GigPark: Ruby on Rails Developer

GigPark is looking for a Ruby on Rails developer:

  • GigPark is a Toronto-based web startup that’s growing fast
  • Built with Ruby on Rails and hosted on EC2
  • We’re not religious about technology. We believe in using the right tool for the job
  • You believe that database design is part of application development and you know your responsibility doesn’t end when your code is deployed
  • You have opinions on better tools & technologies and love to try new things. You are also pragmatic and choose the best tool for the job
  • You have a solid understanding of software fundamentals including: programming languages, scalability, security and source code management

If you’ve also got some design chops, you might want to check out their Ruby on Rails Designer/Developer position instead.  I haven’t met that many people that do a particularly solid job of both, but if GigPark can find one at a price they can afford, they should certainly hire him or her (you?)

The Good
It’s a live, working application you can use.  If you’re not already familiar with GigPark, register, and see if it’s something you’d be interested in working on.  This is always a really big plus to my eye, because there are lots of jobs where you won’t know what you’ll be really doing until long after it’s too late to decide if it’s interesting.  It’s also using fun technologies, both Ruby on Rails and EC2 are interesting to many of the developers I know, as well as myself.  They also closed a deal with Metro recently which is probably good for business.

The Bad
There’s nothing overtly bad in what’s there.  The posting’s a little low on specifics, but I think it probably gets the general gist across clearly enough that most people can decide whether or not it’s something that’s interesting to them.

What’s Missing?
What exactly does competitive salary really mean in this case?  I’m assuming startup employment without benefits at this stage of GigPark’s growth?  Are they profitable at this stage, and if not, how are they funded, and how long will that last?  It’s somewhat true that most of the Ruby jobs in town don’t pay quite as well as the enterprisey Java and .NET work, in part because they tend to be for startups.  If pay is a big deal for you, this is something you might want to probe in detail.  What’s the size and composition of the team?  How regularly do they release?  What’s their process like, from design through development, testing and operations?  What do they use for testing, and how do they ensure their code is well-tested?  (If, for instance, they’re using code coverage, what kind of coverage do they aim for and achieve?)

Some people like sharply defined roles and responsibilities.  They want to work on the server-side code, not the database or the client code, and certainly not the operational side.  Most startups don’t really work that way, and it sounds like GigPark is definitely hoping to find a generalist or a specializing generalist.   Then again, that’s often part and parcel of working for a startup, so this might not come as a shock.  It looks like a young crowd — most people would be fine with that, but it might be worth knowing.

The Location
Looks like GigPark is located at Lansdowne and Dupont.  That’s a fair way west for most of you, but still central enough that it’s not a brilliant place for highway commuters.  Basically, it’s well-suited to people who are already taking the subway a fair ways, and particularly those in the west end of town.  I don’t know the area especially well; there are certainly some nice things down by High Park, but that’s just far enough to be inconvenient.  You’ve also got the Junction around  you, which might supply some interesting shops and restaurants.  Ultimately, it’s out of the way, but not horrific.

In Summary
There are only so many Ruby on Rails jobs in town, mostly for startups like GigPark.  If that appeals to you, then you’re probably already interested.  If it doesn’t, then you’re probably not the right fit anyway.


One Response to GigPark: Ruby on Rails Developer

  1. Paul Dowman says:

    Thanks for posting this! You asked some good questions, I’ll try to address them here:

    1. We’re three developers, still small enough that everyone contributes to *everything* we do. Everyone works on architecture and design and everyone’s suggestions and opinions count equally.

    2. Our process is loosely based on XP (though without the pair-programming). The foundations are iterative development, automated testing (unit tests using rspec and some integration tests using cucumber), regular refactoring (which we can do fearlessly because of our good test coverage), and shared ownership of code.

    3. We have one-week iterations and usually release after every third iteration. I’d say this is one of our strengths, we manage to keep a constant, predictable velocity without the stress of last-minute crunches. There’s a lot more to it than that but I’ll spare you all from from the interesting but nerdy details! Suffice to say I’m quite proud of how well our process works, perhaps I’ll find the time for a blog post to describe it soon.

    4. We deploy on Amazon EC2, and we have fully embraced the cloud way of thinking. Our servers are built as images (rather than customized individually once they’re running), so we can easily bring new instances in and out of the cluster, and we have test and staging environments that are identical copies of the production environment (it’s easy to do). We always deploy to the staging environment first so we never have stressful surprises when we deploy to production because all deployment scripts have been run already, and all migrations have been tested on real data.

    5. Yes, we are a fairly young crowd, though I’m personally the least young of the team (yeah, “least young”, that’s a good way to put it… 🙂 I’ve been developing web-based software professionally since 1995. I’ve worked on many large and interesting projects, one that you might know of is Intuit Canada’s QuickTaxWeb (the web-based personal income tax software), I was part of the team of five developers that designed and developed the first two versions in 2000 and 2001. In my spare time I work on various open source projects, including EC2 on Rails (a project that simplifies and automates hosting Ruby on Rails apps on EC2), and I’ll be speaking at the FutureRuby conference in July.

    You’re right, we’re looking for someone who’s a bit of a generalist. Partly because that’s necessary when the team is small, but also because I believe that too much specialization leads to dysfunctional teams. We develop an internet service, and that involves more than just writing code and throwing it over a wall to an operations team. For example, modern software architecture needs to take into account scaling issues and in order to do that you need to understand your production environment.

    We certainly each focus on what we’re good at, but we all have a good understanding of the whole stack.

    And of course you’re absolutely right that it’s very rare to find someone with good design and development skills, and we’re flexible in what we’re looking for. (There are such people though: Gianni, who works for us now, is top-notch in both, but he’s going to school full-time at OCAD in September! We’ll miss him.)

    I hope that answers everything… anyone that wants to know more is welcome to get in touch with me!


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