“Meet the Team” is a series to help you get to know your webOS Developer Relations team. It’s a friendly and fun behind-the-scenes look at the people whose main mission is to serve and champion webOS developers everywhere.
This time, I chat with myself. Meet Fred Patton, Head of Developer Relations and Editor-in-Chief of the webOS Developer Center.
Let’s start with what you do on the Developer Relations Team.
Currently I am managing day-to-day operations of the DevRel team. I am the Editor-in-Chief of the webOS Developer Center and run the developer blog there. I also manage the @webosdev and @openwebosdev Twitter feeds in addition to my own personal feed, @MotoFredP.
What brought you to webOS in the first place?
I’ve always been a gadget guy. My first pocket computer was a Radio Shack PC-1, which I bought new in 1980-81. I used it to great effect in high school physics! 1.5k of RAM. Yippee! (Yes, I still have it and the cassette interface module.)
Once I saw webOS in action, I knew I wanted to be involved with it. I wasn’t sure where I’d fit in, but Ben and Dion (former directors of Dev Rel) got their hands on my resume and brought me in to run the developer website. I was thrilled!
What’s your background?
I started off in software, developing command and control software for Air Force and NASA satellites. I discovered that I had a knack for explaining what the Air Force guys wanted to the software folks and vice versa. This led me in to the discipline known as Systems Engineering, which has colored everything I’ve done since.
I’ve also been the Director of Quality and the Director of Engineering at a small industrial robotics company. I started out developing a quality system for them, writing test automation software, doing failure analysis, etc. I also wrote user and developer documentation, and helped customers optimize their setup to take full advantage of the robot’s capabilities. I even learned a bit of machining and fabricated the occasional part!
One of my proudest moments there was the development of a new handheld terminal to drive the robot in manual mode. I took a page from Palm’s early days and made a wood mockup and paper screens. When my relatives could easily figure out how to drive the robot, I knew I had a winner.
I like to think that this broad range of interests has given me the ability to look at problems from everybody’s perspective. I have a real appreciation for the issues facing developers picking up a new API, as well as from the standpoint of the developers creating the API.
How do you see the Developer Relations role maturing as webOS enters the Open Source era?
I’m very excited about the possibilities. We’re opening up webOS to a new group of developers, those who work on much more low-level software than was previously available. They speak a different language, and have different expectations in terms of documentation, access, engagement, etc. I’m really looking forward to getting to know this community better. It’s going to be an exciting journey!