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February, 26, 2017

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Taiwanese computer programmer floats to dream on a Word Cloud

Before he graduated, he combined his expertise to create a website called NCU Physics Demonstrations Lab. The aim of this website was to make physics knowledge accessible to people around the world. Chien describes himself as a runaway from physics. "Although I didn't do well in physics, I improved stargazing software called Stellarium and I also created a website so physics knowledge is easily available. I feel I have done something for the field I love," he noted.

Moving onto the Web

Instead of joining a graduate program after he earned his degree, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a Web developer. Chien's first job was as a research assistant at the Research Center for Information Technology Innovation at Academia Sinica. "There was a project called Taiwan e-learning and Digital Archives Program. The object of this program was to record historical documents and artifacts digitally so that people can easily research them or view them," he explained.

After that, Chien joined a publication company as a digital content engineer. There, he invented a format to display different kinds of publications. "For different kinds of publications, you have to design different layouts to display them correctly and artistically," he said. During his work on publication display, Word Cloud was born.

"Word Cloud is the result of convergence. When I volunteered for Firefox, I tried to build an effective statistical database to collect and analyze the huge amount of Chinese terms," Chien explained. After he had accumulated enough ideas, he used HTML5 and its unique function called "canvas" to create Word Cloud. "All I did was pursue my interests and apply everything I had learned. Sometimes you may feel that your interests or experiences are meaningless, but if you keep them in mind, they might converge and help you create something truly amazing," Chien explained.

Future Fox

In September 2011, Chien became a member of Mozilla's newly founded Taipei office. He's now working on the front-end of Firefox OS. According to him, this user interface, codenamed "Gaia" ("Mother of the Earth" in Greek mythology) is a B2G (Boot to Gecko) project that allows users to adjust their smartphones depending on their own preferences. Chien explained: "Through Gaia, smartphone users can code. They can design interfaces or functions by themselves." For those who are unable to code, Chien said they can simply use Gaia as a browser-like platform that allows them to surf the Web without being bound by any operating system. As Mozilla explains: "All you need to do is turn on your smartphone and use this platform, then you can enjoy an almost fully customized service. This is truly something captivating."

At the end of the interview, Chien recalled his life before he became a Web developer. He made a detour and maybe some of those experiences once seemed useless; however, all of them have come together to create the person he is today. When asked to offer some advice to young dreamers, he pondered and said: "Keep working and don't give up on what you love. One day, when you look back, everything will make sense to you."

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