JavaScript Dev Spotlight: Multi-Platform, Working Remotely in Agile, and More

In the first of a series of interviews with various Nearsure developers, we start off getting to know JavaScript developer, Jose Gonzalez, a native of Venezuela who loves programming, exploring different technologies, and watching baseball and soccer. Hear from him about what why he likes to develop with JavaScript especially, and how Agile development makes remote/nearshore collaboration a cinch.

Getting to Know Jose

Where are you from and where do you live?

“I am from Venezuela. I travel around a lot, but where I spend the most time in Barquisimeto, one of South America’s oldest cities, in northwestern Venezuela. I started working in partnership with Nearsure a month and a half ago.”

What made you want to be a software developer?

“I think my interest in the area started because my older brother also specialized in computer programming and he is about six years older than me. I saw how much he liked it, ever since we were little, which influenced me a lot. When I entered university, it was either to study to be a doctor or a programmer, but when I analyzed what I loved the most, I realized it was programming!”

What project are you currently working on?

“Right now I am working for a NearSure client that has various apps, one of which is an e-learning platform in English for teaching children how to read. I am part of a project concerning its mobile platform, which works on both iOS and Android and there is a web version as well. I am helping with everything that has to do with the Android and web apps. We are also working on the app’s architecture.

How would you describe your programming experience?

I consider myself a Senior Full Stack Developer, so I handle JavaScript, Java, Python, etc and I work pretty evenly between back-end and front-end development. Right now, we are basically only working on the platform’s front-end, but I move between those two areas.

What do you think are the benefits and possibilities of coding in JavaScript?

“JavaScript is everywhere. Originally, JavaScript was understood to be just a front-end language, and it is one of the core technologies used by the world wide web. The most important thing about it now is you can use it in all the stages of development, especially with the two dominant JavaScript web app stacks – MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular, Node.js) and MERN (MongoDB, Express, React, Node.js). So, from the benefits point of view, it allows you to cover front-end as well as back-end, using the same technology, so in terms of time, it has an important impact, because it’s not necessary to learn different technologies, you can use the same one in the whole stack of the application.

I think that’s a strength of working with and using JavaScript. Also, now, you can even use it in apps for platforms that don’t usually use JavaScript. For example, we can create applications for mobile devices. It’s very important because if you have a JavaScript programmer, that knows front-end, with this technology you can also cover back-end and mobile apps. The capacity, the reach that JavaScript gives you is very wide.”

Why is JavaScript so versatile today?

“I think that the platform technologies have adapted to this way of working. Originally, it ran in just web browsers. You executed a command, ran the browser, and then reached the JavaScript. Over time, Google, the pioneers of this above all, created an engine for interpreting JavaScript. This interpreter for JavaScript basically makes what it do in the navigator, the interpreting of code, but it lets us do it now on the back-end of whichever platform, running as if it were whichever back-end language like if it were a Java app. That change, with that adjustment at a technical level, has allowed us to handle many more things. After that innovation, the modern JavaScript community has taken off. Other technologies piggy-back off of it, for example, React Native is a cross mobile platform that runs on JavaScript.”

What are some of the coolest technologies that you’ve seen been built in JavaScript?

“Github uses JavaScript technology, in fact at present it would be very difficult to find web/hybrid projects that are not related in any way to JavaScript-based technology. For example, some of the biggest websites and apps like Facebook and Instagram are all on React, a framework over JavaScript.

I really like the Apache Cordova platform, precisely because it lets you carry over web development to mobile devices and native apps, so I would also add that.

The big topic right now is Machine Learning, which Google is managing a complete library with JavaScript that is very interesting, called TensorFlow. It’s an open-source project that is generating a lot of buzz today, because the aim is to let anyone start working with Machine Learning.

Lastly, I am a fan of the Express Framework, a standard for working in back-end with JavaScript, because it is based on Node and it generates for you all the architecture necessary to display a back-end app in almost nothing. Minutes.

As we like to say in Venezuela, ‘Está chevere.’”

What kind of applications have you helped create?

“Lately I have been working heavily in JavaScript-oriented mobile development, so I have worked with many projects in this area, like mobile apps on multiple platforms, many of them, e-commerce apps, for buying and selling. I’ve worked in that area, and in many projects at the server level on the back-end, and many projects of different areas but mostly when it comes to buying and selling goods.”

What is an emerging technology you are interested in because you think it has a lot of potential for the future?

“On the top of my list is blockchain, the ‘bitcoins’ and ‘ethereums.’ I would like to deepen my knowledge about how to develop for blockchain as it is going to set the stage for how the world handles business in the future, for example applying the technology for creating smart contracts.

Also, Machine Learning, as it’s already important today but as technology advances, I think it will be much more relevant. Machine Learning can reach further than just building highly personalized user experiences (like Spotify building custom playlists for users based on their musical tastes), but it is already being used to analyze consumption patterns using a large amount of data, like at what time you eat, when you want to buy, what you want to buy, basically structures that allow for building a complete profile of each user, with a very high level of confidence.”

Agile Empowering Remote Work

Switching topics a bit, have you had much experience working remotely, before working at Nearsure?

“In the last three or four years, I have been working remotely. Like everything, remote work has its pros and cons, but what I like about it in general, is that it gives you a flexibility that other work structures can’t. It’s more focused on productivity and results. How you get work done can vary. Many times, when working in a standard office setting, you can’t have that focus and flexibility.

I can be here today and tomorrow, wherever I want, and continue producing, traveling, getting to know other places. I’ve traveled while working in the past. Now since I started with Nearsure, I’ve stayed in Barquisimeto.”

Do you have experience working for US companies?

“Yes, many. The Nearsure client is from the United States.”

How has the integration process been like for you?

“I have integrated well with the team in the past month, they have practices from methodologies like Scrum, so they are a very mature development team.

Sticking to Scrum makes it simple to work, even from far distances, because everything is inside the methodology and we use tools that make the collaboration easy. We have all the info in one place.”

What are some of the tools the team relies on for working together in Scrum?

“We use Jira and Slack, for everything communication. As for the technical aspects, we use GitHub and Bitrise for everything to do with Continuous Integration. Those tools are essentially the nucleus of what we use.”

Any difficulties working in another language and with people of a different culture?

“Outside of working in Spanish, I’ve only worked with others in English, and maybe the hard part is not the day-to-day or the formal work, but for example, sometimes I miss out on the cultural nuances like certain jokes, but the rest is very good!”

Thank you Jose for your time, and for trusting Nearsure to help you find great development projects!

“Thanks for having me.”