Episode 1 - Taylor Otwell

Ben is joined by Taylor Otwell to discuss his personal life, what drives him, how he got started with Laravel, and what's next.

Ben sits down with Taylor Otwell to discuss his personal life, what drives him, how he got started with Laravel, and what's next.

Taylor is the creator of the Laravel PHP framework, conference organizer, and successful entrepreneur. 


Transcript -
Ben Edmunds:
I hear you're leaving Laravel to work on Symphony full-time now?

Taylor Otwell:
Heck yeah, man. I got three or four lines of code merged in there. It's pretty crazy that we haven't had to merge anything before. But anyway, yeah, finally got that badge.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. Kind of surprised you haven't had to. Is it that you usually code around it, or you just haven't hit a case where you needed it?

Taylor Otwell:
We just haven't hit a case that we couldn't extend something or tweak something the way we wanted to. The stuff that we mainly use Symphony for is the HTTP request stuff, so the HTTP spec is not something that's changing every day, so it's pretty much stable and we never really have to mess with it.

Ben Edmunds:
Okay. So what was your commit, for those listening?

Taylor Otwell:
They had deprecated being able to ... you have a request come in, and that request has inputs on it, say, from a form. Maybe you have a name one. And there's a middleware, Laravel, that if you get an empty string in an input, it will just change it to "null," and I think the idea behind that is it sort of makes it consistent between your JSON and form endpoints. Anyway, they had deprecated being able to set a request attribute to null. You had to set it to either a string or an array, and so I sort of un-deprecated that in my pull request.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. Cool. So let's start from the beginning, I guess. You're in Arkansas, is that right?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah.

Ben Edmunds:
Did you grow up there, or how did you end up there?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, my family have lived in Arkansas since the 1830s, something like that, and around pretty much the same town, Hot Springs, Arkansas, which is the hood home of Bill Clinton, kind of its claim to fame, and also the first national park, actually, in the United States.

Taylor Otwell:
So, I grew up there, went to high school there, and now I just live 30 minutes from there, pretty close to Little Rock, Arkansas, which is the capital of Arkansas. So I've pretty much always been here. I went to college, Arkansas Tech, yeah, so pretty much born and raised right here.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. Did you go to college for CS or what did you go for?

Taylor Otwell:
I went to college for a degree called Information Technology, which is a lot of computer networking type stuff, routers, switches, I had a DBA class, I had two semesters of C++, which is any computer major at that school has to take that, but I didn't do anything beyond those two semesters of C++ programming-wise.

Taylor Otwell:
They had an optional PHP course which I would have taken now, just to see what that was like.

Ben Edmunds:
Hope [inaudible 00:03:39] completely screwed you up.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, it was PHP and Apache, and basically the LAMP stack on Linux. Yeah, I had some other courses ... like I said, the DBA course, which was pretty nice, and then there was a software management course, which it was all kind of on different methods of software project management, waterfall, agile, stuff like that. I had a course on that kind of stuff.

Ben Edmunds:
Huh. Did you finish the degree?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, I finished the degree. So that was a four year degree from Arkansas Tech. Bachelor's in information technology. And when I was kind of wrapping up my senior year, I always just assumed I'll be a network admin at some business or hospital or school or whatever. I never really expected to be a programmer. I had never really programmed anything serious. I had programmed my TI-83 calculator in high school, and I knew HTML and basic CSS and stuff, and I build simple websites when I was kid or whatever, but I was not a serious programmer. So I didn't really expect to really go down that road, but then this company from Fort Smith, Arkansas, which was two hours from where I went to school, they came to interview ... because they only hire new college graduates, period. They don't bring on anyone else. It's kind of an interesting setup, but people end up working there for 30 years, so it works out for them.

Taylor Otwell:
And whoever they hire, they put through a six month training program, so I think their approach is to hire really fresh graduates and then just train them to be exactly how they want them to be, and then they work there for a while.

Taylor Otwell:
So I went through that six month training program once they hired me, and that's where I actually learned how to program for real. .NET, COBOL, JCL, ASP Classic and ASP.NET. We did a bunch of different stuff. It was pretty intensive all-day training for six months. And then I would have a few days off to work on random little projects just to get my feet wet. I know the first thing I ever worked on there was COBOL, CICS Screen 2. The phone number field needed validation, it was just letting any random input into the field, and so I was supposed to validate that. It took me two days to figure out how to do that.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. That's interesting, because that's very old-school way to think about a company, right...

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah.

Ben Edmunds:
... company out of high school, or out of college, and then you stay there for 30 years. That's great.

Taylor Otwell:
Yep. And there we definitely people that ... when I got there, the CEO of that company, who was well into his 60s age-wise, he had started as a programmer in the 70s, and he had just worked there all the way up. They promote within the whole way up to the top. So anyone that's corporate ... a C-level officer there started at the bottom.

Taylor Otwell:
It is a pretty interesting company. It used to be called Arkansas Best Freight. Now it's ArcBest. I think they've renamed themselves.

Ben Edmunds:
Gotcha. That's cool. So I understand why it's changed, and I wouldn't necessarily want to work in the same place for 30 years, but [crosstalk 00:06:59] that's not quite a thing we have anymore where you can work up from the "janitor" up to CEO.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah. It's crazy, because once I left there, I realized, programmers like me and you, or people that work on open source stuff, are kind of the exception. A lot of programmers ... the vast majority of programmers at that company just went to work, they programmed, and they went home. They did not participate in the Twitter developer scene, they did not participate in the Reddit developer scene, they didn't think about development at all once they got off work.

Taylor Otwell:
There was only a group of maybe 10 out of 150 or 200 programmers that programming was a hobby to them in a way. So yeah, once I left there, I had never really been exposed to open source until I started Laravel all that much, and of course, I had played with coding there a little bit. But I don't know, I didn't really start coding as a hobby until then. I just got off work and went home and did other stuff.

Ben Edmunds:
Interesting. Kind of [inaudible 00:08:14] that some days, right?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah.

Ben Edmunds:
Some of those things were like, "Do what you love," and "never not be working."

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, I didn't even have a computer at home for a while. I just had an iPad.

Ben Edmunds:
Really? You didn't take a laptop home or anything like that?

Taylor Otwell:
No, I didn't have any computer at home except the iPad for a little while. And then once I got into Laravel, I bought a cheap laptop at Best Buy. It was an Acer, ASUS laptop, or something like that, just so I could hack at Laravel at night. And the laptop was so bad that I had to hook an external keyboard and mouse to it just to function, because the keyboard was so terrible.

Ben Edmunds:
Oh, man, that's how I feel with my MacBook Pro now.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, seriously.

Ben Edmunds:
Oh, that's cool. I had a point, I just lost it. So let's circle back, I guess. Is your wife from Arkansas as well, or how did you meet?

Taylor Otwell:
No, she's not from Arkansas. She was born in Pennsylvania or Connecticut, and then she lived in ... I know she grew up most of the time in Pennsylvania, and then they bought a small grocery store in a small town in Oklahoma called Howe, Oklahoma, H-O-W-E, and that is actually only 15 or 20 minutes from Fort Smith, Arkansas, because Fort Smith is right on the border of Oklahoma. It sits right on the edge.

Taylor Otwell:
I was living at Fort Smith, she was living right there, 15 minutes away, so we sort of met through friends that way. But she's not from anywhere around here, actually. Just kind of worked out that way. We're at the same place at the same time.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. How long have you been married?

Taylor Otwell:
This would be 11 years, actually, in two weeks. July 6, or no, July 12, July 6 is her birthday. She has her birthday, and then our anniversary is really close together.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, so 11 years, and then we had kids really early. We had a honeymoon baby, I'm pretty sure. It's pretty much nine months after we got married, we had our first kid.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. How is that process of ... so I don't have kids, right, so I have no idea how hard it was to send in the open source work and just building a career around young kids, that's cool. How was that?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, it wasn't too bad at first, because when I first started building Laravel, James, my son, was super young. So he wasn't even really talking yet, and he went to bed early, little kids sleep a lot, so there was more free time than you might expect, but once they get to be three or four, and they're really running around everywhere, that takes up more of your time, for sure. And now, I'm sort of back in a sweet spot now where they're older and can feed themselves, dress themselves, can carry on an intelligent conversation, can beat me at Fortnite. They can text me on their iPad. So it's a totally different world now.

Taylor Otwell:
But I just kind of got lucky the timing was right that he was really small when I was first building Laravel, because otherwise, I'm not sure I would have had the energy to stay up until midnight or 2:00 AM and work on that kind of stuff.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, sure. How old are they now?

Taylor Otwell:
James is 10 and Victoria is 8.

Ben Edmunds:
Cool.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah. So they're getting pretty big. I was just thinking the other day, James is past halfway to 18, so getting up there.

Ben Edmunds:
You said stay up until midnight or 2:00. Are you more of a late-night programmer or do you change it up...

Taylor Otwell:
No, not anymore. I was, but not anymore. When I first started building Laravel, my wife would go to bed at 9:30, and then I would stay up until midnight, 1:00, and then get up at 6:30 or 7:30 for work, and honestly felt great, no problem at all. And then when I started building Forge, and I was working at UserScape, I would stay up really late then, too ... so kind of the same situation. My wife would go to bed at 9:30, I would stay up until midnight or 1:00. If I went to bed at midnight when I was building Forge, to me, that was a conservative night. I felt like I was going to feel really good the next day.

Taylor Otwell:
And it's kind of the same thing. I honestly don't remember ever feeling tired or, "Oh, man, I shouldn't have done that," or whatever. But I don't know, I guess I was just a lot younger, and ...

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, how old were you there, because I feel like ... I've started to notice in the past few years as I approached 30, I need a solid seven hours of sleep.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, let's see. When I first started working on Forge, I was 28. When I first started building Laravel, I was 23 or 24. I was pretty young when I first started Laravel. And then, on Forge ... once I went full time on Laravel, I never really stayed up late anymore to work on code, because I could do everything I wanted to do at Laravel during the day, so I have no need to stay up like that anymore. And I'm not even sure I could. Like you said, I don't know, I go to bed at midnight now and get up, I feel miserable.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah. It's so wild how that happens, right?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah.

Ben Edmunds:
So what's your general working schedule now?

Taylor Otwell:
Kind of the typical work day. I'll get up at 7:00, eat breakfast, and be in the office usually by 7:45 or 8:00. The first thing I'd do is check my e-mail, customer support, manage GitHub pull requests, because I've got to do that every day, and then just kind of ... I don't know, see what the rest of the team needs, if they need any feedback on their pull requests or whatever. And then pretty much just get off work at 5:00.

Taylor Otwell:
So it's kind of just like when I had an office job. Pretty much the same schedule. Sometimes, I'll check in on e-mails on the weekend a little bit, customer support e-mails, but honestly, not more than 15 minutes or something like that. Nothing too big.

Ben Edmunds:
Is there any reason you've kept that schedule? I would imagine now you had the flexibility to just kind of work whenever you want, right?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, well especially with the kids now, they get home from school, and then when I get off at 5:00, they want to do stuff, or eat dinner, or they want to go fishing at the lake, or whatever else, play basketball. So I definitely don't really have time to work until after they went to bed. The only thing I've thought about modifying is getting up earlier to work and then being done sooner. But again, I've just been too lazy to get up that early.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, sounds horrible.

Taylor Otwell:
To get up at 5:00 or some of those hardcore people that are like 4:30 or whatever.

Ben Edmunds:
Do you feel like you really need that eight-and-a-half or nine hour day to get everything done?

Taylor Otwell:
I don't think so. I think I could pretty much do everything I want to do in six hours, I would say. From 3:00-5:00, I find that I'm usually kind of winding down and slowing down. I could probably wrap up a little earlier. Yeah, so there's only so much hardcore work you can do in one day. When I was working on a project a month ago, I was working on this thing I've been building called Laravel Jetstream. I was cranking out eight hours of just fingers flying across the keyboard for eight hours straight, but most of the days were not really like that.

Ben Edmunds:
For me, it seems to really follow ... path, where my energy is or how passionate I am about something, so I can just struggle to get through a solid six hour productive day sometimes, but then if I'm really passionate, I can do a 12 and not even notice.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, for sure. And there's just ... I don't know, I feel like there's a lot more distractions than there used to be to Slack or Twitter, or people IMing me. I feel like there's a lot more of that, and I think part of it is just because I'm kind of managing more, so more people have to come to me for questions, or for me to stamp off on something, whatever, whereas before it wasn't really like that. So that cuts into my day a decent amount, too, just all that kind of stuff.

Ben Edmunds:
Do you have any strategies for managing that focus or those distractions?

Taylor Otwell:
I just turn everything off, basically. I don't know what else to do. Just sign off of Slack, sign off of Discord, shut down Telegram. I'll tell my wife, "If you want to talk to me, use iMessage," because no one messages me on iMessage. They always use Telegram. So I was like, "If you want to talk, just message me on iMessage, because I'm shutting down Telegram for a while."

Taylor Otwell:
But other than that, no, not really. I also try to work on the hardest stuff first in the day, even on a project. If I'm building something like a package, I always try to tackle all the hardest stuff first, just so I can make sure everything is possible, because if I want to fail, I want to fail early. So I'll shut everything down, focus on the hardest task first, in the morning, and then try to really hack on that for a couple of hours, at least without any interruptions.

Ben Edmunds:
Cool. So you all were fully in sync with ... because you have a few employees now, right, but they're spread out for now?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, we got three ... myself, Mohammed, Dreese, and James Brooks, and everyone is in a different country. So of course I'm in the US, and Mohammed is in Egypt, James is in the UK, and Dreese is in Belgium. So those other three are only within a couple of timezones of each other, so they're all there pretty much at the same time. But of course, I'm seven hours apart.

Taylor Otwell:
So everyone is pretty in sync, especially me, which ... it's had some benefits, because by the time I get in in the morning, they've already sort of triaged everything. So if there's an e-mail that I need to look at, or there's a GitHub issue that only I can look at, that's already ready to go. They've already kind of looked at it, escalated it to me. And so, I don't know, that's kind of nice, because they have time to sort of do some housecleaning before I get there in the morning.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, that sounds good. Is it isolating, though, to work by yourself most of the day, or at least a good part of the day?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah. Honestly, if it were me, I would kind of prefer to work in an office, if I had the choice, as long as the commute was reasonable. If I had to commute more than 30 minutes, I wouldn't want to. But Arkansas, you almost never would have to commute that long.

Taylor Otwell:
But I don't know, I always felt really productive in the office, just because you can whiteboard things, you can just talk face-to-face and solve problems a lot quicker rather than just typing them into Slack. So there's a few coworking spaces around here in Arkansas, but that's not really a huge thing here, just because the tech scene is very small. And then with coronavirus, of course, most everything was shut down for a long time.

Taylor Otwell:
So I've done that before. But it's okay. My whole family is here right now, so you can't be too lonely.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, that's true. How long have you been working from home overall now?

Taylor Otwell:
This is my eighth year, because I started in 2012 ... Ian hired me at UserScape, and they were all remote already. And myself and Eric Barnes were actually the first two programmers he hired at UserScape, because he had done all the programming himself originally, and he was in North Carolina, Eric was, and I was in Arkansas, and Ian was in New York. So we were all remote from the get go, and I've done it ever since.

Ben Edmunds:
That's cool, and you went straight from UserScape to Laravel?

Taylor Otwell:
Yep. So I launched Forge at Laracon in 2014, and then I became full-time at Laravel January 1st in 2015, so a pretty fast process after I launched Forge to going full-time.

Ben Edmunds:
Cool. How was that? Was that scary going from a steady job to working for yourself?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah it was really scary at first, because everything felt very volatile. Even Laravel itself. PHP frameworks came and went. You remember especially back in the day, there were new frameworks all the time, and they had their [crosstalk 00:21:18] ...

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, or four CodeIgniter variants or whatever [crosstalk 00:21:18] ...

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, and people liked them and followed them. I remember stuff like CodeIgniter, Kohana, Fuel ... I mean, some of these are still around ... like Cake ... and it seems like there were new ones a lot more often, and there's still frameworks that pop up today, but they just don't seem to ever get the traction that other frameworks used to get. Even Fuel had some traction when it first came out.

Taylor Otwell:
And so at the time, that was kind of still going on, and so Laravel felt like ... some new framework could come along and really just knock it off, and now Forge is sort of declining and now I'm screwed, basically. So that was one fear, and then just health insurance, stuff like that, was added expense. But it was just also new. Forge was not even a year old when I went full-time on it, so it's just this feeling that it might fail at any time.

Taylor Otwell:
But the PHP landscape in terms of frameworks, it's changed so much since Laravel came out, and it's just not the same, so I don't tend to have those fears anymore, but it was definitely scary in 2014.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, I bet. Did you have any financial milestones you hit before you would leave, like 2X once you made it your job, or say [crosstalk 00:22:36] ...

Taylor Otwell:
I kind of think I remember that 2X was about what I had in my head that I wanted to make, if I could make two times my salary, that would be a really good improvement, plus that would give me room to pay for the health insurance, because that was going to be quite a bit. I think that was, right out of the gate, $12,000, $13,000 a year that I had to pay on that. And so I felt like that would be really safe.

Taylor Otwell:
And so I'm pretty sure I was basically around that level at the time when I left UserScape. I think I was making ... I don't know, maybe close to a couple hundred ... two hundred thousand a year, something like that, when I left UserScape. So I had had a pretty decent improvement, but I mean stuff could still go wrong. I wasn't just rolling in cash, necessarily. Things kept growing, and we kept improving it a bit. And then once I brought on Mohammed in, I think, 2017, that really took a lot of pressure off of me too, because he could help out with Forge a lot.

Ben Edmunds:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). What's your favorite project, or even just feature, that they've worked on?

Taylor Otwell:
My favorite feature I've ever worked on?

Ben Edmunds:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Taylor Otwell:
Oh, man. God, there were some crazy [crosstalk 00:23:57] ...

Ben Edmunds:
Or project like Forge or whatever.

Taylor Otwell:
... yeah. Forge was really cool because it was my first one, but there was just some crazy stuff where I just really zoned in and worked on things. I remember at UserScape, we were getting ready to build ... I think we were working on HealthSpot 4, that, or we were getting ready to build Snappy, one of the two, and Laravel was still really young. It was only ... gosh, I don't know if it was Laravel 2 ... I think it was Laravel 2, and Eloquent was like ... I was torn, personally, like "Should we use Eloquent, should we use Doctrine? It felt like Doctrine had been around longer. It was maybe a bit more powerful." And I don't know, I was just self-conscious about the fact that eloquent might not be good enough or whatever. And so ...

Ben Edmunds:
And you're using this in UserScape or something?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben Edmunds:
Okay.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, so we start using Doctrine, actually, a little bit, and we hit some roadblocks with it, which wasn't working out. I can't remember the specifics. And I just zoned in and redid all of Eloquent in a week, and that's when I added ... eager loading was added then, some other features that we take kind of for granted now, but I remember that was a crazy thing to just zone in and work on, and just hammer out, and that was a lot of fun. Working on Forge was a lot of fun.

Taylor Otwell:
I built the queue system when I was at UserScape, because those were all very e-mail, help desk-driven systems, and we wanted to queue all that e-mail, so I wrote that at UserScape. I wrote the migrations at UserScape. I did a lot of fun projects there.

Taylor Otwell:
Writing Vapor, actually, the server-less deployment thing that we most recently launched was really fun. And then me and David Hemphill had a lot of fun on Nova 2. David Hemphill who kind of co-founded Nova with me, it's the only product I've ever done where I co-wrote it with somebody. He actually lives just three hours away from me in Springfield, Missouri, and so he drove down, actually, to Arkansas for a week, and we were at a coworking space, and just grinded there all the way into the night, basically from morning until after dark on Nova, and we just crushed out a lot of stuff there, and that was a lot of fun, too, because that was the only time I've really hammered out a project in person, because I had been working from home for so long.

Ben Edmunds:
It's a pretty cool arrangement to kind of partner with someone outside your own company to make something cool that's also another business, or yeah, professional.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, he convinced me to build it, because ... I think he had run the idea behind me, and I had hear people mention to me, "Oh, we want an admin panel for Laravel," and I was just like, "What the hell is an admin panel? You have TablePlus or SQLPro, just run a query and get the data you want." And so I just never understood the whole concept. And I think, mainly, that's because I was just a one-man team for so long, and so I didn't need this sort of structured admin panel that had safeguards and limitations in terms of what you could do, because I didn't have 10 developers or a bunch of clients manipulating the data.

Taylor Otwell:
And so anyway, we were at Laracon in New York City in maybe 2017, I think, and David, he pitches me on it, and he kind of shows me this prototype, and explains to me in person why this would be beneficial. And I'm like, "You know what, screw it." If you were to build ... I can't remember how we talked about it. It was, let's just try to knock out a prototype, and I'll build the back end and you can build the front end, because he had a lot more CSS skills than me, for sure. And so that's kind of how we got going.

Taylor Otwell:
I built the whole back end with basically the super ugly front end. I think I tweeted a screenshot of it not too long ago. It's just like, no styling at all. But just so I could proof-of-concept the whole back end. And then he came in and built the whole front end, and I was working on other stuff, and then when we tried to bring it all together, that's when he came down to Arkansas so we could make sure it all was linked up and working well and looked good.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. Are you a TBD guy or do you test as you go mainly?

Taylor Otwell:
Mainly test after, but I've done some test before stuff, too, just depending on the situation. I did testing ... I feel like I did testing the wrong way for a long time, even after I started Laravel, I was testing super low level, and with tons of mocks and stuff, and I think kind of Adam Wathan is the one that kind of helped lead me out of that and got me more towards feature testing, basically testing almost at the controller level, just feeding requests in and asserting the stuff that happened.

Taylor Otwell:
He kind of helped me write out the fake features of Laravel, the Mail Fake, Event Fake, Notification Fake, all of that. But now, I don't know, it used to feel like my tests were so brittle, but now I really actually enjoy writing a good test. Vapor has a really good test suite, I think, in terms of all the Laravel products. But yeah, mainly test after.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. Test after as part of the workflow, or as a separate checkbox?

Taylor Otwell:
No, I pretty much write after I do the feature. Do you mean, do I come back and write all the tests at the very end for everything?

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, I mean, I guess the two workflows I see usually for tests after will be ... it's pretty much TBD, but you're kind of working for the people ... it's what I do, right? It's pretty close to TBD, but I have to write the code first to give you an idea of what I even want to write, and then I can write a test towards that. My mental model does not work for TBD, at least that's not productive for me, but I've seen other people where they manually test the feature as they go, and that's pretty close to done, then they'll write the test suite.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, I do some of that, both of that. And one situation where I do write the test first actually happened today, and I find myself writing the test first a lot more on bug fixes than I do on new stuff, so we got a bug report on an Eloquent issue, an Eloquent casting issue, and so I actually recreated the bug in a test first on that one, because so much of the code is already written, and I'm not really trying to drive out a new design in the test. I'm just trying to confirm that this bug actually exists. So I actually did recreate the bug, like a failing test, and then was able to get it to pass, but yeah, if I'm starting from a blank slate, it's hard for me to write the test first, necessarily. I guess I could do it, but I'm not sure it would necessarily be any more productive for me.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah. Are you a iPhone or Android person?

Taylor Otwell:
I've always had an iPhone. I'm just kind of in the Apple ecosystem, I guess. My first iPhone, I think it was the iPhone 3G, something like that, it wasn't the very first iPhone, but maybe the second or third one, and ...

Ben Edmunds:
So it's like the rounded one, right?

Taylor Otwell:
... yeah, it was super rounded. And then, I've had one ever since, and right now I have the iPhone Xs, trying to hold out for this fall, because my iPhone Xs battery is getting pretty lame.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, it's a bad time to upgrade ...

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah this is the worst time.

Ben Edmunds:
I think this one came from Twitter, what is the secret to product naming?

Taylor Otwell:
I don't know. People ask me that ... I feel like a lot of those names come ... most of them come pretty quickly, especially Laravel Jetstream, because it's sort of Tailwind-related, so that was sort of an easy play on Tailwind. I'm trying to think of some of the other names. Laravel Nova, I don't know where ... some of them don't really have any meaning, I just kind of make them up. I don't know where Nova came from. Laravel Dusk ... Dusk was inspired by the JS testing library, Nightwatch JS ... that's why it's called Laravel Dusk. What else is out there ... Laravel Socialite was easy because it was just social network authentication, so we just called it Socialite.

Taylor Otwell:
And then some of the names are inspired by other ecosystems, like you may have heard me mention before, but Blade is inspired by Razor from ASP.NET. Eloquent ... I don't know, that was just a made-up name. It didn't have any meaning, I don't think. But yeah, it's kind of a mix. Some of them are rifts, the stuff they're based on, and what was it ... Elixir, Laravel Elixir was based on Gulp, and so Elixir being some sort of liquid and Gulp being liquid-related.

Taylor Otwell:
Some of them are rifts and stuff like that.

Ben Edmunds:
What about Illuminate, the namespace?

Taylor Otwell:
Oh, man, that's kind of a funny story. So I was working at UserScape, and this was when Laravel 3 was around, and I wanted to work on Laravel 4, and I knew it was going to be radically different than Laravel 3 under the hood, and I knew that if I worked on it in the Laravel repository, that everyone would lose their mind, that I was breaking everything, that nothing was going to work [crosstalk 00:33:43] ...

Ben Edmunds:
I would have been one of those people, by the way.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, because in progress, it was so hard to see the big picture. And so I needed this secret place to work on it where no one would notice. So I created this whole new organization called Illuminate, where I could just work on it in private without anyone bothering me. And nobody noticed forever, for a long time. And I basically had it all built. I built all the components as separate components, now it's going to glue them all together and tie them together with the service providers and then sort of the finishing touch with the Facades to make it feel like Laravel 3. That was sort of so people felt comfortable with it, and it basically looked like Laravel 3 even though it was very different under the hood when you were using the Facades.

Taylor Otwell:
But I think I just tried to come up with something off the top of my head that was just random and no one would even guess was me working on Laravel 4. And then eventually, I was able to announce it ... and the original plan was honestly to move everything back into Laravel, the organization, but ...

Ben Edmunds:
Oh, really?

Taylor Otwell:
... but for some reason, and I don't really remember the exact reason why this happened, but we just never did that. All of those packages stayed under the Illuminate organization, and I can't remember if it was, "Well, we'll leave it that way so that people know that you can use them outside of Laravel," or whatever. But that was kind of a big thing at the time. You should write all of your packages to be ... that they can be used anywhere, which I guess it's a pretty good thing to aim for or whatever.

Taylor Otwell:
So that was kind of the goal, and we never moved him back over.

Ben Edmunds:
Hmm. Do you regret naming Facades Facades, because of just all the pain in the ass that was? Or was it good marketing overall?

Taylor Otwell:
I don't know. I still kind of like the name. Honestly, I don't even feel that incorrect about the name sometimes, but some of them are more Facade-like than others. There are some that I feel like are actually true Facades in the computer programming sense, but I was only thinking in the English sense of the word façade where it looks like something on the front, but it's not what it appears to be. And that was kind of what I was thinking on it, and I honestly at the time did not even think about or remember that there was an actual Facade design pattern, and by the time ... we actually very seriously considered renaming them to Proxies at one point, which I think Paul Jones had recommended maybe as a name. And then I think, eventually, I was like, "Why do I care what people that don't even use Laravel think of it?" If you're not really invested in the project or care about the project in any way, what's the difference? And it's not like it was that big of a deal, anyway. No one was ...

Ben Edmunds:
I don't think anyone was actually confused by it.

Taylor Otwell:
No, no one was actually, seriously confused by that. But whatever. Going back, I would have no problem. If I could start fresh, then sure, I'll call them something different. But now the ship has sailed, I think.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah. What are you doing for fun away from the computer? Either of you, or with the family, or both?

Taylor Otwell:
So my kids have been really into fishing lately, so we've been fishing a lot. I play Rocket League quite a bit, and I play basketball quite a bit outside, too, just like in my driveway. Those are kind of the three main things we have going right now.

Taylor Otwell:
So we live ... our neighborhood is sort of built around a lake, so we can drive down to this dock on the lake and fish, or we can drive to different parts of the lake and fish. So they've been catching little fish there, and then, like I said, I'd probably play five or six games of Rocket League a day, at least, and I do that with David Hemphill or Adam Wathan or my brother-in-law, or a few other people that play.

Ben Edmunds:
Rocket League is great because it's so quick.

Taylor Otwell:
I know, yeah.

Ben Edmunds:
I really love it because ... I have 10 minutes to kill, I can play two games and walk away.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah. James is into Fortnite a little bit. None of us are very good or anything, but to me, that's also a little bit like Rocket League. I can play one match. It's a little bit longer than Rocket League depending on how long you stay alive, but it's not an hour-long commitment of grinding. So I really like games like that where I can play for 10 or 15 minutes and then just be done.

Ben Edmunds:
Any other hobbies? You said basketball, did you play basketball in school or where did that come from?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, I played basketball in high school, and now I just play for fun. I tried to play in a basketball league here in Benton, actually, or near Little Rock, a couple years ago. That was pretty fun. But other than that, it was mainly just for fun in my driveway.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice.

Taylor Otwell:
Also, I play drums a lot, too. So I was on the drum line in College at Arkansas Tech, so I still have my drum pad and sticks and all that. And so I'll mess around on that some, too.

Ben Edmunds:
What kind of music do you play?

Taylor Otwell:
Well, as far as drums go, I was always in marching bands, so it was all ... at football games, and the shows at halftime and all that. I was never really all that great of a drum set player. I was just a good drum line player, it's like snare drum, stuff like that. So it's two really kind of different ways of playing. Some people are really good at drum set and they're terrible at that style of drumming, and some people are really good at marching band style drumming and terrible at drum set, and that's pretty much me.

Taylor Otwell:
I'm okay at drum set. I could just play something very basic and fill in for somebody, but I'm not a rock star at it or anything.

Ben Edmunds:
So from Twitter, how is the garden?

Taylor Otwell:
The garden?

Ben Edmunds:
Do you have a garden?

Taylor Otwell:
No, I don't really have a garden, but I don't know if they mean ... you know how British people call your front lawn your garden?

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, but would they care how your front lawn is doing?

Taylor Otwell:
I don't know. We tried to have a garden once, actually, at my old house, and we couldn't grow anything. It went really bad. It took us a while. We built this whole raised bed garden and it just flopped. So not well, actually.

Ben Edmunds:
How is the weather there in Arkansas right now?

Taylor Otwell:
Pretty hot. In the 90s, 92°, 93°. Our tornado season is, I would say, starts kind of in February maybe. There might be a couple in February, and then goes until the end of May, and now from June until September, it's going to be scorching hot pretty much, 90s or over 100°. Once it gets into July and August, definitely over 100° a lot, and then start cooling down in September.

Ben Edmunds:
Do you have a basement, or do you do anything for shelter with the tornado season?

Taylor Otwell:
No, almost nobody has basements here. I don't know if the ground is just not suitable for it or what, but in Arkansas, you almost never see a basement. But I actually have a tornado shelter because I hate tornadoes. So I have one of those above-ground steel tornado shelters that's anchored into the foundation with these big anchor bolts. There's 20 of them in there. And this thing is stout. There is nothing that is moving this thing.

Ben Edmunds:
That's pretty fascinating, actually. How big is this?

Taylor Otwell:
It's 4x6. It's super heavy.

Ben Edmunds:
Oh, so that's ... it's pretty tiny.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, it's pretty small. Just my family can get in it. And it has this huge steel door. It weighs hundreds of pounds ... just the door must weigh hundreds of pounds. And then to test it, they take a 2x4 and fire it at it at like 200 miles an hour. And this Texas A&M has this testing site for this kind of stuff, and so they test them down there. And then they brought it here on a truck and anchored it into the concrete foundation pretty deep. It's pretty ...

Ben Edmunds:
Like actually has your house on it?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, actually, it's out in the garage, there's the garage slab of concrete, and they put 20 big anchor bolts down into that deep ... multiple inches down into that. And then those anchor bolts, they kind of hook in down there somehow. They sort of expand or something, and yeah. There's nothing that's going to take that off. The whole house would be gone. It would just be a concrete slab, and then the shelter, if a big tornado hit.

Ben Edmunds:
Wow. Any ventilation?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, there's a ventilation thing on the door to let some air in, and there's a small ventilation thing on top to get some air in. And then you're supposed to keep some bottled water in there in case debris traps you in there until the fire department or whoever can clear it out and get you out of there.

Ben Edmunds:
So when a tornado is coming, you have to run to the shelter, what are you grabbing?

Taylor Otwell:
I don't know.

Ben Edmunds:
Other than the kids, hopefully.

Taylor Otwell:
If my laptop is close, I'm definitely grabbing my laptop. Everyone says, "Don't grab anything," but if my laptop's close, I'm grabbing my laptop. We'll try to get the dogs in there, hopefully they cooperate.

Ben Edmunds:
How many dogs do you have?

Taylor Otwell:
Just two. We have two small ... they're golden doodles, but they're sort of golden doodle breed-back, so they're 75% mini-poodle, and maybe a quarter golden retriever. So they don't shed like a poodle, but also ... they look a little bit like a golden retriever in the face. But they're pretty cool little dogs.

Ben Edmunds:
That's cool. So what are the kids up to right now other than fishing?

Taylor Otwell:
Man, just school was crazy with the coronavirus stuff, because they sent everyone home from school in March. There was one coronavirus case in Arkansas, actually, and they shut all the schools down, and everyone came home and they started doing it online, but no one was prepared. Nobody was really geared up to do that, and so the first day they have school, I knew this was going to happen, they get on Zoom or whatever, and every kid is like, "I can't hear anything," "my video is not working," "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and it was just a disaster.

Taylor Otwell:
And so I don't know if they really learned much those last two months of school. So that was a pretty stressful time, it took up a lot of time. But now it's summer, so I just go into the pool and hanging out outside. We have a creek right by our house, so they go out there and catch frogs, catch crawfish, I don't know. Kind of like Arkansas stuff.

Ben Edmunds:
That's awesome. Does your wife work, or what does she do for fun?

Taylor Otwell:
No, she doesn't work. She's pretty busy now since the kids are home. But when they're not home, she likes to do ... in the past, she's done a lot of sewing, so she can do a lot of Little House on the Prairie type stuff, sewing, making quilts, all this baking stuff. All that kind of thing, because she kind of grew up a farm wife, basically. So she likes a lot of that stuff, and when the kids were in school, me and her could go out to eat lunch and hang out during the day, but that's all come to a screeching halt now that everyone is home.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah. Life is different, huh?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah.

Ben Edmunds:
This comes from Twitter. In Arkansas, do you call it corn hole or bags?

Taylor Otwell:
Everyone calls it ... I've always called it corn hole.

Ben Edmunds:
I've never heard of bags before.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, me either, but yeah, that's a fun game.

Ben Edmunds:
All right, what is your ... I'm calling it the production function, and I'm stealing this from Tyler Cowen. This term is from the Conversations with Tyler Podcast. What is the thing that drives you or makes you unique, and what do you think about you pushed you towards Laravel and the things you've made?

Taylor Otwell:
Definitely perfectionist tendencies, and also ... one thing I mentioned in my podcast is this low threshold for pain and programming. So any time anything is slightly inconvenient, I'll build some solution for it, whether that's ... just over the years, Homestead or Forge or Dusk or Socialite or Cashier or Spark, all that stuff is sort of driven out of me just being like, "This is too hard to do, this shouldn't be that hard to do," and building some new solution for it.

Taylor Otwell:
And I call that a low pain tolerance. So some people have a really high pain tolerance, if you go on ... say something like Hacker News or Product Hunt or something like that, and you read feedback about peoples' projects ... even about the new Mac stuff that just was announced yesterday, people would be like, "I don't know, I think I could do this on a Raspberry Pi, and installing this, this and this, and tinkering with this," and some people just have that very homebrew personality, which is cool, but that was never really me. It was always, I want everything to feel very ... what's the word ... sort of curated or pre-built, and everything works just really cleanly out of the box, and you don't have to do a lot of configuration, so I have a low pain tolerance for that stuff. And that's really always been keeping my projects going, whether it's Vapor. Deploying to server-less was a nightmare with Laravel and PHP, so I wanted to make that a lot easier.

Taylor Otwell:
And all of my projects are really based on that over the years. So I think that's definitely sort of the main driving force for all my stuff.

Ben Edmunds:
What type of a space pilgrimage are you going on?

Taylor Otwell:
Those are dark secrets, man, that like ... so me and David Hemphill went to Amsterdam, and in Amsterdam, things are legal that are not legal in the United States.

Ben Edmunds:
So you were very high?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, so we took some truffles there, which are basically magic mushrooms, and I don't know, we had a space pilgrimage, you know what I mean? If you've been there, you've been there. If you've been a space pilgrim, you understand what it means to be a space pilgrim.

Taylor Otwell:
But I don't know, it was a crazy experience, and honestly, everyone should try it once. It was probably one of the most enlightening experiences of my life, I would say. And then we just joked about it, because ... while it was happening, he was in his hotel room and I was in my hotel room, but we were in the same hotel building. And we didn't really want to be next to each other, because I didn't want one of us to start crying or something, and be really awkward. So I'm texting him on my Telegram, and I'm just like, "Is this my space communicator? I don't even know where I am or what this even is," and he was like, "I don't know, dude, I think so," and we were just so confused, man, and then we were just laughing about it later and we called ourselves space pilgrims. And so that's kind of where that comes from.

Ben Edmunds:
Those messages had to be great to read.

Taylor Otwell:
Oh, my ... I still have them, and I also kept a journal. I wrote a logbook, like pen and paper, of some of that stuff, and it was pretty hilarious.

Ben Edmunds:
One second.

Ben Edmunds:
So a journal is a cool idea. I don't know if I've heard anybody doing that.

Taylor Otwell:
Yep. Pretty funny.

Ben Edmunds:
All right, a few other things to close this out. What books would you recommend, or what books have you been reading lately? Anything, really.

Taylor Otwell:
Lately, I've been reading the Mistborn trilogy, which is a fiction fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson ... which I'm really liking that. I also like it because the books are 300 pages. They're not 2000 pages or something, like some of those crazy fantasy books are. So it's actually pretty manageable.

Taylor Otwell:
So I've been reading that, and that's been good. I read ... let's see ... I think one of the non-fiction books I read recently that was pretty good was The Practical Stoic. I can't remember who that's by, but I just got that on Amazon. That was a good book. What did I read before that ... those are some of the two recent books I've read, though, that are pretty good. I'm trying to read more books this year. I think I've read five. First Mistborn book, and now I'm on the second Mistborn book, The Daily Stoic, Practical Stoic, I've read ... let's see, I've been keeping a list. This book called The Four Agreements, I read that. That was okay, that was kind of like a booklet. It was 100 pages on just ... I don't know. It's sort of a self-help, self-transformational book. That was a pretty cool book.

Taylor Otwell:
I think that's pretty much what I've read in 2020.

Ben Edmunds:
Are you ... consider yourself a stoic or what's up with the stoic theme?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, I find it helpful, because I tend to be someone that worries a lot, and usually worries about stuff that I can't control at all, so the whole idea behind the stoicism stuff is basically don't worry about stuff you can't control and only focus on the things you actually can change. So that, it was really good for me. It sort of depends on what people have as their struggles. For me, that was really good advice and a lot of stuff I needed to hear. But if you're not someone that really struggles with that kind of thing, then it might not be as helpful for you.

Taylor Otwell:
So that was kind of why I got into that and read a few of those books.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, I even find just stopping to think through ... "what's the worst that can happen in this situation," and then let's scale our anxiety appropriately? I find that useful constantly.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, and also, I think for me, it was helpful, and don't make assumptions about things that could happen. Say ... I don't know, I'm trying to think of an example ... if something goes wrong, you might catastrophize it a lot more than what it is, and it's best to stay with what actually happened right now without embellishing it, or without over-blowing it in your mind or making something it isn't. That was also really helpful for me, too.

Taylor Otwell:
To tie it to reality, say we had a bug on Forge, and you might catastrophize it like, "Well, now no one is going to trust Forge, no one is going to use Forge anymore, blah blah blah," but it's better to just stick with, "We had a bug on Forge, we fixed it, the end." Don't make assumptions and don't try to read into the future of what could happen or what may happen as a result of that, necessarily, and make it worse than it has to be.

Taylor Otwell:
Podcasts, I don't really ... to be honest, I don't really listen to a lot of podcasts. I listen to DJ mix podcasts because when I work, I listen to a lot of deep house DJ sets, and so a lot of those actually are distributed as podcasts, oddly enough. Each mix will be its own episode. So I listen to a few of those. There's one called Mind Over Matter, there's one called Late Night Grooves. And then as far as tech podcasts, the only thing I would really ever listen to is Jeffrey's Laracasts snippet, and Full Stack Radio from Adam Wathan. I don't really listen to any other tech podcasts, and honestly, even those, I don't listen to every episode. I just listen to the episodes that sound interesting to me.

Taylor Otwell:
I think part of that is because I don't really have a commute or any time where it makes sense for me to listen to a podcast, because if I had a commute, I would definitely listen to a lot more, because I could just listen to them to and from work, but as it is, I just walk up to my office and kind of get to work, so I normally don't listen to that kind of thing because it's hard for me to work and listen to a technical podcast at the same time. I just won't be able to digest it.

Ben Edmunds:
And shows? Netflix or streaming, or shows or movies? What other kind of media are you enjoying?

Taylor Otwell:
I'm kind of late onto every big show, so we're sort of halfway through Game of Thrones, which I have never seen.

Ben Edmunds:
Kind of late.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, pretty late. I'm a big Star Trek fan, so I'll watch that some. I like old ... like, the Twilight Zone shows from the 1960s, and then everyone's been trying to get me to watch ... well, everyone, like my family has been trying to get me to watch Ozark, and I haven't started that yet. We talked about starting that this week. And I was a big Breaking Bad fan when that was on. I watched that live on TV every week.

Ben Edmunds:
Better Call Saul?

Taylor Otwell:
I've seen the first three seasons of Better Call Saul, and then they took a year-and-a-half off to make that ... I can't remember if it was the fourth or fifth season, and I kind of never got back into it, but I need to finish that, because I've heard it's gotten better. I always thought it was actually pretty good, but I've heard the last few seasons were even better than the first few.

Ben Edmunds:
Ozark is good. I definitely also thumbs-up their recommendation. Devs is one I've watched recently that was pretty good. When it's about programming, it's really hard for me to get into because I'm usually just mad the whole time, but this one is pretty well done. It wasn't necessarily about programming, so worth checking out.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, and I actually still watch Walking Dead, I think just because I feel like I've seen so much of it at this point, that I can't quit now.

Ben Edmunds:
Sunk cost?

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, exactly, there's so much loss there, time-wise, that I might as well just keep going until the end, after 10 seasons or whatever.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, I gave up on that years ago.

Taylor Otwell:
I think most people have, honestly.

Ben Edmunds:
Nice. That's all I have, man. Thanks for your time. It's been good chatting with you.

Taylor Otwell:
Yeah, cool deal. Thanks for having me.

Ben Edmunds:
Yeah, all right man. You have a good night, hope you and your family stay safe through COVID.

Taylor Otwell:
All right, you too. See you.

Ben Edmunds:
Later.


2020 Ben Edmunds