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S1 E30: Make debugging more fun (Ollie / @OllieDeAlb)
Episode 3029th December 2022 • WebJoy • Eddie Hinkle
00:00:00 00:22:37

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Ollie joins the show to talk about his origin story, from working a lot of odd jobs like being a waiter, doing radio shows, and stand-up comedy to working as a go-to-marketer at Google Chrome and now at Replay.

We discuss collaborative debugging, something that is becoming more popular and that Replay is working to make easy and enjoyable! We also chat about the biggest secret about Replay ... they employ wizards!

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Transcripts

eddie:

Welcome to episode 30 of the web joy podcast.

eddie:

I'm your host Eddie.

eddie:

And in this podcast, we interview guests about their origin story and

eddie:

what makes them excited and joyful to be part of the tech community.

eddie:

I hope you enjoy today's episode, make debugging more fun.

eddie:

With Oliver de Albuquerque.

eddie:

Welcome back to another episode of Web Joy.

eddie:

I'm excited to have Oliver today with us.

eddie:

Oliver, say hi to the community and, uh, let 'em know who you

eddie:

are, what you do, where you work.

eddie:

Brief intro.

eddie:

Hey

Ollie:

everyone.

Ollie:

This is Ali or Oliver D Albuquerque.

Ollie:

I'm the go to market lead at replay.

Ollie:

Which is a dev tool startup.

Ollie:

We're about a couple years old.

Ollie:

I came from Google, was my last company, was there for six years.

Ollie:

Hel held a bunch of different roles in various kinds of product partnerships,

Ollie:

product partnerships, content partnerships, channel partnerships.

Ollie:

And most recently spent a couple years at Chrome, and before that

Ollie:

I was at a company called G lg.

Ollie:

From the uk, from Oxford originally, but I live in the Outta Richmond.

Ollie:

In San Francisco.

eddie:

Nice.

eddie:

Well, so how did you find your way into tech, right?

eddie:

Did you just always know this is what you wanted to do, or did you

eddie:

take a little bit of a windy journey?

eddie:

Kind of give us a brief overview of what that looked like

Ollie:

for you.

Ollie:

Yeah, definitely not.

Ollie:

I graduated in 2011, so I'm 33.

Ollie:

there was, I think Google was, and, and companies like it were kind of had

Ollie:

a really exciting inflection point.

Ollie:

So I sort of always knew that that would be a really good place to land.

Ollie:

Not Google the company, but Silicon Valley would be a good place to land just in

Ollie:

trying to pay rent and build a career.

Ollie:

And, but I sort of took, took a windy road.

Ollie:

I used to do like standup comedy and.

Ollie:

I used to like work at a radio station, and so I kind of

Ollie:

like did a bunch of odd jobs.

Ollie:

I worked a lot when I was in college.

Ollie:

I had like three different jobs.

Ollie:

I, I had jobs helping like physically and mentally challenged

Ollie:

adults and waited tables.

Ollie:

So I kind of always worked a lot and I had that built in, um, which helped.

Ollie:

And then I started this company called GLG was my kind of first proper job.

Ollie:

They moved me to Austin, Texas.

Ollie:

That was fun.

Ollie:

I mean it's, I don't know if you know what the company does.

Ollie:

They're sort of this, it's a network of experts like subject matter experts that

Ollie:

they kind of bring into their platform that sign confidentiality agreements and

Ollie:

are sort of readily available to consult.

Ollie:

So they consult on demand.

Ollie:

GLGs customers who, and mainly like institutional investors, wall Street

Ollie:

people increasingly were kind of like a lot of strategy consultants like

Ollie:

Bain, McKinsey, BBC G, like those types of companies would use it heavily.

Ollie:

And then when I started, we were just launching a business for

Ollie:

companies like businesses to use G L.

Ollie:

And it's sort of a fun, it was like a mini m b A in that okay, you have this ability

Ollie:

to talk to any expert on any topic that is difficult to get access to in a, like

Ollie:

a written report or in on the internet.

Ollie:

Like what would you talk about and what kinds of companies,

Ollie:

what would they wanna learn?

Ollie:

So, You know, I would go to DuPont offices in, in Delaware and talk to their market

Ollie:

intelligence teams and r and d teams that would say, oh, we make a coding

Ollie:

that works really well on airplane seats, but we wanna sell it into car seats.

Ollie:

We wanna talk to experts who know about how to like, how to enter that new market.

Ollie:

And so, It was fun.

Ollie:

Like I talked to life sciences companies, I met with chemicals companies and

Ollie:

then they eventually moved me to San Francisco to start their tech practice.

Ollie:

And the thing that was fun about that was just the early business

Ollie:

building, we had $0 in revenue.

Ollie:

We had, you know, maybe almost one customer.

Ollie:

And the fun.

Ollie:

of that was turning it into a real business and figuring out how to make

Ollie:

it a real business, and I kind of just got bit by the tech bug there in moving

Ollie:

to San Francisco and being in Atlassian offices when they were like less than

Ollie:

a hundred people being in Twilio's offices when they were 40 people.

Ollie:

I want to go work at one of these companies and ended up getting an

Ollie:

offer at Google and joined there and knew I wasn't gonna stay long, but

Ollie:

knew it was kind of a good place.

Ollie:

Try a few things and find maybe what might be some more areas of interest.

Ollie:

I always thought I wanted to work at YouTube, but then, um, yeah, I

Ollie:

ended up kind of like stumbling into developer world and developer ecosystems

Ollie:

and, and just kind of love that.

Ollie:

I love the engineer mind.

Ollie:

I love the sort of community based problem solving.

Ollie:

Like I, there was just all these attributes about it and about

Ollie:

open source projects that I found.

Ollie:

Really exciting and interesting.

Ollie:

So that was kind of where I ended up gravitating towards.

Ollie:

But of course I'm not an engineer learning to be one now.

Ollie:

But yeah, that's kind of how I found my way, I

eddie:

guess.

eddie:

How did you get into go to market stuff?

eddie:

Is that what you were going to school for or?

eddie:

kind of how did, did that shift happen and which job did you start working on?

eddie:

Sales, marketing, go to market, that kind of area?

Ollie:

Sure.

Ollie:

No, I didn't go to school for it.

Ollie:

I studied economics.

Ollie:

I was a pre-med major for, for the first two and a half

Ollie:

years, and then I just switched.

Ollie:

Kind of last minute thinking, I want to get done with school sooner

Ollie:

and I have a lot of school loans and I wanna start earning money.

Ollie:

And so I, I took the shortcut and, um, stopped doing, going

Ollie:

the, the medicine route.

Ollie:

No, I didn't learn anything about the types of jobs I would do in school,

Ollie:

but I learned it getting a few.

Ollie:

cutting my teeth on a few internships.

Ollie:

I had an internship for this kind of emergency backup power,

Ollie:

like a construction company that sold generators where I was

Ollie:

doing sales and some marketing.

Ollie:

And so we were finding like data centers that were needing to

Ollie:

outfit their data centers with an emergency backup power system and.

Ollie:

I was trying to find company, like what sorts of companies were at the right

Ollie:

stage in terms of outfitting their data center where they would need, uh, like

Ollie:

a full construction team to come in, put the things in and do, you know, and

Ollie:

those things cost millions of dollars.

Ollie:

And so I was, that was my first, I guess, real job.

Ollie:

It was my first college internship, so I knew I could do that.

Ollie:

I knew I could have a conversation with someone who I didn't know very well.

Ollie:

Make it easy enough that they would actually might consider doing business

Ollie:

with whoever I was representing.

Ollie:

So that was my first job, was sales and did well, I did well at G lg.

Ollie:

That was ended up being my first job.

Ollie:

And then kind of, I think just building an intuition for how

Ollie:

companies work, how people think about what business needs look like

Ollie:

and how do you actually walk people into a process that the rest of the.

Ollie:

Stuff like marketing and stuff like how to do partnerships or how to

Ollie:

kind of do pricing and did it all.

Ollie:

That kind of came along with it once I kind of started to just get going.

Ollie:

That's probably a similar path to many developers who didn't go to school.

Ollie:

when they learned how to be a developer, they learned it afterwards.

Ollie:

And so yeah, I'm similar in that

eddie:

way.

eddie:

Well, so I guess, what is it, you did a bunch of different jobs in college,

eddie:

didn't really study it, but then kind of got into sales and then moved your

eddie:

way more into the marketing realm.

eddie:

What is it that kind of has you excited and keeps you interested in

eddie:

working in go-to-market type industry?

eddie:

I

Ollie:

think the go-to-market function.

Ollie:

. To me, what's most exciting is I left a very large company to join a very small

Ollie:

company, and that very small company has a lot of talented people in it.

Ollie:

Replay is 15

eddie:

people, only 15.

eddie:

Wow.

eddie:

. Ollie: Yes.

eddie:

And they have built something incredible.

eddie:

It's a very incredible.

eddie:

technology leap that other browsers have actually endeavored to try to

eddie:

create as a, as an offering as well.

eddie:

Chrome has tried this.

eddie:

Google has tried this, Microsoft has tried this.

eddie:

The company was born at Firefox.

eddie:

Really the idea was born at Firefox and that's where the co-founders are from.

eddie:

And so it's go, it's this high intrinsic value.

eddie:

Amazing technology and it's a tiny company that is trying to figure

eddie:

out how I can be a real business.

eddie:

And the thing that gives me joy when I come to work is.

eddie:

I want to help make it a real business.

eddie:

I want customers that want to pay us money, that tell their friends, and that

eddie:

where demand grows naturally and that the company can provide economic security

eddie:

to the people that are employed in it.

eddie:

And it helps kind of software development in general become like more joyful place.

eddie:

I mean, I think the part of our mission as a company is to make debugging more

eddie:

fun, but for me, I get excited about.

eddie:

Helping make this a real business and giving economic security to, to

eddie:

the people that are employed here,

eddie:

Nice.

eddie:

That's awesome.

eddie:

Well, and that's a funny segue, right?

eddie:

Because one of the main things we want to do on this podcast is talk

eddie:

about what brings people with joy.

eddie:

And so the kind of the topic that you and I had discussed heading

eddie:

into this that you'd like to talk about was collaborative debugging.

eddie:

So nice little segue there.

eddie:

So collaborative debugging.

eddie:

Is this right?

eddie:

Like give us a definition, I guess.

eddie:

Will you, what does that look like?

eddie:

What does that feel like?

Ollie:

Sure.

Ollie:

Collaboration is a multiplayer experience, and for something to be

Ollie:

collaborative, it means that in order to.

Ollie:

Get from point A to point B.

Ollie:

You need each other, you know, another person or at least one

Ollie:

other person to join in and be part of that collective activity in

Ollie:

order to achieve a certain thing.

Ollie:

And debugging, I think, has ordinarily been a single person's.

Ollie:

Show where they debug, where they're getting sent like a bug , or sent an issue

Ollie:

via, whether it's an, an automated test or whether it's, you know, a customer

Ollie:

sees a bug and then tells QA the issue, and then QA share that with a developer.

Ollie:

Wherever the issue, the bug kind of comes in.

Ollie:

It's kind of given to the developer, and then the developer has some

Ollie:

set of information in order to be able to actually debug it.

Ollie:

And today, I mean before replay and before things like time travel, debuggers, there

Ollie:

was so much wasted time and challenge in one, trying to get all the necessary

Ollie:

information to be able to reproduce.

Ollie:

And to reproduce the issue, and two, to actually figure out what was going on

Ollie:

in a very complicated and then fix it.

Ollie:

What replay's, browser and replay's app allows you to do is to basically

Ollie:

record an issue just and share it.

Ollie:

Just like.

Ollie:

You would, lots of other collaborative software.

Ollie:

Just like if I wanted to write a blog post, I might put it in a Google Doc

Ollie:

and then share it with you, and then you might make some edits to it.

Ollie:

Replay is kind of taking that same collaboration foundation of being

Ollie:

built into the web where you can share it and people can have access

Ollie:

to it via url, but what sharing is the entire session that the browser

Ollie:

just made, meaning it's not a video.

Ollie:

It's actually a recording of the whole browser session where you see every

Ollie:

line of code that's being executed in the course of that recording.

Ollie:

And when a developer receives that from whoever, whether it's through,

Ollie:

uh, your test that you have set up in CI where the test failed, or

Ollie:

through a customer sharing a bargain issue, and they get a replay of it.

Ollie:

They can do so much more to actually figure out what, what was going on.

Ollie:

Cuz there can be some comments that the person who created the recording

Ollie:

can share that says, here, I tried to add to cart but it failed.

Ollie:

What's going on?

Ollie:

And then the developer can then go in and see.

Ollie:

All the network requests that were coming through at the time that that

Ollie:

person clicked, tried to add to cart.

Ollie:

You can see every line of code that was being failed.

Ollie:

You could see the elements panel, you can inspect components.

Ollie:

Everything that's happening in the code's execution, you

Ollie:

can see at that point in time.

Ollie:

And you can rewind and go backwards and forwards to see.

Ollie:

What failed and what actually led to the cause.

Ollie:

Very long-winded way of describing it, but that's really the collaboration

Ollie:

comes in the power of being able to record the replay once and then have it

Ollie:

live forever and use comments and all sorts of other things that, that we have

Ollie:

built in that allow you to basically see what's going on, diagnose it, and.

Ollie:

move on

Ollie:

. eddie: So what I'm hearing is you all are

Ollie:

I mean, this sounds like magic , so there's some interesting stuff going on

Ollie:

there.

Ollie:

Yes.

Ollie:

We employ wizards.

Ollie:

One of my favorite people at replay is a guy Mark Erickson, who is a

Ollie:

maintainer of Redox, and he joined.

Ollie:

, um, and is one of our front end engineers and he is a wizard.

Ollie:

He's written a lot of pieces on how to debug and is kind of

Ollie:

a thought leader in the space.

Ollie:

Yeah,

eddie:

that's so funny because when you were talking about rewinding, fast

eddie:

forwarding, I was like, that's funny.

eddie:

That sounds a lot like the Redux tools.

eddie:

Like that was the first kind of debugging platform that like I ever saw where I

eddie:

could actually click a button and like rewind time and fast forward time, and.

eddie:

it makes complete sense that he would want to, regardless of if you all

eddie:

built that before he came, like of course that's something he would wanna

eddie:

be a part of or would've fit into.

Ollie:

Yeah.

Ollie:

I mean, the next generation of what the redux dev tools is gonna live in replay,

eddie:

that's incredible.

eddie:

Now.

eddie:

I imagine there's like an SD case, someone installs, like that's I'm

eddie:

sure pretty standard and normal.

Ollie:

We have basically two elements of replay.

Ollie:

You have the replay browser, which you need to download just like you

Ollie:

download Chrome and any other browser.

Ollie:

We have a fork of chromium and we have a fork of Firefox.

Ollie:

And then you launch that browser, you can record a bug.

Ollie:

So you can like put the webpage in the browser where the bug ha is occurring,

Ollie:

or, or, and then you record it.

Ollie:

And then after that you basically have a shareable URL

Ollie:

link, which then you can share.

Ollie:

And then if you are spending all your time in Chrome, then you

Ollie:

can actually view that record.

Ollie:

in another Chrome tab, and then by replaying that recording,

Ollie:

that's the replay app.

Ollie:

And the replay app is a web app that basically has everything that like Chrome

Ollie:

dev tools has in it to basically debug.

Ollie:

And so you kind of, the, the browser is used to record it and then the app, the

Ollie:

web app is used to debug that recording and you have kind of a viewer tab.

Ollie:

You have a dev tools tab, and you can see everything that's going.

Ollie:

. That's really cool.

Ollie:

Another thing that I wanted to share a little bit, as you were talking about

Ollie:

kind of the go to market function and what am I, what brings me joy and what I'm

Ollie:

excited about, there's been, you know, in the history of developer tools, there's

Ollie:

a really interesting history of how projects for developers begin, how they.

Ollie:

Fanfare how that, how fanfare gets built and how people find use of it.

Ollie:

And there's a long road of kind of tools that never maybe saw the light

Ollie:

of day, but had a lot of potential.

Ollie:

And there's projects that kind of remained open source and, and saw a lot

Ollie:

of demand and then people could build lives li you know, earn a living out of

Ollie:

being a developer that knew that part.

Ollie:

project, like you could be a React developer, and then there's lots

Ollie:

which was born out of Facebook.

Ollie:

But I think what's interesting about the go-to-market function in dev tools is

Ollie:

because there's this kind of interesting history of how developers came to

Ollie:

life and how they actually sustained themselves and became real businesses.

Ollie:

That's actually a very hard leap.

Ollie:

To make, how do you turn something that is super valuable for developers and

Ollie:

could actually make software development so much better for, you know, the

Ollie:

millions of people who are trying to build and actually make it easier for

Ollie:

more developers to become developers?

Ollie:

How do you turn that into real business?

Ollie:

And that's kind of the something around, the one thing I think about

Ollie:

with respect to being a go-to-market leader at replay is, That's a hard

Ollie:

leap to, to make, and, um, that's what I'm hired to, to try and do.

Ollie:

That

eddie:

sounds really exciting, right?

eddie:

Because so often developers use tools and those tools disappear or they get

eddie:

bought it by another company because they want to get those developers

eddie:

that built it, and oftentimes it ends up going into disrepair.

eddie:

And so I think that's great for you to be able to be someone who is helping

eddie:

ensure that this tool is sustainable and profitable so that developers can actually

eddie:

rely on it rather than something that is just gonna grow cobwebs in the corner.

Ollie:

Yeah, exactly.

Ollie:

It's very, it's important to our mission.

Ollie:

It's how we're trying to build a high integrity with the choices we

Ollie:

make, what we open source, what we, what we can make available, like

Ollie:

what tools we want to build into.

Ollie:

There's a lot that goes into the decisions from a product positioning

Ollie:

and from a product development standpoint that we hope will mean

Ollie:

this thing is a long lasting thing that can live in all sorts of contexts

Ollie:

and help developers everywhere.

Ollie:

We wanna be runtime agnostic, we wanna be browser agnostic, we wanna

Ollie:

be framework agnostic so that as the sort of web development evolves,

Ollie:

there's this kind of foundational way in which you can debug most very

Ollie:

easily in all those different contexts.

Ollie:

And yeah, it's very, you know, we're built by developers.

Ollie:

The dna n a and the lifeblood of the company is developers that really

Ollie:

give a shit and that want, um, to make tools that make people's lives easier

Ollie:

and want to bring a lot of joy to.

Ollie:

To the software development process?

eddie:

Is there free trials or free tier?

eddie:

If someone heard all this and they're like, this is so awesome, I have to try

eddie:

this out, uh, how do they try it out?

eddie:

How do they get involved?

eddie:

Yes.

Ollie:

If you're an individual developer that's just trying to build

Ollie:

your app and you can use this thing, then yeah, it's free for individuals.

Ollie:

If you are a contributor to an open source project or a maintainer to an open source

Ollie:

project, it's free for you to use as well.

Ollie:

We wanna support all open source projects that could use replay in any context.

Ollie:

So please reach out if you, uh, are trying to use it in that way.

Ollie:

We have.

Ollie:

Paid plans for teams and companies to use it.

Ollie:

You can sign up and set up a team and that kicks off a 30 day trial, which

Ollie:

we're happy to extend we're super early so we know things can take time to kind

Ollie:

of get materialized within companies.

Ollie:

And then we have a paid model depending on how many users and whatnot.

Ollie:

And we're just coming out with, our test suites offering, which is

Ollie:

adding replay to ci, so that you can debug failed tests or flaky tests.

eddie:

That's awesome, especially for those tests that like the

eddie:

code works, but the test doesn't.

eddie:

Why the heck is that happening?

eddie:

And yeah, there you go.

eddie:

Now you got the magic.

Ollie:

Yeah, exactly.

Ollie:

You can run, there's a couple test runners that we're starting with Cyprus

Ollie:

and playwright, and we'll add support for puppeteer as well, and, and then

Ollie:

eventually the others, but exactly.

Ollie:

You see that a test failed and you'd have a replay, a recording of, of that where

Ollie:

you can jump in and see what went wrong.

Ollie:

Why did the test actually fail?

Ollie:

. eddie: Nice.

Ollie:

Well, that's music to my ears.

Ollie:

Cypress is my favorite test runner, so I'm glad to hear that They, uh,

Ollie:

they're supported by it already.

Ollie:

, Ollie: yes.

Ollie:

We just are hiring our, our first product manager is came from Cyprus

Ollie:

and we have the, their first technical account manager that joined Replay.

Ollie:

So Nice.

Ollie:

We know those folks and, and are big fans of and what that building.

eddie:

Well, cool.

eddie:

As we, you know, wrap up today, you know, as a community we love to support

eddie:

each other, uh, so we'd love to hear, you know, is there anything that you've

eddie:

been involved in that you want to share?

eddie:

I mean, obviously replay, check that out.

eddie:

Uh, if you all are interested.

eddie:

But is there anything else that you'd like to throw out there to share with

Ollie:

the community?

Ollie:

You know, we love React and we love njs.

Ollie:

We're very involved in those, uh, projects and, and, and others.

Ollie:

So I'd say like, if you are, you know, we just, we, Brian Vaughn is another,

Ollie:

uh, member of our team who, um, helped build the reactive tools and came

Ollie:

from Facebook and, and so you can find us in those, in those projects.

Ollie:

And, and we also have a, a discord, um, as well we, we build in public.

Ollie:

So come on in and we'd love to chat with you.

eddie:

Well, yeah, that sounds great.

eddie:

It's great to hear you have a discord and.

eddie:

. Yeah, I'll have to check that out.

eddie:

Anyone else interested?

eddie:

Feel free to jump in there.

eddie:

I will, uh, have links to kind of everything we talked about in this

eddie:

episode, uh, in the show notes.

eddie:

So if you're interested in that, check out the show notes for easy to click links.

eddie:

And, uh, yeah.

eddie:

Ollie, I appreciate you joining the podcast.

eddie:

It's been so fun chatting.

eddie:

It's

Ollie:

so great chatting with you too.

Ollie:

Thanks for having me.

eddie:

Thank you for joining us for episode 30, make debugging more

eddie:

fun with Oliver de Albuquerque.

eddie:

You can find out more about Ali on his Twitter.

eddie:

At Ali.

eddie:

De Alba.

eddie:

You can find links to everything we talked about in this episode, as well as a link

eddie:

to Ollie's Twitter in the show notes.

eddie:

If you enjoyed this episode, help others discover it as well.

eddie:

Just give us a shout out on your favorite social media platform,

eddie:

maybe tag a friend or a coworker that you think might enjoy it.

eddie:

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