A Not-So-Brief-History

It was about 7 years ago when I was first introduced to Ext JS. My introduction wasn’t anything overly fancy; it was just an Ext JS grid (version 2!) plopped down on a random webpage. However, from the moment I saw the code for the first time, and how easy it was to configure an awesome and totally Web 2.0-looking grid that could easily interact with the data coming from my ColdFusion (yikes!) application server, I was hooked.

I distinctly remember spending the first solid week of a brand new job racing through my orientation tasks for the day just so I could have some extra time to explore the documentation and experiment with the examples, and then staying up late at home to explore even further. As time went on, I advocated further usage of Ext JS for the company’s apps, wrote some (interesting…) ColdFusion custom tags that wrapped a bunch of Ext JS functionality, and even created a training session with a co-worker (who also went on to work at Sencha!) to describe how awesome and useful the Element APIs could be.

Work kept going, and I focused mostly on server-side development, completely missing out on Ext JS 3, 4 and even 4.1.

But then 4.2 happened. I remember seeing someone on Twitter (probably Mitch, right?) post about it. I remembered my awesome experiences with Ext JS 2, so decided to give it a try on my own time. It was like falling in love all over again. From the new components, to the MVC capabilities, I was blown away by how truly amazing this framework was becoming. I had used lots of other libraries and frameworks here and there, but was always let down by the usual dilemma of having to patch disparate pieces together, missing some bit of key functionality, or simply not being able to configure things as precisely as I would like. But with Ext JS 4.2, it felt like I had found a framework that was the holy grail of web app development, something that could provide a *real* solution to managing the complexities of a *real* application.

So I dove in head first. I devoted what seemed like every available minute to learning all I could. I created my own components, developed some small applications, and even wrote a fairly lengthy blog series on how to create an Ext JS app from scratch. At a new job, I championed the adoption of the framework, which my team then used to (seriously) rapidly create a number of pretty sophisticated administration applications. And along the way, I even helped with some technical editing of a few Ext JS books.

As I became more and more proficient with the framework which I now loved, a dream started to emerge in my brain…wouldn’t it be awesome to work at Sencha?!?

And then, about three years ago, the dream came true. I had the opportunity to join Sencha as a Support Engineer, and I jumped at the opportunity. True enough, it was a bit of a change for me as I had spent years and years doing nothing but code every day. But an open door was what I was looking for, so I wasn’t about to let the chance slip away.

And I never regretted it. As a Support Engineer with Sencha, I learned more about the framework from supporting Sencha’s customers than I could have imagined possible in my own private development efforts. At the time, Ext JS 5 was coming into its own, so I was once again like a kid in a candy store. But this time, I had direct access to the geniuses behind the framework! The dream was finally a reality!

As I worked as a Support Engineer, I continued to grow in my knowledge and proficiency with the framework, and was blessed to be able to eventually join the Sustaining Engineering team. While I continued to support customers, I was now also directly contributing to the framework via bug fixes. My two passions (Ext JS and writing code) were beginning to converge, and I could not have been happier.

Life at Sencha continued on, and I was thrilled every day to login and start my work. But then one day I was presented with a unique opportunity: could I spend a few weeks helping with Sencha Test to help make a milestone for release? As a Sencha employee, I of course knew about Sencha Test, but hadn’t had a TON of direct experience with it. However, I love a challenge, so I said yes and dove into the Sencha Test API.

Wow! It was like discovering Ext JS 4.2 for the first time all over again. While a completely different world, Sencha Test was new and exciting and I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to work on it. Every day was a challenge and an adventure and I loved every second.

We made the release, and after the dust settled I was asked to continue to help out. Weeks turned into months, and eventually I was blessed to be given the opportunity to actually lead the team. From that day, until today, I’ve been working with extraordinarily talented developers to produce an increasingly awesome Sencha Test.

A Time for Everything

I am lucky. There are a lot of people who have a nebulous notion of their “dream” job. For me, there was nothing nebulous about it; I wanted to work at Sencha…THAT was my dream. And over the last 3 years, I have been able to do precisely that which very few people are fortunate enough to be able to do: I have worked at my dream job.

At first, I thought this was my dream job because of the technology I was working with. After all, it *was* the framework itself that drew me to Sencha in the first place. And to be honest, if the job had been just working with the framework in a vacuum, I probably would still feel that I had lived the dream.

But what really made my time at Sencha so amazing was the people I worked with. There is truly some special about working with unbelievably talented people. To be able to chat with them one-on-one, have them mentor you, and even (gulp!) review your code is beyond amazing. I feel blessed beyond words to have been able to work with such insanely smart and innovative people for the past three years. In such an environment, it’s nearly impossible *not* to grow, and my skills and abilities as a developer have increased well beyond what I could have accomplished on my own.

But what is even more amazing about the Sencha that I knew is that it was really like a family. The amount of support, encouragement, and mentoring that I have experienced over the past years is something that I will cherish forever. We weren’t just co-workers trying to accomplish a static goal or support some bottom line; we were in it together, trying to produce something awesome, something special, something that we all could be proud of. We wanted everyone to be successful, to be the best version of themselves, to flourish.

Sencha’s products are second-to-none, but what I think made Sencha special was its people. The people made the work enjoyable. The people made the late nights bearable. The people made the crazy dashes to the release-finish-line worth the stress and loss of sleep. These people have indelibly changed my life for the better, and I am full of nothing but gratitude and fond memories of the times we had together and the amazing things that we accomplished.

It is hard to say farewell to Sencha, because I’m not only saying goodbye to what was once only a dream, but more importantly I’m saying goodbye to a lot of people whose friendship means the world to me.

I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors. I’m thankful that our paths crossed for the time that it did, and I hope that we can continue to keep in touch as the road diverges ahead!