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Episode 20

Michael Liendo: AWS Amplify, Transitioning to Developer Advocacy, and the State of Full-Stack in 2022

Michael joins Adam to discuss the latest with AWS Amplify, his path from modeling to developer advocacy, and the state of full-stack development in 2022.

About Michael

Michael Liendo is a Senior Developer Advocate at AWS and works on the Amplify team.

You can find him online on Twitter and his blog.


Adam Elmore: Hey, everyone. Welcome to AWS FM, a podcast with folks from around the AWS community. I'm your host, Adam Elmore. Today, I'm joined by Michael Liendo.

Michael Liendo: Hey, everybody.

Adam Elmore: Hey, Michael. Thank you so much for joining. First of all, did I get your name? Did I say that right?

Michael Liendo: Oh, you said it wonderfully. Yeah. Yeah.

Adam Elmore: Okay. Cause in this world where I only ever see things written and I never really hear things said, I just realized, I hadn't asked you, am I pronouncing your name right? So, great. Nailed that part.

Michael Liendo: Nailed it. Nailed it. It's a Spanish last name.

Adam Elmore: So I always start these shows with the same first question, which is just sort of setting the stage, people who maybe don't know who you are. Just talking about your career, to this point and how you got into specifically your interest in AWS and working at AWS. Yeah. So tell us more about you, Michael.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Again, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. I've been wanting to get on the show forever now. Huge fan.

Michael Liendo: My name is Michael Liendo. I'm a senior developer advocate over at AWS. Specifically, I work on the Amplify team.

Michael Liendo: A lot of you probably have seen my posts, but if you haven't, that's okay too, because I haven't been there all that long. In fact, I've only been in AWS for about eight months now, time of this recording.

Michael Liendo: It's been a fun ride, jumping into this DA space, which is new for me. Previously, I was working as a front-end engineer at various companies, big and small, posting on Twitter, regarding front-end content.

Michael Liendo: Making that shift from being an engineer and an educator of sorts, we can talk about that later on, is really great because I get to combine those. Just be putting out stuff in front of the community, but then also driving feedback internally, to help improve the product, which again is AWS Amplify.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. I love it. I think I've been really excited to get you on. I've followed you on Twitter for a while. We've kind of connected there.

Adam Elmore: I think everyone on the Amplify team is sort of the group at AWS or at Amazon, that I really resonate with because even if I don't... Well, we'll get into it. I don't use Amplify a whole lot, but I think you're all sort of like me, in that you're full stack minded.

Adam Elmore: You come from this world where you're going to build the whole thing, from the beginning to the end and Amplify makes that easy.

Adam Elmore: I think when Nader was with Amplify team and then all the other folks that you work with on your team, they're the people in the community that when I see you write things, it's like, oh, they're living the same life as me. They have a similar perspective, and they view AWS kind of in the same way. So, really excited.

Michael Liendo: It's kind of the whole premise of Amplify itself. So, a little bit of background on that. We are a platform that encompasses this Amplify framework, which has a bunch of tools and libraries and a CLI and a graphical user interface through the web, that you can use to build out full stack applications.

Michael Liendo: So there's the skinny on it. But to your point, you're absolutely right. You can use that to build out full stack apps, pick your framework of choice. We supply the back end and it's opinionated. So, you get all of the best practices that come along with that.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. I kind of previewed that maybe I don't use Amplify a whole lot. I have used Amplify in the past, mostly on client projects where they were already using Amplify.

Adam Elmore: I would say my experience has been super mixed. On the one hand, Amplify can make you feel like you have super powers. At times, you can do things just so much faster than you could do them otherwise.

Michael Liendo: Yeah.

Adam Elmore: On the other hand, there's been projects where we had some weird requirement and moving off of the rails of Amplify. This is the same, I guess with every opinionated framework. Once you kind of start pushing the boundaries, it can get painful.

Adam Elmore: I haven't been in the Amplify waters for a few months, I think since you've announced a lot of cool stuff. Could you sort of make the pitch for me as a full stack engineer, who does love AWS, to come back to Amplify?

Adam Elmore: One of the things that I'd love you to speak to is the CDK integrations that you've talked about a lot. I've been meaning to play with that, but I'd love to hear from you, why I should revisit Amplify.

Michael Liendo: Oh, you're asking for the pitch, to bring you on.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Now for context, for the audience, your experience with Amplify was prior to us releasing features like CDK integration.

Adam Elmore: That's right.

Michael Liendo: Okay. So to give you that pitch of what it's like to work with Amplify now... Because you're right, in the past, it was great as long as you were on the beaten path. But we listened to our customers, as we do at AWS and especially on the Amplify team.

Michael Liendo: They wanted to be able to extend things, to better integrate with the AWS ecosystem. So, we announce extensibility.

Michael Liendo: Now you can run a command through our CLI and say, Amplify, add custom. And what that does is spin up an entire CDK backend that is also Amplify aware. So, you can create your CDK resources via constructs, and Amplify knows how to bundle all of that together.

Michael Liendo: So if you're working in type script, you still have the beauty of all of your generated Amplify services. But in terms of adding SQS queues and SNS topics and anything else within AWS ecosystem, there's 200 plus services to choose from.

Michael Liendo: You could spin those up via the CDK. And if cloud formation is your cup of tea, that also is a feature as well, but I'm going to be biased here and say that I prefer working in the CDK.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, same. I think the way it used to work, before you guys announced all this, was sort of going and modifying the cloud formation templates that Amplify had created.

Adam Elmore: I think the idea that I could come in instead and use type script and write some CDK stuff is definitely appealing. It's something I've been meaning to play with.

Adam Elmore: The SAM group, also, I think did something with the CDK integration. So it's like, everything is integrating with everything, and I've just not had time to play with it all.

Adam Elmore: But some of the stuff that you guys do with Amplify, with the admin UI stuff, I miss that every time. Ever since I've played with that and worked with a client who had a project that was an Amplify project, I miss that on every single project now, where I can just do basic data maintenance it's stuff.

Michael Liendo: Oh, it's so nice.

Adam Elmore: Oh, it's so great. And then you guys, now you also have this Figma. Is it from Figma? Do you actually design in Figma and it turns into a UI? Could you speak a little to that?

Michael Liendo: Definitely. Definitely. So at re:Invent, that was our big launch this past year, we announced Figma integration.

Michael Liendo: On the other end of the spectrum... we're going from CDK now, and it worked with Amplify, to now completely on the design side, where you can have your Figma developers or your front-end developers that work in Figma.

Michael Liendo: They install an Amplify plugin. That essentially gives you a bunch of known components. Meaning that, if you create a card, Amplify will see that as a card with buttons on it and take that color scheme, import that all within your React project. You have your React components, all set and created from Figma.

Michael Liendo: It's sort of been what everyone is aiming to do, when it comes to these low code for developer tools.

Adam Elmore: Yep.

Michael Liendo: It's really great to see that. I think one of the best parts is that, when it gets brought into your project, it's not this one line of stringified React code.

Michael Liendo: It's actually stubbed out, created up. You can read it. And then even better, you can extend it and modify it.

Michael Liendo: It works so well within the Amplify ecosystem, where if you make a change in your code, that'll update your Figma file. If you update your Figma file, you can have that reflect in your code. It's a really great experience.

Adam Elmore: That's pretty incredible. I think that's very attractive to me as someone who, I mean, one, I do play around in Figma. I try to lay things out. But to think that, that could be all I had to do, and I suddenly have some react code generated for me, I'm sure it generates better React than I can, in my hand.

Adam Elmore: It's a low bar. But yeah, to me, I hate how much time I spend on front-end development. So, anything that could sort of take that off my plate, but still give you, to your point, that ability to extend it.

Adam Elmore: Because I don't really like working with tools that are sort of black box. If it didn't give me that actual React to work with, it'd be a harder sell. But yeah, okay, you've convinced me. I do need to get back in.

Adam Elmore: I got to play with Amplify. It's been too many months. You guys have launched some of the coolest things, I think in the space, in those few months. So, I'm definitely due.

Michael Liendo: It's super interesting. I mean, I've been working with Amplify since before I was on the Amplify team. I was one of the early adopters. So, I got to see the product grow throughout all of these years and I'm still excited about it.

Michael Liendo: Now that I'm internal, I get to see the secret roadmap, which has me even more excited. But just seeing it from its early days, up until now and how much customer feedback we've been able to take in, it's like we say at Amazon and now I understand it after being here eight months, we really do mean it when we say it's always day one.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. It's quite a scope that Amplify takes on, I mean, the sort of reach of what it's accomplishing.

Adam Elmore: Every time I look at the Amplify docs, I'm kind of blown away. There's things that I think are these painful tasks that I need to undertake as a developer. Oh, I got to build this feature. This is always so painful.

Adam Elmore: Amplify has a document, where it's like this one-page thing and that part is done. Front to back, you've built that feature. Feels like superpowers. Yeah. So, I look forward to playing with a lot of that stuff.

Adam Elmore: I guess one of the questions I have for you, as someone who's like-minded, this is just... I'm a person who's a full stack developer, like you. I want to pick your brain, not necessarily internal to Amplify. I don't want you to give me secrets.

Adam Elmore: But thinking about full stack development from a... The more time I spend on Twitter, the more I realize, there are these different communities of developers. One of the things that's interesting to me is, I feel like Amplify leans toward React Next.js. Is that accurate?

Michael Liendo: Yeah. I would say it goes back to customer feedback. It's not that we threw a dart and it landed on React. It was just that we saw, based off of what can we output, best for the community? It seemed like React was the clear winner.

Michael Liendo: I think many will agree that, for better or worse, React right now, is the front end contender to beat.

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Now, that doesn't mean that we don't support other framework. Angular is supported. Vue is supported. And then we also have Flutter, Dart, et cetera.

Michael Liendo: So we have this huge ecosystem of frameworks that we take part in, but you are right. Based off of not just Twitter that we hear feedback from, but based off of the community at large, React is the front-end framework that we choose for the web.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. When I look at Next and how they've taken over a lot of the React ecosystem and how great of a framework it is, Amplify leaned into that as well. You guys support Next.js on Amplify, deployed with some or all of the Next.js features. Is that something you could speak to?

Michael Liendo: Yeah. The team over at Vercel, they're amazing. They have very talented developers. It's super cool, just being able to interact with them and what they're able to showcase, especially on Twitter. It's amazing what they can output.

Michael Liendo: They're moving at a quick pace. They're definitely pushing the industry forward. We take note of that and we say, yeah.

Michael Liendo: As soon as they released, what was it Next.js version, I think it was 11, with all the cool features, with the image component. And then you get ISR and all that good stuff baked in.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, sure.

Michael Liendo: We were quick to support that within the coming time, after its release. Now that they have Next.js version 12 out, we're right there tracking it, making sure that we get all the nice features that our customers like.

Michael Liendo: So, it's really great to see where the industry is going, but then take part in advancing it, at the same time.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. No, it is good to have those other options, because Vercel is a really great product, I mean, in terms of the hosting and everything else. But if that's your only option, then you're kind of beholden to their pricing model or whatever. So, it's nice to know that the Amplify team is on top of that.

Adam Elmore: I'd like to talk more about you and less just about Amplify. I guess one thing that we share in common, you're from Iowa. You're from the Midwest. I'm not in Iowa. I'm in Missouri, but we're neighbors, Missouri neighbors [inaudible 00:12:50]

Michael Liendo: Central Time. Central Time [inaudible 00:12:52].

Adam Elmore: Central Time, yeah. So, we've got that going. We have a lot in common. Full stack, Midwest, both former models. I don't know.

Michael Liendo: Oh, you modeled too?

Adam Elmore: No, I was not. You were a formal model, though. I want to talk about that. But first, maybe your background outside of tech. You grew up in the Midwest? Is Iowa your original home?

Michael Liendo: Yeah, tried and true. I spent some time between Iowa and Chicago. Majority of it has been in Iowa. I guess prior to tech or maybe my first job in tech, was actually working at my local newspaper. I worked as a digital content creator, which was super fun.

Michael Liendo: I guess this kind of leads into how I got into developer advocacy. Because in that pace of the industry, it's like, what you create today is tomorrow's history, in terms of newspapers and the digital web.

Michael Liendo: So, spent some time. And the nice thing, is that you're always pushing out 90% good work. It has to look good. It has to work, but it's 90% there, which is super awesome. And then you move on.

Michael Liendo: In engineering work, you kind of need to go the full hundred for the product. Right?

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: It needs to be tested and all that good stuff. And I realized, I don't care to do it. [inaudible 00:14:06] I don't like it.

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: I think a lot of the folks can resonate with that. Where it's like, look, I can get you off the ground. I can get you running. But when you need to put the shiny paint on it, not my cup of tea.

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: My getaway from that was like, you know what, I'm just going to do lunch and learns at work, and I'm just going to teach folks. And then that way, maybe this will be my excuse.

Michael Liendo: I don't have to do the unit test and TDD and all that good stuff, just because, hey, I'm too busy teaching.

Michael Liendo: So, I was that person who could do 90% of the job and teach about how to do it correctly. That was great.

Michael Liendo: This is before developer advocates were a thing. I mean, it's weird to think about now because we're everywhere.

Adam Elmore: Oh, yeah.

Michael Liendo: But DAs haven't been around for all that long, just because, unfortunately DX wasn't prioritized.

Adam Elmore: Sure.

Michael Liendo: So fast forward a little bit, there started to become more of this thing called developer evangelists and developer experience engineers. And then developer advocates became a thing.

Michael Liendo: I knew that was my calling place. I knew that the content that I could create, could be 90% there. Now, the problem was that, that 10% has to come from somewhere.

Michael Liendo: This is a pro tip for anybody who wants to be a DA. So the thing to remember is that, if you're pushing out content and it's 90% there... I'm not going to tell somebody how to set up an entire business within Amplify, but you're still using that time to bring feedback internally. Sometimes, that's going to fluctuate.

Michael Liendo: I might put out a 70% content piece, but that's just because 30% of my time is going to be spent letting project managers and engineers know how we can better improve the project or where it's super awesome at.

Michael Liendo: They just love that feedback. So, education is a big piece of it, but then, also just being out in the public.

Michael Liendo: I guess, a long way to punt, a long way to back up to punt that ball, but modeling helped out because I got comfortable speaking, being out in public, getting thick skin, et cetera.

Michael Liendo: It's interesting to see how my life played out, in all the different aspects outside of tech, that led me to where I am today.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, no, that's super interesting. You speak to something that I realize I have a huge knowledge gap. I see all over Twitter, people who are developer advocates. I see people in developer relations. I see different titles, that I think I lump together and they may not be the same thing.

Adam Elmore: Could you speak to what exactly... you're a developer advocate, what exactly that role, as compared to maybe some of the other roles that I would know about? Evangelist, is that different than what you do?

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Yeah. I think evangelist is really interesting. Because when you just look at that word, you can sort of evangelize something. You're kind of obsessing over it. You're really hyping it up. You're really putting it on the spot.

Michael Liendo: But what that means is that, you're essentially more on the marketing side. I'm speaking holistically here. So, take that with a grain salt.

Michael Liendo: With this being a newer industry, some of these words do get conflated. But for the most part, when you're a developer evangelist, you are going to be pushing out content more so, more the aspect of shedding the light on it and just making sure that you're highlighting all the shining new features.

Michael Liendo: Me, as a developer advocate, I'm pushing out content, so that I can best educate our customers on how to use the product.

Michael Liendo: It doesn't mean that I'm not going to put a spotlight on it and be like, hey, this is cool stuff. But at the end of the day, what's important to me is that somebody comments on it. Somebody says, "Hey, this helped me." Or actually even better yet, "Hey, I'm stuck on this. Can you explain it more?"

Michael Liendo: It's like a light bulb goes up. It's like, hey, maybe our docs need to be improved. Or maybe this is a feature gap, that I can bring internally into the team.

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: One of the beauty aspects of working on the Amplify team, is that we sit alongside our engineering team. Meaning, we're not adjacent to the marketing team. We're there, providing feedback day in and day out, being that bridge between our customers and our product. So, that's sort of the difference between evangelism and advocacy.

Michael Liendo: There's more categories that we can jump into, but those are the big ones that I see people mix up.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. It's interesting, the two way nature of it. I hadn't considered that your job is not just to tell people about Amplify. But it's to hear from developers using Amplify, here's what we need to get better at.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Speaking from my own experience, again, I've only been here eight months, so take it easy on me. But that was my number one mistake since joining the AWS team, is I was like, cool, now I get paid to just put out blog posts and attend conferences and travel the world and all this fun stuff.

Michael Liendo: I was like, no, no, no, no, no. That's one aspect of it, but how are you actually pushing the the product forward?

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: It's an entirely different layout of the land, when you start working internally like that.

Adam Elmore: Is there a Slack group that you all hang out in? Do you converse with other advocates in other companies, or is it mostly...

Adam Elmore: I just think of the developer community, the kind of groups that we hang out in, as developers, do you also hang out as developer advocates? Is that something you've built a lot of relationships, since you became a developer advocate?

Michael Liendo: Yeah. There's this secret developer advocate Twitter. No.

Adam Elmore: You all have avocados and memes.

Michael Liendo: Right, exactly. Exactly.

Adam Elmore: That's how you get in. Yeah.

Michael Liendo: It's team guacamole. So the cool thing about AWS is that, when you look at all of our services that we have to offer, we're really operating under that two pizza team model.

Michael Liendo: For folks that aren't aware of what that is, essentially what that means is, the team size should be no bigger than it takes to feed everybody with two pizzas. Wave of hand, because I can smash a pizza by myself.

Adam Elmore: I can eat a pizza. Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Yeah. So, we're one team.

Adam Elmore: We are. Yeah. That's how I like to work anyway.

Michael Liendo: Exactly. Exactly. What that means though, is that our teams are small and we operate much more like a startup. So, I can integrate with other developer advocates on other AWS products.

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: The container DAs, I can hang out with them. Some of the machine learning DAs, I can hang out with them. I can also branch out to DAs outside of AWS altogether.

Michael Liendo: Some of my favorite folks come from Stripe, Twilio and Vercel, absolutely.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Awesome folks there.

Adam Elmore: Okay. I remembered a question I wanted ask you, about Amplify, kind of getting back a little bit.

Adam Elmore: I don't even know what my question is, if I'm being honest, just an observation. As I think about and just getting ready for this call with you, when I think about Amplify within the broader AWS umbrella, it's sort of unique in the sense that, I don't know of many other AWS products that are bridging a bunch of these primitives together and building a holistic experience.

Adam Elmore: I think of the third parties doing it, like Vercel. There's other companies that take AWS primitives and sort of package them up into a better developer experience.

Adam Elmore: I'm putting you on the spot. Is this a unique thing within the company, that within AWS, you're offering this holistic experience for developers? I can't think of comparable products, comparable services within AWS.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. That's super interesting. What I would say though, is we're not the only ones doing it.

Michael Liendo: This is me, speaking as Michael Liendo. What I foresee, is that AWS is currently consolidating a lot of its services and creating that holistic experience.

Michael Liendo: I think a really great example of that is Step Functions. Step Functions, they embodied not just integrated with Lambda, but then, now you can integrate with nearly all of our services under the AWS umbrella.

Michael Liendo: Another good aspect of that would be EventBridge. EventBridge uses CloudWatch under the hood. And then they're like, but how can we make it 2.0?

Adam Elmore: Yeah. So you're continuing to kind of move up layers of abstraction. Amazon isn't always going to just be this layer of primitives. It will inevitably continue to grow up the stack, and we'll see more of that. That's good to know. I personally have a ton of experience building on AWS.

Michael Liendo: Mm-hmm. You have every certification?

Adam Elmore: I do. Yeah. I took them all, kind of like a parlor trick, in a short amount of time.

Michael Liendo: I have zero.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, no, I don't even know if they're worth anything. I could speak about that in a whole nother episode. Yeah. I think I have a ton of experience building on AWS.

Adam Elmore: I know there are a lot of folks that are new, and it's hard to kind of bring them in. I think that's what Amplify is doing such a good job of, is bringing people into AWS, that maybe otherwise feel intimidated by the breadth of the offering. Yeah. I think it's important for Amazon to continue to do that.

Michael Liendo: I would say, to even take that a little bit further and to niche that down, we are really good at bringing front-end developers over to AWS. Because when I first started AWS, it was this big, scary space that was meant for back-end developers and for DevOps engineers.

Michael Liendo: Now, as a front-end developer again, I mean we had... I'm just going to shadow everybody in this call, Netlify. They pushed the envelope when it came to having serverless functions.

Michael Liendo: It was just like, wait a minute, this can be a really interesting experience. And as a front-end engineer, I might actually have to know this.

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: So you have an entire industry that's getting behind the fact that full stack isn't going to be this big, difficult thing, that it took an entire team to do.

Michael Liendo: Now, one developer in a day, can set up a eCommerce store with Stripe, Amplify, Next.js and be off to the races.

Adam Elmore: That's where I think Amplify and AWS have this huge advantage. I don't even know if the AWSes of the world have any competitors, if they view a Vercel as a competitor.

Adam Elmore: But I think AWS and Amplify, compared to something like Vercel, Vercel and Netlify, these companies are very front-end centric.

Adam Elmore: If you go very far beyond what you can do in some simple Lambda functions, you kind of have to use other services, outside of the Vercel umbrella. But AWS, you've got it all.

Adam Elmore: Amplify, even has examples for building out some pretty complex stuff. There's much fewer boundaries that you're going to run into. It's all kind of there, within the AWS land. You've got primitive for everything.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. So it's interesting, when it comes to competitors. One of our leadership principles is that we're customer obsessed. It's our number one leadership principle.

Michael Liendo: I think a really easy way to distill that down is, I think one of the sentences in it. It's like, we pay attention to our competition, but we obsess over our customers.

Michael Liendo: So, we're clearly aware of the landscape in which the front-end space is in and the opportunities that are there, but you're right. At the end of the day, we're thinking about our customers.

Michael Liendo: If they're saying they want an easy way to have a full setup experience with an AWS backend, we're right there to meet them there.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. I love it. Yeah. I'm very sold. I mean, this call has been all I needed to hop back to Amplify.

Michael Liendo: You've built some cool stuff with Next.js And CDK. I've looked at some of your repos. I mean, it seems perfectly within the realm of where Amplify could help.

Adam Elmore: I often say, I feel like some of the things I'm building, I'm trying to build a different Amplify. I don't know why. It's that whole, didn't invent it here or whatever syndrome.

Michael Liendo: You'd be amazed at how many people say, "When I use Amplify, I feel like I'm cheating."

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Michael Liendo: In a literal, negative sense. It's just like, it shouldn't be this easy, therefore I'm not going to use it. I'm like, what? That's the pitch.

Adam Elmore: Get your time back. Yeah.

Michael Liendo: I'm like, tweet that.

Adam Elmore: Exactly. That doesn't mean what you think it means.

Michael Liendo: Right. Right.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. No, I definitely feel like I'm reinventing stuff all the time, that you guys have already paved the way and done even years ago.

Adam Elmore: I feel like, where I live is very much where Amplify lives, which is that intersection of modern web and AWS. I love both of those things.

Michael Liendo: I was like, Amplify doesn't live in Missouri.

Adam Elmore: No, not physically. But my mentality is, I want to get the best out of what the web offers today.

Michael Liendo: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Which I want to talk about that, maybe a little bit more too. But then also, I love building on AWS. I don't really have a desire to build things that don't involve AWS.

Michael Liendo: So yeah, I think I end up working in a lot of these same areas, like that serverless Next.js repo. I'm a big fan. I built a tool called Nest, that was sort of like a CLI wrapper on top of that thing.

Adam Elmore: Oh, I saw that.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. It sort of to deploy sites into your AWS account. So, a poor man's version of what Amplify already does.

Michael Liendo: Yeah, no, I think you are my people. This is the kind of conversations I really enjoy, because I've had a lot of folks on AWS FM that I don't necessarily have that connection, where there's somebody that enjoys building front ends. I don't enjoy building front ends, but I enjoy building whole products.

Michael Liendo: Well, if you design in Figma, you don't have to worry about building your entire front end.

Adam Elmore: I love it. If I could write less React, have it written for me, that sounds really great.

Adam Elmore: There's just a lot of stuff, just looking at your background, I wasn't aware of. You're an egghead instructor? Could you talk a little about that?

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think I'm the only egghead instructor that is sorely lacking in putting out egghead content.

Michael Liendo: When I became an instructor, I want to say maybe it was two weeks before that, is when I got the position at Amplify.

Michael Liendo: I was so focused on onboarding and getting stuff up, that I haven't had a chance to put anything out yet.

Michael Liendo: Folks listening at egghead, I'm sorry, Joel Hooks. I'm sorry. It will happen.

Adam Elmore: It will happen.

Michael Liendo: I think a lot of folks on the Amplify team, are excited to have more educational content on egghead, and then also on YouTube and other video platforms as well.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Egghead's a great platform. That's a great signal, to be accepted as an egghead instructor, whether you've even gotten anything out there yet or not. I didn't know that about you.

Adam Elmore: Are you working on a book, a sort of SAS, full stack SAS on AWS?

Michael Liendo: I am. I've gotten enveloped in this micro SAS community, and I love this space.

Michael Liendo: A little bit of context on micro SAS, for those that are unaware, it is this whole idea that you don't have to worry about building out the next million dollar idea. What if you just built out a couple of projects that were giving you 1,00, 5,000, $10,000 each month and you had three of them?

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Not going to become a bajillionaire, but it's like, now you have a steady stream of passive income.

Michael Liendo: And again, leaning towards Amplify, it's a great space to be in because it really facilitates building out all of that as a solo entrepreneur.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Yeah. No, that's to me, the promise of serverless and of just where tech is heading, doing a lot with a lot less. One person being able to do what took a team of people before.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. I'm eating both pizzas now.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, honestly, I prefer working alone. It's something that has kind of defined my career, in terms of not having a lot of normal jobs.

Adam Elmore: I love working with people, in short stints, but largely kind of on my own.

Michael Liendo: It used to be a trade-off. It was like, if you worked by yourself, as the saying goes, you move fast. But when you work in a team, you move far.

Michael Liendo: Well, when you use a framework like Amplify, you already have the team in your pocket. Right?

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: So you have them, and you get the beauty of working by yourself, in a sense. Then, now you get the best of both worlds. You can move fast and far.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. No, I love it. Man, you've really sold me. I swear, I came into this, I didn't know what direction it would go.

Michael Liendo: [inaudible 00:31:04] not publish this one.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Well, I didn't know if you'd really convinced me that I should be using Amplify. But to whoever your bosses are on the Amplify team, great work, Michael. I'm sold. I think I've unfairly sort of put it in a corner that it doesn't belong, I think for my own personal projects.

Adam Elmore: I definitely recommend it to clients. In certain situations, I think it makes a ton of sense, even without some of the new stuff you guys have done. But I think the direction that you're heading and the way you do listen to the broader community, yeah, it's a shame I haven't been taking advantage of it more.

Michael Liendo: You know what? It is a shame, Adam. No, it's great. Like I said, I've been working with Amplify for many years now, and I remain one of its best advocates. But at the same time, I'm also one of its harshest critics.

Michael Liendo: I can say, I think as a good developer advocate, you should be able to say... An advocate in anything, really, you should be able to identify where the weak points are.

Michael Liendo: And again, our job is to not be hush hush about those and say, oh, they don't exist. It's like, how can we improve them? How can we remove those barriers, so that they aren't weak points?

Michael Liendo: After doing that over and over again, you end up with this really great product. I think that's where we are now.

Adam Elmore: So next time I start up an Amplify project, which will be soon, I will shoot you all of my raw stream of consciousness. I will give you all the advocate feedback you could ever want.

Michael Liendo: You'd be surprised how many people are in my DMs, doing just that.

Adam Elmore: Doing just that. Yeah. Well, we want it all to be better. Yeah. To me, I love spending less time and accomplishing the same amount of things.

Michael Liendo: Right.

Adam Elmore: So, that's a good sell. One thing that I want to talk about, so I am really enamored by modern web development and that community.

Adam Elmore: One of the things that's been lately on my mind, I guess, is this distinction between React land or SPA land or whatever. People writing a whole lot of JavaScript or type script, and then the Laravel community, which is super fascinating to me. I want to somehow get adopted into it because it seems so great.

Adam Elmore: I know nothing about PHP. I've never written a line of PHP, but I wonder how Amplify... One, I don't even know if Amplify works with Laravel. I have no idea because Laravel is full stack by itself, without any JavaScript. How does that all work?

Michael Liendo: So when it comes to work with Laravel, you're right, it's in a different bucket.

Michael Liendo: I wouldn't say so much as computing, as much as they're offering the same thing. It's this full stack experience, to help out developers. And then we're in PHP land.

Michael Liendo: Amplify, being an opinionated framework, we take the stance where we really focus on that JavaScript experience, unless you're working with some of our mobile applications. Then, you have React Native and cross-platform and iOS and Android as well.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, it's interesting. I don't know. There's something about the Laravel community that's very attractive to me.

Adam Elmore: I don't know anything about the technology. I know you're rendering all the pages on the server. But presumably, I guess Laravel is sort of Rails-like, in that it comes with all the database interaction and everything.

Adam Elmore: This is me having a raw stream of conscious, on the podcast. My brain is just saying words, and I can't stop it.

Michael Liendo: No, no. It's like one of the memes. It's like, as JavaScript developers, we're flip flopping. Should we be rendering on the client? Should we rendering on the server?

Adam Elmore: Yeah.

Michael Liendo: We go back and forth.

Adam Elmore: They don't have to have that, that whole-

Michael Liendo: What framework are we choosing? At the same time, it's like Laravel machine goes brr and it's just spiting out money.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Exactly. I think that's why I'm so jealous. They don't have to have these huge, existential like moments where they all say, oh, we should actually render it on the server.

Adam Elmore: They always render it on the server. They always have this great developer experience.

Adam Elmore: I don't know. I brought Laravel into the conversation, 'cause I felt like talking about modern web development. I couldn't ignore this whole group of people, that seems to have figured it out as well and seems so distant. I don't know how to reach out and touch it, as AWS fan.

Michael Liendo: They say, always bet on JavaScript. I think that holds true. You'll definitely find plenty of space of opportunities, and you'll have no shortage of things to learn. That's for sure.

Michael Liendo: But at the same time, you're right. Let's not ignore that there are other fish in the sea. Laravel is there. What is their thing? Is it the elephant or is that PHP?

Adam Elmore: I think that's PHP.

Michael Liendo: Oh, okay.

Adam Elmore: Does Laravel have a mascot? Maybe they do.

Michael Liendo: I think it's the elephant. There's other elephant in the Savannah.

Adam Elmore: That's awesome. I hope there is an elephant or that joke is going to struggle.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, I'm pulling up Laravel. I'm literally trying to look it up as we're talking. Yeah, no, I think they do interact with a database.

Adam Elmore: So, I wonder if anyone does Laravel with Dynamo, or if that's just doesn't make any sense because Laravel is meant to...

Adam Elmore: I don't know. Is it meant to work only with SQL-based databases? I don't know.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. That's a field that I've yet to explore.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Now we're just asking questions that no one here can answer. We're just having a good time. Someone that's listening to this podcast, you can send me a DM and let me know if that's a thing.

Adam Elmore: I think it's just the people in the Laravel community. There's so many people I want to be friends with, that are in that community.

Adam Elmore: Now, we've talked about Laravel for like 10 minutes, on an AWS podcast. So, I'm going to stop.

Michael Liendo: Well, to that point though, Amplify also lets you deploy your application to a Fargate container. So if you really wanted to get into it, I mean, you could take your Laravel application, host it on a server, and then you can be up and running that way.

Adam Elmore: Oh, a server, I've heard about these things.

Michael Liendo: Right.

Adam Elmore: Okay. Yeah, no, that's interesting. As much as I want to dip in and start exploring Laravel, if I didn't see opportunities to build weird stuff on AWS with it, then it would be hard for me to invest the time.

Michael Liendo: Yeah.

Adam Elmore: I know that people host their Laravel applications on AWS, but they use other products that Taylor Otwell created, that are made for deploying your Laravel applications.

Michael Liendo: Yeah, exactly.

Adam Elmore: They've got everything they need.

Michael Liendo: We're an opinionated framework and that's the thing about opinions. This is what we think is the right choice for this segment of developers. There's plenty of other personas out there.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. I'm not leaving React land anytime soon. I'm stuck in React land.

Michael Liendo: I'm reeling you back in. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's like, I had you sold and then I lost you.

Adam Elmore: I just had to bring up Laravel. Yeah, I don't know. It's something I've been thinking about. I generally bring up things I've been thinking about, on this show, whether they have anything to do with what we're talking about. I guess that's how my brain works.

Adam Elmore: Well, Michael, it's been so good to finally meet you face to face.

Adam Elmore: Oh, I had one more question I wanted to ask you, well, two more questions. One, Focus Otter, where does that come from? Can you tell me what that name is about?

Michael Liendo: Oh yeah, yeah. I do a little bit of moonlighting here and there. I'm trying to not self-plug. I'm so bad at it, but while you're here.

Adam Elmore: Self-plug all you want. I have no rules.

Michael Liendo: While you're here, follow me on Twitter @MTLiendo.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. MT Liendo.

Michael Liendo: Prior to working at AWS, on the Amplify team, I was actually looking to get into the CDK land and integrate with those teams, do more CDK work. So, I've always been full stack, in the sense that I just like to try all the things.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Otter, it just hit me, the CDK, the Otter. Okay. Wow.

Michael Liendo: Their mascot, I think it's called Stacks. Right?

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. I'm so glad I asked.

Michael Liendo: Oh man, it's a hidden gem, just in the sense that it gives more insight into what area of Amplify I really like to focus on. It's that extensibility, integrating with CDK, really building out the backend. I love doing that stuff. Shout out to the CDK book, by the way, which is amazing.

Adam Elmore: Oh, yeah. It is fantastic. I'm a purchaser of that book. No, I thought you had a pet Otter or something, as a kid. I don't know.

Michael Liendo: Oh, nope.

Adam Elmore: No, it's the CDK. That's awesome.

Michael Liendo: It was me just branding myself, so that I can get a job at AWS and go the other way.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. Well, it worked. Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Yeah it did.

Adam Elmore: Yeah, it worked. The only other question I have for you, is if you have any hot takes. We've already talked about things we probably shouldn't talk about. Do you have any hot takes in the industry?

Michael Liendo: Oh, geez. I don't even know if they're... See, so my hot takes are things that I just see to be true. It's like, it's not a hot take because I'm right.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. You're right. Everyone just needs to get on your page. Yeah.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Yeah. Couple of things. Couple of things here. One, event-driven architecture is the way to go. Two, if you are a front-end developer and you're looking to build on AWS, Amplify is where you need to start.

Michael Liendo: Now, I will say that you are slowing yourself down if you are starting in another space. That other space might be better for you, but you need to start with Amplify.

Michael Liendo: We have amazing products out there. But at the end of the day, it's made for front-end developers. I needed to explain that.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. It's the on ramp.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Yeah.

Adam Elmore: If you're a web dev, that's where you should start.

Michael Liendo: I have two more. So then, three is going to be CDK. JavaScript developers, you need to know it, love it. It is the future. It's where we're at.

Michael Liendo: The future, speaking as Michael Liendo. I'm not giving out any internal sauce. That's my hot take.

Michael Liendo: But then on the other side, if you are a designer, Amplify just increased your salary range, by making you essentially someone who could integrate with cloud services.

Michael Liendo: So, if you're a designer and you're on some other service, I would say, keep an eye on Figma, get better at Figma. Keep those skills sharp, just because how it integrates with Amplify Studio, increases your earning potential.

Adam Elmore: I love it. Designers just got one step closer to shipping their own apps, without-

Michael Liendo: Yeah.

Adam Elmore: It's all becoming one. The individual can build anything they want. That individual might have design skills. They might have development skills, other skills. But we're kind of empowering people at all walks of life, all levels of experience, to build products, which is really cool.

Michael Liendo: Oh, I see what you did there. You were like, "Michael, do you have any hot takes?" And then I'm like, I bring out this spicy stuff. And you're like, "Look, we're really just one big family."

Adam Elmore: Just dulled it down. I just threw water on your hot take.

Michael Liendo: Yeah. Yeah.

Adam Elmore: No, I love it. I generally ask people if they have hot takes. I get a lot of, eh, not really. You just had like a list of five.

Michael Liendo: I stay ready.

Adam Elmore: I love it. Well, Michael, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been so fun to meet you and just pick your brain.

Michael Liendo: Oh, thanks for having me. Yeah, definitely.

Adam Elmore: It's been a while. So, thanks for listening again. If you're still here, you're one of the people that really enjoys this show.

Adam Elmore: I took a little holiday break and it lasted five months, I think, but I'm back. I'm going to keep doing this. the goal is to do it every week, probably not three times a week.

Adam Elmore: Join the Discord. Tell me things about the show you like, things you don't like. I'd love to get your feedback, like a real advocate would.

Adam Elmore: Yeah. I'm excited to be here. It's weird not having the live audience, but yeah, this'll be a little more sustainable, probably.

Adam Elmore: All right. Saying goodbye because I don't remember how else I ended shows. Oh and it's Michael's dog. Okay. I'm hitting stop now. Goodbye.