Interview with Simon Maple

We are continuing our interviews series! This time with our great friend Simon Maple! Enjoy!

Hi Simon! We are happy to have you at jPrime! Would you please introduce yourself?
It's my pleasure to be at jPrime! I'm Simon Maple, developer advocate at Snyk. I'm also a Virtual JUG founder and co-organiser as well as the London Java Community (LJC) co-organiser.

Your job is developer advocate. Can you describe what you usually do in that role?
It's a role that often means different things to different people. For me it focuses on three things, awareness, feedback and enablement. Awareness is fairly self explanatory really, as it's important to made sure that whether you're an advocate of a product, technology or API/service, developers around the world are aware it exists and what they can do with it. This can be achieved through content, videos, podcasts, webinars, community work, conference presentations and much more. The feedback part is very important and undervalued. As an advocate you do a lot of travelling and speak with a lot of users and customers, so it's important you understand how they're using what you're advocating for and what pain they're experiencing. This needs to be fed back to the product and engineering teams. Finally there's enablement. It's key that when developers use your product or service that they understand what they're doing and if they need help, they can get it. Enablement is providing the information they require to achieve exactly this. Content like how-to's, tutorials and other such things can be created to achieve this. So my role is very broad, but I try to achieve as much of this as I can fit into my week!

You are also known as the Virtual JUG founder. Would you tell us more about that community?
Around 4-5 years ago I realised it was hard to me to get into London to catch an LJC session and get back home in any reasonable time, as I live outside of London. This becomes particularly hard when you have a family and travel a fair bit anyway. I thought I'd create a virtual community that provides similar content for the world's top speakers and try to build a community around that. Today, we have over 15,000 members, run regular sessions, book club events, hack days, and even a 24 hour virtual conference. Of course it takes a team to achieve this and we have Oleg Shelajev, Roberto Cortez, jPrime's very own Ivan St. Ivanov, Anton Arhipov and Alaina Tucker who all help keep the community running.

Recently you joined a company that analyzes open source projects for security issues. Could you tell us more about the problems that you are tackling?
Yes! I'm really excited about working for a company that I feel really makes a difference on the software world. Snyk finds and fixes known vulnerabilities in open source dependencies. This is a big deal these days as *everyone* uses open source projects and very rarely do you hear anyone even know which dependencies (including transitive dependencies) they have pulled into their project, let alone whether they know about the security implications. Our challenge is to keep the value of developers using open source dependencies, but making sure they do it securely by finding and fixing vulnerabilities throughout the CI/CD pipeline from development through to deployment.

You do something in your free time, right? What is that?
As a developer advocate I travel a fair amount, so I try to spend every second of my free time with my family. When I don't travel I work from home, so I get to see my wife, Liz and two boys Joshua and Oliver a lot of the time. My weekends are very precious to me and we always try to go out as a family, very often to Legoland!

Thank you very much, Simon! Looking forward to meeting you here in Sofia soon!