Pedro Piñera

Software Engineer at Shopify 🛍. I like building tools for developers and doing open source.
Mostly doing Ruby & Swift, and sometimes Javascript

Software and people

I’m currently flying back to Berlin, somewhere over the Atlantic ocean. Perfect time (without an Internet connection) to make some reflections. The one that I made this time has to do with my motivations when it comes to writing software. Guess what? One of the things that motivate me the most about writing software is getting to know and meet people that I would not meet otherwise.

I’ve been in Ottawa for 2 weeks. It’s the city where most of my team work from, so I try to visit them as much as I can. Most of my interactions with them happen over Slack or GitHub. You probably know what your colleagues are on those platforms, users. They have an avatar, a name, and write messages more elaborated than the ones a bot could ever write. Some people like to see their colleagues just like more intelligent bots. I don’t. I spend many hours a day working with computers (at the very least 8) so I don’t want to feel like talking to computer 8 hours a day.

That’s why whenever I have the opportunity, I break the ice and try to make personal the impersonal. I propose activities to my colleagues that have nothing to do with work. If people are hesitant to it, I completely understand and I don’t insist. People might want to keep some distance with the people that they work with, that’s understandable.

This time in Ottawa I learned that people in my team love philosophy and skiing and that some love traveling the world. I know more about them, and therefore, I can have more casual conversations with them about the things that they love the most. Isn’t it great?

I experience the same on the open source space. Recently, I met wonderful people that happened to have an interest in an open source project that I gladly bootstrapped, Tuist. I invited Kassem, Marcin, and Oliver to the organization and Slack. Since then, we’ve been collaborating, having ideas together, proposing improvements. Isn’t it a beautiful experience? Software enabled that. I’m starting to appreciate more the opportunity to meet people thanks to software.

I don’t imagine myself writing software without having any human component around it. I think I’d end up writing software that only machines would find useful, not humans. It’d be depressing, and that’s why I guess I avoid when we treat each other in such impersonal manners. I think it also take initiatives to abstract myself and the people around me from seeing software and the people that make it possible as just bytes, patterns, paradigms, architectures, technologies…

I firmly believe that great software is a result of humans being humans. Machines and the code that we put on them allow it, but that’s just the means.

I’m glad that software development gave me that opportunity and I’ll do my best to keep it alive. Thanks to software, I worked with amazing people some of whom I consider great friends. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with lovely people at Shopify from whom I can learn a lot and build incredible things together. And last, and not for that less important, I’m glad that open source is connecting me with people with so many different backgrounds that are helping me grow personally and professionally.