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Interview with a SonarSource Developer

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Andrew Osborne

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Curious about life as a Developer at SonarSource? Join us as we discuss changes in the world of programming, the importance of Security, and writing code with SonarCloud Backend Developer...

Programmers’ Day provides the opportunity to celebrate developers everywhere. Here at SonarSource, we value the fantastic community of programmers, coders, and developers that toil tirelessly to make a difference in our world. 

As part of our Programmers’ Day celebrations, we decided to sit down with one of our SonarSource developers and learn more about what makes them tick. This year we interviewed Claire Villard - SonarCloud Backend Developer. Here’s how the conversation unfolded.

Hi Claire, can you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi, I’m Claire, and I’ve been programming for some 11 years now. I’m part of the SonarCloud team here at SonarSource, our cloud-based DevOps platform helping developers deliver Clean Code.  I would say my favorite language is Java, probably because it’s the one I have worked with every day for the last ten years or so. I like it because it’s pretty easy to implement what you have in mind, plus it delivers a good balance between technical efficiency and readability.

And when you write code, how do you focus? What helps you get into the zone?

For me, that’s quite a complex thing. The most crucial factor is that there are no distractions, so I love my noise-canceling headphones. And I need complete focus. I usually find that when I start to focus on a problem, I can pull at a thread and keep pulling until I have finally solved it.

And do you tend to work in chunks of time? 

Yes, usually when I get into the zone, it is for 1 hour at a time, sometimes a bit more, and then I take a break. Most of the time, I work from home, so when I pause, I like going outside, perhaps for a short walk. I love to feel the sun or the rain (laughs). Yeah, just outdoors, to breathe and walk - this helps me refocus and stay energized for the next focus period.

Thinking back, what are the most significant changes you have noticed during the last 11 years in programming?

I think what has changed most is everything related to the Cloud. It arrived, and just like that, it changed how we design applications and how the world interacts with what we do. Going forward, I anticipate this will continue, with more and more distribution of architecture and services and all the related security challenges this brings.

What do you like most about working at SonarSource?

I really like the way we make decisions, especially the technical ones. I think most developers can relate to having a technical decision being taken by the hierarchy or another team, and perhaps in contradiction with their own opinions, not properly explained, or open for discussion.

I felt a lot of frustration at such situations in the past, but it’s something I haven’t experienced at SonarSource. Here, those impacted by a decision are included in the decision-making process and encouraged to express their opinions. It’s a great mix of transparency and knowing my voice counts, and I value that.

I also enjoy the technical challenges I can work on as part of my role as a Backend Developer. Recently we needed to change our search engine to make it more secure, scalable, and easier to operate. It was a big challenge to minimize downtime while migrating a massive amount of data to the new infrastructure. The effort took a few months, but we succeeded through careful preparation, repeating the migration many times, managing the risks, and working with all the different teams: Site Reliability Engineers, Cloud Platform engineers, and Developers. Collective intelligence is an integral part of the SonarSource culture. We built the new infrastructure together, migrated to it together, managed the minor hiccups together, and celebrated it together too!

Overall, what I like most about working at SonarSource is that my work directly benefits the users. We build products to make life easier for developers and help them build better software. We use our own products internally, so I believe in what we do. Being a developer working on a product for developers in a company that has supported Open Source since the beginning is fulfilling for me.

As the topic of security becomes increasingly important, how do you feel that impacts you and the solutions you develop?

As a developer of code security software on the cloud, it is, of course, a critical topic. If I compare what I do now at SonarSource with a few years ago, I would say that now, we think “security first.” 

At the beginning of my career, security was considered afterward, as an improvement. It was delegated to the infrastructure “it is internal, it is safe, we have firewalls.” We can’t rely on that anymore; of course, it doesn’t work for a publicly available cloud platform.

Now, of course, we consider the security aspect at the very earliest stages. When I start working on a new feature or any change, one of the first questions I ask myself is: “what is the appropriate level of security we need to apply to this data” that will protect both our clients and the company. And only then do we design the solution. It is a significant mindset change that we have fully embraced at SonarSource.

The 256th day of the year - what does Programmers’ Day mean to you?

For me, it’s an excellent opportunity to celebrate this big community and its technical and cultural diversity. This community brings so much good to our world; we must stop occasionally and recognize that.

Tell us something about programmers that those unfamiliar with our community might find surprising.

It’s a great question. I think people outside of programming often don’t realize how much we programmers have to interact with each other and talk to each other during a typical day. The common perception is that we sit alone, coding away in isolation when it’s a team job. The Sonar solution I work on is about helping teams of developers become more efficient and aligned to a single standard of clean code.

And finally, what makes you happiest as a Programmer?

Solving problems, definitely! Even the small ones. When you encounter a challenge, and you don’t know what is happening, or why the software is doing something unexpected, then you find a solution and implement a fix; it’s excellent!  Especially if you can contact the customer and say, “Hey, I think we fixed the bug,” and they confirm and say yes, it is working now. It’s genuinely a good feeling and delivers a lot of happiness for me.

Thanks to Claire for being willing to provide some insight into her world. If you would like to learn more about SonarSource and the various solutions designed by developers for developers, check out our website.