Whatever else I do to earn a living, I am a software engineer at the core. Outside of work other things give me a reason to smile – heavy metal bands, science fiction books or my family – but when it comes to work, writing software is what gives me the biggest buzz. Even after 33 years!
Recently I spent the weekend writing some software for a client. They have an app, which we built, that allows them to take photos and complete a questionnaire for installations so that they can record compliance. The software I wrote receives the photos and questionnaire responses from the app, generates a PDF document detailing the responses and attaches it to an email, along with the photos, to send to the client. Not a particularly exciting process most would agree.
It’s a straightforward piece of software (despite the security concerns and image processing which took a little while to get just right) which delivers exactly what the client needs, but we wanted to be doubly sure. So, in the early days of the software running for real (i.e. the client is using it, not just us testing it) we got copies of the emails the app generated so we could check everything was working as it should. And that’s where the buzz of being a software developer begins.
As developers, we’re not always able to monitor in what way or how frequently the software we write is being used by our clients. There are confidentiality issues to consider, as well as the practical aspects and cost concerns of implementing a suitable monitoring process. This means a lot of the time we rely on anecdotal responses from our clients, and of course feedback when something goes wrong (which thankfully, isn’t too often).
With this particular client we knew each and every time they used the software as an email would appear and we could see how the app was working until we, and they, were satisfied with the process. Even though it was such a simple thing, every time an email pinged through from the app I got a twinge of excitement and a flush of pride. To see something I’d created from scratch work successfully and be used by someone was a small but genuine reward for me and reminded me why I love doing what I do. The buzz of seeing software work.
What gives you that buzz every day and keeps you doing what you’re doing?
Words: Paul Grenyer