Articles by Robin Johnson

SendGrid Devangelist. London based polyglot hacker, mainly playing with Golang and Ruby. Musical Hacker, Hardware hacker, Hackathon lover, API abuser and NoSQL user.

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The SendGrid Internal Hackathon


In mid-August, we hosted our second-annual Internal Hackathon and once again, it was a total success! Over 100 employees, ~30 hacks, and 24 hours of creative excellence! The whole idea of hackathons is to bring people together in a creative environment and give them the freedom to build something amazing. All too often now we see companies hosting internal hackathons where the event is either mandatory attendance, or a chance for the company to exploit their employees by having them work on only the business’s software, and without any kind of remuneration—in essence just a long, pressured sprint. This isn’t a good way to go, and certainly not something we agree with. Whilst we had “bounties” on SendGrid-related projects, the

10 Reasons I Love Being a Developer Evangelist (In Pictures)


I’ve now been a Developer Evangelist (or as I call it, a Devangelist) for 29 months. I’ve admittedly been close to burn out twice, but bounced back from both close-to-burnouts with the knowledge to keep myself from doing it again. I’ve been all over the world, spoken at some of the best conferences, attended some of the best hackathons, learned an unbelievable amount, mentored some of the finest minds I’ve ever come across, and enjoyed every minute of it. To document my ongoing experience as a Devangelist, I thought I’d throw together this pictorial blog to tell my story. So, here are my 10 reasons in pictures, why I love being a Developer Evangelist. This was originally an Ignite talk I

Conference/Event Speaking as a Developer


If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’re probably aware that I hold knowledge sharing in the highest regard possible. I’m lucky in that I get to share knowledge in many ways: blogging, hackathon mentorship, start-up office hours, etc. One of my absolute favourite ways of sharing knowledge though, is event and conference speaking. Over the last 2.5 years, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of speaking at around 20 events like user groups, meet-ups, and conferences. Being able to get up in front of an audience and share the knowledge you’re passionate about is a win/win for everyone. Some of the topics I’ve spoken about in my time are: Distributed Systems Navigating the NoSQL landscape Scaling Architecture with

Intro to Elixir Lang


An Introduction to the Elixir Programming Language (And Why I Love It)   I wrote an article a few months ago introducing you to Golang, and why I loved it so much. While I do indeed still love it, lately I’ve been playing around with a new language; Elixir. I bought the book Programming Elixir and have been following it through. I’ve already come to love Elixir and hope to show you why in this article. Whilst I worked for Couchbase a couple of years back, I took a great interest in Erlang, and distributed systems. To me, Erlang is confusing. When I saw Elixir, I immediately knew I was onto something good. Elixir is detailed as a functional and

The SendGrid Ambassador Programme

SendGrid Ambassador Program

Over the last year I’ve had the joy and privilege of being in charge of the SendGrid Ambassador Programme for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). My colleague, Yamil, has been in charge of the Ambassador Programme over in the United States and Latin America. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know by now that one of my absolute favourite parts of this job is teaching. I value teaching higher than anything. I believe if you have knowledge to share, share it. That being said, I jumped at the opportunity in December last year to take on the Ambassador Programme for Europe. At a high level, our Ambassador Programme is a way for engineers to gain community experience, have developer

The Value of Open Source (Part 2)

Community, Technical

I wrote a few weeks ago about How I Value Open Source, the first part in this two-part blog series. The post covered my own thoughts on Open Source (OS), and its values to me. This post aims to cover more real-life fundamentals of OS, a deeper dive into OS and of course, the business value that lies in OS. I’ve also included a video from my original presentation about Open Source for WXG 2014 at the bottom of this post! Defining Open Source… If you look up the term Open Source (OS), you’ll probably find a bunch of articles telling you that it means: "Software that can be freely downloaded, modified and re-distributed by any member of the public." I’d

How I Value Open Source (Part 1)


This article is a personal look at Open Source, and how I value it. Part 2 will be a deeper dive into Open Source. Its true values, success stories, horror stories, licenses, and much more. Make sure you come back to read that one! I gave a talk last week at WXG 2014 on “The Value of Open Source.” This topic is something near and dear to all of our hearts here at SendGrid, and was definitely an eye opener for me; revealing a lack of Open Source uptake in the developer community. Around 1/3 of my audience didn’t embrace Open Source in one way or another and this came as quite the shock to me! When I start a hack, my

Young Rewired State & Code on the Road

Community, Technical

“It was a sea of Blue SendGrid T-Shirts. Everywhere I looked, I saw SendGrid! You guys rock!” My first answer when asked the question “What do Developer Evangelists do?” is always: We empower and nurture developers. In previous talks I’ve given and articles I’ve written, I’ve described how teaching, mentoring, empowering, and nurturing are the most important parts of my job, and there’s no age limit to which this help is confined. In the many hackathons I (and the rest of the Developer Evangelist team) travel to, I see developers of all ages and I’m never more impressed, and quite frankly in awe, at the level of knowledge in the younger coders. Last week, Young Rewired State (YRS) hosted its annual

Intro to Golang

golang gopher

An Introduction to the Go Programming Language (And Why I Love It) If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll no doubt know that I’m a huge fan of Go. You may have read my endless stream of Tweets ogling its brilliance, complaining about its few pitfalls, and bathing in the sweet, sweet light that is the over-indulgent default package set. But why? Why am I constantly marveling over this language, and frequently choosing it above others? I hope to clear that point up in this blog, introduce you to Golang, its wonders, its pitfalls, and introduce you to how SendGrid is now embracing Go; and rebuilding some of our core features in the language! Ready! Back to Basics! Go is a concurrent

What is NoSQL? Four Things, Actually


I’m almost certain the majority of you will have heard the term “NoSQL.” I’m sure many of you know exactly what it means, and some of you already use it in production! But for those who are unfamiliar–what is NoSQL? This is an overview of the many different options across four types of NoSQL databases. NoSQL is a Database? Yes, it is! But you knew that already, right? In the Database world, we have almost always been accustomed to a type of database known as a relational database. These include the very common MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite and MSSQL. In the relational database world, data is structured in a format that conforms to a predefined schema. The database schema is formed

Build a Scheduled News Reader with Golang, Reddit and SendGrid


I have too many good things to say about Go. I absolutely love the language. I could write a full article just on how much I love it and why. Instead, I’ll use Go to help you learn more about Go. Very meta. Luckily, I am not the only person on our Developer Relations team that loves Go. Yamil is a keen Gopher, and has already written a basic Golang wrapper for the SendGrid API. But especially since the engineering team is adopting Go, we need more examples. As the title states, we will be building a Scheduled News Reader to email us every morning at 6am, with the latest news and headlines from the Golang Sub-Reddit, using SendGrid’s API

How to Survive as a Developer Evangelist

Passed out

If you’re here, you already know (roughly) what a developer evangelist is. You know that we’re Globetrotters, Hackers, Hustlers, Teachers, Mentors and Frequent-Flyer Mile Collectors. You have an idea of what a developer evangelist does. If you’re interested in becoming a developer evangelist, good on you. It’s the best job in the world; it truly is. HOWEVER, as you’re sure to find out, it is exhausting. In this post, I’m hoping to help minimise that exhaustion, and help you to avoid the dreaded burn-out. I’m recently back from Paris. I was there for Music Hackday (one of my favourite events), in which I sponsored, demo’d and mentored. When I arrived home on Monday evening, I crashed for three hours. I