I'm excited to introduce Toma Puljak, a talented software engineer and developer advocate at Daytona. Toma's journey demonstrates how passion, tenacity, and a breadth of experience can transform someone into an accomplished developer dedicated to advancing the field.
In our conversation, Toma opened up about his multifaceted background, why he joined Daytona, his vision for the industry's future, and more. Let's dive in!
You started coding at a young age. Can you tell us more about your early software experiences?
I still remember the excitement of writing my first 'Hello World' program. I was hooked from that point on! Fast forward a few years, and my first junior software role was for a chef robot company called Gammachef (now Bots&Pots). I developed an emulator to speed up testing, along with a mobile app and Amazon Alexa integration to control the robot. I was also involved in the local developer community. As part of the DUMP Association of Young Programmers, I organized events, led lectures, and project-managed a YouTube course. These activities honed my public speaking and leadership skills.
How did you progress into professional software development?
Before moving to Zagreb for university, I met Vedran and soon joined Codeanywhere. I developed extensions for their cloud IDE, like real-time collaboration for coding, terminals, chat, and screen sharing. Working on Codeanywhere's backend, frontend, and environment orchestration gave me invaluable experience. After graduating, I joined Daytona as a core team member. I'm involved in nearly all development processes except deployment.
I understand you have a competitive programming background - tell us more.
I have extensive experience solving complex algorithms and have competed extensively in programming competitions. An amusing story is that I consistently won county coding competitions, "amazingly" achieving first place multiple times, even with zero points just by showing up. It wasn't exactly a skill, but it demonstrated my tenacity and the importance of showing up. Aside from coding, I won Idea of the Year and second place nationally for a weather app specific to drone enthusiasts with Alexa integration, backend, and an iOS and Apple Watch app.
What drew you to join Daytona?
Daytona aligned perfectly with my interests in improving developer velocity and workflows. Their vision to bring self-hosted, standardized development environments strongly resonated with me. I found the founders' values, passion for open-source software, and developer-first mindset inspiring. They were clearly onto something big.
I believe in the whole standardized development environment opportunity and the mantra of increasing developer velocity for developers, teams, and companies.
As one of the earliest Daytona team members, I've had the chance to work on various critical platform components. It's been highly rewarding to turn my ideas into code that ships as part of a product developers use globally. My favorite part is hearing feedback from users about how Daytona enhances their workflow - it makes all the hard work worth it!
Which technologies do you primarily work with?
I'm fluent in TypeScript and Go, with a strong C#, C++, and Python background. My breadth of experience allows me to work across Daytona's tech stack. I'm constantly learning and enjoy mastering new languages and frameworks.
You clearly love developer relations - what makes this role so rewarding?
I absolutely love interacting with other developers! Representing Daytona at conferences worldwide provides invaluable opportunities to share knowledge about our craft. I thrive when I am able to share my knowledge and inspire others in the community. I recently spoke about onboarding challenges and how companies like Stripe and Uber address them with Standardized Development Environments (SDEs) at Infobip Shift 2023 in Miami. While my job title is software engineer, advocacy is a big part of what keeps me going.
Where do you envision software development heading in the next decade?
We'll witness exponential transformation! AI-powered tools like ChatGPT, Copilot, Cody, and others foreshadow a future where coding becomes mainstream. I envision kids building apps as school projects while professionals automate workflows with no-code tools. Startups will launch at staggering speed as barriers disappear. Open collaboration will also be crucial, with developers sharing knowledge freely. It's going to be an amazing ride!
But still, no matter how far technology progresses, coders will always crave great tools that get out of their way. That amplify their potential rather than restrict it. Daytona represents that future, motivating me daily to deliver on our vision.
How can Daytona help shape this landscape?
We aim to democratize software development by providing a stellar dev environment that unlocks productivity. Our goal is a future where all builders create their best work through tools that remove friction and amplify potential. We strive to eliminate any barriers holding developers back. The future looks incredibly bright, and I'm honored to make it happen alongside Daytona.
Tell us about your interests outside of coding.
I'm a passionate video game player and sci-fi fanboy. I also practiced baseball extensively growing up, winning multiple competitions nationally. Nowadays, I love attending games when I can. Most of all, I cherish spending quality time with my wonderful girlfriend - she is endlessly patient and supportive.
What advice would you give aspiring developers looking to make their mark in the industry?
Allow your curiosity to guide you, and begin small - experiment frequently. Join developer communities to collaborate and learn more. Remember that titles and outside pressures are secondary to the joy of coding.
If you're eager to connect and learn more, I invite you to reach out to me directly at the various developer events and conferences I participate in. You can also connect with me on Twitter. I'm always eager to interact with other developers and share my knowledge and experiences.
Let's connect and continue to grow in this exciting field together!