#LifeOfDevs: Back-End Developer Rafael at Mangrove

Jelle van Wetten

In this #LifeOfDevs we talked to our colleague Rafael. He is our Spanish Back-End developer who came to work for Competa last year. Working at Mangrove was his first project and we were curious what his thoughts were. Below you read about his experience.


Can you tell me how you got into coding?

My father has always been a geek, so there were always computers at my house, ever since I was a kid. But my first coding experience was with Visual Basic at the age of 13, when I built a Fahrenheit to Celsius calculator (very useful). At high school, I learned some HTML as well and I took my first steps into web development when I built the website for my metal band, Winternights. The website even included a visit counter.

A couple of years later, I learned assembler and C at the university, which got me interested in programming itself. I decided to do both my bachelor- and master of electronics thesis about programming microcontrollers. It was actually during my bachelor thesis that I first heard about Ruby, but it was years later that I really got into it. Because in 2012 I completed a MOOC course about software engineering and agile practices, using Ruby on Rails. From that moment on, I continued learning web development in my spare time until I moved my career into software development in 2015.


Can you tell me more about the company and what you will be working on at the project?

I work at Mangrove, which is a digital agency located in Rotterdam. They work with many national and international companies and organizations, like Unicef, The Hoge Veluwe national park, and the CODA museum. Mangrove has an important focus on user experience and digital strategy in developing both web- and mobile applications.

My role is working as a Ruby on Rails back-end developer. At first, I joined the support technical team to get to know the different projects and after that, I joined the development team to work on two different projects, which were for Profile and Unicef respectively.


What is the biggest difference between working on the project with working at Competa HQ?

The coffee (I’m kidding). At Mangrove you’re dealing with external clients and you are able to see a lot of different projects in a short period while working at support. While at Competa you work in sprints and focus on a specific project. The other thing is that at Competa there are more sharing knowledge sessions.


I’m assuming you are coding right now, can you tell me a bit more about what you’re working on?

I’m developing the back-end on the new volunteer’s platform for Unicef, where the volunteers can create new activities or enroll in existing ones.


Which techniques are you using?

I’m using Test-Driven Development in Ruby on Rails with a Postgres database. Apart from that, I’m also developing some jQuery plugins.


What is one thing you have learned at your project so far?

I’ve learned a lot about SEO and meta tags. Another thing I have learned is about the PourOver library for sorting large collections of data and how to integrate it into Rails via jQuery plugins.


What does your average week look like?

I start Monday mornings with a general stand-up with the whole development team, this is where we discuss what we worked on in the previous week and what we’re going to work on this week. After that, I normally pair up with a front-end colleague to work on a project or I’m involved in meetings with the client, either by phone or in person in the office.


What skills do you need to have, in order to work for a client like Flavour?

It depends on the role. You’ll need experience in Ruby on Rails and web development in general to join the back-end team, but they also work with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and React in the front-end teams or with Android and iOS development in the mobile one. So it really depends on your role to know which development skills you need to have.


How do you keep in touch with your Competa colleagues?

Normally via Slack and also at the Competa meetings/meetups.


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