Getting to Know Dave Herman

November 30, 2017

LinkedIn wouldn't be the company it is today without the engineers who built it. We have no shortage of talented individuals in technical roles across the company. They are the ones who create, build, and maintain our platform, tools, and features—as well as write posts for this blog. In this series, we feature some of the people and personalities that make LinkedIn great.

Dave Herman is a Principal Staff Engineer working on the Foundation team. This team is responsible for LinkedIn’s developer infrastructure and workflow tools, such as the build system, software configuration management, continuous integration, and continuous deployment systems. The team’s primary goal is to help LinkedIn’s developers be as productive and happy as possible.

  • Dave-Herman

Before joining LinkedIn in August of 2017, Dave worked at Mozilla for about seven years. There, he founded and led the Mozilla Research department, which contributed to the creation of a number of web-related technologies, including the Rust programming language, the asm.js subset of JavaScript and the subsequent WebAssembly standard, and the next-generation parallel web browser engine Servo.

Prior to all that, Dave got his PhD in programming languages at Northeastern University in Boston.

Why are you so passionate about developer tools?

I have always loved the craft of building software: it’s creative, challenging, and fulfilling. The right tools not only make writing software more fun, they can even help us build things that weren’t possible before. When you think about scaling this up across an engineering organization as large as LinkedIn, even the smallest improvements can have enormous impact.

Every so often, I encounter beautifully designed tools that are delightful to use and make me a better developer. I’ve been so inspired by these tools—and some of the great designers I’ve met who created them—that I’ve spent a good deal of my career trying to study and learn from them. And in my own way I’ve tried to use these insights to help my teams make their own mark on the industry.

What other projects are you involved in outside of LinkedIn’s developer tools?

For many years, I’ve been a part of (the glamorously-named) Ecma TC39, the standards committee responsible for the evolution of JavaScript. Prior to joining LinkedIn, I helped advise the core team of the Rust programming language, and these days I enjoy doing some Rust hacking on the side. So naturally, for one of my side projects, I’ve tried to combine them both: the Neon project brings JavaScript and Rust together by letting Node developers write fast, stable npm modules in Rust.

It’s also my hope over time to do more open source tool-building—in my experience, open source work is not only fulfilling but can lead to truly amazing software. Part of what attracted me to LinkedIn is the company’s fantastic track record in open source, from LinkedIn-originated projects like Kafka to our sponsorship of community projects like Ember and Sass.

What are your favorite things to do when you’re not at the office?

My wife and I love theatre. We go to lots of plays in San Francisco, often at the American Conservatory Theatre, the Curran, or the Orpheum. Our four-year-old daughter is inheriting our love of the theatre, too: we’ve been taking her to plays and musicals since age two, when she mostly made it through a full-length performance of Annie (albeit with some napping through Act II).

My most favorite thing is to travel with my family. My daughter attends a bilingual international school here in the city, which should provide us lots of new excuses to go exploring the world together!