AMA with

Sean Larkin

Technical Program Manager at Microsoft Edge, Webpack Core team member, Angular CLI Core team member

18th October 2017, 6:00 pm

This AMA is over!

Thank the host

Do Microsoft's devs get mad at Internet Explorer? It is Allowed? :P

What's the best career advice you've ever received? And by whom?

"No matter what you do, if you work your ass off, wear your mistakes on your sleeves, and learn from them, there is nothing you can't do in this world." - Wendy Larkin (my mom)

Hey there Sean! Thanks for the AMA. What motivated you to join Microsoft and what are some of the big challenges at your current job?

Most of this I lay out here in my blog post!

However here is a quote I think sum's up the shift in Microsoft's culture, open source, and why I decided to work at MS.

"When you focus on Developers, your platform succeeds."

My biggest challenges now is continuing to learn how to do PM Work as well as Understand all the nuances behind the scenes with how, why, and when we ship features. Everything we do is for a reason. So if some feature is delayed, ask yourselfs "why would it be delayed", "are they working on underlying foundation for something more also?", etc.

Hi Sean, Thanks for doing this AMA.

Why webpack? How would you explain webpack to a beginner JavaScripter?

We love using and writing JavaScript modules right? The NodeJs ecosystem even came a long with CommonJS to adopt as the canonical module standard. Now we even have ECMAScript Module (Harmony Module Spec.). But sadly none of these work in the browser completely.

The main and original premesis was two things:

  • Let's you write modules, that get bundled into browser runnable code (as a build step).
  • Let's you split your code into multiple [a]sync bundles at build time to prevent overhead.

In a beginner JavaScripter's world, they probably don't know about:

  • Modules,
  • npm, history of its purpose
  • How we used to build code
  • Why it matters (perf, user experience).

So typically I'd try and shy away from teaching a beginner JavaScripter about webpack at first until they understand a bit more about the language and the importance of shipping minimal code to the browser.

Do you have any tips for someone that wants to start contribute on OSS project, especially on Webpack?

Yes absolutely!!!!!

My first recommendation is to take a look at an article series that I wrote just for this question.

webpack has 100 repo's across two github orgs and we have so much to offer for anyone from a Technical Writer, to someone who wants to tweak graph traversal algorythms, even to someone who wants to rework some design on

So read the contributors guide, and then pick something that interests you! Then, as always you can ping me on Twitter/DM, or Tag me in a github issue and we can help answer any questions along the way.

In the end, Open Source is about people who share the same love for working on things they enjoy, and making it better for the greater good. If you can't find something you like with webpack, then we have lots of connections to other maintainers like Henry Zhu of babel who also would love to have you contribute to Babel as well.


Hi Sean sir, I have been in web development for a ~1 year and I build things using angular mostly. My question is how do I judge my work? Like there is no "supervisor" kind of person where I work, I just learn stuff and build things as per requirements. Applications work as they are expected to but I am not sure how to verify if I am doing things "the right way" or The app I built is as good as I think it is😛 . Thanks for your time!

I'll set a super high bar for you.

For your app, ship no more then 250kb JavaScript uncompressed for your initial page load. 👌

Thanks! I'll do my best.👍

What's the best way to get started with Webpack?

Awesome question!

I would say start by checking out our new documentation!!!! ( We have a getting started section and a concepts section that are great for beginners.

I also released which has 2 free learning courses that mirror these concepts and documentation.

What's the best advice you would give to a programmer getting started with frontend development in 2017?

Learn JavaScript Learn the history of JS Module Systems Learn history of build tools Learn JavaScript Try Functional Programming (Learn you a Haskell is my favorite Tutorial) Apply what you learn to JavaScript Figure out what you love most about FE Dev, and pursuit those skills.

Thanks for the Hashnode AMA. What does your team look like at Microsoft and how is your day-to-day work at the office?

Have looked at ReactXP?

Hi Sean, What should I learn from OSS and the community?

If you had a magic wand that would instantly and elegantly solve any of webpack's weaknesses, how would you use it?

To solve all of the UX/DX/UI Concerns people had.

Also to allow webpack to be composed into multiple builds, without overhead.

Scale to cloud based builds.

I am curious about your work recently with Bazel and if you think web devs will be using Bazel in the near future more wide spread?

There is a lot of work to be done still. I don't think we are anywhere close yet, especially cause I still need to understand how it works fully.

I'm a firm believer in a single compilation "unit", vs a task runner with excplicitly declared dependencies, that have to be "by hand" linked together. You gain a lot of overhead this way.

My thoughts are, what if you could compose, multiple webpack compilations, so you could have "separate" runnable build envs, but when deploying, can be one compilation for maximum performance.

Hi Sean, First Thank you for AMA, I'm always asked to do as fast as possible and ship it, now matter what you do behind the scene. Do not care about performance and more level details.

So I usually take a little longer time than I could, but do it a little more careful, tries to do a little better.

Want to ask, why shipping is more important than projects behind the scene. How you'd come over to it, if similar situation arises.

I think I take a lot of time to learn. And more so, for example it's been 1.5 years since I first started learning javascript (and coding), I still haven't made something end to end, even not something small. It demoralises me. What do I do about it?

Do it.

Really. Don't get bent out of shape about it. I really dispise working on databases, apis, etc. It's boring (to me). So I would instead of worrying about not being able to go full rounded, just continue to focus on the things you love, meet people who love those things, create connections, thrive.

If you had to, just do it once to say you understand how it works.

What is being done to make Edge more standards compliant? It still lags far behind the competition in that regard. Granted it's better than Internet Explorer was and is getting better all the time.

When you compare features that are behind, this is usually constraint of resources etc. (At least in the past it was). Now, every week I see a new hire email circulate in the Web Platform team. What are we doing?

Doubling down on our investment in the Edge Platform, working to still serve both Internal and External partners, and especially the users and developers who submit feedback to us.

But good example, Edge 16 is the only browser that supports the fetch() with Cancellable currently. When we do something we don't want to catch up, we want to do it right. Sometimes the tradeoff is time.

Thanks for the honest answer! That's not the answer that web developers want to hear but it's good to know that such things are being considered.

React, Vue and Angular - How should beginners decide what they should use? Since all of the above 3 are great, what factors should one consider before making a decision.

Understand them all.

I choose Vue for a crazy bunch of reasons. I'd choose the one that feels the most comfrotable, and meets your goals, (perf, ease of use, etc.).

Why would you chose to build an app using Angular instead of React / Vue? What advantages do you see here?

How do you manage your to-do list in term of tools, process, etc?

If there were a philosophy behind Webpack, what would it be?

Arch. Philosophy

  • Everything is a plugin :-D

User Philsophy

  • webpack exists to let you write powerful and performant web code, without sacrificing user experience.


Just enrolled on webpack academy. I got a bit left behind when it comes to the JS ecosystem. A lot of the concepts in the JS world are being adopted by other ecosystems.

Is Webpack useful for static landing pages or small projects (no React, Angular, etc.)?

It can be, but the only caveat is that you will probably write a little JavaScript along the way. But yes totally! In the end, use whatever best suits your needs.

Hi Sean, I am a beginner developer and I don't know many new concepts in JavaScript / front-end ecosystem. How can I stay up-to-date?

First is mentality: Accept that what you know now, may be obsolete in a month. And then with that mentality, you can have the assurance to be flexible and always try new things, and make connections on the underlying principles. I like to follow #JavaScript and folks on Twitter to stay up to date in many ways.

What would you advice any computer science student from College to venture into interms of the programming world, which language and reason for the choice??

In your opinion what is the hardest thing to learn about Webpack?

That loaders are not the same as task runner tasks. loaders are a very imperative part of your build. If you had to learn something in and out, learn how loaders really work.

I saw your recent tweet on Webpack Africa, What is the plan with that?

I don't want to spoil too many details, however we want to prepare developers to build the web for the #NextBillionUsers, but also help foster their growth in open source for the #NextMillionContributors also. We see the webpack ecosystem as a way to help facilitate that and enable and provide more opportunities to excel!

Hi sean, happy to see you. What are the top 5 topics/domains that a JavaScript Dev should know in 2018 according to you?

  • Modules
  • Web Performance and Cost of using X vs Y
  • HOW TO BREAK DOWN A JS FRAMEWORK to understand how it works.
  • Modules
  • WebAssembly and the JavaScript API's for it.

I understand the importance of "Modules" ;) thanks sean

What's your favorite lifehack?

Hi Sean! What would you recommend to someone who's starting with OSS? How can I get more contributors for my projects?

When and how did you enter the OSS world? What was your first contribution to an open source repository?

My first contribution was made to a Ruby Gem, which used XMPP4R Ruby Chat protocol. I think I was writing a chat bot! <3

I truly entered the world of source really via webpack! How I got involved is a pretty lengthy story. But tldr, I hopped on and made a private chat, invited the maintainers and told them I wanted to be involved. We built a relationship over a few weeks, and one day, I was asked to be apart of the team. You can check out my episode on the changelog for the whole story.

What's the next big step in the webpack jouney?


Our grant from Mozilla for WASM work is going to be incredibly exciting

What's the best and worst thing about being an OSS contributor?

Best: People, working with people who love the same thing you do

Worst: Never not being busy ever 24/7/365

Hi Sean, what is your best backend language or framework ?

Hi Sean, when do you think it makes sense to bundle CSS content into JavaScript files? (I really can't think of any)

What is the easiest way to have webpack compile some components separately from the bundle so that I can include them easily in another project?

Thanks Sean for AMA.

Could you share us some tips about how to progress to a senior developer?

Is there any benefit to switching​ from Grunt to webpack if we are using requirejs?