Interview with Mark Heckler – Spring Developer Advocate @VMware and Speaker @Java Week powered by DevCon Live

27 October 2020 news

Mark Heckler will join us as a keynote speaker at DevCon Live, Java Week! He is a Professional Problem Solver and Spring Developer & Advocate at VMware, conference speaker, published author & Java Champion focusing upon developing innovative production-ready software at velocity for the Cloud. Mark has worked with key players in the manufacturing, retail, medical, scientific, telecom, and financial industries and various public sector organizations to develop and deliver critical capabilities on time and on budget. Mark is an open source contributor and author/curator of a developer-focused blog (Hecklers in Development, brewing stronger Java) and an occasionally interesting Twitter account (@mkheck).

Mark is such an inspiration for the next generation of IT specialists and we really enjoyed the following interview & his ongoing desire to learn new things, spiced with humorous remarks & life achievements.

Take a look! 😉


Hi, Mark!

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

Sure! My name is Mark Heckler, I’m just someone who loves to code and also loves to talk. 🙂 I find that everyone learns far more when they share, because then everyone joins in the conversation! And then everyone wins. Fostering conversations while writing working code makes me happy.

What is a day in the life of a Spring Developer Advocate at VMware?

Mark Heckler: Very interesting, and very busy. 🙂

There are so many excellent tools and toys in the Spring ecosystem, you can never be bored. I’m always learning new things, even about things I feel I have a great grasp on already. But there are always new features, things I’ve overlooked or simply never had occasion to use, new use cases to explore, community-led projects to try…and that’s on top of ideas and code I contribute to all of the above. To be honest, I wish I could do more of all of it, but until we discover time travel, I’m constrained by the usual 24 hours/day.

Still eagerly awaiting that time machine though… 😀

Tell us about the tools you use, your methodology and workflow.

Mark Heckler: I keep it pretty simple for most things. IntelliJ IDEA is my daily driver in terms of IDE, but I also use VS Codium (the fully open-source build of VS Code with telemetry removed). Terminal and zsh on a Mac. And Java and Kotlin primarily for languages. And Spring of course!

Is it possible for robots to rule over the future world?

Mark Heckler: And likely, I suppose. We humans have a bad habit of unleashing things first, then trying to gain control of the situation afterward. That’s worked out well in some cases, not so well in others. As soon as we have a true AI, that mixed record is likely to tilt heavily in one direction. Hopefully we’ll still maintain control over the power cord.

At school, I was famous for…

Mark Heckler: At school I was famous for being the biggest geek in the room. And for never letting go of any problem until it was solved. Who needed sleep in school anyway? 🙂

Seriously though, there’s something about a thorny problem that just draws me in and doesn’t let go. And there’s something crazy gratifying about finally solving it in a clean and elegant way.

What about your work-life balance?

Mark Heckler: Truthfully, I’m terrible at balance. I love what I do and therefore probably spend far more time than some would consider healthy doing it. 😀 But I do have other interests…

I have a lovely family with whom I spend as much time as possible. I’m a licensed pilot, so I try to get out and fly as frequently as possible, just to clear my head and get a fresh perspective on things. And I’m writing a book – which is still very work-related but does allow me to stretch myself in somewhat different ways – called Spring Boot: Up and Running. I’ve co-authored other books, but writing one solo using entirely my own vision was something I felt I just had to do. It’s been challenging and rewarding!

Please give us a short overview about your keynote at DevCon 2020.

Mark Heckler: I’ll be presenting Spring Boot Omakase: A fast-paced “chef’s choice” dive into fun & useful topics! It’s a fun talk I’ve recently started doing that changes and evolves based upon what is new and/or interesting with Spring Boot at that moment. An omakase (chef’s choice) is when you walk into a nice restaurant and rather than ordering something specific, you ask the chef to choose some of their favorites to share; this session does the same in Chez Spring Boot. Come check it out, I think you’ll like it!

What is your message for the Romanian IT community?

Mark Heckler: Cultivate a love of learning and solving problems and never lose that excitement of doing so! And hang in there, 2020 won’t last forever. 😉


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