Paul Allison is CitySwift’s Lead Front End Engineer.
Having graduated from NUI Galway with an M.Sc. in Information Systems Management and the top results in his class, Paul has over a decade’s experience and expertise in front end and back end technologies – including senior roles at IBM and TV streaming app Plex.
Paul joined CitySwift in Spring 2019 and has been responsible for engineering the user interfaces of our flagship products - SwiftMetrics, SwiftSchedule, and SwiftConnect - from concepts and wireframes through to initial release. He now leads a growing team of front end developers, working on updates and enhancements to these products, as well as brand new tools and technologies that are yet to be released.
What made you choose CitySwift?
I initially applied because I knew the job would involve interesting areas such as data visualization and I relished the challenge of developing greenfield apps from nothing to the first release, as well as the opportunity to grow my own team afterwards. But it was mainly meeting the guys in person that sold me on the job. I could tell straight away that they were sound people and had a clear, intelligent vision for what they wanted the company to achieve.
“I relished the challenge of developing greenfield apps from nothing to first release.”
Tell us about your average day at CitySwift?
As we're a start-up with shifting requirements, we have come up with a good kanban/scrum hybrid approach (the two main agile frameworks). I typically work on one task at a time, based on priorities set by the product team. If there's a code review or somebody needs help, I usually pause what I'm working on and jump on it so that people aren't delayed in getting their work done.
When did you realize CitySwift’s products were going to take off in the way they have?
I actually thought they would from the very beginning. The team already had contacts in the transit sector, so they were able to come up with very useful apps based on feedback from industry experts and potential future clients. There was a lot of work and thought put into the initial UX designs and wireframes.
What have you been most proud of since joining CitySwift?
We got our three main products to market quickly, due to strong client demand. There were very few bugs for something developed in such a short timeframe by a small team. I’m proud we didn’t sacrifice code quality to meet those deadlines. Due to the Covid crisis, we have had to shift from being office-based to working from home, but the team is still super-productive and we have collaborated really well despite the challenges of remote working.
“The team is still super-productive and we have collaborated really well despite the challenges of remote working.”
What has been the biggest challenge in terms of developing software for mass transit operators?
Possibly developing maps for mobile devices. Maps are created by vectors which can be intensive on a phone's limited graphic and computing power. Making sure they are still performant on a low-end device can be challenging.
How does CitySwift decide which technology/library/approach to use?
I've been lucky in that regard, as I have been given the freedom to pick the best front end tech. I make decisions based on how easy the technology is to use, proven developer satisfaction, roadmaps for future upgrades, and the ecosystem (how easy it is to find online help and code/libraries to reuse).
How do you collaborate with the wider tech team?
There is 100% collaboration at all times. I work closely with our senior back end developer so that I know exactly what to expect regarding API calls that he needs and the responses I receive to display. The entire tech team gets on really well and there are no egos.
What makes CitySwift different to other companies you have worked for?
Transparency. Every week, you receive an honest update about how the company is doing. Your ideas are heard at every level, all the way up to the CEO. Unlike a typical corporation, there are no politics as everyone wants to band together to make the company succeed – rather than people stepping over one another to try to work their way up the ladder. People are rewarded for their actions, not talking. Lastly, the team has become friends outside of work, a lot more so than in than your typical workplace.
“Every week, you receive an honest update about how the company is doing. Your ideas are heard at every level, all the way up to the CEO.”
We’re hiring 50 new team members over the next two years. Check out our currently open roles.