Working at OGP: Antariksh’s Story as a Software Engineer

Antariksh is a Software Engineer who graduated from Stanford University in 2018 and has been working at OGP for 1 ½ years. We had a short chat with Antariksh to find out how his experience working as a Software Engineer in OGP has been.

Briefly introduce yourself (Role in OGP, Projects you’ve worked on and share a fun fact of yourself)

I’m Antariksh and I am a software engineer. I’ve been in OGP for about 1 ½ years, and I have been working on FormSG since I started. FormSG is a form-building tool for government officers, which you may have used when signing up for your COVID-19 vaccine or registering for the NParks seed distribution programme in 2020.

A fun fact about me is that I have a big scar on my right eyebrow. I got it from an accident involving Heelies when I was 8 years old.

What have you been working on lately?

I’ve been working on some improvements to a feature in FormSG called webhooks. A webhook is basically a way for FormSG to automatically send form responses to other systems in real time. For example, it is how sign-ups for the COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration form get sent to the vaccination appointment system, which then sends you an SMS with your appointment booking link.

What motivates you to go to work everyday?

I am constantly motivated by the fact that FormSG is widely used across the government for important cases such as school registration, applications for grants and subsidies, as well as vaccination signups. Every improvement I make to FormSG is a step towards making these services more reliable and accessible.

What’s the most exciting part about your job?

Deploying new code to a live website is always exciting and rewarding because we get to see our code being used by real users for the first time. However, it is also a high-stake process because any mistake can result in users being unable to use our product properly. Let me walk you through a typical code deployment process:

For each individual code update being deployed, the engineer responsible writes a set of manual tests which confirm that the update works properly. Then, all the engineers swap tests such that no one is testing their own code. We do this so we can cover each other’s blind spots.

We then deploy the new version of the code to a “staging” version of the product, which is nearly exactly the same as the live website except there are no real users using it. We perform all the manual tests on the staging website to make sure everything works properly. Finally, and only when we know that everything is working properly, we deploy the code to the live product.

Deploying code is a long process and everyone on the team has to chip in along the way, but the reward of seeing our work being used by real users makes it worthwhile.

How would you describe OGP’s culture?

I would say OGP is defined by our openness. We voice opinions and feedback with each other openly and we are always ready to admit our mistakes in order to improve the products we deliver to our users. For example, every code bug which we find on FormSG is accompanied by a team post-mortem, where we discuss how we can improve our processes to avoid similar mistakes in future.

In your opinion, what makes OGP unique?

Our annual Hackathon is a pretty unique process. The whole team takes an entire month off our main projects to brainstorm and prototype ideas for new products. Many of our main projects have emerged from Hackathon ideas.

What do you think is OGP’s impact in Singapore?

I hope that we have made public services more modern, reliable and accessible. But I know there are always things we can improve further!

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