Interview with Desmond Lua, founder and CEO of Malaysia Most Wanted and Travelopy

Ok, it has been a while since I interview someone for my "Humans Of Programming World" series. For this article, I'm going to interview Mr. Desmond Lua. He is the founder of Malaysia Most Wanted and

Malaysia Most

Now, please do confuse the words "Most Wanted" as if the website is for hunting fugitive in Malaysia. Basically, it is a restaurant review web app, to discover good restaurants and share gastronomic adventure with friends.

For Travelopy, it is a website that helps passionate travelers to share findings, reviews and photos.

The aim of these interviews is to highlight the talent diversity in software engineering/technology world. Most of the interviews will be skewed towards Golang, but occasionally some post will be about developers using other programming languages as well.

Here we go!

Tell us something about yourself.

I am from Malaysia, started programming 20 years ago and hope I can continue doing it for the rest of my life. Travelopy is something I build to scratch my own itch for DIY travel: finding interesting places and how to get there.

Can you briefly tell us about how you got to learn and use Python?

Before I switched to Python I was using PHP for a few years. During that time there is much hype with Ruby on Rails that I decide to check out what other languages and frameworks are available for web development.

I didn’t quite like the syntax of Ruby, while Python feels natural with better syntax than PHP (personal opinion). Another plus point for Python is the huge amount of libraries and its popularity in the field of data science.

Which feature(s) that you like the most in Python?

I think Python is a pretty versatile language with wide adaption in multiple areas. Besides being popular in web development, it’s also widely adopted in data science and good for writing short scripts as well. Programing with Python also yield pretty good productivity.

Python probably not good for performance intensive stuff, and Python 2 vs 3 dilemma is an occasional pain (hopefully it shall be a non-issue in a few years as adoption increases).

I like the fact Python didn’t have curly braces and semicolon. I probably can’t explain it very well but I like the style and culture of the language. I think a programming language is not just syntax, but a culture.

When Desmond Lua is not programming....

Desmond's Kung Fu pose

What advice or action that you would give or see to help foster diversity in Python community worldwide?

I assume you mean diversity community behind Python. I think any programming language by itself is fairly country, race, gender and religious neutral; it might be English-language dominant, or it might be more popular is specific country or industry. The language itself has no natural barrier which disadvantages a specific group of people by choice.

I think the community behind a language comes pretty organically, support by a group of people who love the language. As long as everyone adheres to code of conduct as decent human beings (no bullying, no sexist or racial remarks, etc.), things will flourish naturally and take its own course.

I am not a big fan of specific group only events where other groups could not participate, though I understand there is a need to have certain targeted events to encourage participation from a certain group. I do dislike the idea where certain things are off limit to a certain group without a decent sound reasoning behind it.

What are your advice to newcomers to Python?

It had been so long since I learned Python so my tips on how to learn it is probably outdated. I seldom rely on books; mostly google or search Hacker News to find the best resources to learn from.

If you do decide to pick up a new language, make sure you at least have a pet project to apply it; else the learning effort is probably wasted.

Tell us why you choose Python over other languages to develop Travelopy?

I already have some experience with Python and Flask, so I have good productivity and less like to make regrettable mistakes.

Python has pretty good web frameworks plenty of libraries, large community and decent productivity.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yup! Less regrettable mistake is the key to a happy life!

Got to spend time traveling with his wife

What are the difficulties or lessons that you want to share with us during the development of Travelopy?

There is always temptation to use the latest and coolest language and framework. For big projects, I always use something with at least a year of personal experience to ensure productivity, avoid critical newbie mistakes or bottleneck with the technology itself.

Every 3-5 years or so, perhaps it’s time to explore what other options of technology is out there; to find better ways to do things and learn new things.

It’s pretty easy to start something new and exciting, but it requires persistent to make a project successful. I always pick a project where I am interested to use the end product myself; at least there is one person who loves the product, until the love spread to others.

If you can’t be bothered with DevOps and want to have good server and network performance for users around the world, Google App Engine is a pretty good choice. Downside is vendor lock-in and higher cost.

What is the startup scene like in Malaysia?

There is some hype for the startup scene in Malaysia for the past few years, and a dozen start-ups probably get million Ringgit funding in the past year.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yup, having being programming a number of years myself, I do agree that programming is more than just syntax alone, but an entire culture. Chasing the latest hype in programming language is certainly a no-no for Desmond. Use what you're comfortable with to develop your product to avoid loss of productivity, avoid critical newbie mistakes or bottleneck with the technology itself is crucial!

  See also : Interview with Geofrey Ernest, creator of Utron MVC framework from Mwanza, Tanzania

By Adam Ng

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