See You JavaScript Cowboy…

To say that “Cowboy” Ben Alman has a knack for automation would be an understatement. For proof, look no further than his legendary “dotfiles” repository, meticulously crafted to initialize computers to his exact specifications. But this is really only half of the picture.

For as long as we’ve known him, Ben has been generalizing those personal projects for re-use by others. As far back as 2009, he was making a name for himself as a tool author through crafting extensions for the Tribes 2 PC game:

Have you ever been in a super-crazy melee where there are SO MANY kills and deaths happening all around you that you don’t have any idea who you killed or who killed you? Here’s the answer!

(Yeah, we’ve all been there.)

As his interests turned to web development, he quickly built up an impressive collection of plugins for the jQuery JavaScript library (many of which still see heavy use today). This obvious commitment to his fellow developer made it easy to bring him on board here at Bocoup in 2010.

Serving as both “Director of Training” and “Director of Pluginization” gave Ben a unique view into the problems faced by the web developer of the day. It’s hardly surprising that he responded by creating a new tool–Grunt. In the years that followed, many thousands of developers came to rely on “the JavaScript Task Runner” to get their work done.

Over time, Ben became increasingly involved in our consulting projects. In what can now be considered “Classic Alman” style, he organized a collection of our team’s best practices with the Ansible and Vagrant tools to produce the Modern Deployment Workflow.

When Ben told us he’d be leaving Bocoup earlier this month, we couldn’t help but feel disappointed. It’s not because his new job is anything but amazing (he’ll be working at Foundation Medicine to build software to help cancer patients get into clinical trials). It’s not even that we’ll miss the steady stream of inspired tools (we know he’ll continue to solve problems and share them with the world). It’s that Ben’s compassion isn’t limited to bits and bytes, and we truly loved collaborating with him every day. His ultra-rational approach to problem solving; his love for gaming, cooking, and funk music; and his regal shark hat will all be sorely missed. That’s why we’re saying, “see you,” and not “goodbye.”

Thanks for everything, Ben, and good luck!

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