As our business and products continue to develop and grow, we’ve recently expanded and strengthened our team with the appointment of 2 Senior Developers. Alison Hopkin and Kelly Marshall will be key contributors influencing and implementing the technical development and future roadmap of thinkWhere’s cloud GIS product groundMapper.
Since March, as a result of the Covid pandemic, the team has operated in a fully remote environment, with all team members working from home.
We asked Alison and Kelly about their experience of joining the team during such unusual times.
How does it feel to start a new job during a global pandemic?
Alison: Definitely very strange! I did have concerns about getting to know people but thinkWhere has made great efforts to introduce me to the team and make me feel welcome.
Kelly: Joining thinkWhere was very smooth and the on-boarding process has been fantastic! Remote working was already well in place within the company and everyone on the team has been really helpful and supportive. I was quite impressed with the code development and deployment setup as well and it was easy to jump right in.
How do you stay connected and interact with the rest of the team?
Alison: We have a daily meeting to catch up with everyone and regularly keep in touch through formally arranged meetings, ad-hoc meetings and messaging. This works well and it’s great to be able to share screens.
Kelly: We stay connected using cloud based systems which enable communication in a remote working environment. We primarily use Slack which is a great business tool for messaging and online meetings. We can ping a quick question to a colleague or if we’re really stuck with anything, can call each other to share screens and pair program. We also use Miro for things like creating notes for retrospectives. Overall, the company has chosen some fantastic tools and everything seems to work really well.
As a developer, what challenges do you anticipate working in a remote environment?
Alison: Generally speaking I think that software development is well suited to remote working in that there are fewer distractions than in an open plan office and we’re still able to collaborate well due to the online systems we use. The only thing I think is missing are some of the things you pick up from conversations that are going on around you.
Kelly: Sometimes it may be easier to get a quick answer or fast feedback when you’re co-located or sitting right beside a colleague, so there are challenges to remote working, but also advantages too. Like many developers, I appreciate having lots of quiet time to focus and having my desk setup and work environment just how I like it. Working from home is fantastic for that. In my previous role I spent three hours a day commuting and at great expense. I must admit that I’m loving working from home.
You’re helping to develop groundMapper, thinkWhere’s cloud GIS. What were your first impressions of it?
Alison: I’ve been impressed with the way the product is structured making it easy to use and understand. There are a wide range of geographic operations available for manipulating the data and a real depth to the features on offer. It’s a great way to pull all your data together, take advantage of using it in conjunction with other datasets, and to collaborate and share information with others online. The templates for exporting a map are well designed too.
Kelly: I’m very excited to be working on such a cool product. At the moment I’m concentrating on helping to develop the administrative area of groundMapper. It is separate at the moment but will soon be combined to be part of the main application in its next release. It’s also exciting to hear about the scale of the product roadmap for the future and I’m looking forward to contributing to many new features. The pandemic has highlighted the significance of tools for easy online collaboration and information sharing. It’s been reassuring knowing our customers can continue to deliver their services, supported by groundMapper, no matter where they’re working from.
About Alison and Kelly
Alison is an experienced full stack developer, has strong GIS/geospatial systems expertise, lives in Wallingford and previously worked for a company specialising in the online provision of satellite imagery and earth observation analytics. Alison has also fulfilled a number of other roles including Senior GIS Developer with an independent civil engineering and environmental hydraulics company.
Kelly is an experienced front end developer, lives in Glasgow and has worked on large scale web projects for a number of businesses including Visit Scotland, Peninsula Business Services and Arnold Clark.