InCamp 2017

Every year, Software Planet Group’s inCamp internships provide graduates with the chance to be taken under the wing of some of our very best mentors. We are constantly seeking to improve our internship experience and are pleased to report that this year’s programme has blown all previous inCamps out of the water.

And so, without further ado, here is an overview of everything our interns have got up to so far:

Making Ideas Come to Life

It is always a lot more interesting and enjoyable when the things we do for learning have actual business value. And from the very start of this year’s inCamp, our interns appeared to be keenly aware of this, as they promptly began turning their ideas into reality.

In pursuit of this goal, we began designing an application using Balsamiq Mockups. After agreeing on a structure for system pages, our interns soon found themselves tackling a real business problem — not bad for this early stage. We then proceeded to gradually build up our tech stack and put each of the technologies into practice. We created static prototypes of pages in HTML and later beautified them with CSS. Eventually, these prototypes were also animated using JavaScript.

From here, we tried to dynamically create all required elements within the same JavaScript code. This, however, is a lot more complex than one would initially assume, as the language can be fairly tricky to modify, or even comprehend. Still, we pressed on to the next step: implementing the latest specifications with a pre-determined set of web components (HTML, template and Shadow DOM). After a brief analysis of this component-oriented approach and its corresponding specifications, we opted for the AngularJS web framework.

As a testament to the evolving nature of our intern’s skills and knowledge, no original code from these early days has survived. Yet everything accomplished at the beginning served to expand their understanding of technology and immerse them into our project’s main field of study.

Feel the Difference

In the past, our interns were always asked to use AngularJS, but beginning with the fourth year of inCamp, we decided to take the leap and make the switch to Angular. And ladies and gentlemen, this transition has been no walk in the park. Even with the change, some of our long-standing projects still rely on AngularJS today.

So for this year, we thought it would be a fun idea to follow the framework’s development history by dedicating three weeks to working on an AngularJS 1.6 project, and then, having mastered its capabilities and usage, initiating the process of migration to Angular. With this move, we aimed not only to introduce our students to both worlds of Angular, but also to provide them with practical experience of what it is like to relocate to a new platform.

First, the MVP

Our project was undeniably ambitious, as we set out to create a fully functioning application in a relatively short period of time. And so we determined that in order to succeed, we must teach the designated technologies in a gradual fashion. Similarly, these would only be adopted according to each individual’s level of progress. We then chose to use Firebase to save data, authenticate, host and validate access to our AngularJS application. This tool ended up being extremely useful in the early stages of our project, as it allowed us to quickly achieve the desired results. At this point in time, however, we now find ourselves ready to replace it with an implementation of the REST API running on Java in conjunction with a MySQL database. To make this transition as seamless as possible, we isolated components from queries made to Firebase at the service level, calling back a Promise when queries were then executed.

By now, our interns had already had enough time to familiarise themselves with the various responsibilities of our different departments, as we made sure there was always an expert roaming around to guide them and impart their advice and experience. Working on this project taught us not only that we were in the process of creating a very useful tool, but also that we had put together an outstanding team. In addition to sporting incredible personalities, everyone showed genuine support for one another and unhesitantly helped their teammates get ahead of the game.

Pure Fun

And speaking of games, who said programmers can’t have a little fun? It just so happened that the fledglings came to us right in the middle of our summertime activities, including SPG’s Sport August project. This meant that they were able to show off their skills in football, volleyball, table tennis, and even pétanque.

Furthermore, in between training sessions, our interns were also given the opportunity to improve their soft skills. Every week, for instance, we hosted events in which they were trained in public speaking, delivering presentations, team communication and self-assessment.

With only half of our internship behind us, we look forward to the many more challenges and surprises to come!

David Blackwood

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