Like his fellow nominees for Young Developer of the Year in the net awards 2014, Brazilian Zeno Rocha may still be under 25 – but he’s not wasted any time. Alongside his day job as a front-end engineer at Liferay, he’s also the 22nd most active contributor on GitHub, contributed to HTML5Please and Yeoman, and is creator of BrowserDiet and Wormz. We chatted to him to find out more…

What are your main areas of expertise?

I’ve done some back-end development with C++, PHP, Java, and Ruby in the past. However what really drives me is front-end development. I can spend hours and hours playing with HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.

How would you characterise your career so far?

It all officially started in 2009 in the city of Rio de Janeiro, when a guy from college invited me to work with Flash in this small design agency. After an intense year of work I decided to face a whole different world at Petrobras (the largest company in Latin America).

At that time I released my first open source project, jQuery Boilerplate, and was studying HTML5 a lot so I decided to do my first call-for-papers submission. It was accepted.

braziljs Zeno Rocha talks GitHub, web components and coding live on stage design tips
Rocha was one of the co-founders of BrazilJS Foundation

Suddenly my presentations got attention from lots of important people in the industry, and (the most accessed sports website in Brazil) invited me to work with them. Write HTML5 apps for a really huge audience in 2011 was quite a challenge, especially in Brazil where there are still lots of old browser being used.

I continued working with open source, leading the translation of Dive into HTML5 (one of the first HTML5 resources in the Portuguese language) and co-founded BrazilJS Foundation. I was making a big impact in my country but why not impact the world?

Today I work as a Front-end Engineer at Liferay, a company based in Los Angeles, and travel the world to give talks. I’m also a writer at Smashing Magazine, host at Zone Of Front-Enders podcast, and member of the Google Developer Expert program.

What have you been working on over the last year?

weight Zeno Rocha talks GitHub, web components and coding live on stage design tips
Browser Diet has been nominated for Best Collaborative Project

My main initiative last year was Browser Diet, the definitive front-end performance guide, which is nominated for Best Collaborative Project.

When I was studying Web Performance Optimization I found two books: High Performance Websites and Even Faster Websites (both from Steve Souders). And also found two online guides: one from Yahoo! and another from Google. Those learning resources are great but there’s no “Edit” or “Send a pull request” buttons, you just can’t contribute to it. So I started this funny and collaborative guide with some friends from Twitter, Google and Opera. We launched it and people loved it, today there are translations for 7 different languages.

What have been the high points so far?

Each open source project that I contributed is a high point in my career, but when I discovered that I was one of the top 20 most active users on GitHub, even ahead of Linus Torvalds, that was insane!

What are you excited about right now?

Web Components! If you think HTML5 changed the web, wait to see what Web Components will do. Good software engineering means modularity and code reuse, and Web Components it’s all about that. This collection of standards which are working their way through the W3C (Templates, Decorators, Shadow DOM, Custom Elements, HTML Imports) will revolutionize the way we develop and interact on the web.

Tell us about an important lesson you’ve learned in your career.

Take a risk. Don’t be afraid to open your code or go up on stage. Yes, your code can probably suck or a live code can probably go wrong during your presentation, but when you take a risk you create thousands of opportunities, and the most important thing: you learn.

Who’s your unsung hero?

There are so many that would be unfair to name just one person. When I was in college my hero was Mariano Pimentel. Then I met his hero, Maujor.

When I first started giving talks was Bernard DeLuna. When I found out about HTML5 was Paul Irish. When I started to go deep in JavaScript was Eduardo Lundgren. And now the developer that I admire the most is Addy Osmani, who has been a mentor to me.

Vote in the net Awards!

netawards-logo Zeno Rocha talks GitHub, web components and coding live on stage design tips

Celebrating the best in web design and development, the 15th net Awards is open for public voting until 24 March. With a record breaking number of nominations this year, it’s set to be the biggest and best yet. Have your say by casting your votes here.