Staying hungry for knowledge: Apptension’s DevTalks

Have you ever heard the term infovore? Even if you have not, chances are you know many infovores without even realizing it!

While it sounds like a perfect name for a tropical insect, infovore simply describes a person who absorbs information at a rapid pace. At first glance, it may seem like this trend is overtly positive – after all, it’s about education, right?

Well, the truth is a bit more complex. Yes, high speed internet and smartphones give us immediate access to an unlimited amount of data. And yes, nowadays, we’re always just a few clicks away from finding answers to the most mind-boggling questions.

Unfortunately, with so many opportunities at our fingertips, we risk becoming addicted to the information rush. Instead of putting the newly-acquired knowledge into practice, we fall into a trap of seeking solutions to more and more problems. At the end of the day, our brains are filled with data they we’re never going to use.

At Apptension, we know that it only makes sense to be a “practical” infovore: to constantly broaden your horizons while simultaneously gaining invaluable hands-on experience. If you want to find out how we’re turning these words into action on a daily basis, sit back and read on.

What makes people tick at work

Like it or not, work constitutes a major part of our existence: on average, it takes up over 13 years of our lives. It’s little wonder, then, that managers are trying their best to find out how to make employees satisfied and passionate about their duties.

When thinking about work experience in terms of job satisfaction, the first thing that pops into our minds is usually salary. However, there are many more factors that can considerably influence employee motivation, such as collaboration, development, and empowerment.

Employee engagement model

Aon Employee Engagement model

What do these three factors have in common? They all are tightly connected with the professional learning process which, as the statistics show, is now highly valued by staff members.

According to the 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 73% of adult Americans admit to broadening horizons even after completing their formal education and 36% of them do it in order to improve their job skills. Even more importantly, as many as 51% of all US employees believe professional learning to be essential for performing their work well. They go as far as to claim that they would quit their job if the employer wouldn’t provide them with relevant training.

This trend is reflected across different professions, including software developers. According to the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, 43,5% developers consider opportunities for professional development to be the dealbreaker when accepting or declining a job offer.

Why is professional development so important?

Well, there are countless explanations why software developers are in favor of trainings and development programs at work. For now, let us just name three most noticeable reasons:

  • Software is evolving all the time.

New technologies and tools are introduced to the software development world every day. To ensure the excellent performance of the team, developers must be acquainted with new inventions.

  • Knowledge sharing fosters creativity.

Keeping your mind open to ideas and critical comments expressed by other devs can draw you attention to issues that you’ve been disregarding so far. You may have considered them too trivial or  they simply didn’t fall into your field of expertise.

  • Broadening mind simply makes people happy.

We’re often told that money can’t buy happiness and that seems to be the case at work as well. According to a study conducted at the University of British Columbia, many workers would be happy to exchange a 20% raise for a more ambitious position.

In conclusion, a generous salary is more than welcome but at the end of the day the challenge that the job entails proves to be more motivating.

Knowledge sharing at Apptension

We are convinced that the road to victory always begins with people who, when motivated and content, are the biggest strength of a business. This belief is reflected in our core values which include openness to innovation, hunger for knowledge, and teamwork.

We are curious about new technologies and eager to get involved in groundbreaking initiatives. While it may sound like just another pretentious mission statement, we are doing our best  to put these words into action every day.

The implementation of the above-mentioned values takes place even prior to the beginning of the new Apptensian’s adventure. When looking for a new addition to our software development team, we’re always seeking versatile candidates who want to have an opportunity to grow. Our projects are innovative and varied; thus, teams who are involved in them can’t be afraid of facing new challenges.

Devtalk at Apptension

Once you are welcomed on Apptension’s board, you’ll be given numerous chances for improvement. While our work is based on a fixed technological stack, we are aware of the fact that technology evolves fast these days. To ensure that our developers have an up to date practical knowledge and follow best practices, we hold mentoring sessions for them.

The strength of our mentoring groups lies primarily in the well thought out process of choosing their members. The first step we took when forming these groups was appointing knowledgeable and communicative mentors. Then, based on their seniority, technical know-how, and personality traits, we assigned the remaining developers to one of four teams named after their leaders.

It’s important to emphasize at this point that Apptensians are encouraged to broaden their horizons at every seniority level. Having doubts and feeling the need to consult them with others is an inseparable part of every person’s life. That’s why this year we’re planning to hold regular workshops for mentors as well.

Encouraging teamwork with DevTalks

Mentoring sessions have been a part of life at Apptension since the birth of the company.  The idea was first proposed by the founding fathers who wanted to share comprehensive knowledge of technologies that we use on a daily basis with junior developers.

Back then, the sessions were more theoretical as they involved groups giving presentations on an assigned topic. As it turned out, this formula needed a revamp that would increase developer’s motivation: that’s how Frontend DevTalks came about.

Frontend Devtalk

DevTalks are essentially a practical extension of mentoring sessions based on the the assumption that people thrive in the competitive work environment. So far, their organization involved following a few fixed steps.

First, one team is assigned a topic that needs to be thoroughly researched and presented at the beginning of a DevTalk. Then, the presenters designate a hands-on task to other groups who show the result of their work at the beginning of the next meeting. The last stage involves voting for the best project. The points that teams get are summed up at the end of the DevTalk season and the winning mentoring group is rewarded.

Winners of the last Devtalk

The winners of the last DevTalk season

To give you more insight into what types of projects get done during DevTalks, let us tell you a bit more about the latest meeting. Experience has taught us that the more creative and entertaining the task, the greater developers’ commitment to making it work. That’s why the goal this time was to create a farm-themed PWA game. In the end, four projects saw the light of the day:

Team Przyszczypki

The first presented game is a representation of a poultry farm. Once you earn enough coins, you can build there a number of useful facilities like a storehouse, a henhouse, and a drinking fountain, to name a few. Depending on the choices you make and the amount of money you earn, you can either multiply the number of chickens in your coop or cause them to starve and, as a result, go bankrupt.

Przyszczypki PWA farm game

Team Sergusie

The work of the second team resulted in creating a clicker game called Pig dance (Świniotańce). The idea behind it is simple yet engaging: all you need to do is to click on the dancing pig. Once you earn enough coins, you can buy super pigs which are capable of dancing on their own. With their help, you’re collecting even more points without the need for clicking like a madman 😉 .

An important note is that your score is automatically saved in Firestore. It means that you don’t have to start earning points from scratch even if you close and reopen the game.

Sergusie PWA farm game

Team Mikusie

The third team presented an isometric farm life simulator created with Pixi.js. When playing their game, you have to remember that all your actions have consequences. To grow grain, you needed water. To breed livestock, you must provide it with water and grain.

At the end of the day, decisions you make determine whether you’ll end up a rich or a poor farmer. An especially interesting element of this game is a disaster generator which can make your farm suffer from an earthquake or a flood.

Mikusie PWA farm game

Team Panki

The final and the winning project was another incremental game. This one, however, is more complex than the previous clicker. The game requires the player to take care of the livestock and use it to earn money by selling eggs, milk, meat, etc.

Panki PWA farm game

 

If you gather enough coins, you can upgrade the capacity of storage house for every animal or buy some more extraordinary species, e.g. a moose. The game sends its user a push notification whenever the storage house is full. Moreover, you can play it even when you’re offline.

If you enjoyed reading about Farmtension, we have good news for you: now you can play the game on your smartphone! All you have to do is go to https://farmtension.netlify.com. If you’re visiting the website for the first time, you need to create an account by clicking “new game”. If you’ve set an account before, you should choose “log in” option. Once you start the game, you can buy animals by clicking on an arrow at the bottom-right corner of the screen. After making a purchase, you return to your farm by clicking on the house icon at the bottom-left corner.

The new DevTalk season

The April meeting also marked the beginning of the new cycle of DevTalk meetings. It was initiated with a talk on React Hooks given by Patryk, one of the frontend mentors, who believes that the decision to discuss this matter reflects very well the main idea behind DevTalks:

React is the basis of our work at Apptension and Hooks are now the hottest React-related topic so it was a pretty obvious choice for us. After all, we want DevTalks to provide our developers with the most practical and up to date technological knowledge.

The presentation was followed by a hands-on workshop which took place a couple of days later. We’re already looking forward to the new DevTalk formula that will be implemented soon. We will post no spoilers for now but if you’re curious about what is going to change, stay tuned – we’ll take the wraps off soon.

 

Innovation and teamwork run in our blood. We know how important it is for any company to empower and involve its employees and we’re doing our utmost to make Apptensians’ voices heard. If you feel that our values match yours, don’t wait too long and drop us a line. Maybe it’s high time you became a part of our amazing team?

Want to work with us? We're looking for talented programmers. Check out our openings.

About the author

Aleksandra Pytko

Aleksandra Pytko

Content Marketing Specialist
Content Marketing Specialist at Apptension. A big fan of Shakespeare, postdramatic theatre, and all kinds of pizza.

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