The Artisan Files / updated: January 22, 2015

The Artisan Files: Kayla Daniels

Kayla Daniels

In this weeks Artisan Files I’m proud to introduce you to Kayla Daniels. Kayla is a developer, super mom, and creator of the Code Manifesto.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? How’d you get into web dev?

I started playing with websites when I was about 13. I still remember the first website I ever built. Iframes were the hot new thing back then and I made liberal use of them. The site itself was just a personal website, and being that I was 13 I didn’t have a whole lot to put on it, but I will never forget the feeling. The first time I hit save, then loaded the file in my browser and saw that the random words I typed made real things- It felt like magic. I had all the power in the world and I could build things.

I got my first developer job at a newspaper in Colorado Springs. My job was mainly Joomla and WordPress development. As that job was coming to an end I had a friend of mine call asking if I could build a custom web application for a client. I said yes, took the job, and then taught myself what the heck MVC was, and how to use CodeIgniter.

Do you remember how you first came across Laravel? What made you stick around?

Laravel kept coming across my doorstep, and it was persistent about it. It showed up on stack overflow, on my twitter and in google searches. Honestly, the first few times I looked at it, I didn’t like it at all. I was very comfortable in CodeIgniter, and I was good at what I was doing. Laravel was such a departure from that that I didn’t even want to bother with it.

It wasn’t until i started really digging and learning about testing, design patterns and the principles of good architecture that I finally fell in love with it. What I love most about Laravel is that doesn’t force itself on you. There is no ‘Laravel’ way of doing things. You can put files wherever you like, and use them however you like.

That said, I do feel like it encourages you to build things in a way that’s easy to read, understand and, most importantly, extend.

You gave a lightning talk at Laracon about your Code Manifesto. Can you share some details behind this?

The Code Manifesto grew out of some growing frustrations I had, being a girl in the tech community. I’ve experienced, seen and heard of a lot of discrimination in our field, not just at women, but at minorities in general. There are some really bad cases of harassment, misogyny or racism, and those get talked about a lot. They’re horrible, and they shouldn’t happen. I think there’s another classification of discrimination that happens too, and gets less mention. These are the little things, the subconscious things that people think and say and don’t ever give a second thought to.

For instance, I’ve had several people tell me something along the lines of “Hey, you’re good at what you do, it’s a pleasure to work with you. You’re the first girl I’ve worked with, and I was pleasantly surprised.” Obviously, these people aren’t trying to be jerks. They’re complimenting me, but in that compliment is the message that they had the preconceived notion that I wouldn’t be good at my job, simply because I’m a girl.

The combination of blatant harassment and subconscious discrimination together make the tech industry an less than inviting place for minorities to be. I’ve heard of a lot of girls who get started down the path we’re all on, and then turn back early on because of these things. These are things that can be fixed, and addressed. Things that -should- be fixed and addressed.

After looking at the state of our field now, and envisioning what I’d like our tomorrow to look like, I saw a possible path connecting the two. I set out to start building that path, or at least attempting to. The Code Manifesto is that, an attempt to start building the kind of environment I’m proud to work in, that I’d be proud to have my daughter work in, some years in the future. At it’s core, it’s nothing more than a set of values that equate, more or less, to common sense and respect.

There’s a website for it here: codemanifesto.com, as well as a twitter account. It’s also on github and PRs are welcome.

Outside of web development do you have any other hobbies?

I’m a big foodie. I love to cook. Well, really, I love to eat. Cooking just allows me to eat good things. I’m also a big fan of craft beer. Outside of that, I have 3 kids and I spend most of my non-dev time with them.

You recently switched to a Mac. How are you finding it? What are the apps you use daily?

I LOVE my mac. This is the second mac book I’ve owned. I had a 15″ MPB a few years ago and ended up getting rid of it. Since getting rid of that mac, I gained a real disdain for apple in general. I vowed I would never own a i-Anything, or another mac computer.

Kayla Daniels Desktop

Laracon was the thing that really made me want to switch. I was one of maybe 3 Windows users in the room, so I was pretty much staring at a sea of mac screens. I was able to watch how people were using them and the workflow was so smooth, so quick, so easy. Couple that with the nightmares I’d been having with the Windows console, and I was ready to switch. The day after I got home from Laracon, I bought a 13″ retina MBP.

I use chrome, terminal, textual, github for mac, slack, alfred, inky (for email), tweetdeck and PhpStorm most often.

If you was stranded on a desert island what three things would you bring?

A knife, something to start a fire and a water bottle. Because I’m boring, but practical.

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