FreshBooks: Enterprise Developer & Bounty

March 24, 2010

First of all, congratulations to FreshBooks on another successful hire via Toronto Tech Jobs; I’m happy it worked out.

Secondly, I’m also happy that FreshBooks is again offering me the referral fee, and as I’ve said before, my current stance is that it’s ok for me to take them as long as I’m pretty clear on the fact that I’m doing so.  If anyone wants to start a dialogue on the subject, now’s your chance, I’m listening.

And, co-incidentally, I saw another FreshBooks job posting go by today, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and take a quick look at the posting.

FreshBooks is looking for an Enterprise Software Developer:

If building out super-reliable, high-performance applications in a disciplined, agile manner is what you love, drop us a line and let’s see if there’s a fit.

We NEED you to have:

* 5 years’ experience building enterprise-class applications
* 3 years’ experience working with ORMs and DAOs
* A demonstrable passion for unit testing, continuous integration and code coverage
* Communication skills like whoa

The Good
The usual for FreshBooks.  I like the company, they’ve got a good product, a clear profit model, a sizeable customer base who is generally pretty happy, an interesting company culture and some good people, some of whom I’ve been fortunate enough to help find homes there.  They’re a real product company with real customers, not a banking business, marketing company or insurance agency, which already sets them apart from a lot of the jobs in Toronto.  It’s a product that you can run out and try before you even interview, get a sense for what they do — that’s a great way to get a sense for whether or not it’s something you could be interested in building.  Some of the technologies they’re using appeal to me.

The Bad
Some of the technologies they’re using don’t immediately appeal to me.  Their largest codebase, last I heard, was PHP, and while I respect the fact that PHP powers much of the web (anyone heard of LAMP?), it’s not a language that makes me perk my ears up out of excitement.  I’m told that there are some challenges in the codebase, although I also believe that they’re on the path to something that I’d be happier with, and that they seem to know where they’re headed and why.  I don’t want to say too much more on the subject because I don’t know the extent to which the conversations I’ve had were in confidence.  For some of you, the location will be the strongest detractor, but i’ll come back to that.

What’s Missing
What’s the compensation like at FreshBooks for an Enterprise Software Developer?  Why the relatively new ‘enterprise’ tone in the posting?  What technologies will you be working with?  What’s the size and composition of the team, and where would you fit into that?  Do the languages and tools in use at FreshBooks really support refactoring in anything but the most basic of forms?

Your mileage may well vary when it comes to the technologies, but you’d definitely want to get the full story from them on what they’re using before making too many assumptions; it might appeal more than you think.  And my mileage definitely varies when it comes to the location.

The Location
Their location is off the beaten path for transit users up at Dufferin and Glencairn.  It’s about a 15 or 20 minute walk from Glencairn station, or you can take the Dufferin Bus up from Bloor.  If you’re coming in off the 401, it’s probably pretty reasonable, and there’s a fair number of food options in the area if you have a car.  The options are somewhat less exciting on foot, but there’s still food options and shopping around.  For some, this location is normal, possibly even better than some because you don’t have to fight your way to the core.  On the other hand, if you’re out in Pickering and you like to take the Go train, this is probably not something you’d even consider.  For me, the location takes just long enough to get to from my house that it would be a constant, if minor, irritation.  So in this case, your mileage really will vary.

And, in case you missed the first paragraph and any previous posts on the subject, you should know that FreshBooks has twice offered me a bounty for referrals, which I’ve accepted.  I don’t think that unduly biases me towards the company, but it’s important that I be clear about it.

In Summary
If FreshBooks sounds like your kind of company, and you’ve got a background in enterprise software development, there may be a good match here.


Unspecified: Python/Ruby Developer

August 20, 2008

An unspecified company is looking for a Python/Ruby Developer to help them build some RESTful web services to back a Flash/Flex/AIR application on contract, either full-time or part-time, and potentially parlay that into being a team lead as the project develops:

We’re looking for a talented, experienced backend application developer to create a RESTful service that interfaces with a flash/flex/air frontend.

Currently in startup mode, but expectation is that you would become the team lead for future development within the project. Also – this product is very very cool, and you’re going to be happy to put this on your resume, and show it off to your friends and family.

It sounds like Python is the first choice of technology, although it also sounds like there is some flexibility there.  A brief conversation with the person on the other end of the opportunity (name withheld by request) revealed that he or she seems to be a relatively sane and sensible person, at least so far as one can tell in a short conversation, and the following details, which I can pass on:

–          Consumer oriented: content aggregator + micro participation
–          Self funded, with the right contacts for a funded stage shortly

The Good
There’s precious little Python in town, and not all that much Ruby, so if you’re interested in these technologies, then this job is already well above most of its competition.  It may also be an interesting project, although it’s really hard to tell.  The contract pay being offered seems reasonable, although it’s not exceptional.

The Bad
These secret projects tend to lack information.  Thus, the ‘secret’ part.  So you won’t know much about the work until you talk to the people who are offering it, and even then, you may need to pass some thresholds of acceptance just to get more information.   What’s the project?  Who’s behind it?  Is it as interesting as they claim?  What process will you be working in?  How much money are they willing to offer you?  How many hours a week makes sense?  At least you know it’s a work-from-home contract.

Not everyone’s into short-term contract work.  This may turn into a full-time position or longer-term contract, but it may not — that’s the risk you take with contract work.  If you’re already doing contract work, this is probably old hat, but if you’ve got a full-time job, there’s a risk to consider.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve got no problem with contract work, but this project takes off, are you willing and interested in taking it further, becoming the full-time lead instead of a contractor?  It sounds like that’s what they’d prefer, so you might need to consider that.

In Summary
If you’d like to be working in Python, there’s very little of that in town, from what I’ve seen.  Alternately, if you’re a big believer in Ruby, there seems to be an opportunity to make that happen if you’ve got the right skillset.  If you’re into either of those and available for some short-term contract work for now, this sounds like it could be an interesting opportunity.

Device-Side “Social” Java

March 21, 2008

This posting on Craigslist (and devbistro) is intruiguing, although there’s not enough information there to get really excited.  The company is described this way:

With a history of developing revolutionary wireless solutions, this
booming Canadian company is a world leader in mobile communications.
Boasting millions users worldwide, our client needs creative team
players who have the drive and professional skills to take their data
products to the next level in the global wireless market.

Which sounds interesting, and could be, say, RIM or Android work, but ultimately there’s just not enough information here to really understand who this company is and what the work would entail, beyond:

Our team’s goal is to develop robust device-side applications offering Web 2.0 type
collaboration and social networking opportunities.

That said, despite the lack of detail, the detail that is there is pretty interesting.  The listed pay ($80-95k) is a little lower than I might hope for, but it’s not completely out of line as long as they’re not looking to hire the best-of-the-best.

The Good
The work sounds both novel and challenging.  The area, device-side Java, is not incredibly common, and is an area that will continue to be of greater importance, although it’s still heavily held back by the stranglehold that carriers have on services.  The technologies (REST, ATOM, AJAX) are of interest to many.  There may be some upside in being in a growing market.

The Bad
The pay isn’t high enough to attract the best-of-the-best, and the posting itself is missing the kind of detail that might compensate for that (who the company is, what it’s like to work there, what their growth is like, what the team’s like, etc.)   That’s not a horrible thing, but it does put an upper bound on the developers who’ll respond to this posting, imo.

Job sounds interesting.  Pay’s decent, but not stellar.  More detail would make the posting more attractive.  If you’re into device-side Java, this may be pretty interesting to you.