Following my earlier post about my first few weeks as a Graduate Developer, I thought I'd give you all an update on what I've been up to here at Building Blocks.
My first two months at Building Blocks has flown by, mainly because I’m having a lot of fun working here, both with the work I’m doing and the people I get the chance to work with every day. It has been another busy month for me in terms of learning new technologies and working on new projects.
Learning by doing
This month, my focus has been on the second phase of my DD4T (Dynamic Delivery for Tridion) training. DD4T combines the use of C# MVC programming with SDL Tridion, enabling them to work together to help create a better website and content management experience.
There was a lot to take in on the full day of training, and it was certainly a challenge that I wanted to tackle. I spent a few days trying to build a page using a bootstrap template, so I could learn the MVC (Model, View, Controller) process, and how DD4T can link my C# code to the Tridion components.
It took a while to wrap my head around it, but there are so many experts at Building Blocks who were on hand to help me out when I had errors (which was more often than I care to admit). Eventually, I got the hang of the technology and my page came together; it feels great when something actually works!
After building this page, I was shown a template for an e-commerce site. My task was to build it just like the previous page, using MVC and Tridion, but this time it would be a little different. The data that would be called for the site (various items, user roles, shopping cart, etc.) were to be stored on a separate database. The MVC application would call to that database, and then that information would be presented using Tridion to the website page.
This is called 3-tier Architecture, where you have a Data Layer (database), a Business Layer (C# code) and a Presentation Layer (website page). I had never worked like this before, so it was a steep learning curve.
There was so much to learn, but there were many materials that I could refer to in order to learn this new method of working and, again, my co-workers were always on hand to explain it further, even the simple stuff. I have been working on this for a while now, and I’m surprised at how much I have learned and that I’m continuing to learn!
It’s not all DD4T
The team stand ups are still continuing each morning; listening to what each member talks about gives me an insight into what I will be working on in the near future.
The stand ups are very relaxed meetings, and as we have a team board to show exactly where we are on projects, the meetings can be very productive.
When it comes around to me explaining what I’m working on, my team members say it feels as if I have been saying “DD4T” for the entire month (which isn’t strictly true), but it’s always fun to joke with them about it in the morning.
I’ve also been working on other projects outside my immediate area, one being a 'secret project' that my team are very eager to learn about, and they will…..but not today. The secret project exposed me to Microsoft Excel, something which I enjoy working with and feel quite comfortable using. I can only assume I was asked to do this as I expressed an interest in Excel when I first got here!
That’s what's great about working at Building Blocks; there are always opportunities to work on other projects, or in other teams, either through Personal Development Days or by asking to be a part of a process.
For example, in the recent office town hall meeting, we were exposed to what happens when a client first enters our doors, and what they experience during our our consultancy process. This really sparked my interest, so I emailed the colleague that gave the talk, and I will now have the chance to work with him in the next month or so on a new client project.
There are always opportunities to be had here, and I plan to take advantage of any opportunity thrown my way, to help develop myself into a more valuable member of the Building Blocks' team.
You'll never walk alone
I've already mentioned how there is always someone on hand if you need it, and I cannot express how true this is. I have been assigned a mentor, Chris Eccles, who is an experienced developer who has been with Building Blocks for a few years now. This involves weekly one-to-one meetings, in which we talk about how things are going, or any problems that I’m having. Chris always points me in the right direction and his help is invaluable.
Along with Chris, I have regular one-to-one sessions with Building Blocks’ Technical Director, Ryan Durkin. Again, these are informal meetings, where we just have a chat about how I'm getting on. So far, Ryan has given me the right advice about how to approach every task in-hand. It's always interesting when talking with Ryan, as he is the one who decided to hire me; hearing his reasons for doing so and the plans he has for the future is very reassuring.
There's still fun to be had
As always, the pool table is still here to have a quick game on when you need a break from your screen. We are in the midst of a pool tournament at the moment, and I've made it through to the second round.
Earlier in the month, Ryan arranged a social event and we all got together to go to Breakout Manchester. We were split into teams of four, and were locked in a room. We then had an hour to break out, by solving various cryptic clues. I’m pleased to say my team broke out with 28 seconds left on the clock, but not all of us were that lucky...one team failed, which we haven't let them forget yet.
So, two months in and I've learned so much. Every day brings new knowledge, skills and experience and I can’t wait to keep going.