2019-07-01 update: Chris’s family has set up an online tribute. Please visit and share:

https://www.forevermissed.com/christopher-allen-cornell

Chris joined Ondema in the fall of 2017 as our first employee. He is gone too soon. We were lucky to work with him.

Chris made every team he was on a stronger team. He was quiet, warm, and often astonishingly focused. He lead by example, inevitably moving the conversation and the project forward, always constructive, clear on both the scope of his work and the context for it.

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Working with Chris taught us all to be better listeners. His questions were often invitations to rethink a half-baked idea. He was often too generous to directly challenge whether we’d thought something through. And if the best way to demonstrate our lack of clarity was to knit a three-armed sweater so that we might see the extra sleeve was surplus, he’d be patient about building what we asked for. He’d be generous again when it was time to remove the surplus arm and refactor the code back to something that made more sense.

Chris put users first. It was never enough to make it possible to perform at task. Chris would always challenge himself to make the user experience intuitive. Often, a form or control would need several iterations to find its shape, and Chris would cultivate the software through the awkward early days of merely working until we found a pattern that had enough fit and finish that we were comfortable turning our users loose on it.

There are 140 closed pull requests in our code base that Chris created. These include many emblematic of Chris’s quest to “de-jankify” things such as PR#272, appropriately titled “Moarbugs.” The code that Chris wrote that allows us to assign work to users, to enable online demos, to refactor the look and feel is all in there, among many other changes. Trying to dig back into the code the last few days has been slow going. The code is a constant reminder of his presence and his absence. This week we will close his last pull request. So it goes.

Chris’s personality is woven throughout our day-to-day. Whether it’s the ever-changing titles of his development environment (notables include “Nuke the site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure” and “Ondema Triple Platinum Pro++”) or his gentle laugh, he helped shape our culture in ways we cherish and ways we have yet to discover.

Before Ondema, some of us had the good fortune to work with Chris on the Cisco.com interface develop team, where we built templates and applications used by millions of people. From wrestling with jQuery and Firebug, we worked through various frameworks together, lately React and Redux, which was a whole lot more fun than trying to maintain old Dojo JavaScript libraries on Websphere Portal Server when some of the teams didn’t have resources available to update their components.*

Via Glen Cuthbertson, some links to remember Chris and help us all to navigate a difficult transition:

https://twitter.com/CoreKnell
http://christophercornell.com/
https://unreliablenarrators.net/
https://soundcloud.com/meanwhileincalifornia
https://soundcloud.com/coreknell

Thank you, Chris. May your memory be a blessing.

* Chris and Elijah ended up reminiscing about Dojo on his last day at work. Our hope is that you have no idea what we’re talking about. The Dojo JavaScript library was like XML, Esperanto, and internal combustion engines: it seemed like a good idea a the time…

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