We talked to Lorenzo Sciandra, a Software Engineer at Formidable Labs UK, previously a React Native Developer at Drivetribe, one of the few external maintainers for the React Native core library
Lorenzo Sciandra is a passionate React Native developer who’s very active in the RN community: he helped start the Upgrade Helper web app, maintains the core library, has been involved in the React Native Community organization, and soon plans to organize a new meetup in London for Open Source maintainers. In this interview, he shares his passion for React Native and his dedication to keep the community active. Lorenzo gives a talk at React Advanced in London, Oct 25.
Hello Lorenzo, and welcome to the interview with React Advanced! Please, introduce yourself and tell us what made you so passionate about software engineering.
Hey ya! Thanks for having me - my name is Lorenzo (@kelset everywhere), and I am a Software Engineer for Formidable Labs UK. If I’d have to be honest, probably my interest in programming started when I was, like, 10 years old and my father bought the first edition of Lego Mindstorm! After that, I had a chance to do some programming in high school but I’ve only decided that it would be my career after my bachelor’s when I shifted from Physical Engineering to a master's in Software Engineering.
Can you, please briefly describe your previous work experience culminating in your current position?
After university, I joined a quite peculiar consultancy in Turin (where I was living as a student) - being part of Leva.io allowed me to explore different parts of the web stack (from the backend to DevOps to mobile) and learn about React Native. Then, after a year and a half there, I decided to move to London for personal reasons and, after working for a couple of years in the startup circuit, I had a chance to join Formidable this past January.
While I was learning a lot at Drivetribe (which to this day I still believe having one of the better codebases I ever worked on) the company culture and values of Formidable were just too close to my heart not to join them asap.
What do you do now at Formidable? Any interesting projects in the works? What do you love most about your job?
I know it may sound fake, but if you follow me on Twitter, you’d already know that I love being at Formidable. We have a solid company culture and I enjoy being around every single colleague I have there, both from our London office and the ones in the US. I am mainly working as one of the “React Native experts” for our UK office, currently consulting for a company I’ve loved for years - but I’m not allowed to say much about this project.
What’s your involvement in open source? Which projects are your favorite? Which of them are you most proud of?
In the Open Source world, I’m mostly active in the React Native ecosystem. At the moment, I’m one of the few maintainers (not working for Facebook) for the core library, which is the reason why I’m (with Mike Grabowski) managing the releases. On top of this, I’ve also been involved in the React Native Community organization - which is what I’ve been focused the most on this year. If I had to pick one project it would be the Upgrade Helper web app, which is a helpful tool to prevent the old upgrade pain most RN devs may have experienced.
In October, I’ll also be organizing a new meetup here in London for Open Source maintainers, as a way to help my local community.
What’s behind your passion for React Native? Why React Native as opposed to any other mobile development framework?
For me, it boils down to the fact that React Native makes sense in my mind: its patterns, the overall code syntax and the idea of writing once and being able to deploy on multiple platforms. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it clicks well in my brain. I don’t “dislike” other mobile frameworks, and from time to time I poke my head out to see how things work in other stacks - but I just don’t get the same gravitational power that RN has.
Of the ones I feel I can mention, I think that (1) working in Formula 1, (2) moving to London and (3) starting to talk about mental health in my talks (at meetups and confs) are the most rewarding ones.
Have you ever felt like an impostor? What’s your advice for junior devs who might experience the impostor syndrome?
Yes and no. Meaning: I always feel a bit “out of place,” but I perceive this as mostly a positive thing because it means that I always have room to grow! And this attitude is the one I’d recommend to any junior: feeling like you are “not good enough” for the role should be the drive for you to want to learn more!
I’ve kinda stopped blogging for a while, but when I do blog it’s been mostly React Native related (plus a few articles about Open Source). I think I’ll eventually leave Medium for dev.to, or my personal website - the reason being that I’m kind of tired of having to “clash” with the medium paywall.
I have a few, mostly I enjoy esports, and I’m currently learning screenwriting.
Are you excited about the upcoming conference in London? What are you going to talk about and what are your expectations from the event?
I’m really hyped for React Advanced! Since the very first meetup that has been hosted by this organization, I have been looking forward to a conference of the “same style”!
My talk will be about the React Native re-architecture, which is quite a challenging topic since it keeps evolving (in pure RN fashion), and I’m expecting to be able to dive a bit deeper into how this new approach will affect all of us RN devs.
lo⚛️📲zoHellooooooo I'm a speaker at @ReactAdvanced this year 🥳
...and yes, I'll have my talk super updated with all the new things @emilyjanzer announced this morning at @react_native_eu 😂 twitter.com/ReactAdvanced/…10:13 AM - 05 Sep 2019React Advanced London @reactadvanced#ReactNative is now 4 years old. During this time, we've observed a lot of progress towards the vision of a cross-platform mobile solution. @kelset will explore this history-in-the-making before diving deeper into the future: https://t.co/hx18YQKrjq https://t.co/8Orn5AiaPc