Aged ten, Alexandre Martel is trying to get around the restrictions his parents have placed on the family computer. A little curiosity, a few calculations and a dash of creativity later, and the admin password has mysteriously been reset. Let’s just say his knowledge in the manipulation of the front-end have been honed for a very long time. At Officevibe, he applies his expertise to every level of the development process.
Discovering the other dimension
We often talk about back-end and front-end as though they were two different worlds. The front-end is for the artists who deal in design and intuition; backend requires a more precise methodology, a scientific approach. Alex sees things differently, with fare more similarities than divergences. Both put the highest value on performance, a programming error can sink an interface as fast as a database, and the most efficient code is often the one that stands out for its creativity.
Trained heavily in the back-end, Alex had never really touched front-end stuff before arriving at GSoft. In our old software engineering department, he developed applications from scratch for our clients. That’s where he started to see the attraction of design and user experience.
“At my core, I’m a very artistic person: I draw, I paint, I play the piano. To go get that from my job as well was phenomenal! But at the same time, if all I did was front-end it would never be enough: I need that logical, scientific side too, whether it’s clean code or measuring my flour to the precise gram!”
Senior Full-Stack Developer at Officevibe
Becoming the lynchpin between worlds
Alex’s front-end expertise was born from his back-end knowledge base, his artistic talent and his empathy for the end user. Today, these three elements are still central to his role at Officevibe. He’s the first one to put up his hands in design meetings to offer the developer perspective. When his team is pushing code into production, he’s the one who wrote the front-end programming standards and who ensures they’re being respected. And he makes sure to keep a foot in the user research sphere, to stay up to date with his clients’ needs
What projects are you working on?
“1-on-1 functionalities have been live on Officevibe for over a year now. We’ve been getting more and more feedback from our users asking for a few more features, stuff like a better structure for meeting agendas, as well as meeting “templates” to speed up the process.
To integrate this, we had to make some important changes to the way 1-on-1s operated the application. First and foremost, we had to ensure that we were going to actually improve their experience, and not just make changes for change’s sake. Right now, we’re at the stage of progressively deploying these new functionalities, from GSoft’s test ecosystem outwards to our clients.
This user research has been really eye-opening, because our clients often put a lot of emphasis on changes that we considered minor. It makes you realize how much little details like that can make the difference.”
“It’s honestly liberating to work with the front-end, halfway between design and the back-end”, shares Alex. “I get to work with the flexibility to focus on whatever motivates me that day, whether it’s taking a static model and turning it into an interactive interface, or diving into the code to search out a bit of performance or a stubborn bug.” This constant variety is one of the things he appreciates most about his environment at GSoft.
As much as design has always played a central role at GSoft, it’s only in recent years that we’ve really dedicated ourselves to having front-end experts in all our teams. “It takes someone who’s really motivated to change things, but the advantage is that there is an enormous amount of room for new ideas. If you’ve got a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, there’s no better place to make your mark!”