Today, we’ll be meeting with Alexis, an R&D engineer at Jalios, who will be answering our questions and taking us behind the scenes of the R&D department.
Alexis, R&D engineer at Jalios
Hoang-Anh Phan: When did you first get on board with Jalios and what attracted you to the company?
Alexis Fiers: I started with Jalios two years ago, after five years’ experience in digital services, which tended to be known as systems integration at the time. I had undertaken several consultancy roles, which was a great learning experience. However, I wanted to obtain a position with a software publisher and invest my time and energy in a product over the longer term, rather than taking on short-term roles for a variety of clients.
What attracted to me to Jalios, first and foremost, was the good feeling that I got during the interview. Afterwards, I learned to appreciate the relaxed atmosphere and the fact that, as a developer, you have a lot of autonomy and independence.
H-A. P: How is the R&D team organised?
A. F: In general, a developer is responsible for developing a module, and afterwards, he or she retains ownership of the maintenance. When the modules are allocated, we naturally take each developer’s field of expertise into consideration, as well as the priorities and interests that we all have. The benefit of allowing each developer to work on a module as a whole is that all developers become full stack developers: in other words, they look after the front end and the back end. That goes with the company’s philosophy of encouraging people to work independently. As well as that, it also encourages a very high level of mutual support.
Obviously, we work closely alongside the QA team, and above all, as everyone uses the product internally, we regularly discuss issues with the other departments as well: sales, marketing, pre-sales, professional services, and support. That means that we all get to see and know each other as individuals. The R&D director is Olivier Dedieu, who is one of the company’s founders. That’s a good thing, because it shows how important technology is to the company, and that means that “management” is very accessible.
In a conference call with the WebChat video support team
H-A. P: Which topics have you worked on that have inspired you most?
A. F: I’ve mainly worked on two modules, namely WebChat and JTask. One of the good things about working for Jalios is that we use the products that we develop to work together on a daily basis. We are therefore very close to our user base, because we are users ourselves. I’m particularly interested in and motivated by the impact of JTask, and how the module allows users to organise projects and “get things done” (see Jasmine’s testimonial).
The WebChat module was the first thing that I worked on with Jalios and, technically speaking, it was uncharted territory, which was highly motivating for me. It’s nice to know the trust that is placed in developers, even new recruits, to enable them to explore new areas. At the start, I was experimenting with the XMPP protocol and OpenFire servers. The technical solution was also intended to allow us to market Jalios as a service (SAAS). And then, I also had to make sure that the solution was sufficiently scalable as we have clients who have thousands of users. Recently, I did an upgrade to the WebChat module to version 2.0, which makes it much easier to manage the number of open chat windows in a browser.
Alexis has developed JTask and WebChat modules
H-A. P: Tell us a bit more about the WebChat module: what exactly is it, and how do you use it?
A. F: WebChat is an instant messaging solution that is integrated into Jalios’s Digital Workplace portal. Everyone in the company uses it all day long, either for one-to-one messaging or for group messaging in the online chatrooms. In R&D, we used to use lots of other solutions, but it wasn’t practical because we had to use our personal accounts, and there wasn’t a single enterprise solution. Since we have had chatrooms in Jalios WebChat, we have had a dedicated R&D chatroom, which means that we can discuss our ongoing Jenkins integration. You can almost count on finding someone from the team in the chatroom to solve build problems as they arise.
It’s a good way to catch up quickly and make sure we’re all aligned – to set up a meeting, for example. Even when I want to talk to Kevin next door, it’s often more convenient to send a message using WebChat. It’s less intrusive: he can see my message and decide when to respond. If it’s urgent for me, or if the conversation becomes too complicated via the messaging system, we can meet face-to-face, if we’re further apart, we can call each other directly via WebChat, with or without video.
H-A. P: Many thanks, Alexis, for your answers. I get the impression that we have only scratched the surface in terms of what WebChat can offer and it makes me want to learn more! Would you be happy to create a short demo for us that we can use in our next blog post? ��