Meet the Engineer: Romain Rigaux

In this installment of “Meet the Engineer” we speak with Romain Rigaux, a Software Engineer on the Hue team.

What do you do at Cloudera, and in which project are you involved?
Currently I work on Hue, the open source Web interface that lets users do Big Data analysis directly from their browser. Its goal is to make that process easier, so that more users can get more insights, more quickly.

User uptake has been incredibly fast over the past two years, with adoption increasing by 10x. In fact, Hue is now included in all the main Apache Hadoop distributions. It’s the default tool for doing data exploration outside the command line.

My days consist of doing feature planning and development, interacting with all the other teams, working with support and customers, collecting feedback, helping the community, spreading the good news on Twitter, writing tutorials, filming videos…you name it. Whatever helps people get started.

Why do you enjoy your job?
First, the team is awesome. We are agile, like a startup, and moving fast. The life cycle of a new feature/bug is often counted in hours, and each release brings tons of new improvements. We also like to make innovation fun. For example, we do trips to different continents (like the Thailand team retreat) or build new apps for Christmas.

Simplifying Hadoop and its ecosystem involves the integration of many moving pieces. We design applications for transferring data in and out of the cluster, query editors for analyzing data, real-time customizable search, workflow scheduling, and big table browsing. It also means working in a high-activity environment with many other people, projects and a huge community with meetups and conferences.

Technically, the work is challenging and spans multiple domains: from as high level as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to as low level as Django, Linux, and application protocols.

Last but not least, the company is great! Cloudera is full of talented people with a great attitude trying to solve big problems, and then contributing their work back to open source.

What is your favorite thing about Hadoop?
Hadoop is like a huge toolbox available freely online. With Hadoop, you can build great systems for understanding more of your data – enterprise data hubs, as we call them — or just learn a lot about complex software projects and human interaction.

What is your advice for someone who is interested in participating in any open source project for the first time?
Pick a project that you already use or that has your personal interest. Follow and interact on the mailing lists, report some feedback/bugs, write some blog posts, start to send some small patches, and climb up in complexity from there (shameless auto-promotion: check out Hue!).

At what age did you become interested in programming, and why?
I started in high school, building small websites (with static HTML, banners, and GIFs at that time). I was developing some small games on the side too, like Hunt in QBasic or DarkBasic, then moved on to C.

Computers are really interesting to me. With just a keyboard and electricity, you can let your imagination go, create “something” that will work faster than you, and interact with the whole planet.

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