Connecting the Business and Pleasure of Flying
Recently on May 31st, I completed 5 years at Panasonic Avionics. This has been the longest I’ve worked for one company, so I decided to write something about it.
Before I joined Panasonic, I had worked for 2 startups. The first one was a networking solutions firm where I mainly wrote Eclipse RCP applications for 3 years and the second one was a file sharing and video broadcasting startup where I worked on Adobe Flex applications for about a year. I enjoy working on the user interface of different applications and I’m glad I was able to continue to do that at Panasonic.
Working for an aviation company has been a good learning experience, the business of providing in-flight entertainment comes with its own set of interesting challenges. I was hired to work on the Ground Based Systems team which is responsible for providing web based solutions such as analytics for various passenger’s flight data, shopping catalogs management, creating surveys and advertisements and many more. Its a small team comprising mainly of PHP developers and a few front-end engineers.
For the first 3 years, I worked on an application that was designed to be used by airlines for building their on-board websites. These are the default websites you see when you open a browser on the screen in front of your passenger seat or when you connect to wifi on your personal device and try to access any site. The airlines use these sites for marketing and to display information such as the time to destination, weather, news, advertisements or to sell internet access on the flight.
The front-end of the application was a WYSIWYG editor, something similar to Wix. It was built using the Cappuccino framework. The decision to go with Cappuccino was made before I joined the team. I’m told it was chosen initially to just make a prototype but soon the prototype evolved into an actual product and although not everyone on the team was happy with the choice, they had to continue with it due to time and resources constraints.
There is something to learn from every programming language and framework. Every community has a different set of tools, mental models and practices for solving similar problems. I for sure learned a lot from Cappuccino’s ecosystem and its unique approach of adopting and applying Cocoa’s established design patterns to the web.
The last 2 years I’ve been working mainly with the Ember JS framework.
Around the summer of 2014, we started work on the next major version of our application platform. There are around 25 different applications that run on top of this platform providing content, configuration and reporting solutions. To provide a better user experience and also to just get with the times, the team decided to move away from the traditional architecture of server rendered pages to a more responsive SPA solution. Everyone saw value in having the backend just provide APIs that different clients could make use of.
With the ever changing nature of software development, most of the learning these days happens on the web through official guides, blog posts and videos. But I did manage to read a few books in the last 5 years and following are the ones that have had the most influence on my day to day work:
I started listening to tech podcasts while driving around 3 years back. They’ve definitely been a great source of learning. Following are the ones that I’ve enjoyed the most:
Lets see what the next 5 years have in store for me. Its definitely an exciting time to be a web front-end engineer. The landscape has changed so much over the last few years and seems like the trend will continue over the next decade as the web continues to evolve to provide a more native-like user experience.
Thanks for reading!