Meet the speaker: Chris Howe-Jones


The Build IT Right meet the speaker series caught up with Chris Howe-Jones. Ahead of his talk, we spoke to Chris about his own experiences and what the future holds…

What is your current role?

That’s a harder question to answer than you might think! Five years ago I left my role as CTO of Opencast to start my own independent IT Consultancy, DevCycle. Since then I’ve worked with many clients from international organisations to start ups, mainly helping them with Software Development and Architecture with a bit of agile/lean coaching thrown in.

What does Building IT Right mean to you?

Building IT Right means understanding which small decisions have large impacts and which large decisions can’t be ignored. I am a strong advocate of a number of development practices and approaches that I think are useful but there’s no one size fits all ‘silver bullet’. That’s one of the reasons I’m a consultant.

Why should Build IT Right visitors attend your talk?

I hope that my talk ‘Prerequisites for Evolutionary Architecture’ will have a message for everyone involved in Software Development from business focused-delivery people through user experience experts to experienced software architects, that their actions impact software architecture as much as software architecture influences their actions. I hope that my talk will give everyone food for thought while providing a load of approaches that give them more options to cope with change.

What innovations in the industry impress you the most?

For the early part of my career I believed that any reasonably high level programming language that was Turing complete could be used to solve most problems and the differences between them were not significant. Over the last decade or so I’ve realised that the very materials we, as software professionals, use have a huge impact on the way our software turns out. Therefore, I tend to try and read as many white papers as I can on language theory, typing theory, systems theory and distributed systems algorithms. I think the recent emphasis on event streaming, microservices, functions as a service, etc. give a lot of options for evolutionary architecture but I am hoping that some theories from mathematics, like linear logic and progressive typing, will change the materials we use in software development for the better.

What do you think will be the next big thing in software?

I’ve seen the same approaches cycle around in a new guise every 8-10 years so I expect we may see new approaches in database technologies (we are already seeing immutable temporal aware databases like Datomic and Crux). Immutability has become a hugely useful approach in source control (Git), messaging (Kafka, Blockchain), databases (Datomic) and programming languages (Elm, Clojure) and I wonder if this emphasis will mean even more organisations moving away from controlling state by encapsulation and therefore less use of Object Oriented Programming and more Functional and Declarative Programming, or even, Logic Programming. To be honest, the change I am most hoping to see is a pragmatic progressive typing system that allows developers to start with weak typing and move, over time, to stronger typing as the problem stabilizes and becomes better understood.

Catch Chris Howe-Jones’ talk at 4.10pm in the Northumbrian Room on 26th March 2020.

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