Meet the Team: 10 questions with mobile developer Joseph Lyons

3 May 2019
Joseph Lyons
Joseph Lyons, iOS mobile developer
As part of our new ‘Meet the Team’ series, every month we interview a different team member at Condatis.

This month we caught up with Joseph Lyons, our iOS mobile developer.

First off, Joe, thank you for agreeing to be the first interviewee of our new Meet the Team series! 

Could you describe your role? How long have you worked with us?

I am currently working as an iOS mobile developer and I also do front-end development. July this year will mark 14 years for myself at Condatis.

What drew you to the role and how has the company changed since?

I grew up mostly on the Isle of Skye and Sitekit was the biggest company for hundreds of miles doing what it did. In my interview I said that it was the experience of working at such a company that I valued more than just having a job. When I started, there were only the Portree and Banbury offices at that point. Sitekit was about to release version 6 of the CMS and I started working alongside the other web developer, mostly on smaller brochure-style websites that might only take a week to build. But Sitekit was always ambitious and it paid off – we picked up a handful of awards which got us noticed and Sitekit started working with bigger partner companies as well as finding our own niche in the healthcare sector too for quite a while. Fourteen years (and 5 CMS versions later), it gets harder to remember how we got to where we are now with multiple independent development teams working in far and wide locations on projects for global companies.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I think I’ve always said it’s the variety in the work I get that keeps me interested. A year ago I was working as the sole web developer (getting my teeth into Angular 5) on a totally different project which has since gone on to do great things, and I had no idea then that I would be learning a totally different set of skills working on a complex native iOS application now.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of your job?

It can be genuinely difficult to switch off or change focus if I’ve been trying to solve a coding issue during the day. I’ll be in a meeting or gone home and still thinking about how to solve a problem I was working on. Some of my best ideas are when I’m not at my desk though, so it does occasionally pay off.

Could you describe a typical day in the office?

Most of our projects run with scrum these days so our team stand-up will be first thing in the morning for 10 minutes. Sometimes there will be team discussions after stand-up and I’m lucky to be working in a team where all of us are physically sat in the same space and we can collaborate easily. I would say that even more so than others that I do speak to people on many different teams – whether it’s web development issues or some ancient piece of company information that only I seem to remember – my role does seem to cut across all areas of a project somehow at some point.
At lunchtimes the mobile team usually head out together – if we’re looking for something substantial then there are very good café/delicatessen places nearby, but quite often we’re pressed for time and we’ll head to the supermarket. Friday is pizza day where we all get together for lunch in the Edinburgh office – I’m actually a fan of pineapple and not ashamed to admit it. That’s the highlights of my typical day, but obviously there will be other days of long days meetings, or the occasional job candidate interview or something like that.

What are the most interesting technological developments in your field at the moment?

It’s an interesting time for front-end development right now more than ever. There’s a sort of “cold war” between native mobile apps and the growing power of web apps (and progressive web apps), and it’s difficult to see where it will lead. Perhaps one day websites will be able to do all the things a native mobile app can do, not to mention the blurring of lines with hybrid apps too. In terms of web development, there’s various camps in the industry backing their preferred tools and stacks – PHP, Angular and Bootstrap certainly haven’t gone away, but there are also people very adamant that NodeJS, React and Vue are the future too. Personally, I’m not really a fan of the React way of essentially writing so much styling in JavaScript, but I do empathize with people who find CSS annoying too.

What advice would you give to new team members?

Wear sunscreen. But seriously, I would say not to underestimate what you think you are capable of. You may sometimes get pushed outside your comfort zone in terms of what you think you can handle. However, whether you do manage to handle it or not, you will have gained experience in the process, which I do think you will find rewarding, even if you don’t realise it at the time.

What do you like doing outside of work?

My favourite holiday destinations are usually coastal cities, so I’ve enjoyed Los Angeles, Sydney and Rome in the past. Last year I went to Split on the Croatian coast, which I can highly recommend. This year I’m considering somewhere in Cyprus. With books, I generally read more non-fiction – particularly history or biographies – lately I’ve been reading Jeremy Paxman’s autobiography. It’s no surprise I’m quite a Star Trek fan, and I’ve particularly been enjoying the latest season of Discovery on Netflix. I’ve also recently moved to my first unfurnished apartment, so I’m currently trying to make that look more habitable with a bit of DIY. Food-wise I usually always do home-cooking with typical stodgy British dishes like shepherd’s pie or beef stews and casseroles. I also enjoy baking when I have the time – there is something cathartic about it, don’t you agree?