Resume - Robert Helmer

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 415-686-8543

Professional Experience

Senior Staff Engineer- Mozilla Corporation

Duration: 06/2015 to present, Full-time

Lead client engineer for Experiments program.

Integrated the privacy-preserving Telemetry system Prio with Firefox.

  • Prio allows for the collection and aggregate reporting of sensitive, possibly personally identifiable data, without the receiving party being able to identify the data of any particular user.
  • Started, contributed to, and conducted reviews for, the libprio standalone project as well as implementing the Firefox integration.
  • Launched successful pilot program to verify correctness and performance.
  • Worked closely with Mozilla Telemetry teams on further integration and long-term support.

Joined Firefox TAG (Technical Architecture Group), advised on the future of Firefox front-end.

Direct contributions to Firefox:

  • Resolved hundreds of issues.
  • Lead the Go Faster initiative, which allowed for shipping Firefox features to users much more quickly, in a continuous-delivery fashion. This was successful and lead to our more formalized Experiments program, for which I owned client engineering.
  • Improved in-product pages such as about:addons and about:crashes.
  • Helped launch auto-generated Firefox documentation, most specifically contributing to Sphinx-JS for APIs (the Firefox front-end is entirely written in JS and is an exceptionally large project).

Directly responsible for the Add-ons/Extensions Manager in Firefox

  • Fixed bugs and added features to built-in Firefox add-ons manager, did regular triage of the open bugs, and conducted code reviews for both staff and volunteers.
  • Wrote and reviewed significant performance improvements for the Firefox Quantum release.
  • Wrote and reviewed dozens of urgent "hotfix" extensions, to resolve serious problems found with Firefox clients in the field.
  • Moved built-in Firefox features (Hello, Pocket) to extensions.
  • Contributed to and advised on the WebExtensions implementation.
  • Prototyped backend add-ons manager component in Rust, and front-end add-ons UI in React.

Senior Web Developer - Mozilla Corporation

Duration: 09/2010 to 06/2015, Full-time

Returned to Mozilla to work on big data problems around crash collection/reporting and performance test results.

  • Technical lead on high-volume crash collecting and reporting system (Socorro, aka
  • Migrated Socorro to AWS from on-prem servers, with no downtime.
  • Led rewrite and migration of Socorro front-end from PHP to Mozilla's standard Django-based framework Playdoh (later moved away from Playdoh to more vanilla Django).
  • Created Eddy project for on-demand testing of FirefoxOS third-party apps, using Python, Flask, Celery and RabbitMQ.
  • Developed features and fixed bugs on Mozilla Etherpad install.
  • Contributed directly to upstream Etherpad project, on JS rewrite (formerly known as Etherpad Lite).
  • Worked with open-source community to integrate contributions, support external installs, and make the testing, documentation and installation process better.
  • Re-implemented web front-end for performance graph system (demo video).
  • Built working Go and Rust prototypes of key crash collection and processing components (with tests).

Previous Mozilla employment was to automate the existing build and release infrastructure which was based on random one-off machines jettisoned from AOL/Netscape, with a completely manual release process. It took about two weeks to complete a Firefox release after code completion. By the time I left, we had completely standardized and version controlled virtualized environments and toolchains, and the turnaround time for a release was 12 hours.

VP of Technology - CustomWeather

Duration: 06/2008 to 09/2010, Full-time, 24x7 oncall

  • Managed projects and worked directly with customers to deploy custom solutions.
  • Moved co-located infrastructure to hybrid cloud/colo/remote.
  • Built AWS-powered distributed map tile service for weather mapping project (also worked on frontend, which supported Bing and Google Maps/Earth).
  • Added features and fixed bugs in Java/J2EE Tomcat real-time weather service.
  • Developed reporting system using jQuery, flot, and PostgreSQL.
  • Deploy fully redundant remote datacenter.
  • Drove releases, automated release process.
  • Developed unit and functional tests in Python and Java.
  • Tracked and improved site performance and uptime.

  • Consulting and full-time work (systems administration, programming, devops) for companies such as Dollartee, CustomWeather, Skeva Systems (Healthcare), Kaiser, Vectiv (Commercial Real Estate), Mozilla, and ValueStar.
  • Bench test, tech/customer support for companies such as Talking Technologies Inc. and Sony.
  • Fundraising and sales (cold and warm calling).
Major contributions to Open Source Software
Programming Languages
Python, JavaScript/EcmaScript (JS/ES, both frontend web and also backend with Node), Java (J2ME/J2EE), Shell (bourne/bash/c), C, C++, Perl, PHP, Go, Rust
Other technologies
PostgreSQL, MySQL, XML, HTML, RabbitMQ, Elastic Search, Django, Flask, git, mercurial/hg
Domain Expertise
Weather systems and forecasting, physical geography
Geo-spatial / Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Real Estate automation