We The People | Jordan Drake

Happy Friday, everyone! Last month, I sat down with Jordan, the Front-End Lead here at Fidel, and we talked about our favourite topics in the whole wide world: HackerNews, Reddit and TC39.

I'm kidding. We talked about the best pizza in Manchester and how that might compare with Bristol's best. Both of which happen to be within not only walking but smelling distance from where we live. Yeah, it was that time of lockdown for us.🤷

But after we got the pizza out of the way, we did indeed have a nice chat about the cool tech the Front-End team is working with here and some of the things they look for in people who want to join them.

A: Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m Jordan, and I’m a Front-End Developer here at Fidel. Like many people in my generation, I was introduced to computers at a young age because of video games. I took my love of gaming to the next level by coding ‘mods’ for those games, which is what got me into programming. The ability to create something in code and then immediately see it in front of you in a game is such an incredible feeling. Early in my career, I considered being a video game developer. However, developing for the web gives me the same immediate visual feedback, but with much better job security. 😀

A: Why did you join Fidel?

Jordan: I left my previous job because I was looking to join a company that I could watch (and help) grow. I had only one real technical requirement, which was that I wanted to continue using TypeScript. I came across the Fidel role on a job site. The description said they used TypeScript but ultimately, what led me to apply was how ‘human’ the description was. It focused on the candidate’s character as much as it did on technical expertise. It led me to believe that the company is full of really great people to work with. And it is!

A: What’s the tech stack you currently use?

Jordan: The oft-parroted answer to this question is “the best tool for the job”. Which is fair, but there are productivity and quality boons to using technology that you’re familiar with. This is why we typically use React and TypeScript for almost all of our front-end projects at Fidel.

React has a lot of supporting software that allows it to be great at solving many problems. For example, we use Gatsby on top of React for our website. It enables it to be performant due to it’s out-of-the-box lazy-loading, service worker and code splitting features.

TypeScript lets us take our existing JavaScript knowledge and enhance it with the benefits of type-checking and IDE integration whilst avoiding some of JavaScript’s more controversial features.

A: What are some of the most interesting challenges you’re solving?

Jordan: Scaling in all things.

Our technical team has doubled in size and is still growing, and with that comes issues that can be solved by structures and processes. It is alluring to follow a handbook and adopt processes that can actually hinder more than they help. Fortunately, regular retrospectives and transparency woven into the company culture are helping us to solve this challenge.

Our product is now attracting clients who generate much larger datasets than we’ve seen before. The obvious challenge here is performance and stability, but the one I find more interesting is how we navigate and represent that data. After all, a hundred transactions can be shown in a table but a million need a graph for any meaningful insight. I am excited to see and contribute to how we overcome this challenge.

A: What is your favourite thing about working at Fidel?

Jordan: Autonomy and trust. As an individual, I am given time and flexibility to work on things without disruption to my work and to my life. As a team, we have been intentionally structured to be able to complete the majority of the backlog without being dependent on another team. The interactions we do have are positive and constructive because of this.

A: How do you keep up with current trends and advances in software development?

Jordan: Hackernews and Reddit, specifically the subreddits whose topic is a technology that I use or am interested in, for example: /r/javascript, /r/typescript, /r/reactjs. They serve as a great hub to aggregate links to a multitude of other sites. I could check all of those, but I’m too lazy to. However, I’m more than happy to upvote someone else who has gone to that effort for me.

Technical Committee 39 (aka TC39). This committee maintains and develops the specification for ECMAScript (of which JavaScript is the most popular implementation). They effectively debate and decide the new features that will go into the language. This lets me keep up to date with the language but more importantly reading the reasoned debates behind proposed features has given me a deeper understanding of how and why the language works the way it does.

A: Any tips for people that want to join you at Fidel?

Jordan: If you’re reading this because you are interested in joining us as a Front-End Developer at Fidel then you’re already in the top tier of candidates because you are doing your homework. Seriously, you should mention that you’ve read this blog post somewhere in your interview with my colleagues or me. Enthusiasm about Fidel is great and will serve you well in the interview process. Above that, what it shows us is effort, a desire to succeed, and a level of common sense.