What's going on in Vaadin's R&D? We lured the three teams together by offering a big cup of steaming hot Java and cinnamon rolls. Let's find out what tools and features are on the menu for all Vaadin users in the future.
The professional bar in R&D is set very high. The teams are always working on multiple products, developing new ones and improving existing ones. Everyone also takes turns in the maintenance team fixing urgent issues that are showstoppers for anyone using our technology. R&D also participates in webinars, writes blogs, Tips & Tricks and stays active in the Vaadin community in general.
Meet the team leaders Jonatan, Leif and Marc and their teams. Currently Vaadin's R&D has 20 top developers - some with special tasks. The Book of Vaadin is a central part of the product and it is the fulltime job of Marko. Sauli on the other hand is responsible for quality assurance and the product’s design is on Jouni’s table. And everything is co-ordinated by Artur as the VP of R&D.
What are you working on at the moment?
Artur: We're working on many things all the time. Not only do we create new features, widgets and expose new APIs, we also follow the changing technology market very closely. Hot in our field right now are WebSockets, Web Components, offline mobile applications and of course integrations with JavaEE and Spring.
Leif: The main project of my team right now is the Grid component. We aim to create a new way to present tabular data. It will be faster, easier to maintain and it has features that clients have wished for, like frozen columns. The grid has been a huge learning process for all of us but it’s so awesome compared to anything we’ve seen before.
Henrik: We want to make the grid as clean as possible, so its maintenance will be as easy as possible in the future. This gives us development speed down the road.
Jouni: After a break of a few years, I came back to my roots in R&D. I'm in Marc's team building the new theme i.e. what the product looks like and how it can be customized by everyone. You get to spin things around in your head a lot. There are no other similar products, so you are kind of in "a zone of the unknown".
What challenges do you encounter?
Artur: There will always be some urgent matters that intervene with the big project – a bug fix or a release is needed. This makes our work very interesting and fast paced.
Henrik: Or a browser that we support changes its behavior so that our product no longer works with it. Then we have to change our product.
Patrik: While it's not hard to fix something small, it can break some other features in different browsers, servers and applications. So we try to test as many combinations as possible. There are bugs that you can't predict or our users combine things in an unexpected way. To fix those, we just have to stay agile.
Marc: Different R&D projects depend on each other. One change in the plan will affect others and the content changes.
How would you describe the work in R&D?
Henri: We make products for developers, who then continue to use them as basis for the end user applications. Over 100 000 developers use our technology and the number of end users is a multiple of that. New ideas are always needed!
Patrik: Product development is not about combining existing technologies, but creating completely new ones that fit into and extend the Vaadin ecosystem.
Jonatan: You could say we try to predict what the developers want to do next.
Marc: And of course we have a great team here, strong technical skills combined with the right attitude.
Patrik: Strong technical skills, but the sense of humor of a 10-year-old!
This article is a preview of the upcoming new version of the Vaadin Dock magazine, being published during the summer of 2014. To view the latest version of the Dock magazine see https://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/295542