The Artisan Files: Ben Corlett

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This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Corlett, the man who has traveled the world attending every Laravel conference.

Can you tell us about yourself, how did you get into web development?

Digging into web development was almost ironic. I never owned a computer growing up, nor did we have Internet at home, until I was about 16. I’m now 23 (just).

We were lucky enough to have computers at school however and I just really took to all the IT classes they offered there. I wrote my first HTML website when I was 16, backed by a MySQL database and everything! We were instructed to do a website with Wix or WordPress but I wanted to go a little further. Needless to say, it looked crap compared to everybody else’s, but it was mine.

The lust grew from there.

You have been a long time user of Laravel, what brought you over?

The first framework I used was CodeIgniter. I used this first at the end of 2009 (when I graduated high [secondary] school). It served me well at the time.

I became very intrigued with Phil Sturgeon, Dan Horrigan’s new framework project, which had several names, including the awfully named “ThrustPHP”, which was finally settled as FuelPHP. It since grew and it was about that time I joined Cartalyst as Dan Horrigan’s replacement. They were using FuelPHP for the Cartalyst product itself as well as the first version of their amazingly popular, Sentry.

We were keeping an eye on Laravel (2 I believe it was at that time). It didn’t have much of a following. I played with the code outside of work and had a great feeling about it. We actually sat down a couple of times to discuss the migration of all Cartalyst’s code to Laravel. That was a hard decision for the guys, effectively abandoning 12 months worth of development in Fuel to migrate to Laravel. This was just as version 3 came out, back in the days of framework-centric codebases.

Then, just to throw a spanner in the works, I began following Illuminate around July/August 2012, when it was extremely unpolished. I got approval from Cartalyst to start investigating rewriting our codebase into a bunch of framework agnostic packages. That was arguably a bigger decision than migrating to Laravel as I was worried Cartalyst would think that we were just jumping on whatever new technology existed at the time.

Needless to say, if we didn’t make those two moves, we’d have fallen behind.

What is your typical day like?

These days I’m no longer contracting to Cartalyst, but running my own company, Webcomm.

I’ve got a number of subcontractors that work for me these days. I find my time is split 50/50 between hand-on work and project (including client) management.

I found my day to be more productive if I spend an hour or so in the morning, and the afternoon, answering emails and following up on new leads, leaving the bulk of the day to work (for the most part) uninterrupted. That’s in the perfect world though, as freelancers/agencies we know our days are full of interruptions!!

Can you tell us about your local setup. What apps do you use everyday? Can you share a screenshot?

Sure! Here’s a list of the tools I usually find myself using:

  • MAMP Pro – because let’s face it, it’s so easy and sometimes other solutions can be an overkill.
  • Homestead – for all Laravel-based projects as well as other projects utilising software not offered by MAMP (ElasticSearch, Beanstalkd, etc)…
  • Safari – because it really is so much nicer than Chrome (bite me).
  • Mail – I’ve honestly just not bothered with this bandwagon of the “mail app to use this week”.
  • Sublime Text – eat your heart out PhpStormers.

You can tell a lot about a person by their Dock, right? Heres’s mine.

Do you have any hobbies outside the computer?

Absolutely! Once I head home I try avoid my computer. I’m into a lot of things:

  • Mountain biking
  • Scuba diving
  • Bush walking
  • Beach (we have awesome beaches in Australia).
  • Enjoy a BBQ and a few beers with mates, always.

I do of course enjoy the odd night or weekend of binge-coding, I won’t lie.

Finally, if you could only choose one what would your favorite movie be?

Tricky! I don’t watch a lot of movies. I typically love to watch comedies, particularly series such as The Inbetweeners or Peep Show. I think the Brits have it right.

If I had to pick a movie that inspired me like no other, I would have to say 21 (2008).

Eric L. Barnes photo

Eric is the creator of Laravel News and has been covering Laravel since 2012.

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