This is the latest installment in our Community Spotlight series profiling members of the New Relic community (both inside and outside the company) to learn about the projects they’re working on and find out more about what interests them. Please share your suggestions for people you think we ought to profile at—and don’t forget yourself, we’d love to know you better!

liz abinanteLiz Abinante is a software engineer in New Relic’s Portland office, working mostly on Service Maps and shared components. A frequent speaker at industry events, earlier this year Liz participated in a New Relic FutureTalk presentation on Diversity and Education in Tech.

Why are you suited to be developer?

I’ve always been interested in design. Before I was a software engineer, I worked as a designer and did basic markup and templating for WordPress. Because I care so much about the user experience, I work primarily with the user interface of our products. I’ve spent a lot of my time as a software engineer feeling like an outsider because my perspective on building things is so different than others. I am really able to harness that difference when it comes to user experience so that I can build easy-to-use interfaces with oft-forgotten things like accessibility in mind.

What’s your favorite way to manage your work?

I use Git pretty intensely, both for personal projects and for work. For work, I usually have far too many commits for every branch, and I usually end up squashing them down to the final working solution when it’s ready for review by a team member.

What language do you program in?

JavaScript and Ruby, with a little bit of Sass if I’m doing lots of design-oriented work. Our app is built using Rails, and we have most of our frontend components written in AngularJS.

What’s your favorite part of your language?

Honestly, I don’t really have a favorite part. I use the tools I need to build the things I need to build, and so far that has been entirely JavaScript and Ruby. I’ve dabbled with a few other programming languages, but I always come back to JavaScript and Ruby because they’re the ones I am used to and have the most experience with. It’s easier for me to work on technical challenges when I am deeply familiar with the language I’m writing.

What’s the worst part of the stack you use?

I have a very strong and universal frustration with frontend build tools. Gulp, Grunt, Broccoli … whatever. Every build tool I’ve tried using for JavaScript or Sass has been incredibly difficult to work with, set up, and maintain. An underlying issue here is brittle dependency trees in Node modules, which gives me problems more often than I’d care to admit.


None of the above. I tackle each problem differently and reach for the methods that work best for each scenario. Bouncing between the different methodologies also makes it easier for me to work with other people when it comes time to do pair programming.

Why do you present at conferences?

I love speaking at conferences because it reminds me so much of teaching. I come from an academic background—I have a master’s in women’s studies—where I spent a lot of time teaching and a little time speaking at academic conferences. I really love to share my ideas and opinions with people. Often times, given my educational background and field of study, my ideas and opinions are very different from the vast majority of software engineers. It’s kinda cool to introduce someone to a topic for the first time, or to lead someone to a lightbulb moment.

What are your presentations about?

I largely focus on workplace skills and communication, career development, and social issues. Recently, I’ve shifted my focus and have begun working on technical talks on things like Angular, D3, and Sass.

What’s your favorite conference and why?

Open Source Bridge is a conference local to Portland, now in its seventh year. It’s a fairly large, multi-track conference with a hugely diverse list of topics and speakers. This is my second year attending the conference, and I am endlessly impressed by the thoughtfulness of the organizers and the variety of topics. The talks are consistently excellent, and the overall conference is incredibly welcoming and inclusive.

What’s your Twitter handle? Why?

I am @Feministy! I used to have a different handle that was a variation of my name, but decided to change it in college. I wanted @feminist, but it was taken, so I picked @feministy because, well, it sounded pretty damn cute.

Whom do you follow on Twitter?

A good portion of the people I follow (not quite half) are those who work with social justice issues. The rest of my feed is comprised of tech workers in various roles who are friends or whom I’ve met at conferences, meetups, etc.

liz abinante and her dog

What would your superpower be?

The ability to fly. I hate traveling and I’d probably do it more if I could fly myself there.

Non-tech book you’ve read lately?

I just finished Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. You should read it: it’s a very poignant and hilarious cultural piece.

Best thing about where you live?

In Portland, I can pretty much take my dog everywhere. She’s pretty cute—you’d probably want her to hang out everywhere, too.


Spotlight image courtesy of

Tori Wieldt is a New Relic Developer Advocate, which means she writes blogs, speaks at New Relic User Groups and events, and seeks to empower and educate New Relic developer users. She has been in the tech world as a sys admin, tech writer, and marketeer. View posts by .

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