Q&A : Philip Douglas - Software Engineer

Staff Profile: Philip Douglas - Software Engineer

Location: Bristol, UK
Education: BSc in Computer Science from the University of Bath

How and when did you join SN Systems?

I joined after graduating from University thanks to meeting some people from SN Systems at a university networking event.

What do you do at SN Systems?

I am part of a small team that develops, maintains, and supports a bespoke, internal, distributed build system. I began adding features and doing bug fixes on the first version of the system, and now help design and develop a new version, applying the lessons we learnt. I also manage and support all the PlayStation® development kits used within the company.

What has been the biggest challenge during your time at SN Systems?

Developing and deploying a large rewrite of our build system while maintaining backwards compatibility and continuous operation of both systems. The first version has been a victim of its own success, increasing usage from a single team to the whole company in a couple of years, during which we have found some limitations in its original design. Finding ways to work around these limitations to build a new system that overcomes the problems has been challenging, but rewarding. We haven't finished yet, but it's going pretty well so far!

What do you like most about working at SN Systems?

Aside from being paid real money to write Python (which is great) I really enjoy the freedom I am given to tackle and solve problems. I have been able to introduce new technologies and improve old ones as necessary and I have been allowed to give lots of input into the decision making process of my team. This is really exciting as someone just starting out in their career.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to get into programming?

I think the most important thing you can do is try programming lots of different things and learn from all the mistakes you make. Learning from different languages and different problem domains is more valuable in the long run than focussing on a single area. I found that my University course was really good at pushing me into working on different types of software with different languages, but it's also important to branch out and try things of your own accord.

What do you particularly like about living in your location?

The best thing about working in Bristol is that I can keep living in Bath. It's a nice 13 mile bike ride each way, making it pretty good exercise.