Software development as my career is the best decisions I have ever made by Joan Ngatia

Joan Ngatia
Joan is a Software developer at Andela - a software development company seeking to extend engineering teams with talent across Africa. She has a rich background in geospatial technology having graduated with BSc in Geospatial Information Science from DeKUT.

Also meet Joan here on Github, LinkedIn, and Twitter (all not satirical)
Joan is passionate about increasing diversity in technology and is actively engaged organizing regular programming workshops and mentoring ladies in tech, most recently Django Girls Nairobi 2016 and Django Girls Mombasa 2017.

Qn. With regards to mapping solutions, what are your favorite mapping toolkits that you tinker with in your projects? (mapping APIs, SDKs, so on and so forth)

I have grown to love open source solutions for their ease of use and less bureaucracy involved in obtaining licenses. I have tinkered a bit with Leaflet Js and python for QGIS plugins. I am however rusty on my geospatial front.

Qn.  Random darlings:

Leaflet or Openlayers? : Leaflet.

What’s your favorite Editor?

Sublime Text 3 is my darling, since I used it while teaching myself how to code. I have a lot of custom plugins and preference settings that have made it way easier to use and more efficient in my daily work. Atom and Visual Studio Code are also really good since they are open source.

Qn. How has the experience at Andela improved your GIS programming skills so far?

At Andela, I haven’t had a chance to improve my GIS and keep abreast with changes in the geospatial technology world as much as I would like to. However, I have groomed my ability to teach myself a lot faster once I dip my toes in anything, all while maintaining world class conventions similar to Andela’s work.

Qn. What is the most interesting app you’ve created? Be it GIS related app or non GIS related?

During my training at Andela, I created Picture-This, an image editing application that allowed users to apply filters to images and share them on Twitter or Facebook. Picture-This implements Django Rest framework and based on React JS.

Qn. Software development is currently offering the best opportunities especially for the youth. What would your advice be to that someone who is looking to take it as a career path?

Branching into software development for my career has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I would advise anyone looking  to learn software development ; to first decide on the language/ technology they would like to learn depending on their interests  e.g web vs mobile app development, Frontend vs Backend vs Full-Stack engineering…then take up any of the free courses offered online.  After getting done with a  tutorial, one should have a pet project in mind that they can develop with their new found skills. Finding a mentor, support group or community during your learning journey is very advisable. Don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t understand a concept. Troll Stackoverflow for questions that you can answer or join the Gitter channel of a library that you use to follow discussions there.

RELATED:  The Geo-Interview 2016 Series : Dr. Kenneth Mubea

Qn. How would you describe the software industry in Kenya and perhaps Africa as a whole in terms of growth, creativity and innovation?

The people that I’ve worked with at Andela have been nothing short of Wonderful, creative, innovative, smart developers with amazing personalities. I have seen people build phenomenal things and have such beautiful solutions to everyday problems/challenges in their daily work. This has similarly been my experience with developers outside of Andela. Kenya is full of very bright minds. There is great potential in the software industry that is currently being underutilized.

Qn. It’s mythical that most local enterprises and especially government agencies shy off local solutions in favour of solutions from big corporations or startups from first world countries. Would you recommend local software solutions to businesses, government and individuals?

OH YES!! I would always recommend local solutions that are built with local problems in mind. The reason. Where we should draw the line though is having solutions that aren’t sustainable or building apps that aren’t applicable to the common problems, or solutions that aren’t supported by policy.