My name is Rob Conery and I help developers of all sorts learn what’s new with technology. I have been working in the technology field full time since 1998 as a DBA and then a web developer. My original focus was the Microsoft ASP.NET stack, building tools like Subsonic and the first Micro-ORM: Massive. Currently I’m working on MassiveJS, which is a dedicated PostgreSQL data access tool for Node. I ported this to Elixir and named it Moebius.
While not writing data access libraries, I like to write books. I just finished The Imposter’s Handbook, which is a compendium of skills and concepts that you need to know as a self-taught programmer. Things like Complexity Theory (P vs NP), Big-O notation, Database theory, Algorithms and more. I tried to make it down to earth, using hand-drawn sketches and simple code samples.
I recently founded Big Machine, where I plan to keep writing/selling books and videos. Before that I did videos for Pluralsight, which bought my previous company Tekpub.com.
I have been working in the technology field since 1996. I began my career as a Geologist, earning a Bachelor’s of Science from UC Santa Barbara with a minor in Computer Science. From 1993 until 1998 I worked in the Environmental Field in the San Francisco Bay Area; I started out doing field work and “Geology Stuff” however the fun was working with the data that we generated – and I moved over to the role of Database Administrator.
In 1997 I moved to Hawaii with my lovely wife (then girlfriend) and began building web sites for local businesses, goofing around with Java and CGI scripting stuff, eventually trying out a new thing called “Active Server Pages” – at which point I was hooked on web development. In 1998 I returned to the SF Bay Area to co-found a technology company with a friend, which we grew into a successful business.
In 2001, with the collapse of The First Bubble, the consulting business trimmed down significantly. I continued to work with clients on my own and took a few jobs focusing on data analysis and web reporting. In 2004 I returned to Hawaii with my wife and daughter and decided to change my career and go back to school at UH Manoa. I wanted to become an oceanographer, or possibly a marine biologist/geologist and, hopefully, become a science teacher. I might also teach programming! When I arrived on Kauai my friend and former co-founder called me up and said “I have one last contract for you – some extra money to help get you setup over there”.
I took it. And everything changed.
The contract was working with Paypal, helping get their developer program off the ground. They had just released their SOAP API and needed some help with example apps as well as a developer portal. I had just helped write the first book on the API (writing four or five chapters) and I was happy to do it.
All went well, and I was invited to a conference call with Microsoft as they wanted to review what could be done with their new platform: ASP.NET 2.0. I demoed some of the SOAP call features as well as ways to make things a bit simpler, and within a day I was called by the ASP.NET team to help them create a “Starter Kit” – a beginner site for developers new to the platform.
I created the Commerce Starter Kit 2.0, which used Paypal to process credit cards (as well as other gateways), and I convinced the Microsoft and Paypal teams to let me Open Source the whole thing. Which they did, and it became quite popular.
From that work I met a great mentor: J. Sawyer. A Microsoft evangelist and amazing coder. He showed me some interesting and tricky things to do with generics and data access. I then read a great article by Fritz Onion (whom I now work for!) on the Pluralsight blog about Custom Build Providers, and I thought… “hey, what if I created some stuff on the fly using generics and custom build provider…?”. If it worked, your data access would be created for you with, literally, no code whatsoever (that’s what Build Providers did). Sounds crappy today – but back then that… that was something!
And Subsonic was born. The name is a funny thing – I was trying to come with something and, at that moment, was listening to Sonic Youth. I added a “Sub” in front “Sonic” which, to me, made sense because the Custom Build Provider thing basically went off without you knowing it.
Subsonic became very, very popular and next thing I know I was being asked to demo it at Microsoft’s newest conference: MIX ’06. Which I did.
Later that year I received a call from Scott Guthrie who asked if I would like to join Microsoft, which required my moving to Redmond from Hawaii, which I declined. We decided to work out a contracting deal, however, so in 2006 I began working with the new Silverlight team. In 2007 I joined full time (becoming a Blue Badge) and in 2008 I transitioned to the ASP.NET team, helping spread the word about the new platform in town: ASP.NET MVC.
When I built Subsonic I was heavily influenced by a web framework that had grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let me go: Ruby on Rails. I really liked the idea of ActiveRecord and I very much wanted to build it into ASP.NET – in fact I called Subsonic the “ASP.NET ActionPack” for a bit, which was silly.
I wanted to bring Rails’ simplicity to ASP.NET MVC, the conventions and focus that put you right into building out a business rather than worrying about silly things like data access etc. I felt like that was what people wanted – so in 2008 I decided to formally try to help people this way, and I created the MVC Storefront Series.
I flexed my experience working with the Commerce Starter Kit and my love of doing video production – putting out a free tutorial set with the new Silverlight player. It was a huge success, helping thousands of developers grasp how MVC worked with the web using ASP.NET.
In the fall of 2009 it was time to part ways with the ASP.NET team and Microsoft. I decided to see if I could make a living doing videos, following in the footsteps of Geoffrey Grosenbach (Peepcode) and Ryan Bates (Railscasts). I called my friend James Avery and together we founded Tekpub.com.
It was an instant success. We started out with a Git production and for the next five years produced a new video every month or so. In 2014 Tekpub was acquired by Pluralsight, which is what I am doing currently.