Hello, I am Bugra and I started working as an Integration Developer at Dots & Arrows in September 2021. Let’s dive into my experience, from finishing my Bachelor in Application Development – with the focus on becoming a software engineer – to ‘the switch’ and becoming an Integration developer. It’s a long story, but don’t worry, there is a TL;DR at the bottom.
How it started
How did I end up here?
My Bachelor focussed on AI & Robotics and general Full Stack development. During my education and my internship I realised I didn’t want to become a data scientist and I started looking for job opportunities. I came across a job offer for Java developer at Bewire and sent out my application. Bewire is an IT ecosystem with different sub-companies. After showing interest in designing an application architecture they also offered a meeting with one of their sub-companies, Dots & Arrows. What an eyeopener! During that talk, I got to discover all about integration development. Even though integration was still a big question mark, I decided to go for it! And I still have no regrets.
Learning about integration
Just like many of you, I never heard about integration development before. In short: integration is all about integrating existing systems with each other, or in other words: connecting existing systems. But connecting in such a way that a lot of your work can be re-used and maintained without it becoming a mess of point-to-point connections. The goal? Keep everything as uniform as possible.
The future of integration
Since I am a junior, it may be weird for me to comment on the future of integration development, but that does not stop me from having an opinion and view on this topic. It is very simple: IT is a fast moving sector. Companies need to do more having less time and a constant stream of new applications makes point-to-point connections impossible to maintain. A new way of working – with a huge focus on the ability to re-use the code – is required.
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform
Dots & Arrows uses the Anypoint Platform provided by MuleSoft as iPaas (Integration Platform as a service). This platform includes tools to design, build, discover and deploy APIs. The idea? Create an API specification where you communicate clearly what the API will need as data (think of headers and body) and what this API will return. Once you have a specification, you publish it and get feedback. That way, you can make changes or start implementing the API. The development of these APIs happens in a low-code environment, which means you won’t be writing lines of code every single day. Anypoint Studio (the IDE you work in) also allows you to use DataWeave code to transform your data. You will not only use dragging blocks, it’s a bit more complex and you definitely need the technical knowledge you built up as a full stack developer to identify and solve problems.
When I started at Dots & Arrows, I first had to follow a training to obtain the MuleSoft developer certificate. This is great as a first introduction to integration development. The course is for free and at the end, you receive a voucher for the certificate exam.
Not sure if integration development is your thing? Give it a try this way!
After obtaining my developer certificate, I started in an extra support role for one of the clients at Bewire. This is where I got my first ‘real world experience’. But real soon, I was assigned to another project where I would be one of the dedicated developers myself, exciting!
How it’s going
My first use case
The client I worked for is a Belgian retailer that has foot scanners for children of which they want to link the data to the customers’ account. They wanted to transform their flow so the data would not directly go to Salesforce, but use the MuleSoft APIs.
How does it work integration wise?
Luckily, I was able to integrate very smoothly into the team and picked up the tasks very quickly. For me, integration development is the same as any other kind of software development and I really do enjoy my job. But what I definitely noticed is that team spirit is essential. Working at Dots & Arrows means you will be in touch with several companies. If there are any frustrations within the team, communication is key; otherwise you will hit a wall at some point. Since you will be in touch with other companies, you should be prepared to make some calls to ensure everyone is on the same page. In my opinion you should treat the project you are working on as your very own project. Do your best, because in integration you can only be happy if everyone is happy.
If you’re wondering what developing in a low code platform is like: you should give it a chance. For me, it is as fun as writing any code in C#, Python or any other language.
My workflow, my experiences
Over time, you really start to develop your own workflow. Don’t be afraid and use different tools to try things out. Of course, there are tools the whole team uses, such as Azure DevOps. But I had a lot of fun finding out new apps to boost my own productivity, such as a well-developed To Do app to manage both my professional and private tasks.
My first few months as an Integration Developer at Dots & Arrows have been really positive. I am very happy with the projects I’ve been working on already. The people are amazing, both within the Dots & Arrows team and at the client I work for. I enjoy working with the Anypoint Platform and I keep learning, every day.
- Student software development
- Never heard of integration
- Integration = connecting systems together
- Developing APIs
- Point to point connections create a mess
- iPaas (integration platform as a service) > MuleSoft Anypoint Platform
- Create API specification
- Get feedback
- Implement API in a low code environment
- First work experience => very positive
- For me, low code platform is nothing negative