I'm Simon Højberg (pronounced "hoy bear"), Danish, and living on the East Coast of the US. I've worked professionally as a Software Engineer since 2006 — First in Denmark and since in the U.S.

I'm a Principal Software Engineer at Mirah.

I love UIs, board games, Dungeons & Dragons, poetry, black licorice, (Typed) Functional Programming, Category Theory, Visualizations, and Cooking.


Work

Throughout my career I've worked as a programmer in Payment Processing, Mobile Ticketing, Hosting, Restaurant Analytics, Point of Sales, Recruiting, PIM, and Behavioral Health.

I've mainly been focused on the UI engineering space, though I started out as a Rails developer in 2006, the early days of Rails, in a small Payment Processing company back in Denmark. Even then UI was a big part of my passion, and I served in a multi-functional role as both a Rails and a front-end dev.

Later, as the Single-Page App trend started taking off around 2010, I shifted focus to work with JavaScript and have mostly remained in that realm.

When React was released in 2013, I advocated for it at work (Upserve) and we started migrating to it within ~6 months of the initial public release. With React I was more directly introduced to Functional Programming which spawned a career long obsession and interest in languages like Haskell and Elm.

For a few years I was lead and architect on 2 React Native applications, a mobile app for restaurant analytics and a restaurant Point of Sale with support for multi device restaurants and offline mode.

The coolest projects I've worked on over the years, includes designing a React Native and TypeScript architecture inspired by The Elm Architecture for a Point of Sale, building a Job search system backed by a Graph database (Neo4j) and helping others grow as their mentor.

Failed Startups

I've co-founded 2 startups which were both unsuccessful in becoming profitable. Both worked on in my spare time and both operated in the Danish market:

NeedHost, a shared web hosting service founded in 2004 while I was still in school. When I left in 2008, NeedHost had around 3000 customers, but even with that we couldn't turn a profit with the competitive pricing in the shared hosting space. I wore many hats and worked on design, programming and support.

Talentbird, was a recruiting platform founded in 2013. It was a 2 sided marketplace with all the challenges that entail. Companies could search for Job seekers based on skills and Job seekers could set up their preferences for opportunities. I did all the programming, both back-end and front-end with Ruby, JavaScript and eventually Elm. We struggled for years to get funding, but had no luck and gave up in 2018. At the end of the adventure we had a few paying customers and about 2000 users.

For more information, visit my LinkedIn.


Publications

Somewhat out-of-date, published work I did on React:

Developing a React.js Edge, I was one of 6 authors working on this book that dives into the ins and outs of developing web applications in the early days of React before Redux even existed.

Mastering React.js A video course on React I did for Packt Publishing as a fairly quick follow up of the React book. No longer available.


Influences & Impressions

These are books, essays and articles and the like that has had a big impact on me over the years and that I often go back to.

The Wrong Abstraction by Sandi Metz. The wisdom in this article reached me at a time where I was the tech lead on a very rapid moving project with 15 engineers all working in and around the same code. The small narrative in the article was immediately recognizable and really struck a nerve in me. I learned about the importance of deliberate design, DRY obsession, and over use of brittle abstractions. Many wonderful learnings in this article.

Parse, don't validate by Alexis King. Having been on a Type-Driven Development binge — I still am — and seeing this, helped me to grasp the core ideas in Type-Driven Development and understand the importance and power of strong type guarantees. I re-read this once every few months.

Constraints Liberate, Liberties Constrain by Rúnar Bjarnason completely blew my mind. I've watched it many times and keep finding new gems.

Edward Tufte: books & Course. Visualizations and Analytics are a big passion of mine and Tufte, through his books and course cultivated that passion. I love sifting through the books and visualizations. Even the design of the books themselves are a big inspiration. The course was instrumental in understanding good data and good data visualizations.

Professor Frisby's Mostly Adequate Guide to Functional Programming by Brian Lonsdorf was my first real taste of Functional Programming in JavaScript. It spoke in a language that I could relate to and is both an inspiration in terms of content, but also teaching style. It, along with Tom Harding's excellent Fantas, Eel, and Specification series, are the main resources I share with folks from the JavaScript world, looking to learn about Functional Programming.

Trees, Maps and Theorems by Jean-luc Doumont is a marvel of a book. It is an embodiment of what it teaches: Clear and effective communication. It's layout, design, and language guides you through its teachings in a very clear voice.

Designing the Obvious by Robert Hoekman Jr. is one of the first design books I read. It was the first time I was introduced to Usability and Interaction Design as design concepts and that design is so much more than just pixels and graphics.

Cooper Courses on Interaction Design — Early in my career I was fortunate to go on 3 courses at Cooper in San Francisco over the course of 3 weeks. On Visual Design, Interaction Design and Communicating Design. It was a truly eye-opening experience with what design could be and how important and complex it is. Learning about user persona creation and utilization was deeply impactful on my career. I fondly remember a lunch section where Alan Cooper dropped by to hang out and talk to the students.

Heart Berries: A Memoir Terese Marie Mailhot is a fantastic account of Therese' life and struggles. It's engaging, emotional, tough, rough, and written beautifully. The writing style she commands in this work is amazing, original, and inspirational.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman is a classic that built the foundations of modern American poetry — In form, voice, and topic.

The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse is an amazing collection of Zen poetry by the secluded monk Stonehouse. Translated by Red Pine (Bill Porter). My copy of this book is torn, annotated, well used, and well loved. In the same vein is Poems of the Masters, also translated by Red Pine, which collects the work of many Chinese poets. Fantastic reading.

Buddhism without Beliefs and Confession of a Buddhist Atheist I had a large interest in Buddhism and meditation in the late naughts following some rough times with anxiety and depression with which meditation was a huge help for me. These 2 books by Stephen Batchelor — a former Buddhist monk — helped me to extract the Buddhist ideas from religion and learn from them within my own world view.

Stop Making Sense and Talking Heads is a complete obsession of mine. I've listened to the album on repeat countless times and watched the movie 10+ times. Their electric sound invites my body to move and my head to bop; There's no stopping it.

Iceland, Thy, and Copenhagen are the places in the world that I always return to for their rugged beauty, peacefulness, food and culture. If you ever have the chance to go to one of these places, don't hesitate for a second!