Spotlight on James Tierney

Spotlight on James Tierney

We snagged a bit of time from our software developer James Tierney, to ask him a few questions about himself. We’re sure it gave him a chance to enjoy another cup of coffee.  


How long have you been developing, and why did you decide it was the career for you?
I’ve been developing software professionally for about fifteen years now, although my experience with code dates back to writing games in BASIC on my Commodore 64 when I was a kid! Back then I wasn’t always planning on doing this for a living; I studied music and French at university, and actually started a career in publishing. However, after a few years, I found myself getting more involved in programming, and decided to change career. 

The creative aspect is what attracted me to software development, you can design an app or website to work in exactly the way you want it to, and build it up layer by layer like a sculpture. It’s very satisfying. 


How did your experience bring you to ContactBuilder?
Before ContactBuilder I worked for a software development agency where we built bespoke software on behalf of clients, but I wanted to experience developing a product in-house. A project where we would have a vision of what the app would need to do, and make all the design decisions internally, instead of building it to someone else’s specification.

Technically speaking, which part of ContactBuilder are you most proud of? 
I like the way that ContactBuilder’s forms can be tailored to include any information that needs capturing and reporting on, so you aren’t stuck with just the standard fields.


What makes ContactBuilder the standout CRM for housebuilders and housing associations? 
I think it’s a nice, clean, simple system. I think when the latest version was redesigned from the ground up, there was a clear vision of a system that was not too overcomplicated or cumbersome, as I have found other CRMs to be in the past; however, under the surface it is still very powerful and customisable. I strongly believe that people should be able to use a system without having to negotiate a huge user manual, and I’ve tried to continue that philosophy with ongoing development; we’re still adding lots of features, but we always consider whether the user experience is going to improve or suffer by making the change, and we plan each feature carefully as a result.

What’s your testing process for ContactBuilder? 
As well as manual checking, we build scripts to automatically test the code, so when we add a feature, they get run each time, which makes sure it doesn’t introduce bugs elsewhere in the system. It’s called Test-Driven Development (TDD) and is the gold standard way of developing and maintaining projects. 

From a development standpoint, it also means that I have the confidence that I can redesign and improve pieces of code without destabilising the system, which makes working on the code faster, more enjoyable and less stressful.

How many cups of coffee do you drink throughout a normal development day?
I know it’s a coder stereotype, but as I type this, I’m already on my fourth cup, and it’s only 11am! But I normally stop there and switch to water or green tea in the afternoon.


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