“All changes should make things better”

To create great products for our users and clients, we need the best developers. Recently, two new hires have joined the Twingly development team. You already “met” Magnus Hörberg. Today, you can learn a bit about our latest addition to the team, Johan Eckerström.

Hi Johan. Please introduce yourself.
I’m a 26 year old guy originally from the Swedish town of Norrtälje, but for the last six years Linköping (where Twingly has its headquarter) has been my hometown. I still think of myself as a student, even though I quit studying and started working almost a year ago.

Why did you quit studying?
Well, I simply got tired of it and wanted to get practical experience instead. So I joined a small consulting company here in Linköping. We worked on customer specific software systems. It was great fun but I’ve always wanted to work on an in house product. So when I heard that Twingly was hiring I got excited, since Twingly has several products and great knowledge how to handle lots of data. I thought it would be a great fit.

So handling of data is your special area of interest?
Yes, I get the most satisfaction from software development when I’m building software that refines data and produces some kind of result that can help humans learn more or process more information. Writing something that can handle data in a smart way or at a scale that isn’t possible for a human is a lot more interesting than just automating simple tasks.

When did you start to become fascinated by data?
I think it all started when I learned to program a computer. I wasn’t really into computers and software until I was around 15, when I discovered Unix systems. Shortly after reading about Unix I installed OpenBSD. Once I got exposed of the Unix environment I got really interested in programming and what you can get the computer to do. From there it was a very natural step to work with data and think about what you can do with it. One of the first actual useful programs I wrote was a small manager for my digital photographies. Since I’m a very enthusiastic photographer I get loads of image files, so I needed something to analyze and sort the data. It was pretty basic and just used the EXIF data but still it helped me manage loads of files. At the university I worked on a few projects outside of the curriculum for student organisations, and I learned a lot from building those systems.

Do you still work with own projects?
I probably start a new project every week, but only a handful ever get completed during a whole year. : ) It’s mostly small tools that helps my everyday life. Like analyzing my inbox for digital receipts and summarize my costs in a spreadsheet, or an SMS service that can aggregate what the nearby restaurants menus have to offer and help me decide what to eat for lunch. I’ve stopped trying to build software for my photos since Aperture and Lightroom do such a great job helping me to manage it.

At Twingly, what tasks will you focus on?
I’m primarily a backend developer so everything behind the scenes. All members of the development team here at Twingly are working with both development and operations. One of the great benefits of working at Twingly is that the tasks are so diverse. During a work day I might be deploying new servers, make infrastructure changes for the systems and develop new features for our products. We have a lot of interesting projects planned for 2013, there will be lots of changes made to the infrastructure and to support new features for our customers.

What motivates you the most, what helps you to find the best solutions and creative ideas to solve problems?
My primary motivation is that of the end user, I want to build services that help others to do their business and simplify their workflow. All changes should make things better, and this applies to the software I write, if the solutions are small and elegant, I can more easily make changes and improve the experience for the end user. Since we are a small team it’s very easy to use different tools and find the right tool for the job. I prefer to discuss the hard problems during a cup of coffee with my peers, to find new angles to attack the problem. I get a lot of inspiration and ideas from following the developer community on GitHub, I try to read all technical articles I can get a hand on. Even if it has nothing to do with the work I’m doing right now, it always comes in handy in the future.

How will the web look like in five years? and how will that influence your work as a developer?
I hope the web will continue evolve as it has during the last five years. I sincerely wish that the standards for making web sites will keep evolving and that the browsers and tools will evolve in a coherent way, since that would make my work easier. : ) As for new services and sites, I think that the HTML5 standards will enable people to build a lot of awesome products that haven’t been possible in the past. As for my work as a developer, I will be able to build new solutions that are even more useful and easier to use. I have great hopes for the future on the web!

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