National Coding Week 2020: Meet our dev team
As we celebrate National Coding Week 2020, we have grabbed some of our developers for a virtual cup of coffee to reflect on their time in code and find out if tabs are truly superior to spaces.
Meet the team
Tom: Unique IQ’s very own Development Manager and SQL fanatic. Tom has been with Unique IQ since January 2020 and has over 20 years’ experience in coding.
Ben: our IQ:careplanner wizard. Ben has been with Unique IQ for over 7 years and has extensive
experience of the VB.NET language and .NET Framework.
Bruno: with a background in chemical engineering, Bruno joined Unique IQ as an apprentice in
March 2018 with an interest in coding. He now describes his choice as “a dream job”!
Jay: joined Unique IQ fresh from coding bootcamp in July 2020 and has settled in immediately. Jay
has a military background and enjoys working on code until the early morning.
Danielle: a Junior Software Engineer with a passion for problem solving and web development. In
her spare time, Danielle enjoys learning Morse code!
Mark: one of our most experienced coders with over 22 years in the business. Mark joined us in
August 2020 and has a firm view on the tabs vs spaces debate.
Rhys: joined Unique IQ at the beginning of March and only saw one week in the office before
national lockdown. This hasn’t stopped him from becoming a superstar in the world of IQ:timecard
How long have you been coding?
Tom: I’ve been programming in a work sense from around 2003. However, I was a nerdy little 8-
year-old that used to program my Amstrad CPC 464 back in the late 80s when I wasn’t gaming on it.
Ben: I’ve been coding professionally since 1999, but it all started as a hobby in the early 90s.
Oskar: In a few months, I’ll have been coding for 3 years.
Bruno: I started to develop Android apps in 2018, then become a professional coder about 18
Jay: I’ve been coding for about 2 years, most of this was in my personal development time. In early
2020 I went to CodeNation and joined the Unique IQ team and began to develop professionally in
Danielle: I started building basic websites when I was 10 years old (!) but I’d say I’ve only ‘seriously’
been coding since I started university, which was 7 years ago this month.
Mark: 22 years.
Rhys: I’ve been coding for 5 years.
What programming languages/frameworks can you work with? Do you have a favourite?
Tom: Over the years I’ve programmed using HTML / CSS (incl. Bootstrap / Foundation / LESS) /
MSSQL / MySQL. I’m into data, so my favourite is definitely SQL server. I’ve used everything from
SQL Server 2000 through to Azure SQL and just don’t get bored of it!
Ben: I work with VB.NET, C# and the .NET Framework, I also know BASIC.
Oskar: Mostly .Net – would have to say that is my favourite!
Bruno: In my day to day work, I use .NET framework (Xamarin and Winforms) and C# or VB.NET as
programming languages. I also know a bit of Java and Android Studio. My favourite language is C# for its simplicity and how organized it can look. In terms of development, I love making mobile applications.
Jay: I’ve had exposure to some React, C#, but mainly Laravel and it is probably the favourite framework, as I’m currently getting to use it.
Danielle: For the majority of my career I’ve been working with PHP so I think that makes me pretty biased – it really has evolved well in the past few years. I also really like the PHP community in
Bristol. I especially enjoy working with Laravel, it is filled with so many happy surprises! I also have
Rhys: PHP (Laravel Framework) (favourite), React Native (close favourite), Angular
What has been the driving force behind your experience in coding?
Tom: I kind of fell into programming by accident. I’ve always had an analytical mind, logical approach
to fixing problems and a huge interest in technology. I joined a company in a data input role and
after learning the job, quickly automated a lot of the tasks using VB. Thankfully for me, there were
programmers that picked up on what I was doing and convinced management to give me a shot as a
junior web developer. My first task was to learn CSS to enhance the websites, I’ve never looked back
Ben: I wanted to code a game like the text-based adventure called Twin Kingdom Valley on the BBC
Micro, now look at me.
Oskar: I like problem solving and making things – so coding was a perfect match for me. The
challenge is also good as it gets you to think of different solutions to problems/features.
Bruno: My love for programming was something that I discovered during university when I started
creating programmes on my Texas Instruments graphing calculator. Not only did I enjoy it, but it also
came easy for me, and was easy to understand. I graduated with a PhD in Petroleum Engineering,
but a love for coding.
Changing careers is not easy and with no experience and curriculum in a completely different field you are not getting a job easily. So, I decided to create a portfolio, I learned Java, I learned android SDK and started creating some mobile apps for google play store.
Fortunately, Unique IQ gave me the opportunity to start an apprenticeship with them and today I
can say I have my dream job and there’s definitely not a boring day at work.
Jay: At first it was just to see if I could learn something new, just to dip a toe into something that
wasn’t a normal career route after the military, then the more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it. I
find myself staying up into the AMs of the morning because I get too absorbed and then have to go
to work, and still want to do it all over again the next day!
Danielle: It is really nice to feel the improvement of a skill when it comes to programming. It’s great
to be able to learn more and get better and better at something – every day is a school day, and even
the best code you write you will probably cringe about a year down the line. I like learning, and
coding is all about learning, improvement, and change. I like to work on challenges, and I also like to
have my solutions and ideas challenged too – I’m always keen for a discussion or a friendly debate.
It’s also great to have a job that’s mobile; you can work anywhere in the world, so long as there’s
Mark: Building stuff and seeing people use it, similar to a house builder.
Rhys: I enjoy the job. It’s the completion of a task you have been working and failing on for ages and
then seeing it all come together and it starts working. I also enjoy the never-ending challenges I face.
How do you keep up to date with current trends and advances in the field?
Tom: There are so many great resources now. I tend to use a combination of YouTube, Pluralsight,
Sitepoint and industry blogs. LinkedIn tends to have some great content shared too. Also, all the
developers here are talking about new tech and programming all the time, so you don’t miss out on
Ben: Nice try, I’m not going to give up my secrets!
Bruno: A lot of YouTube (blame me for being a millennial), some websites and the occasional “have
you seen this” chat with my teammates.
Jay: Mailing lists, Reddit, YouTube, general tech reading of anything I found interesting.
Danielle: Keeping in touch with other friends in your field certainly keeps you on your toes!
Mark: Twitter following Microsoft / Github / other dev experts, Pluralsight, LinkedIn and Microsoft
Rhys: YouTube and coding websites.
If you could master one coding language you don’t know, what would it be and why?
Tom: I think I’d have to go for R. I’m really interested in statistics, probability and machine learning.
Ben: The human genome, so I could code myself some sweet upgrades.
Oskar: I would like to master Java. I have always found it interesting and nearly all devices support
Bruno: C++, because it is used a lot in the industry and because everyone says it’s one of the most
difficult programming languages to master and I like a challenge.
Jay: C#, it seems like a good all-round language that I can get a lot from.
Danielle: I am currently learning Morse code; you never know when that could come in handy!
Rhys: React Native, seems to be coming up in high demand in the market for mobile applications
And finally, tabs or spaces?
Oskar: Tabs – keeps the code flowing nice.
Bruno: Obviously, tabs… why waste energy to press several spaces when a tab can do it. Also, ain’t
nobody got time to count spaces!
Danielle: My IDE makes 1 tab = 4 spaces. All the spaces with three less button presses. Voila!
Mark: Tabs – people who use spaces shouldn’t code!
Rhys: Tabs, don’t have time to be clicking space bar!