Interviews / Opinions

The talent behind TalentLMS: A chat with our Lead Mobile Developer

Interview with TalentLMS' Lead Mobile Developer

Developing software is an arduous, complicated process. Doubly so when we talk about developing mobile applications, and to the nth when trying to take a well-functioning web app with thousands of used who love using it and try to turn it into an equally loved iOS or Android app. But, alas, this is the task our Lead Mobile Designer must wrangle.

In this series of posts we look at the talented people behind TalentLMS. This time, we’re talking to Emmanouil Kounalakis, our Lead Mobile Developer – and a fairly recent addition to our team.

Please, introduce yourself, and tells us a little bit about your background, and how you got involved with programming.

My name is Emmanouil Kounalakis, but my friends call me Mano. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.

I’ve chosen computer science, and specifically programming, because I find the ever-changing world of technology fascinating.

My greatest strength is my attitude — it gives me confidence to complete my task, no matter how hard it might be. Like answering this interview question for example.

How and when did you start working for Epignosis?

I was working in Northern Ireland until a few months ago, and while I was there a recruiter approached me about some new exciting job spot at a company called Epignosis, which I found enticing because I really love eLearning and I always wanted to be involved with that technology.

So, I did a little digging to find more out about the company and its products and services, liked what I saw, and jumped at the chance to become the newest member of the team.

Your title is that of the “Lead Mobile Developer” for TalentLMS. What does the role entail?

In my book, a leader has to be someone with great technical knowledge and an excellent work ethic. Leaders champion best practices for their team, and are not afraid to get their hands dirty to ensure the best results. The ability to listen, write and communicate effectively is also a job requirement.

My responsibilities, in particular, are designing and implementing major architectural improvements to the TalentLMS app, starting from advising on the feasibility and implementation of agile stories, and going all the way to ensuring that any code written is clean and efficient and comes with comprehensive test coverage.

As a tech leader I’m sort of a guardian of the codebase – one of a small group that reviews and assesses each and every commit. I’m also responsible for mentoring other team members (and especially junior developers).

What does the native TalentLMS mobile app offer over accessing the regular, responsive TalentLMS portal from your smartphone browser?

A better mobile experience!

You can access it from everywhere, even offline if needed, and it is fast and, most importantly, secure. You are able to learn and educate yourself in an easier, and more intuitive way, without all the limitations of mobile browsers. And this goes for both the iOS and Android TalentLMS apps.

How did you approach porting an established LMS for mobile using native mobile frameworks?

From the beginning, we were committed to designing and building a secure, high performance and scalability design that leverages the best available tools and techniques.

Were there any corners you had to cut? Or, inversely, things that writing native code enabled you to add more easily?

The easiest part of the app was to embed Vimeo, YouTube and MP3.

On the other side, the hardest part of the app was to implement the functionality which would allow for the user to complete the Tests with the best possible user experience.

Regardless of web VS native, do you think that mobile TalentLMS requires a different UX philosophy, to emphasize microlearning or offline use, for instance?

Our UX philosophy requires: Consistency, Constraints, Shared Vision, and Objective evaluation — and all of those must be respected. For example, we’d never approve of an application that has great design, but bad usability.

As for the app’s focus, or feature set, we always focus on the users, trying to listen to their needs and suggestions, and iteratively improving ourselves and our offerings.

Any plans for future TalentLMS for mobile versions you can share with us?

Future versions of the app will have the ability to store and display uploaded videos and documents such as MS Office and PDF, even when offline.

Furthermore, we plan to add functionality to help Administrators and Instructors do more with the mobile app, and generally make their job easier.

Last, but not least, how do you like working at Epignosis? And where do you see yourself, and the platform, in 5 years?

It’s great to work with people that are passionate about their work and about doing a good job. As for the work itself, it is challenging, interesting, and fulfilling. It’s hard to find such an environment today, because so many people just don’t care about honesty, hard work and integrity. I consider myself lucky to be here.

For the next 5 years, we plan a whole roadmap of innovative technologies, and we’re also planning on becoming the leading player in the eLearning space.

As for me, I see this job as an opportunity to further master my profession, by learning new skills, interacting with different people and integrating novel programming methodologies.


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