Like the lowly caterpillar, a time of transition has arrived. Soon I will emerge as a beautiful butterfly!
Vitrue helps companies manage their social presence using Vitrue Publisher, Tabs, Analytics, and Shop. Using these tools, companies are able to grow their followers on Facebook and do some really cool things. Lucky for me, it was also announced recently that Vitrue is being acquired by Oracle, and the deal will close this summer. I'm getting in at just the right time, when there is a lot to work on.
What excites me about the position is that I'll be working on a team bigger than any I've worked with previously. The largest I've been on to date was ten people, combining frontend, backend, and design. At Vitrue, the engineering team is over forty people. This means I'll have a great opportunity to learn from others, teach others, and grow my network. This will also be my first time working for a product company, which I'm excited about as well.
Working on products gives a developer the ability to go deeper into a technology than they can with short term client projects. I'll get to really work to make the product great, and take the time to work on the details. With client work, you get a great breadth of knowledge doing many things, but don't get to spend as much time refining pieces. Both have their benefits, but both have their pitfalls. Product work can lead a developer to having too specific a skillset, but as long as you are aware of this, it can be avoided.
Beyond just the cultural opportunities, I'll have some interesting development challenges. Vitrue uses Ruby on Rails and soon Oracle databases, both of which I've never worked with. They've trusted me enough to learn Rails quickly, which shouldn't be a problem. I've already started delving into it, and there are definitely some nice libraries/apis available. Active Record looks to be a great object relational mapper, and I'll be interested to see how Vitrue transitions from MySQL to Oracle databases.
Even with all of these new opportunities, it is important to remember how I was able to get here. I owe a lot to What's Up Interactive and the people I work with. They hired me out of college and gave me some fantastic development opportunities along the way.
During my time I was able to get into version control systems with Subversion. I lead the push to start using Zend Framework for our more complicated applications. They gave me the opportunity to learn Objective-C and start developing iPhone and iPad applications. Once I had that knowledge, I was able to build 270toWin and win an Addy Award, be a Webby Honoree, and be featured by Apple. From there, I took over most of the hosting duties and learned how to use Amazon Web Services. With that knowledge, I set up servers to handle the largest lottery jackpot in North American history for the Georgia Lottery. All of these were fantastic opportunities for me to learn and shine.
The decision to move was a tough one, but when presented with such a great opportunity, I couldn't turn it down. My co-workers at What's Up have been very supportive. They're a great bunch of people, and I wish them the best. I'm proud of what we accomplished together, and I'm sure they will continue to be successful.