Community Enterprise Developers Interviews

Meet the Enterprise Developers – Interview Series #4: Cloud Infrastructure DBaaS domain

Enterprise developers play a critical role in driving innovation, maintaining security, and ensuring the smooth operation of large-scale IT systems within organisations. Despite their importance, we have seen a noticeable decline in the number of enterprise developers across various domains. Particularly within the data analytics and business intelligence sectors, this drop is significant, decreasing from approximately 20% last year to around 14% this year (source: Q1 2024 Pulse Report).

In our ongoing Enterprise Developer Series, we’re striving to provide insights from professionals in the field. Our latest interviewee, who wishes to remain anonymous, will be referred to as Dev C. Dev C. shares their experiences and perspectives on working as an enterprise software developer at Oracle, offering valuable insights into the benefits, challenges, and evolving landscape of the industry.

Q. Can you briefly describe your Job as an Enterprise Software Developer?

Dev C. I work in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure – Database as a Service team where we get to work in developing many cloud related services and platforms that help customers.

Q. What are some of the challenges and benefits of working at a large company compared to a start-up?

Dev C. I would say there are no such benefits now, earlier my answer would have been job security but recent trends have proven this wrong, one benefit could be the culture and flexibility you get at least in Oracle. 

Challenges come in the form of financial increments and growth potential in some teams.

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Transparency is needed

Q. If you could change one thing about how your organisation operates, what would it be?

Dev C. I would like a more transparent view about the growth of an individual rather than just be dependent on the manager and I think I would like to hire more people.

Using AI for education

Our latest Pulse Report shows that almost 55% of developers have used AI-assisted development tools for code generation tasks in the past 12 months, however, how does a company like Oracle view AI? Here is what Dev C has to say about Oracle’s policies.

Q. How is AI impacting your day-to-day life? Is there a policy regarding the use of AI tools in your company?

Dev C. Yes there is. But it’s related to not using it to generate code and use company proprietary code there, we can use it to educate ourselves or learn about different services.

Dependency on tools

Q. How much of your work depends on specific tools, frameworks, programming languages or cloud providers?

Dev C. A lot of it is using different frameworks.

Skill Development

Q: How do you keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date?

Dev C. Mostly by working on different projects, but sometimes if I find something interesting out of the scope of my work, I use youtube and other learning tools to update myself.

Mutual decision making

Q: How much influence do you’ve when it comes to procuring a new tool or service to support the projects at work?

Dev C. It’s a mutual team-wide discussion.

Through our conversation with Dev C., we’ve gained a good understanding of the dynamic role enterprise developers play within large organizations like Oracle. From navigating the challenges of growth and financial increments to leveraging AI for educational purposes, their insights highlight the evolving landscape of enterprise development. 

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As we continue our Enterprise Developer Series, we aim to shed light on the experiences and perspectives of professionals who are shaping the future of enterprise technology. Stay tuned for more interviews and insights from the world of enterprise development.

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Enterprise Developers Interviews

Meet the Enterprise Developers – Interview Series #2: The data storage & processing sector

You might have heard the term “Enterprise Developer” buzzing around, especially in communities like Developer Nation. It generally points to professionals who work in larger teams or organizations that focus on creating high-level software.

Our second interview features an Enterprise Developer from the data storage & processing sector, who we’ll call Dev B to keep things confidential. Despite the anonymity, Dev B shares valuable insights into this fascinating domain. Stay tuned for more conversations as we continue to uncover the world of Enterprise Developers.

Discovering the Role

Q: Can you briefly describe your Job as an Enterprise Software Developer?

Dev B: Someone who works in the data availability and replication domain on multi-cluster distributed systems.

Challenges and Benefits of Company Size

Q: What are some of the challenges and benefits of working at a large company compared to a start-up?

Dev B: Stable environment where the company can afford you to train on their systems as compared to directly jumping on projects and work as soon as you join a startup

Seeking Collaboration

Q: If you could change one thing about how your organisation operates, what would it be?

Dev B: More team collaborations across different projects. 

Collaboration is the lifeblood of innovation, and Dev B sees room for improvement in this aspect within his organization. He envisions more collaborative efforts across various projects. 

AI’s Subtle Impact

Q: How is AI impacting your day-to-day life? Is there a policy regarding the use of AI tools in your company?

Dev B: AI for me is a means to quickly look up effective/optimal ways of solving trivial programming-related queries.

Artificial Intelligence is a buzzword that’s transforming industries worldwide. For Dev B, AI serves as a tool to swiftly find optimal solutions to programming queries. It’s a way to streamline and enhance the programming process by quickly identifying effective problem-solving approaches.

The Tools That Shape the Craft

Big organisations often have customised in-house tools tailored to their specific needs which though having a learning curve can get the work done more efficiently.

On the other hand 3rd party or open-source tools provide an alternative where you’ll find a ton of support, documentation and use case but you’ll have to adapt it for your specific needs

Q: How much of your work depends on specific tools, frameworks, programming languages or cloud providers?

Dev B: Mostly internal frameworks and the majority of C++ and c programming language.

In the world of software development, tools, frameworks, programming languages, and cloud providers define the landscape. For Dev B, internal frameworks take centre stage, with a predominant use of C++ and C programming languages. These are the tools that allow him to bring complex systems to life.

In this insightful interview series, we’ve delved into the world of Enterprise Developers, uncovering their unique roles and perspectives. Through our conversation with Dev B, an Enterprise Developer in the data storage and processing sector, we’ve gained valuable insights into the challenges, benefits, and dynamics of this domain. 

The importance of collaboration, the subtle impact of AI, and the instrumental role of specific tools and languages have come to the forefront. As we continue our journey to explore more Enterprise Developers’ stories, we look forward to unravelling the intricacies that shape the software development landscape. Stay tuned for more conversations that shed light on this fascinating realm. 


DevsInTransit #1: From Frontend Developer to Developer Advocate at Stream

Introducing the DevsInTransit series. DevsInTransit is an interview series that highlights the stories of developers who successfully transitioned into other adjacent roles (e.g devrel, tech writers, managers, e.t.c).  Author bio: My name is Linda Ikecchukwu. I’m a frontend developer turned technical writer. When I’m not writing technical articles or documentation, I’m telling the stories of content creators in tech via #TechContentCreatorSeries or #DevsInTransit

For the first episode of #DevsInTransit, our guest is Dillion Megida. Dillion is currently a developer advocate at Stream and is based in the Netherlands. Before joining Stream as a developer advocate, Dillion used to be a frontend developer based in Nigeria. This is his story.

Hello Dillion, it’s nice to meet you. Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do.

My name is Dillion Megida, and I am a Developer Advocate at Stream, based in the Netherlands. My work at Stream is basically to create content that shows developers all the fantastic things they can do with our SDKs. This content can either be articles, demos, or videos. 

Asides from work, I also create content on my own platforms. I have a personal blog where I write about JavaScript, React, and tech in general. I also have a YouTube channel. On my YouTube channel, I make videos about my life, my career, the different things that have worked for me, mistakes I’ve made, and how I’ve been able to access the opportunities that I currently have. 

Before moving to the Netherlands, you lived in Nigeria. Could you tell me more about the move? What were the challenges you faced after moving?

Before moving to the Netherlands in December 2021, I was based in Kwara State, Nigeria. When I first moved here, my first challenge was the weather. Moving from an average of 30 degrees in Nigeria to an average of 1, 0, or -1 here was the biggest shock. I mean, I was told how cold it would be, yet, it was surprising. But, I have adjusted with time. Thankfully, we’re approaching summer here, so the temperature will be up to an average of 10 degrees. 

The second challenge I had was food. I’ve never really been the kind of person to experiment with new food. I just stick to what I know. Luckily, I found an African store not really far from my place. I go there, get Nigerian ingredients that I’m familiar with, and cook my own meals. But, I’m also trying out some of their own food, like the sandwiches and bread (sidenote: they eat a lot of bread here :)). 

My third challenge was in terms of communication with friends and family. I had to shift everything to social platforms like WhatsApp because international rates are not so friendly. 

And lastly, there’s the culture. I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but it was new. Ninety percent of the people I’ve met here have been insanely generally kind to me. It was scary (but in a good way). I would always wonder if they were so generous to me because they wanted something. 

One of my favorite things about this place though is the public transport system. It’s very organized. So, yeah, I’m four months here, and I’m loving it. 

Moving to another continent is such a big decision. Was it your company’s decision?

I had the option to either work remotely from Nigeria or move to the Netherlands. I decided to move to the Netherlands because it was an opportunity for me to try something new and experience a new perspective. 

Another thing that really motivated me was that I felt like I’ll be exposed to more opportunities here than in Nigeria. I could attend more conferences and make new friends.

Before becoming a developer advocate, you used to be a frontend developer. What caused you to change paths?

A year ago, I didn’t even know what dev advocacy was. However, what really made me want to leave my frontend role was that, as much as I loved frontend, I also wanted to create more content.

But, I didn’t have as many opportunities as I wanted as I am more focused on delivering updates and fixes to projects.

While searching for a role that embodied my interests, I found dev advocacy. I realized I was already unofficially doing what a developer advocate does. I still do frontend stuff in my current DevRel role, like when I’m creating a demo application, and I also get to create content — it’s truly the best of both worlds.

Dev advocacy is still a developing role, and across several companies, the expectations and responsibilities are not very defined. In some companies, dev advocates work with marketing. In others, they work with product or engineering. What is it like at your company?

Yeah. While applying for these DevRel roles, I saw that different companies had different requirements. I also have a friend who is a DevRel but doesn’t like the DevRel job at his company anymore because there are just so many things he’s asked to do. 

Thankfully, my company is quite a big organization. We have a marketing team that handles content, strategy, analytics, etc. Then we have eight people (me inclusive) on the DevRel team. Each DevRel person handles a different SDK platform like iOS, Android, or Swift.

For me, I handle creating content around our React SDK. So far, the content I create depends on the company’s plans and what I’m comfortable with. For example, the company’s plan might be to improve the YouTube channel, then we’ll work towards creative ideas that we can transform into videos. Other times it could be that we need more articles on a particular framework or SDK, then we focus on creative ideas that we can turn into articles. 

How did you prepare for your interviews? Did you make use of any specific resources?

To be honest, I didn’t use any specific resource. I mostly did a lot of research on who a DevRel is and what they do. There was this particular video that was very helpful. I also signed up for the DevRel-focused newsletter, DevRel Weekly. I went through some of their archives, and I read so many things about the DevRel industry. 

 In terms of technical preparation, I didn’t do so much. I already had so much frontend experience, and I was only looking for DevRel roles for frontend products. 

What was the interview process at your current company like? 

The first stage was the introductory meeting, which is the best part of most interviews. They got to know me, and I got to ask questions about the company and its role. I also asked what I’ll be doing, if I’ll have the opportunity to create videos or just articles, and if the company was working on any fancy project. Then, they asked me questions about my content creation process. 

Next, there were two technical stages. For the first technical stage, I was asked React-related questions. I was asked to present a React project of my choice, and if I didn’t have one, they would provide it for me. Thankfully, I had a React project that I had built. They went through the source code and asked me questions like: “why are you doing this?”, “Why did you not do this?”, “How did you handle authentication?” and so on. 

The second technical stage was where I was actually tested on DevRel skills. They asked me to develop a creative use case for their product and then build it and write a tutorial about how I built it. 

What use case did you come up with?

Stream mainly offers chat messaging APIs and SDKs, so I built an eCommerce application with a chat feature for a buyer and seller. Basically, when a buyer sees a product, they can initiate a conversation between them and the seller of the product. A conversation channel is created for the buyer and seller for that particular product, so they can negotiate. 

I built the project with Node.JS, React, and MongoDB for the database. Then I wrote a step-by-step tutorial on how I built it. After that, I wrote a detailed readme for the project’s repository on how to set the project on your own computer. I submitted it, and they loved it. 

How does your company measure the impact of DevRel?

We track page views and chat trials. We have a free and trial version of our product. When any new article is published, we track the page views, number of sessions, and the number of visitors that applied for a trial through that article. We also track the number of visitors who contact sales or fill out the contact form through those articles. 

Who or what determines the direction of the content your team creates? 

I don’t really have a direct say in that. I just come up with different ideas based on what I’m comfortable creating. I dump all these ideas on a shared doc. We have a content team they do their SEO research and find out which ideas are high in demand. They would also compare against an already written article that got a lot of traction. So, the decision lies with them. I just wait for their feedback on whether to push through with an idea or keep it in the backlog for later. 

What/who determines what you work on for each week and your deadlines?

So when I have approved ideas from the content team, I share that with my manager, and I ask which I should start with. Sometimes, I get to make that decision. Other times, he decides. Once we come to an agreement, I would create a card for that idea on our notion board, where we track content that is in the pipeline. I would also provide a deadline that I think is feasible for me. Of course, my manager would still review and point out if he thinks the deadline is too short or too long. 

What’s the content creation at your company and for yourself? How do you go from idea to finished content (articles or videos)?

In summary, ideas go into the idea dump, the content team and manager approve, then I create an outline. After creating an outline, I share it with the content team to get their feedback. If the outline is approved, I create the first draft. After the first draft, the article basically goes through a series of revisions till we are satisfied with the outcome. The process is the same for our videos. 

For my personal work, I also have a dump page where I dump ideas as they come to my head till I’m ready to pick them up. For each idea, I state what I want to explain and maybe websites that I want to reference for further info. When I finally want to write about an idea, I go-ahead to create a draft and grammar check it with Grammarly. I sometimes use Hemingway when I feel like Grammarly did not do enough work. After that, I create cover designs with Figma, then I publish them on my website. 

For videos, I start with writing a long script of things I should say and do at different points in the video. I may not have the strength to do the video on the same day. But, when I’m ready, I just follow the script and then edit. 

What are the tools/devices you use to create content (both articles and videos)?

Currently, to record my videos, I use my iPhone’s camera and a ring light. I have an iPhone 13 pro. I also have a shaw 7x microphone. I use GarageBand to record my audio. And to edit my videos, I use the paid version of Final Cut Pro. 

For articles, I use VS Code if I’m writing for myself because I write in Markdown. If I’m writing for the company, I use Google Docs, so others can comment and add annotations. Then there’s Grammarly for grammar check, Figma for cover designs, and Notion for idea dumps.

Based on your experience, do you have any best practices or do & don’ts towards content creation?

One of the most important principles I tell everyone is: if you want to get better at this thing, you have to do it consistently. 

Secondly, when I write anything, I try to read it from the reader’s perspective and try to identify sections that may be difficult to grasp, hence need simplification or an illustration or code block. I try to make sure that everything I write has as much context and is as straightforward as it can be. Another thing is to try not to create content for everybody. Focus on your audience. Some people will find your content helpful, and others won’t. 

For videos, my most important principle is remembering that the video is secondary while the audio is primary. Your video can be nice and everything, but if the audio is not clear, then I doubt many would get the message successfully. Secondly, focus on value and not on getting people to subscribe to your channel. 

So the way I do my videos, at the start, I immediately tell you what my channel is about and what I’m going to do in that particular video before I even get to ask people to subscribe. I would also mention consistency again and also experimenting. When I first started video, it was quite difficult for me. I used to record, pause, play, rinse and repeat. But now, I can go at a stretch and then cut out any part of the video that I don’t want. 

Last question; The target audience of this interview series are people who want to transition into DevRel roles, just like you did. Do you have any words or things you wish you knew while preparing to make the transition?

As you mentioned earlier, Dev advocacy is a nuanced role. Different companies have different requirements. I would say to anybody looking to transition, build some experience in any form of Dev advocacy, be it community, written content, video content, podcasts, or open-source. And, if possible, have a basic idea of other forms. That’s what will get you hired. 

For example, when I joined my company, I made it clear that writing was my domain and I wasn’t necessarily good at video creation but that it was something I was willing to get good at. Since joining, I’ve been able to create two videos for my company. You don’t really have to meet all the checkmarks of a DevRel before you can be employed. With solid experience in one domain, you’re good to go.

And that’s all from Dillion. If you want to learn more about Dillion, check out his YouTube channel or website, or reach out to him on Twitter.  Till I come your way next month with a new guest for #DevsinTransit , stay jiggy!.


Meet the developer: Derick Alangi

As part of our Meet the Developer series, I spoke to Cameroon-based Derick Alangi who has turned his health challenges into an opportunity to help support fellow devs in the community. Read on to find out more about him and the positive impact he hopes to have on developers. 

Vanessa: Have you always wanted to be a developer?

Derick: No this came about just before I got to university. I was in high school, when I was young I wanted to be a priest, that dream died somewhere when I started tinkering with computers.

I still had the mindset of a priest but had a newfound passion for playing with computers, playing with video games, thinking, how can I create something like this? I wanted to do something like that, it spiked my curiosity. I then finally found myself as a dev, but that’s gradually fading away, maybe I will circle back to being a priest someday!

As a dev, I’ve had health challenges, which took me to the hospital. In childhood I had anorexia, my parents thought I  was sick but didn’t worry much as my doctor mentioned that it was a condition that could be resolved with time and as I grew. Now I eat well but not as much as other men do, but I eat regularly morning and evening. Try to be healthy, when my health challenge as an adult came in, leading my life as a dev, I was not taking care of myself, there were bad habits, and, if I had continued I wouldn’t be alive today. I have a whole new view of life, if I am doing this thing, others must be doing it too, especially those working remotely. Money is great, but if you have to lose yourself, it is not a good thing, there is beauty in life when you can enjoy the life in you with good health.

I tweet about health things, what devs can do to not get into the same scenario. I am sharing a community resource for the community, and in that resource, I explain how I got into my bad health, and how I got back to health. (You can view his Developers Health Guide here..)

Vanessa: What has been your biggest learning curve as a programmer?

Derick: Biggest challenge?

It’s my health, in the past it was my health, battling day in and day out, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, the diagnosis was fine, everything is ok, you look sick, you can’t sleep after a while, but it was the lifestyle that was causing the stress and burnout. 

Another challenge is trying to make people see, especially developers, there is more to making money and writing programs than being a developer. I have seen software devs being exploited for their time.  I have worked for companies that have behaved very badly. We should work, but human beings should have time for his or her things, take care of the family, go to the beach, connect with nature, when there is that balance there is beauty in life. 

What I am seeing in the industry, people are being given more roles and responsibilities, paying well, but there is no time to do anything else. Hey, go spend some time doing something else!

With the adoption of remote work, people have time for themselves. I’m helping people discover that balance. I’m not just on Twitter, even locally I tell upcoming devs, “take at your own race, be consistent it will pay off, don’t forget the health aspect of life, or you will be miserable”, I’m battling that right now locally, the mindset in the West is slightly different than Africa, I’m making people understand the balance.

The big guys in the industry think it’s all about the money and building software, but the moment I go to the hospital I cannot code or make software. People don’t understand that going into a forest is more important than eating cookies. 

It’s hard when you are trying to break through a society that is not willing to listen. Being able to break through you have persevered for a long time, it’s a huge work, it’s something that is very much needed.

There is an Indian philosopher that has said – in tech we have come very far, in psychology we are very primitive.

Vanessa: What is your favourite non-tech hobby?

Derick: Meditation, I just sit with my eyes closed. It takes a while when you first get started, it takes consistent practice, it’s been three years now, I don’t have any specific mantras, just sit quietly in a dark room with my eyes closed. Regularly maybe morning and evenings, after six months there is no thought, a quiet mind.

Vanessa: What do you enjoy more: writing new code or debugging old code?

Derick: I think I enjoy working on existing code, the reason is that a lot of things have already been created, nothing is really new, it’s just recycling of energies, code is mental energy transferred to computing. There are so many different solutions to solve the same problem. Make existing code work better. I would rather spend and enjoy my time improving existing code, except if really broken code doesn’t pay off.

Vanessa: How do you benchmark yourself against other devs? 

Derick: To be very honest with you, this is something I usually don’t do, I do, I don’t compare myself to anybody anywhere, I think I was doing this in university to track my progress as to how far I’ve gone but when I graduated I realised doing that for me it creates an aspect of competition that I don’t like. I don’t like to strive for competition. If I’ve tried to compete, it’s not what I like to do.

I forget the aspect of me and what I want to become, for a while now, I don’t benchmark, I just code and kind of see it from the problems I solve. Go to an algorithms website, see some problems, if I can solve them relatively easy than before then I am getting better. I’m not trying to compare myself in the programming community. It’s not good to compare years of experience to others.

Vanessa: What is the one thing you hate about programming?

Derick: The fact that it is mentally very demanding and makes the programmers physically inactive, Mentally your thinking capacity is 100%, physically is zero, only your eyes and hands working. IT renders the programmers physically inactive. The outer body was not designed to be inactive. In the tweets I make, nobody takes it seriously, mental energy goes into solving issues and not taking care of mental wellbeing.

Vanessa: What do you love most about being a developer?

Derick: I think two main things

  1. Trying to solve the world’s problems with tech, economic, social problems, mathematical problems that can be solved with problems, assist humanity to solve issues.
  2. How to use the same technology from a standpoint of a developer, to make human beings more conscious of being. A lot of us think we are living, but we are not, it’s not a good thing, all our living is just mental, there is the whole aspect of consciousness, but putting into practice is hard as most of the time we think we are living but no we’re experiencing. Not sure how as a dev I will do this but looking forward to doing it. Being as a living.

Vanessa: What developer groups/communities are you a part of?

Derick: I’m part of an online tech community on Twitter, and a member of the Wikimedia movement community, a community of editors, readers, and devs that want to make knowledge accessible in different languages around the world. 

Closer to home, I’m part of a Google Developer Group community in Buea, working with devs locally to push google’s agenda, adopting their products and programs.

I’m also part of a Facebook developer circle with VR kits to play around with.

Early programmers club, we go into universities and code with students, solve problems with them, get them to understand engineering principles. 

Vanessa: What does community mean to you?

Derick: A group of people with diverse thinking but with a common end goal in mind.

Bloggers entrepreneurs, content creators, designers, spirituality – create a community that is tech-driven, to enhance the economy in the country. People that come together with different perspectives, and skillsets, but with a common goal to achieve economic growth, global breakthroughs, the bigger vision is the same. Learning from one another. 

Vanessa: Have you ever been involved in mentorship, either as a mentor or a mentoree?

Derick: Yes, people call me a mentor but really I am just a student that knows things that others don’t and they are learning from me and I’m learning from them. It’s just a name for convenience. I’m a long-life student, still see myself learning every day from kindergartens, students, even the animals. It’s not true that you need to learn from high academics.

Vanessa: Do you use GitHub?

Derick: Yes, I use GitHub, GitLab, Git itself, Bitbucket not sure if open source, use version control systems to collaborate with others online. 

Vanessa: Are there any particular repositories that stand out to you?

Derick: Yes, I would say that there are three people that I really admire, although it doesn’t mean that I want to be like them. One of them, Linus Torvalds, is doing a lot of work, sometimes I just like to see what he’s doing with others in the Linux community. Coming from a Linux background it gives me a sign of hope that something can be done by someone who can impact humanity.

Taylor Otwell JavaScript, MVC frameworks in PHP and web APIs, command-line apps, like to see his work, I align with as I use the framework too. Also, check out his conference talks, it’s inspiring what he’s doing with the community

Sebastian Bergmann, creator of PHPUnit, he’s doing a lot of work on GitHub, collaborating with the community, and doesn’t waste his energy on things that don’t matter, he doesn’t respond to those that are messing around.

There are so many others of whom I check their projects on GitHub and admire for what they do.

Vanessa: Do you have any best practices or tips that you would recommend to others?

Derick: Having a good background in using the Linux command line, most of the tools, except for GitHub and GitLab, are web-based services that Git does, technically if someone wants to learn those platforms they would have to be familiar with the Linux environment, to push code from the local machine to GitLab. They need to be familiar with Linux command line functions which are needed to get the code online, anyone who is familiar with Linux can easily pick up these and learn quickly.

People who face trouble, don’t have experience with the Linux environment. Eventually, they will pick up GitHub etc with relative ease.

Vanessa: What project are you most proud of?

Derick: I’m proud of so many, small, medium, and large projects, generally, I try not to do something that I don’t enjoy., if I like to do it, it becomes a success, I will meet challenges.

There are also some non-tech projects I want to do. I would like to plant tomatoes and I have a small garden, till the garden, use manure, planting to get some results, or maybe make a property purchase. 

Vanessa: What are some of your favourite blogs to visit?

Derick: There are three,, Hashnode- I’m a big-time reader on there, and Reddit, which is obviously not a blog but accurate, like StackOverflow for questions and replies. I also enjoy reading from Quora. 

Vanessa: What kind of media websites do you visit for dev news?

Derick: Twitter. I follow people and organisations, turn on notifications, if there is something new, I grab the info and read more about it. Anything that is happening, I check it out on Twitter, I don’t watch TV, I follow the BBC and CNN on Twitter.

Vanessa: Where do you look for job opportunities?

Derick: and StackOverflow Jobs. Sometimes I look at LinkedIn, just use that for putting in my qualifications, if I want to check out jobs to recommend for people, I check out the two I mentioned.

Vanessa: What’s in your toolbox?

Derick: Linux or Mac OS

Editors IDEs – I write a lot of JavaScript

For the command line, I use Git,

Asana for project management

Fabricator for box working 

AWS a lot, doing work for my client on that. 












Vanessa: What technology are you interested in learning more about in 2022?

Derick: Rust, I’ve started learning, and I want to get better at it. 

Vanessa: What tools do you think will still be in use in ten years’ time?

Derick: Internet will be here for a long time, computers for a while,  

C will be here for a long time

Rust that’s why I am learning it, low level, advancement of systems and fast-growing need of secure systems,

Security skills – I will spend some time learning,

Derick shares many tips via his Twitter account or you can connect with him via LinkedIn.

Interviews Tips

How to build a debugging tool and turn it into a business

From a common developer frustration to an award-winning company that has clients like SAP, IBM and Mentor, what does it take to turn a problem into a lucrative business?   I had a chat with Greg Law who is the co-founder and CEO of undo. Greg went from founding his company in a shed to building a business with top enterprise customers. What we all want to know is – how? Read on and get inspired! Could you be the next Greg Law / Undo?

Vanessa: Tell us a bit about Undo.

Greg: Undo is a tool that allows developers to see what their software did and why, at any point in time. The tool (LiveRecorder) allows engineers to record the execution of a program and wind it back to see exactly what it did to identify software defects. You can step line by line in a debugger – forwards or backwards – and see all of the program state too.

Customers use us when they are completely stuck with an issue, and rather than guess what the problem is, they can pinpoint it. There were devs who would spend days, even months trying to figure out the source of a bug, and they try LiveRecorder and it enables them to figure it out in a few minutes.

The tool was originally aimed at the enterprise market, but more recently it has been used by more smaller companies, even those with small teams.

“The pandemic helped change this, there was no more travelling to meet with potential enterprise customers, and thankfully the tool was matured enough that it could be downloaded by people from our website, without the need to support hundreds of support requests.”

It was always part of the grand plan but the pandemic brought it forward.

Vanessa: How did you build your team?

Greg: It’s kind of the classic story. I founded Undo with a good friend of mine, Julian from when we worked at Acorn back in the day. We worked evenings and weekends together, it reminds me of a quote I heard recently, a programmers mantra of “We do these things, not that they are easy, but because we thought they were going to be easy”. We did eventually get to a v1, then bumped into an old friend that Julian and I had worked with at Acorn, he was looking for his next job. He joined us in the shed at the end of my garden, that was in 2013, and he hasbeen with us ever since.

Vanessa: How many are devs on the team?

We have 34 on the team.

Vanessa: Which collaboration tools do your team use to stay on top of the projects?

Greg: Git with GitHub on top of that, in fact in the early days it was just Git.  

We used a todo.txt file and when we had 3 or 4 people that worked really well. It’s quite nice that you mark things in different states in different branches and it all just works. But obviously, it doesn’t scale. We used Phabricator for a while but ended up switching to GitHub.

Google Meet – and all of Google’s G-suite. There were worries about locking into a giant corporation but the convenience of it is too great!

Collaboration is about culture more than tools. We were definitely an “in the office culture” prior to the pandemic, and felt that the facetime, building deep relations and trust were good face to face, and that worked really well. That said, we were already beginning to recruit remotely in some exceptional cases. And of course, that has now changed 18 months ago and we transitioned like everyone else due to the pandemic. 

If the pandemic happened ten, even five years earlier, it would have been alot worse for those in the knowledge industry. Even five years ago video conferencing was expensive so having Google Meet made things a lot easier. The most important thing with remote working is to write stuff down so that you can communicate asynchronously, not just remotely. Google Docs has been very good for that.

Vanessa: What kind of culture do you offer to developers in your company?

Greg: It’s one of those things that is quite hard to define. I cringe so often when I hear people’s answers to this question. It can be cheesy, and buzzwords. Often if a company publishes it’s values, they are actually aspirational values, kind of what they want to be better at, not what they are doing right now. So one of our values is no bullshit. Be honest with each other and ourselves.

That is a key component in building trust, and that’s the biggest one for me. There are the easy kinds of trust, like, do I trust that I can leave my wallet on the desk and it will be there when I get back? Then there are more difficult levels of trust such as:

1) Do I trust your intentions? Do I trust that we are trying to achieve the same thing? 

2) Do I trust your judgment? 

3) Hardest of all – healthy conflict. 

I can say to you: “I feel let down, you didn’t do what you said you were going to do or you didn’t do a good job with that.” I can trust you enough that I can say that, and it’s going to be ok between us. It’s much easier said than done, and though we are fairly multi-cultural sometimes we can be a little bit too English about everything! So we need to be un-English about it, and say what we feel, obviously in a respectable, polite way, to have that trust and transparency.

And that was actually part of why we were quite big in the early days of building the company, not remote first, but having us all together. Not that you can’t build high integrity and high trust remotely, you can, but it is harder.

We were already becoming a remote culture and had a remote office in San Francisco, and we hired people from across the country, like in London.  The first few people you hire will define your culture. As a founder, you have a lot less influence than you thought, culture is a self-defining thing.  With picking the right early hires, we just got really lucky, we had no idea what we were doing. Now we’re in this new world and we hire much more freely regardless of location, and we have the core culture that we can build it on, it actually works really well.

Getting to know you

Vanessa: Have you always wanted to be a developer?

Greg: I wanted to be a train driver! Once I got over that, I got a home computer at the age of ten, my mum sacrificed to get the computer. At first I was just playing games on it (Commodore Plus 4) and she strongly encouraged me to learn and program with it, so I picked up a book to learn, out of guilt really, and from then on I was hooked, all I wanted to do was program. 

Vanessa: Did you go to college and beyond or are you self-taught?

Greg: I took Computer Science at degree and also at A level not many six forms offered that at the time. I realised that it paid well to do something I’m good at. The world developer population is not growing that fast, which is surprising, We need to train more programmers, but we’re always going to have a big undersupply so we need to make that finite pool of programmers as productive as possible.

We need a healthy ecosystem to help people be more productive. Ten years ago, software tools were a brave business to be in. Now it’s one of the hottest places for VC’s to invest in. 

Vanessa: Have you ever been involved in mentorship, either as a mentor or a mentoree?

Greg: We’re all still learning every day, I have mentored. In fact many of our employees are a mentor to me. We’re lucky that there is a healthy ecosystem in Cambridge. It’s amazing really – you can email almost anyone you can think of, even when you’re right at the beginning and they’ll spend a bunch of time with you.

The Future

Greg: Core tooling, slowly they have evolved compilers, IDE’s. Debuggers have not changed much over the years, new tools have come along but the fundamentals have not changed much over the decade

We see waves of tech. There are rapid periods of changes, computer operators were like train operators – if you used a computer for work that’s all you did, and no-one else would be let near them. Then in the 80’s people started using computers as part of their other job, now everyone is using them, and now there are smartphones. As these waves went by, the way we developed changed too – i.e. it goes in waves. Between say 1990 and 2010 the way we develop code was all evolution not revolution. Then suddenly it all changed again, first with agile, then CI/CD, huge amounts of reuse of open source, etc. With these big changes comes an explosion of tooling. It’s really hard to imagine what will continue. I think most of the tools we use today will still be in use in ten years, but they will have been added to. Like how GitHub compliments git, or our stuff does with Jenkins. I’m sceptical on the AI writing code thing – understanding of requirements through context and delivering creative solutions to that – it’s a million miles away from the state of the art. But I do totally see computers helping us to write code – the GitHub Copilot stuff promises to save a bunch of time. But it’s not quite as exciting as it looks because if you think about it, Copilot saves you time typing in the code sure, but what proportion of programming time is actually spent typing the code in? Pretty small. A much larger chunk of time is spent figuring out why that code you typed in this morning doesn’t do what you thought it was going to do! That’s why we started Undo, and I think we’re going to see a lot more around this notion of understanding or auditing exactly what happened.

Collaboration will be key. Asynchronous collaboration. Once you sever the link, you no longer require people to be geographically in the same place, well then you no longer need to be in the same time, either. This has potentially profound implications for how we might work. We have used version control in development for decades which allows people to collaborate remotely and asynchronously; I think these practices have a lot to teach a wider audience in asynchronous collaboration. In kind of the same way that the first word processing applications were actually code editors.

We’re good at writing code, but not at debugging, most devs spend alot of time debugging – remote and asynchronous collaboration through debugging would be great. 

Vanessa: It was great to talk to you Greg!

We love to hear your development stories, get in touch to share yours.

Community Interviews

Interview: What is it like working on open-source game development?

I had a chance to speak with Liam Arbuckle, the acting CTO of the game/web development studio/collective (100% open-source) called Signal Kinetics. Liam is based in Australia. 

What is it that you’re working on?

Right now, we’re working on a citizen science game engine (sort of like Project Discovery in Eve Online, but integrating other games as well). We’re aiming to increase science discovery/contribution for everyone through gaming by allowing people/players to: 

1. Contribute to real-world scientific problems/experiments  

2. Help train ml/dl datasets/algorithms (sometimes through their actions in-game) 

3. Engage with users, especially those in the scientific community (we’re working on a service called Arcadia which is basically a fork of Buddypress that will implement features similar to services like Steam & Facebook Games) 

So you are targeting citizen scientists? Is there a particular age range you are targeting?

I believe information should be free, when I was younger, scientific journal access was expensive, also, there is a lack of engagement with the science community in Australia. I want to create something that can’t restrict a person from the science community due to their age, gender, spending ability etc.

What inspired you to create your Game Engine?

I attended Science hackathons, science and gaming, made mars rover, most recently I contributed to the Open Source Rover by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

What else are you working on?

We’re also working on our own game (with potential partnerships with Savy Soda, as an example, in the pipeline) and hoping to make our experience with Arcadia modular:

 1. Users can contribute to scientific research through playing any game in the world by installing a custom add-on designed by the Arcadia developers for the game.

 2. Users can have a “bank” (similar to the Pokemon Home system) that shows their games library, achievements and item list/screenshots in the Arcadia web app.

There’s no real large gaming community to play games online. I want to build a community, where gamers can share screenshots, there’s an overlay to watch people playing games, I want to make mini-games too, there’s no real limit. I used to game on a Samsung phone which had a play status, I could stream to Discord. I want to expand this idea to non-Samsung games, add a community with no limits – basically information freedom, with no blockage or limits.   

3. Users can choose which games to play.

What are your immediate goals?

Get industry connections.

What type of connections are you looking for?

I’ve made contact with Melbourne-based game companies so I’m on track with that. I’m looking for grants, an investment to work on the blockchain element, get connected with a marketing team, get a few 1,000 players to start off with, and then connect with more on social media.

Right now I don’t have the money to finance, we’ve had people come online to help with the open-source. I’d ideally like to get some consistent engagement rather than have contributors that do the occasional work.

If it wasn’t for Covid-19  I would have moved out of Australia, there are huge problems with setting up in Australia, no grants, no infrastructure for tech companies.

I want to start contributing to established games and engines to gain experience, connections, contribute and potentially expand my team’s vision.  

Are there any particular games that you have in mind?

Minecraft, l would love to contribute to that, I Love that you can make mods. I think Minecaft is crying out for more integrations, so I would love to get connections with Mojang. I’ll take any company that has a level of open-source ethos.

Continue working on the game, however, this requires money. A lot. And I’m not rich! I’m primarily focusing on a media kit that will later be used as the basis for a Kickstarter campaign.   

When do you plan to run the Kickstarter campaign?

I won’t have the game finished before the campaign starts, I want to put together a media kit, assets, I’m going to an incubator to learn how to market the game, understand which social media do we target, and which niche users. I have been involved with other Kickstarter projects and know I can’t be too broad with who I target at first. I think in  3-4 months we will be ready to launch the Kickstarter campaign.

I’ve got a team of about ~20-30 people (with most being external/outside collaborators, there are around 10 people that run the show and contribute on a consistent basis). These people have varying levels of experience in game development, design, and web app construction (among other things).

Are you actively looking for more contributors? If so, what level of experience are you looking for?

I’ll take anything, I won’t say no to anyone, I find that the science community say no, if we say no, we’re just defeating the purpose of the project.

We would prioritise people who have c#, and website building experience. Once you get your base established, then start with junior developers. We don’t want to be too closed, but also we don’t want to be too open and not get work completed. 

We are also working on a partnership with the Swedish Power Metal band Veonity to contribute with us on officially licensed songs for our games and the Arcadia platform  – recording is due to start in July which is very exciting!

Did you know that 34% of game developers use C#?

Interview with Liam Arbuckle

When did your interest in development start?

I love Star Wars, at 12 I went into robotics, and in 2016-2017 I worked to build a physical R2D2. In year 10 I started a computer science class at school. Unfortunately, computer science investment in schools is poor, but I had a good teacher that encouraged younger students who were not yet at the age to attend a class to learn in their breaks. I learned Python, and in year 11 I started working on GitHub, learned Ruby on Rails, Gem. 

I ended year 11 and decided I wanted to start developing. There are no astrophysics courses near to me. You can build games and tell stories from computer science.

How do you make decisions when it comes to your next self-improvement step? Do you look at data, attend conferences?

I attended the recent Atlassian conference. Also, there are 20 of us that meet at a bar regularly to talk about problems, I have joined a few teams and am developing professional skills. 

I pitched to investors last year and got 10,000 AUD but it doesn’t last very long in a startup.

I like to see people in the physical world, go to Python global conferences, learning what’s the newest feature with the project that I can use to my advantage.

Has it been a benefit to have online conferences due to Covid-19?

I would never have been able to afford travel to conferences until this year when I’ve started making money, the online conferences are more accessible.

Before, if you are not fully embedded in a developer community, there is not much incentive to go to in-person conferences, there is a huge cost to fly overseas for a conference, and no guarantee that project of interest will be discussed, no guarantee people that people will help you there. There are more frequent conferences now, by more teams, not just big companies doing them.

Do you have a mentor? Or are you mentoring someone else?

I’m a mentor at the University Codjo, mentoring 14-15-year-olds with Autism / ADSD. For me, the computer sciences teacher was a mentor at school, but I don’t have anyone mentoring me right now. I wouldn’t need a mentor right now for teaching me, rather someone who can structure how I do things, I’m not the best, I’m not perfect, people with experience have given great advice to me.

Do you have any words of wisdom for others thinking of building their own games or game engines?

1. I echo the words of “information wants to be free” if everyone open sources and has no barriers, that would be my ideal world!

2. If you want to make any media, games are great, they engage people, I lose interest in reading novels,  in games, there is so much you can involve other people with, everyone can make their own stories. There’s engagement.

What’s in your toolbox?

  • Unity for most of my games stuff
  • Starship, customisable prompt for my terminal – makes everything look so much cooler. I love customising my devices.
  • GitHub
  • Keybase for communications, encryption and there are git integrations.
  • Notion 
  • Visual studio code 
  • Jira by Atlassian – more of an industry-standard than what I was using before.
  • MacBook M1 for on-the-go stuff, I duel boot with Linux when testing.

How do you work as a distributed team? What tools do you use?

Keybase is the main tool, git commits can be seen in there and there are cool bots and tools you can use. It was also acquired by Zoom which shows that things will be great for global teams.

We also use Facebook messenger or WhatsApp for casual talk.

Git commits can be sent there, cool bots, and tools you can use. Was acquired by zoom, shows that things will be great for global teams.

What do you need right now?

Right now direct partnership with companies is needed, funding is so important. Everyone in the team is paying out of their own pockets. The best way we can succeed is with funding so the Kickstarter will work, with partnerships, it will give our Kickstarter legitimacy. 

If you’re interested in joining forces with Liam and his team either as a developer committed to open-source, or a partner, you can reach Liam via his GitHub profile.

We love to hear your development stories, get in touch to share yours.

Community Interviews

[Interview] Supporting displaced people: Techfugees

We recently learned about a tech community with a mission to respond to the needs of refugees and we had to meet them. Techfugees is an impact driven global organisation nurturing a sustainable ecosystem of tech solutions, supporting the inclusion of displaced people. They do so, through several actions, mainly: Tech4Women, Tech4Refugees and the Basefugees initiatives

We met with Josephine Goube, CEO in Techfugees to get to know more about the organisation and the way they support refugees. We were fascinated by their work and determination and we have decided to support them. /Data and the Developer Economics Community will be donating $0.10 for every developer who completes the Q2 2020 Developer Economics survey. If you are a developer yourself make sure you take the Developer Economics survey and help us raise $1,900 for Techfugees.

You can also support Techfugees with donations or by volunteering your tech skills. Learn more directly from the team, here.

How did Techfugees come to life? What was the grand breaking event that inspired you to found this organization?

Founded in 2015, Techfugees was born out of the fact that 93% of displaced people who arrived on the shores of Europe owned a smartphone and 87% of displaced people live in an area of 2/3G coverage. We saw that they did no longer rely on information & help provided by NGOs solely, but a lot more from social media networks, and so we started building mobile tech that could be useful to them.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you and your beneficiaries?

Lack of funding and a hostile environment have been very challenging for us!   There are feelings that have been building up over the years against displaced people. The fact that we want to bring technology to refugees has been faced with disbelief, and has been disregarded as being pointless. Comments such as “They don’t have phones” or “they first need water and food” tells us a lot about how the use of sensational media coverage has made it difficult for citizens to learn the real facts… One of them being that a lot of displaced people use ⅓ of their budget on phone data and that mental health shows significant improvement when one is offered the possibility to stay in touch with loved ones.

In what ways can technology and innovation help displaced people? 

For people that are very constrained by space and time (borders, camps, …), digital technologies are not only breaking isolation but they also are an opportunity to break those very restrictions. People must have felt it through lockdown situations: it is amazing how much can be done digitally! Similarly, for displaced people, the internet and smartphones and the digital economy is a revolution.

Techfugees take on various projects to help refugees. Which one would you say has been the most impactful and why? What kind of projects are you currently running?

There are not one but many projects that I would like to mention. As with anything related to the internet and networked technologies,  the more projects you run, the greater the impact of what you do! . I will share one of the most illustrative examples., is a project coming out of our first hackathon in London 2015. Its mission is to deliver information to refugees and it had done so for more than a million displaced people since 2015. What did to become so successful at providing the service was to iterate on technology with the feedback of NGOs & refugees on the ground. Also, they started collaborating with another #Tech4refugees project coming out of a hack – Natakallam – an online language learning service delivered by refugees who did the translation of their app. In this way, not only did end up delivering information to refugees, they ended up supporting refugee translators with their work.

This one simple example shows you two things: the fact that when more technology projects supporting refugees collaborate they are more impactful, and that the best projects integrate refugees within their own teams to deepen their impact. 

We see that hackathons are the heart of your organization’s activities. How many have you organized so far, are these created for misplaced people only? Any upcoming hackathon?

We have organised more than 30+ hackathons bringing displaced people and locals around the world, since 2015. One in four participants in those networking and creation spaces had a refugee background. The aim of these hacks are mainly educational and to provide networking opportunities, more than building the next big thing. Having said that, annual rounds of catch up with past #tech4refugees project participants enabled us to gather lots of data about their needs over time and identify some interesting insights and trends.. From the data gathered, we were able  to measure the impact of  Techfugees’ support in our hackathons participants’ lives.t Our hackathons teams had a higher 1-year survival rate, from 16% up to 33%, demonstrating that post-hack support is impactful and makes a solid difference.

How has the coronavirus situation affected the refugee community and your organization in particular?

In March 2020, Techfugees launched its Data Hub as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The Data Hub, brings together displaced persons, NGOs, members of civil society and innovators from all over the world, to map the impact of Covid-19 on displaced communities and source existing solutions to help mitigate them. The data is freely available on: For us in Techfugees, it is important to listen to displaced people and take into consideration their situation and experiences. As a result, and as we saw more data coming in, we launched Techfugees Live Sessions! A series of online bi-monthly talks that provides regional and local updates on how communities are coping with the situation and what tech solutions are currently being used by these communities. 

Short Bio: Graduate from Sciences Po Paris and the London School of Economics, Josephine has been the CEO of Techfugees and its worldwide chapters since 2015. She is also a board member of the Norwegian Refugee Council and an informal expert alongside the European Commission about migration issues. Nominated as one of the top “30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs” by Forbes in 2016, 2017 and 2018, in 2017 she was honoured as “Digital Women” of the year in France. From 2012 to 2016, Josephine was Migreat’s partnerships manager, a London startup specialized in applying for visas for Europe.

Looking to find out more about how NGO’s are contributing to the tech environment? Read our interview with CodeYourFuture.

Community Interviews

[Interview] Women in Tech: Diversity and Inclusion

It is increasingly recognized that a successful workplace depends on diversity and inclusion in any organization. Moreover, we now have proof of the correlation between gender diversity and better business performance. Efforts are made to increase diversity in the more traditional ecosystems, i.e including women in tech, finance or data analytics. However, data show we are not quite there yet: 

Female developers responding to our survey were outnumbered by males by a ratio of 1 to 10 (9% women and 91% men). This suggests a global population of 1.7 million women developers and 17 million men.’ [State of the Developer Nation report, 16th edition]

That said, significant progress has been made in acknowledging the issue, and discussing it openly. We see many inclusion initiatives taking place in different forms and across all fields. In the past, we have interviewed a couple of very dynamic women in tech roles, specifically Silvana and Rachel.

Today, we are meeting with Naomi Molefe, Innovation + Digital Talent Consultant and the SA Chairperson in Women in Big Data to discuss and learn more about this initiative.

In your mission we read “WiBD is an industry initiative with the mission to inspire, connect, grow, and champion the success of women in this field.” Tell us one of the inspiring stories you share with women who reach out to you.

I do not come from a technical background; my training was in the social sciences. I majored in psychology and later completed a business master’s degree in strategic management. When I was interviewing for an internship at data analytics and innovation organisation in Dublin, I told the hiring manager that I did not belong there and that they had made a mistake by shortlisting me. He told me that my business skills were needed by the organisation and my professional background had provided me the kind of exposure and access to leadership that no one in that intern group possessed.

I was selected as one of the 6 interns for that summer and I did not look back ever since. 

The imposter syndrome and self-exclusion is a real thing. I tell the ladies we connect and engage with to be aware of it, but not let it dictate which opportunities they choose to pursue.

What are the questions women that reach out to you first ask? Which problems are they trying to tackle?

There are 2 main types of questions that we get.

The first is:  “How does one get involved in Tech?” (these are women who don’t come from a traditional tech background). The second: “How can I pivot my career and use the skills I have acquired over the years to prepare for the emerging tech roles?” (women who have the technical background required but are interested in the emerging fields like machine learning). 

South Africa, like many emerging markets is leap frogging both in developing technologies and as well as in creating new patterns and ways of working. The demand for tech talent is also huge. Many of the women we engage with seem to be intimidated by the language and framing of how artificial intelligence will disrupt their current roles.

What brought you to WiBD? Where did you kick off your career?

I kicked off my career in academic research with a study that was a collaborative effort between the University of Pretoria and Johns Hopkins University in the USA. It was a phenomenal experience in learning how to collect qualitative and quantitative data and the analysis of it.

I grew into business research and applying it to the search of C-Suite leadership; my reintroduction into Data analytics with tech as an enabler was during a summer internship at AON’s Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA), in Dublin Ireland. When I came back to South Africa, after my studies in Dublin, I wanted to join a community where I would learn as much as I can and grow my Big data skills, particularly for the emerging markets. At the time Big data was not a field that was widely talked about in the media and other forums, so joining such a community seemed like a promising option for me.

I came across an article on LinkedIn by the German chapter lead for WIBD, about an event they would soon be hosting. I connected with her and we started talking about how I could join the community. The more we spoke the more I realised that South African women could benefit from this community too.

So, I was elected to be the founder of the South African chapter. I assembled a team of phenomenal women and we have managed to create quite a significant reach and awareness about careers in Big data. We can’t wait to do more!

Lately we see efforts being made, on a global scale to embrace diversity in all industries. What real challenges are there still for women in tech in South Africa, involved in Big Data?

Breaking into this field is proving to be a challenge because the majority of women in South Africa are in highly administrative roles that don’t require technical skills. We have created training programs in place to assist women who are interested in learning and have an appetite for working in data science or analytics. The programs are beginner and all the way up to advanced level for any topic around Big data.

Fortunately, the companies we have been reaching out to partner with us, have embraced our goal and support efforts to include more women into this field.

This is our first year of operation, and we are confident that the more women become aware of our community, the more our workshops and events will grow. The goal is to help women pivot in their current roles and build on the skills that will help them pursue a career path in Big data.

Most people think that they must be Einstein smart to be in this field; which is not true, anyone can work in Big data. There are challenges around self-deselection and confidence building; particularly because our target audience is women.

And what has been a major breakthrough to celebrate?

We recently hosted an introductory workshop to Machine Learning, for women of all professional levels and ages. We tried to partner with as many community ecosystems as possible, to enable us to reach a diverse pool of women. We focused on bringing in women-centric communities that aim at helping women to develop all types of technical skills- from coding to Ai ethics. We also addressed the broader issue of how to cope with the challenges specific to Africa.
To celebrate our one-year anniversary we are hosting a data challenge hosted by Zindi Africa (a data science competition platform). The exercise is asking participants to provide an estimate of the percentage of female headed households in South Africa, using open source data.

We are extremely proud of this opportunity since it is going to get female data scientists flexing their muscles and connecting with other women in tech and female data scientists on the continent. We will celebrate their efforts when the competition closes (March 2020)-the same month as the International Women’s day.

What would be your message to women trying to get into technology and / or Big Data? How can we have more women in tech?

I always say, start with what you have. The professional skill set, and educational background are a good base that will be beneficial to your chosen field within Big data. Remain curious in finding out how new technologies can help you leverage your current role, Big data cuts across all business functions.
Also, you got this! Don’t let that imposter syndrome tell you any different!

Can you share any KPIs or other indicators that you use to track the impact of your work at the WiBD?

We use different channels to measure our reach and impact. The digital metrics that we focus on are the community numbers on our core social media platforms – LinkedIn and Twitter. We look at the engagement and reach of the forum, because the more people know about us, the more women we will be able to communicate with and attract into the community.

We also look at survey data that we distribute periodically to ensure that we are not putting together content that our members do not understand or cannot engage with. We have video testimonies of members who have attended our events that indicate their sentiment level and willingness to come back and bring friends to other events we host.

Also, we have recently partnered with a telecommunication operator to advertise their Big data vacancies on our local site. The idea is that in the future we will be able to use this metric to understand whether our members are being offered job opportunities that contribute to their professional development and ultimately increase inclusion of women in Big data fields (as per our mission statement).

Do you have a personal vision guiding you? And if so, how is this WiBD part of it?

What has been a motivator for me ever since I was younger, was the power of women, being able to achieve so much with so little. I have always been in awe of my mother’s ability to make more from the little that she has. I approach my goals with that same mindset. WiBD plays a part in that. I live out this vision, together with the leadership team and we are able to touch so many women’s lives with the work that we do. Coupled with that mindset, there is a tenacity that can carry us (me) through some of the most challenging situations, to achieve what we have set our minds to.

WiBD was established by women who wanted to promote evolution in how women saw themselves within Tech. That vision is always guiding us, every time we host an event.

Is there a WiBD upcoming event?

Our latest event was in collaboration with a variety of learning communities for women. Ιt was a workshop on the Ιntroduction to #MachineLearning4womxn by womxn– webpage:

How can one become a member of the WiBD?

We have communities in Europe, LATAM and North America. Those interested in joining us can check out our global page: If you are based in South Africa, you can check out our local page. Τhere is a sign-on tab you can complete and keep in touch with our activities. (Local website:

Bonus part: To contribute to the effort of empowering women in tech worldwide, /Data will be donating $0.10 for every developer who completes the new Developer Economics survey, to the WiBD South Africa. Take the survey here!

Naomi Molefe @_naomiza or LinkedIn:

Short Bio: Naomi is the Chair for the South African chapter of Women in Big Data. A global non-profit organisation with a community of 14000 women, that aims to connect, inspire and increase the inclusion of women in tech and specifically in Big Data fields. Naomi, is part of the organising committee for the Deep Learning Indaba X 2020; an academic community of African researchers and practitioners in machine learning and artificial intelligence. She considers herself a community builder and diversity talent specialist. She has extensive experience in Executive Talent acquisition and management, across sectors in Mining, Telecommunications, Financial Services and Media Entertainment. Naomi holds a Master of Science degree in Strategic Management and Planning from triple accredited UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, in Dublin Ireland.

women in tech

Business Interviews Tools

Dev Evolution: Meet Vasil from AndroidPal

How do tech startups win the hearts of developers with their products? What does it take to create value and get developers to use their tools? Our guest Vasil from AndroidPal talked to us about these challenges and shared a few tips on Android development.


I’m Vasil, owner and CEO of AndroidPal Ltd. and other businesses like Belvek Ltd. I have been into computer technologies most of my life, during the last 10 years — professionally.

My interest in technology and computers started when I was very young, probably at the age of 7. Back then people did not have computers at home. My brother and I had the chance to land in an after-school activity to learn programming. It was only once per week and we couldn’t wait for it to start. We were taught BASIC back then on computers called Pravetz.

We’ve initially worked with 8-bit but later 16-bit computers which were mostly identical with the Apple II computer. It seemed I had a knack for programming, maybe because I was good at Maths.

Additionally I’ve studied and worked with other popular at the time programming languages and technologies like VBScript (yes, it was a thing), Visual Basic, Delphi, OpenGL, PHP, ASP (prior to .NET) and of course HTML.

Fast forward 15 years and I started my own IT company. We’re based in Sofia, Bulgaria and have been providing software development and related services for more than 6 years now.

Most of our clients are from USA, Germany, Austria and Italy. We also have our own products and services in different fields – education, travel, gaming and entertainment.

How did you get into app & Android development?

We’ve been developing one way or another for Android for almost exactly 9 years now. I can still remember the first Android phone I got – HTC Desire. I think it must have been mid March 2010 when I’ve heard of the phone. I really liked it, but said to myself that I can buy it only after I’ve created a simple app for Android and learn more about Android development.

Back then developing for Android was not easy, the current Android version at the time was Android 1.5 but I remember that writing Android apps I had to support Android 1.1 too.

Developing for Android was done with Eclipse. Eclipse is an open source IDE and back then, at least developing for Android with it was not easy. There were too many issues with the IDE – it required too much memory, freezed often, needed restarts and obscure workarounds to make it stable.

So, that first app that I built used Android NDK and had C and C++ code to allow fast image manipulation. And fast it was – probably 3 to 5 times faster than manipulating the image data directly in Java. Of course a year later the Dalvik VM got JIT which would make a Java implementation comparable in terms of speed.

Ever since that first app I and later the people I work with are developing more and more for Android working on big or small projects for various industries.

And yes, I bought that HTC Desire phone on May 21st 2010 (I know the date because I bragged to a friend over email).

Tell us a bit more about AndroidPal.

AndroidPal started because of a problem. We were working on an Android app with a particularly complex graphical user interface. We’ve inherited the code of another company and struggled making certain views (the interface) work. To such extent that we had to create a tool to inspect the layout better. This is how our own View Hierarchy Inspector tool was born.

We thought it would be very useful to developers like ourselves and it would be great if we created other helpful tools.

With more than 2.7 billion active users undoubtedly Android OS is the most popular OS. There constantly are new technologies and frameworks and SDK updates and languages coming out. We know how overwhelming it can be for developers, and it is.

So we thought we start an online community centered around Android Development — this is what AndroidPal is all about. It’s a website where you can find useful information, chat with peers and learn. The site has different sections like – Questions, Libraries, Knowledge Base and Chat.


We’ve built all of these as only the foundation onto which we can implement all our other ideas. AP Studio is part of AndroidPal and the name is just a short version of “Android Pal Studio”.

What pain points are you solving for developers? Why should developers use your IDE?

AP Studio offers tools which Android Studio does not. One example would be the Icon Creator, probably the most popular AndroidPal Studio tool among existing users. Then there is the Shape Drawable creator and other tools. Say you want to create a Shape drawable resource file, you might need to check the docs to recall the exact specs and write XML text code. Our tool works visually. It has controls based strictly on the specs so you can’t go wrong.

Among other things this saves time. The tools are built into the IDE and there are quick actions to streamline the process. For example when you create an icon for your app AP Studio can immediately and automatically set it as your app’s launcher icon.

Then there is the snappiness of AP Studio. It does not have the heavy requirements of Android Studio and feels much quicker. In our work we sometimes need to make a small change and see the result right away, no need to spin another instance of Android Studio in such cases. We’re dedicated to increase the snappiness factor even further.

Our best ideas are yet to be implemented. One such idea is how to organize and reuse resources and experience from different projects. One way is to have a library of resources, for example a library of icons or library of layouts. Something that you can navigate easily. A public as well as developer’s very own private library. Our Shape Drawable Creator tool does have a public library with 8 free items, we’ll add more and accept submissions by developers and improve and categorize things a lot in the next iterations of the software.

Indeed everything in AP Studio is ad hoc. Android Studio is based on IntelliJ Idea which is a great software, but has been built as a generic purpose IDE. Google had to create a plugin for it. At some point we wanted to create our own plugins for Android Studio, but the IntelliJ Idea plugins documentation and the effort required to do so seemed overwhelming. Simple things would require a lot of work.

Therefore being ad-hoc and using modern technologies allows us to have a special touch in everything and to quickly respond and implement user suggested features.

To summarize, I would recommend developers use our IDE because it offers new tools and ultimately saves time and leads to less errors.

How was your experience of building the IDE? What challenges did you face in developing this?

Building an IDE is not a trivial task, it was much more effort than we’ve initially imagined.

Entering an unknown territory was very challenging. It’s a different kind of software than what we’ve done before. Also the sheer amount of technologies involved, the research of how things work and why, reading and understanding the (sometimes lacking) documentations – it’s a very big effort.
But it’s fun and rewarding to see things work. To get to a stage where we can start paying more attention to UX as functionality is already fine.

Martin, one of the main developers of the project had this to say:

“Having only been working on web sites and web apps I found using Angular for a Desktop app was something completely new to me. In my work on the project I’ve encountered things which were different from my usual Web development work. It was a tough but interesting work and certain tasks seemed overwhelming, but I did not give up and as a result became a better developer overall.”

Even though it’s well featured IDE now and offers everything you need to develop for Android we’re long way of having all our ideas implemented.

What’s next for AndroidPal? How do you see it progressing in the next two years?

On the whole we want to improve the online part and include interactive guides for beginners, different tools. To name but a few things coming:

  • Android Update tool where developers learn from a very well presented data what they need to do in order to update / upgrade from version X to version Y.
  • Git repos with Android specific web tools (e.g. preview specific android resources, display android specific info about the project).
  • Knowledge base – we have great ideas there and want to develop them.
  • Most importantly – more work on AP Studio IDE – to ultimately have low-code / no-code solutions for a wider audience (not just professional software developers).
  • Some sort of PM tool (todo lists — we have been using our own tool for it and are thinking of integrating it with AP Studio).

One other non-technical aspect of the project is AP Academy where we would apply our experience in teaching and explaining Android topics to a wider audience and in ways that would make the whole learning process better.

What’s your best piece of advice for developers today?

Software development is not an easy thing. Being a professional software developer means you have to keep up with all technologies as much as you can. Learning and improving is a lifelong process. Becoming good takes years. The best piece of advice would be to not give up when there’s a tough problem to solve. So, keep calm and don’t give up.

For most developers there would always be someone who is better in a particular aspect of programming. We should be humble and strive to learn.
As software developers we should always try to solve problems. Not to learn the syntax of a programming language as best as you can. Or learn the most number of programming patterns. What brings value is solving problems. Being creative when solving problems is equally important.

But this is just some developer with 10 years experience talking. There are far more experienced developers who have been into technology from much earlier days. There are great books out there every developer should read. The list might be long and depend on what kind of programming you do, but I would always recommend the books of Uncle Bob (Robert C. Martin) — for example one of his best known books “Clean Code”. Another book I’d recommend is “The Pragmatic Programmer” by Andrew Hunt and Dave Thomas.

What technologies do you invest in the most, and why?

One way or another we use the following technologies across AndroidPal and in AP Studio in particular:

Gradle DSL

Most of the codebase of the IDE is Javascript / Typescript, however many of the important (albeit much smaller) parts are written in Java.

Then there are libraries and frameworks within those technologies which are too many to list.

Using HTML5 for the interface made so many things so much easier than in other platforms (comparing for example using existing Java GUI frameworks or creating our own). The freedom and ease such a mature technology offers is something we’ve really learnt to appreciate.

HTML5 and Angular made the big difference. Can’t even begin to imagine how much more effort it would require to do this with traditional technologies.

Business Interviews

Dev Evolution: Meet Fernando from Yeeply!

Developing new software or an app is no small task. It takes a whole team of dedicated people working across different departments. How do you make sure you create value as a project platform startup that brings all these people together to work in sync? Our partner, Yeeply, shares a few challenges and how to overcome them.


Fernando Ballester, Business Development Manager at Yeeply

fernando ballester, yeeply, developer interview, developer tips, developer career, developer platform

Tell us a little bit more about Yeeply

Yeeply is a platform bundling certified developers – focused on the development of webs and apps as well as additional marketing and design services. Our network includes on one side our developers, marketing specialists, and design experts. And on the other side, we work with startups, SMEs and big companies. Our platform simply brings these two parties (clients and professionals) together in a quick and easy way.

Currently, we have over 150 certified teams spread over more than 40 countries worldwide, who carried out over 600 technical projects. We make sure that our developers, only receive projects that are truly matching their knowledge and experience.

What challenges have you faced as a company?

As a marketplace business, one of the main challenges we faced was to conceptualize Yeeply as a platform that provides value to two kinds of users – both clients and developers. Without highly qualitative development teams, clients have no incentive to use our project platform and to pursue a tech-project with us. And, without a quality list of clients, we cannot convince the developers to get on board either – the typical “chicken and egg problem”. In order to provide both sides with the service that they needed we noticed we had to focus on quality, trust, support, and the direct relation between saving time and costs.

Secondly, as a startup, it wasn’t enough for Yeeply just to be profitable in the first place. We needed to be scalable. Finding a niche market and differentiating ourselves from our competitors was the first step – covering the demand for a customised platform in the sector of mobile applications, focusing on the quality and objectivity of our projects.

Besides, technology moves at an incredible speed, and keeping up with the changes can be a challenge for startups. Facing rapid growth, one of our next challenges was to find and hire new talents with new profiles and experience to help tackle the startup’s growing needs.

How do you make sure only the best professionals are included in your project platform?

We created our own certification method in order to validate the quality of professionals that are included in our network – freelancers, agencies, development companies, and large technology enterprises.

They all have to pass a verification process to prove their knowledge and experience before getting certified. After filtering and validating the applicants’ profiles we conduct an interview with them to verify their technical and professional skills.

Previous projects, references, and language skills are evaluated. The last one depends on the markets they want to work for. In the next phase, we validate their references by contacting previous clients. At least one valid reference from a previous client is required to proceed with the process. Finally, the experts get officially certified after they completed one of our smaller projects to prove their skills and abilities.

Only 1% of the certification requests are eventually accepted to the platform. We are looking for teams and professionals with technical skills and experience in the development of mobile applications, both native and hybrid, websites and mobile games.

What are the reasons for developers to work with Yeeply?

Our current network of developers decided to work with us based on several reasons. The most common ones are:

  • The quality of the projects;
  • The ability to decide your own prices;
  • The freedom to accept or reject an assigned project;
  • The support provided by Yeeply to solve doubts or commercial issues;
  • The possibility to communicate openly and transparently with the customer.

What about the salaries and professional growth developers get out of the projects?

As mentioned before, there are no fixed salaries for our professionals. We only check 5% of the established prices. Besides, Yeeply is free for our developers/professionals. Because of this, they are able to focus completely on creating high-quality developments for clients. By cooperating with us, they do not only gain technical experience in the implementation of full-stack projects, but also in customizing the development to client’s needs.

As our certified developers are able to decide independently whether they want to accept or reject a project, they can define their expertise and reputation in specific fields further and grow their skills in the tech-area of their preference.

With our technical support and guidance provided to back complex projects, our experts also trade their team-working-skills and networking. Partnering with us, they can benefit from the synergy effects of being part of a network as opposed to competing on the market alone.

What are some of the best / favourite technologies devs work with and why?

Our experts are specialized in native and hybrid mobile app development, such as Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android. To cover the full Web-app / Mobile-app / Backend-CMS ecosystem, many of them expanded their field of expertise to Django/Python and React / React-native as well.

For now, IoT mobile Apps, 3D applications, AR and VR are the most popular technologies, simply due to their increasing popularity and future potential in digitalisation. For the same reason, more and more devs are looking into potential Artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain applications for the mobile ecosystem.

What would you advise developers looking for work and working in web or app development services, as an expert in the industry?

In my opinion, the most important thing to do as a web or app developer is to take care of your personal branding. As teleworking is very common in this type of industry it’s significant to be present online. With this I mean being active on social networks, having a strong portfolio, and giving your opinions in forums for example.

It could also help to create articles or videos about specific topics in order to show people your expertise. Sharing this type of content on your LinkedIn, for example, could help to encourage others to work with you. If you want to take it a step further, you could even try to ask tech blogs if you could write a guest post for them.