ATA People

Life of an ATA Front-End Engineer

Martin Krajca

7 minutes read

Fri Apr 23, 2021

Life of an ATA Front-End Engineer

Front-end, performance, QA…there are a lot of engineering jobs at Ataccama. We’re developing Ataccama ONE, a self-driving data management platform revolutionizing a multi-billion dollar market, and all hands (and minds) are needed on deck. Tomas Belada has been with Ataccama for more than 3 years as a Front-End Engineer. Every day he finds challenging, yet interesting projects to tackle, working as part of a team of other passionate engineers. If you’re looking for a new challenge, read on to learn more about our engineering team and how we hire.

How did you get into front-end engineering?

I studied software engineering at the University of Economics in Prague. Programming, what I’m doing now, I either taught myself or learned by working on actual projects. When I went to Australia for a work and travel break, I had quite a hard time finding a decent job there. I saw a lot of advertisements for Front-End Developers and they paid really well. So I taught myself programming in the hostel I was staying at, with eight other people in the same room. It was kind of rough but also funny looking back now. Eventually I got a job at an Australian start-up, and here I am today at Ataccama.

How did you come to work at Ataccama?

I joined in October 2017. I had continued working remotely for the Australian start-up when I returned to Prague. Then one day they called and said they had run out of money so all of a sudden, I was like, I should find a new job. I contacted David Kolinek (now Head of Product Management), since we had gone to university together, and got an interview. I joined what was then the Meta team, developing the metadata catalog of Ataccama ONE. The company was much smaller back then and we had three teams with about 20 people on each one.

What are the engineering teams like now?

When the company started growing, we restructured into smaller teams. I expressed interest in the Policies team. Simply said, our mission is to make sure customer-sensitive data isn’t accessible to users who aren’t supposed to access it. We have two Back-End Developers, two QA Engineers, a Designer, and I’m the Front-End Engineer.

What’s the department’s work flow like?

Development is split between about 10 teams. The Core team develops and delivers the core functionality of the whole platform. Most of the teams are focused on what we call user flows, which are basically whatever the user wants to do with the application. As an example, one user flow is the cataloging flow where a user connects a database to the platform and then starts the documentation process, which generates metadata about the data there. Most of the teams are focused on delivering such user flows. Each team consists of Front-End Engineers, Back-End Engineers, QA Engineers, and each team also has a Product Owner who is like our customer. They express their long-term vision and then we figure out how to deliver it.

As we grow, we’re trying to be agile. We don’t have any written guidelines about how each team should work internally; it’s really up to each team to decide. We work in a three-week release cycle where every cycle we stabilize the whole codebase and then publish a new release of the platform.

What type of front-end roles are available at Ataccama?

There’s the platform engineer, or as we call it internally, the core team engineer. These are the smartest engineers around, who develop and maintain the foundations of the whole platform. Then there are the feature developers, like me, who actually deliver user features in the form of plugins into the application. We also have design system developers who work closely with the design and user experience team. They provide a unified design system to make sure the application looks good and is easy to use.

What’s the hiring process like for Front-End Engineers?

Currently, we have two rounds of interviews in the hiring process. The first round is about chatting with the candidate and explaining what we do as it’s not easy to understand at first for someone new to the industry. Then we talk about the candidate’s past work experience. It’s always a plus if they have a personal project they can share with us.

For the second round, they meet with our Front-End Architect, Adam Stanek, who goes deeper into technical details. The candidate also tells us what they enjoy, either working with the design or maybe working more on the technical side. It’s always up to the candidate to say what they want and what their motivation is.

What’s the best part of working as a Front-End Engineer at Ataccama?

We work with relevant technologies and on an interesting product that can be challenging. I also work with really smart people and I’m grateful for that opportunity. The whole front-end project is written in TypeScript, we also use React and GraphQL Apollo for communication with the backend API. Plus we maintain our own in-house framework powered by these technologies.

Every week, we have demo sessions where members of each team present what they are working on to the other teams so we stay in sync. Apart from these user flow teams, we have horizontal teams. For example, we have a front-end community and every week all the front-end developers meet. We talk about what everyone is working on, and if there’s new core functionality, the people from the Core team present it to us. They share what’s new with us and how we should adopt it. Then we always end up chatting about new technologies and whether we could somehow use them. I always look forward to these meet-ups. I really like the people in our front-end community and I hope we’ll be able to maintain this friendly and supportive culture as we continue to grow.

Have you had any unusual opportunities while working at Ataccama?

I joined the company rock band, Ataccama Rocks. The HR Marketing team came up with an idea that we could start a band with people from the company and we’d play at company events. So we got together and practiced a few songs. In the end, we had a really good time playing. I’m not sure about the audience though. 😀

Why should someone consider a career at Ataccama?

At Ataccama, you already have a working product, one we know there is a demand for on the market. We’re also delivering something cutting edge, and the project is quite interesting and challenging from the engineering perspective. I’m always surprised how difficult some things can be, yet interesting at the same time.

I feel like we’re an oversized start-up, I think that mindset is still present. You won’t be hired for a position and have a written career path on where you’re going to be in the next few years. You can always decide what you’d like to do more of, and there’s room to grow and move to another team. There’s also not a lot of hierarchy. If you want to communicate with someone, you can always just ping them directly on Slack. I really like that. Personally though, I’m not planning any changes in my career path. I enjoy development, although maybe for the future, it might make sense to move towards a management position. But, so far, I enjoy just getting my hands dirty with the code.

Wondering just what Ataccama ONE is? Watch this video.

If our product video intrigued you, why not think about joining our team? We’re currently looking for Front-End Platform Engineers, QA Engineers, and more.