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Natalya Brinza Project Manager

Interview with Vadim Makeev

Our today's guest is the master of markup, agitator of web standards and web evangelist of Opera Software. Meet Vadim Makeev! He is going to tell us about his first computer, the importance of knowing English, sharing thoughts about browsers and what will happen with the Opera in the future.


Lives and works in Saint Petersburg

since 2008 to 2009 – interface developer in Yandex

since 2009 – web evangelist in Opera Software

Keeps his own blog.

The best platform for self-expression — Twitter.

Active partner of «“Web Standards” Association».


Hello, Vadim! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you. For a start, tell us about your life before web.

Hi! Interviewing is a great way to put messy ideas together :)

Before web I was offline and studied journalism. All my ambitions dissolved into thin air after the first summer intern in the local newspaper where I wrote about woods fire, harvesting and Сity Days. I gave up writing and switched to graphic design and photography – education program let me do this.

Could you remember the first time you used a computer and Internet?

I saw computer for the first time when I was 6, in 1991. But I got acquainted with the Internet only as a schoolboy. Then was the university library, where I studied Photoshop 5.5 till dawns. Being on the second course, I got my own computer, and things started happening.

What do you like web space for?

Great volume of information, autonomy of thought and creativity, and freedom from the archaic reality. Also, there is one thing that many people haven't realized yet – it is the simple opportunity to make a contribution to alternative reality. Maybe, because of this idealism I hate any activities that are spamming the web.

Tell us about your career path.

After the awful summer intern on the second course, being on the third one, I searched for a regular job. At first, I changed to full-time attendance on a part-time study, and then I dropped out from the university because of a full-time job. It all started with a small web studio “Trinet”, where I learned to markup. Then, it was StarSoft Labs (today, it is Exigen Services) and first experience working with foreign clients (T-Mobile). Then I moved to Moscow and have been working on different projects for almost a year.

A year after, when Sup Media was a new, on-trend place, I filled a front-end developer vacancy there, and after some time put together a markup team in the company.

When I came back to Saint Petersburg, I started work in a Yandex department, in HTML-markup group. Then I gave in and agreed on a web evangelist vacancy in Opera Software. I left Yandex with much regrets.

What are your responsibilities in Opera?

In Opera Software, there is “Open the Web” project that works in browsers compatibility with different sites. This project needed team (Developer Relations) to be organized, where every member is responsible for the connection with developers in his region. My region was Russia.

The best “web evangelist” synonym is agitator. I agitate the ideas of the web, that are based on web standards and open to everyone. My religion is a cross-browser, and my job consists of promoting Opera in 30% and web standards in common in 70%. I write and translate articles, dig in the code, mark bugs, speak at conferences and argue in comments.

Mini and Mobile Opera versions are actively used on smartphones. What do you think? Is Opera able to hold a leader position in this segment?

You can't stay a leader if you do nothing, except turning to bay - you have to invent something new all the time. Opera came in to the mobile browsers market first, and it is still a leader, thanks to Opera Mini which is set up even on low-powered cell.

Nowadays, sensing technologies are growing rapidly. Is there something interesting that Opera and HTML 5 will offer tablets users?

We have a system for “thick fingers” that simplifies click-throughs on the sites that are not mobile-responsive. Also, there is a technology mix named Opera Reader – it is a new specification based on Paged Media, that describes web pages segmentation and its combination with the CSS help. We have launched development builds with this technology maintenance, that makes sites scrolling simple and easy, whether by mouse or by fingers. Learn more details in the presentation of Håkon Wium Lie, our Technical Director..

What will the web space look like in 2027? What will the role of Opera be in this process?

For the latest years, the development rate of technologies and browsers has been increasing severalfold. That is why I am afraid to even imagine what what will happen in next 15 years. I'm definitely sure that web developers will get access to all the tooling opportunities that programmers have got now — I mean, access to the system and hardware components – from web camera, microphone and accumulator data to address book and system settings. I think, in 15 years it will be a matter-of-course.

Apart from Opera you have your own projects. “Web Standards Days” conference is one of them. Where did you get the idea? How did you find like-minded people?

The idea was born in the“Web Standards” Community, that was formed in 2006 by active members of Webmascon Forum. In 2009, we decided to hold a public meeting. It took place in Minsk. Every year, the geography of conference is becoming broader – we have already been to Minsk, Kyiv, Riga, Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

What are further plans on this project?

We are going to visit new cities and show something interesting there. There weremore than 30 speakers in our conference and we are still looking for new ones. Though there is a video collection on our Vimeo channel, I would like to perfect the quality of the video to watch it on the fly. I hope our collection will be refilled.

What are your another favorite projects?

I guess the most favorite is Zen Coding, the idea which appeared in 2008. It is still growing in popularity. Even in Japan, a book about Zen Coding was published. Also, some front-end developers are looking for code editor with the Zen Coding support. That is very pleasant.

Also, there is Shower– a template for presentations that works in browser. It is a simple way to create own presentations for those who know basic HTML.

Advise something to newbie markup developers.

Study English. A lot of information is available only in English in spite of versions and opinion pieces. Technology specifications we use are written only in English. Also, be aware of related technologies to be a fully-realized technologist, not just a coder.

What books should every front-end developer read?

Read the classics of web development literature - “Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide" by Eric Meyer and “Introducing HTML5” by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp. Also read blogs of browsers developers (Opera, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Webkit) and specialism-related blogs of different authors.

What will you be in 5 years?

I like what I'm doing now – client-side, browsers, web technologies, a little designing and IT journalism. I hope that in 5 years I will find a way to implement all the projects that always come to my mind.

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