day it’s going to be simple to understand, there’s a lot of documentation, a ton of libraries to help you overcome common problems, you will be having fun using it on the server, the client and maybe even mobile apps.
So, at the end of the day, it’s a good way to keep your chances open :)

Great, thanks a lot Alex, see you on stage this Friday then!

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