show me anybody who located

Featured on Nov 02, 2011

Mark Wunsch

"We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals. - Quarry Workers Creed"


I lead Gilt's Front End Engineering team (affectionately called the FEET), building's user interface. My primary practice is in JavaScript and Ruby. I'm a Texan expatriate, living in New York for 4 years with my amazing wife. The best metaphor I've heard for software engineering is sculpting. Software is like art in that it is in never complete, it is abandoned. I like working with computers to make things.

  • Title: Lead Front End Engineer of Gilt Groupe
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Midtown
  • Contact: @markwunsch

Do you recall the first time that you ever wrote code?  What language was it in and what did your code do?

I was introduced to the internet with America Online, probably like a lot of other suburban kids my age. Some friends and I ended up getting into AOL "Proggies". They were these little programs with names like HaVoK and AOHell that exploited security holes in AOL. There were things like punters, which allowed you to boot people offline, phishing tools, mail bombs... all kinds of juvenile script-kiddie things. It was my introduction to "hacking", in the stereotypical sense. They were written in Visual Basic and it was easy to get code to build them. I didn't know anything about programming, but by just tweaking the code here and there I figured it out and built my own Proggie. Looking back, that AOL Warez scene had a big influence on me. AOL provided all of the tools to build your own website and that's how
I first learned HTML.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve come up against in your time at Gilt?

Gilt has all kinds of technical challenges but what occupies most of my attention these days is our deployments. As the business grows and expands into new areas (like Park & Bond and Gilt Taste), we have to come up with clever ways to share large amounts of front end code with several different teams, but give those teams autonomy around their release schedules. We have all of these front end assets: UI images, stylesheets, scripts, and we want to be able to share them across these different applications and different teams. Getting a good toolchain in place so that one of the other teams can pull in the shared assets they need without finding themselves in dependency hell has been tough, and there are no real solid existing solutions out there. Writing great code is solved by hiring awesome, smart people, and we've done that. But building the tools so that they can do their best work and be at their most productive: that's challenging.

As a developer, what resources do you use to stay up to date on updates to languages, best practices, etc.?

Mostly Twitter and GitHub. I found projects I'm interested in on GitHub and followed their authors. I see what projects they're watching and what they're writing and if something sounds interesting I follow that. It's hard to find a better resource for developers than GitHub. Beyond that, my colleagues always have interesting links to share or some practice to debate. Working in a good environment that encourages discovery and experimentation is really important.

Ruby Developer, JavaScript Developer