Discover more from OpenLampTech
OpenLampTech - Developer Interview with Joel Clermont
Longtime PHP developer Joel Clermont helps Laravel teams and individuals level up their skills and products. Learn more about Joel's ever-expanding PHP career in this OpenLampTech interview.
Welcome to this OpenLampTech text-based developer interview.
Having started PHP development with the Zend Framework and now working with Laravel right at a decade, Joel Clermont is a knowledgable developer we can all learn something from.
Joel has crafted some excellent responses and content for this text-based interview that I know you will definitely enjoy.
Needless to say, I am super-excited Joel agreed to participate in this developer interview for the OpenLampTech newsletter readers.
And now without any further ado, on to the interview.
Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us what you currently do for a living.
My name is Joel Clermont and I’m a PHP developer living near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’ve worked with PHP a long time (25 years and counting!) and these days I work with Laravel teams to help them level up their skills and products. I also enjoy working one-on-one with individual developers in a coaching and support role too.
Q: What PHP framework(s) and/or CMS(s) are you interested in the most or currently using (if any) and why?
My first framework was Zend Framework and it was an absolute eye-opener for me. I learned so much from it, and it made me way more productive than writing everything myself or trying to piece together different PEAR packages I downloaded (remember those?).
For the last 9 years, I’ve been focused entirely on working with Laravel. Like those early Zend Framework days, I found it to be an extremely productive way of building apps, and it’s just grown stronger over the last decade in terms of the community and ecosystem.
Q: Do you think it is important for developers to know some SQL and not rely solely on an ORM? Why or why not?
Oh yes, most definitely. While I would never try to “gate keep” and tell someone what order to learn things in, I do think a deeper understanding of SQL is going to help you write better-performing apps. Taking an example from the Laravel world, you can write some really powerful queries using the Eloquent ORM, but without knowing how that’s going to be translated to SQL, you can’t design proper indexes or troubleshoot something that’s slower than you’d like.
Knowing the underlying database technology also helps you to design better solutions, leveraging the database engine more effectively. For example, the other day I was doing a coaching session with a Laravel dev, and he was fighting Eloquent trying to do a cross-database join in a query. I showed him he could accomplish the same thing with zero changes to his application by leveraging MySQL views. Without knowing at least a little about what the database can do, you might overlook simple solutions.
Q: What is one piece of software that you just cannot live without and why?
OmniFocus! This task manager runs my entire life, not just work tasks. By having a solid system for capturing, reviewing and planning tasks and projects, it frees up my brain to focus on important work. I could not get nearly as much done without this amazing tool.
Q: You type all of your code in which IDE/Text Editor/Software?
I probably write 95% of my code in PHPStorm. It’s got a ton of functionality out of the box, but pairing it with the Laravel Idea plugin makes it even better for Laravel development.
Q: How has working as a web developer/designer/professional benefited you other than the obvious paycheck and monetary value?
The first ten years of writing PHP, I was pretty isolated. Other than my co-workers or clients, I didn’t really know much about the larger community. But in 2008, when I founded the Milwaukee PHP user group with fellow developer Aaron Saray, that unlocked all the awesomeness that is the PHP community. The next year I attended my first PHP conference (phptek, still going strong!) and not too long after that I was speaking at PHP conferences. The community is something that has really benefited me over the last 15 years or so.
Q: Do you have a book, newsletter, blog, podcast or other resource you would recommend to other developers?
If you use Laravel or are even just curious about it, I’d recommend our site masteringlaravel.io. We publish a newsletter with short two-minute tips that relate to something we’re actually building, so this is hands-on practical advice. We also have a podcast called No Compromises, which is short (15 minutes or less) and focused on one Laravel or PHP topic, and we like to have fun too.
But to be a little less biased about my own stuff, I recommend the book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning for everyone interested in learning or sharpening skills (not just developers, though it’s especially relevant for us). I read this book when it first came out in 2008 and it really helped me accelerate my learning and build proficiency with PHP and all the other technologies I needed to know. Highly, highly recommended!
Q: What hobbies or activities do you do for fun?
I’m a total Star Wars nerd. Books, movies, comics, all of it. I even like the prequel and the sequel trilogies.
Q: Where can readers go to learn more about you and any projects you may have going?
Q: Anything else you'd like to add or share with the OpenLampTech readers?
If you have never attended a conference or meetup, I highly recommend it. Show up, meet new people, and you might be surprised where the connections take you.
Thank you, Joel Clermont, for sharing your knowledge and insights with the OpenLampTech newsletter readers and community!
Thank you for reading. I hope you have a great rest of your week.
Thanks for reading OpenLampTech! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.