Better Know a WebDev: Brandon Savage

Welcome back my friends to the blog post series that’s never on time.

This week we’re peering into the life of one of our Webtools engineers, pilot and politics-junkie, Brandon Savage!

Brandon Savage

What do you do at Mozilla?

I work, and have worked, on a number of projects. I started working on Personas and AMO part time, and now work on Socorro full time. I also am responsible for several new projects, like the Mediawiki-Bugzilla extension, and Dragnet, which will be a public list of Windows DLL files, and whether or not they are valid or malware. These projects are important for the release of Firefox and other products, and I love being able to be part of that process.

Any fun side projects you’re working on?

I’m working on a second book, an E-book. The details are still being fleshed out, but I’m thinking it will be on the topic of refactoring legacy code without going crazy. I also blog regularly. I spend most of my day coding and I spend much of my free time engaging in other hobbies, like aviation, and I’m presently working to restore a 1967 Piper Cherokee 235, which I bought in January.

How did you get started in web development or programming?

I realized that I could automate things, and that this made my life easier. Initially I wanted to run an online role playing game. After I spent months building it, I found I loved writing code and that I could use it to make money. Merging one’s passion with one’s employment is a sure way to love what you do!

How did you get involved with Mozilla?

I’ve been using Firefox as long as I can remember. Firebug was invaluable to me for years as a web developer, especially when I worked for more design-oriented shops and was responsible for turning designs into PHP-driven applications (I was able to inspect elements and get the right CSS information to display). But my employment with Mozilla started more recently than that. I knew Laura Thomson through her husband as well as the PHP community, and I sent her a copy of my resume, hoping to work specifically with her. That strategy seems to have paid off.

What’s a funny fail or mistake story you can share?

When we released the Harry Potter Personas for Firefox, that project was done in secret. Due to the fact that we received all the information only a few days beforehand, the names and descriptions of the Personas were too long for the web form and database. This resulted in some hilarity while we took lots of time to fix what should have been a minor thing to fix, because we were running into the bugs one at a time. Eventually we got it launched, and I can laugh about it now, but that was pretty stressful.

What’s something you’re particularly proud of?

I went from having written nothing in Django to having written a full application in Django within six months. That’s pretty awesome for someone who doesn’t have a programming background (I studied political science and taught myself to program). I’m also really proud to work for Mozilla, because I know every day I am helping to make the web a better place.

What’s coming up that you’re excited about?

Native PDF support in Firefox was recently committed to Nightly; this is something that I’ve been wanting for a long time and I’m thrilled it’s coming! I’m also really excited about the future of the web. And I can’t wait for us to finally have our onsite! I love getting together with coworkers.

What question do you wish you’d been asked?

I’m remote, so I always like to talk about the experience of working remotely and what it’s really like. People often think working from home is their dream job; they imagine themselves drinking coffee in their bathrobes and being relaxed. Working from home isn’t like that. It’s pretty awesome, but pretty isolating at times. It’s not for everybody, because you have to keep yourself motivated and there’s often travel involved. I love working remotely, and I’m glad I did it.

What’s your favorite beer style?

I’m not a big beer drinker or alcohol drinker at all. I’d have to say root beer. 😉