Find Web Developers
Find Web Developers

Interview With a Web Developer

I’m sure a large percentage of people who enjoy games or using computers have considered what it would be like to have I.T. as their profession. To try and answer this question we managed to drag the EGR tech department (one guy going by the name of Colonel Mustard) away from his desk to talk to us about his day job as a programmer.

Good evening. Could you give us your official job title and a brief description of what you do

I’m a web developer, and I work for a large publishing company in London on a number of different websites

How did you get involved in this type of work?

I’ve had an interest in computers for as long as I can remember, so when it came to deciding on what to study in further education computing seemed an obvious choice to me. I got lucky with a work placement during my University studies and landed myself a permanent role which is where I am now

Have you found using computers to be any different if you are using them for pleasure or for work?

When programming at home I have more time to work with technologies of my choice. Also

browsing the web can become a different experience when you’re a web developer, as you understand why things are done the way they are. So when a site breaks you can often pinpoint the bad/lazy programming that caused it.

Is it a challenge to keep up to date with advances in IT that may affect your work?

Yes, I think in that respect being a web developer is one of the most challenging jobs out there. There is such a vast range of technologies being used, and you have to understand everything from the front end to the databases.

Most jobs however focus on a smaller subset of technology, often supplied by a single vendor such as Microsoft, which makes it a bit easier

Is much of your time dedicated to training and learning new things? or do you cover enough of the same topics each day that this isn’t necessary?

Well I do try to keep as up to date as possible with the fundamental languages and the things I work with a lot, as I feel that I like to have a complete understanding of them. There are other things that seem to come and go, often like fashion in the software world. I try to get an understanding of these, but I don’t spend too much time focusing on something that I don’t think I’m going to use much.

I probably spend a few minutes a day reading blogs and articles covering a wide range of things. I particularly like the Microsoft blogs as they provide a good insight into the development of some languages.

What opportunities for advancing exist in the job? in terms of climbing the career ladder.

There are a number of directions in which to progress. The main directions you can go are either towards a more people-oriented position such as team management, or a more technical role such as a software architect.

There are many more opportunities, for instance a good company CIO will often have a programming background.

What would you recommend to people currently at school who are looking at this or a similar career?

Don’t study maths! I was told it was necessary for a career in computing, but they were wrong.

You can study maths if you want, I’m sure it will get you far, it just isn’t mandatory. It can help to get a degree in a computing-related subject, but often the course content won’t be hugely relevant, it’s just a way into the industry.

Try to be sure it’s what you want to do, as a lot of people give it a go and find they just

aren’t naturally good at software development.

with this being an EGR the interview wouldn’t be complete without some mention of gaming. Are you currently playing anything?

I like to play Insurgency occasionally, and a bit of TF2 every now and then. I’m against giving WoW a go as I’m scared it’ll consume my life for the next decade if I do.

I’m also currently contemplating playing Oblivion again as I started playing it when I was younger and never got round to finishing it. I used to play a huge amount of CS:Source, and was in a couple of clans a few years ago.

Do you have an all time favourite game?

That probably has to be the half-life series, especially HL2. The success of the series doesn’t surprise me. It’s one of the few games I’ve played more than once. My favourite online game has to be CS:Source

It does seem that Valve always produce top notch games, what do you think it is about them that other games companies find hard to emulate?

that’s a difficult question! Maybe it’s because they really seem to understand their audience and take the time to properly design games. Too many modern games seem to be a graphics showcase with little in the way of gameplay.

Then you get games such as Battlefield 2 which seems to have been rushed, constantly crashing before a patch was released.

Lastly, are you able to give us a quick sneak preview on what you’re working on for EGR?

Well hopefully in the near future we’ll have a more visually appealing site. It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while. Front end styling isn’t my strong point, but I think I have some good ideas. I am also busy working on both the “TF2 tactician” and “WoW tactician” which will allow users to build a large collaborative database of guides and tactics for the games they play. There is also a very snazzy CMS running behind the site which cannot be seen by the users but is being developed to allow easier posting of articles and updates and in the future will allow regular guest posts to be made by anyone wanting to try their hand at a bit of games journalism.

Those are the features I’m currently concentrating on coding and testing, there are also plans in the not too distant future to provide more functionality to the front page in the form of a calendar filled with gaming related events and various media players on the front page containing things like frag videos or just the latest virals.

Thank you for your time, I hope these answers have helped some people decide whether a career in software development is something they wish to pursue. Are there any final thoughts you wish to leave us with?

Yeah! Don’t ever bother with IE 6! Some of our biggest customers are various government bodies, and most of them happen to be stuck in the past with this monstrosity of a browser which makes my job that little bit more difficult.

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