Interview with Michael Gillett

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Michael Gillett is the author of Feature Management and LaunchDarkly; we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.

Q: What are your specialist tech areas?

Michael: Feature Management and LaunchDarkly.


Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?

Michael: Feature Management and LaunchDarkly. I have worked with feature management and LaunchDarkly for several years. I wanted to share my experience with the community so I worked with LaunchDarkly on some blog posts a few years back, this then turned into speaking at meetups and ultimately at conferences. Feature management, experimentation and hypothesis-driven engineering are all things that I believe strongly in when it comes to build, deploying and releasing new features. I have found them to empower teams and enaled them to work faster and more efficnently than without LaunchDarkly. I have also found that all of the key DORA DevOps metrics can be improved through use of feature management

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Michael: I have used the product and methodology for years. But, to write the book I did use the tool more extensively to ensure I knew the full product as there were some areas of it that I wasn’t all that familiar with. I also read up on the approaches to building software and identified how the concept of feature management can be introduced as an extension of a good DevOps practice.

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Michael: I found writing the book to be a good experience and I mostly only wrote it at weekends. There was a period of time where I was in hospital which set me back from the agreed schedule but I was able to catch up and found that a really focused effort of writing produced some of the my best writing. It wouldn’t be sustainable to write in that manner for too long but it was effective in a short burst.

Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Michael: I see the opportunity for feature management to be adopted by more companies through the way it reduces the risk of deployments, enables easy experimentation and gives greater control to teams through things like switches and trunk-based development. LaunchDarkly is well poised to be seen as the gold standard tool to follow this methodology

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Michael: This book differeiates itself as there are few books on the market about feature management and none that explain the basic feature management theory through to complex scenarios. Nor do any books show off how to implement and make full use of LaunchDarkly for feature flag, experiments, switch, trunk-based development and migrations. There is also information about how enterprises can use permissions and roles to enforce good governance and procedures to using feature management to make changes to a production application.

Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?

Michael: How easy it is to get started with feature management and LaunchDarkly and how powerful this approach and tool are.

Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

Michael: How easy it is to get started with feature management and LaunchDarkly and how powerful this approach and tool are. The power of LaunchDarkly is nearly all within the tool itself and the SDKs. The implementation is simple (it’s ultiimately an if statement) and extremely effective, but no one should think that the whole opportunity is a simple one.

Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?

Michael: No

Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?

Michael: launchdarkly.com is the best starting point

Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Michael: It has been great! I would definitely recommend Packt. I have found Packt to be very supportive and their expertise in assisting authors and planning books is apparent at every step of the process.

Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?

Michael: Microsoft’s Windows Insiders Programme

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

Michael: I mostly use Twitter to keep up to date.

Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book ? Packt to aspiring authors?

Michael: Once the structure of the book was agreed and the dates for submission set I created a planner for when I would need to submit chapters. I then set out a plan for when I would need to write and how many pages/words so that I could keep track of the progress I was making. I found this an effective way to manage the progress I was making but it was also very motivating when seeing the pages/words/chapters increasing

Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

Michael: Set milestones for making progress through the book. These keep you on track and can keep you motivated

Feature Management and LaunchDarkly  – available on Amazon.com