Interview: Josh Wyse, Sr. Software Developer at Cloud Elements
When asked what goes into creating an unparalleled product, Josh Wyse answered: exceptional people.
“The culture we’ve built is the best - people here are passionate contributors. They’re valued, cared for and our culture is second to none.”
And it shows.
Because in reality, you don’t become the leading API-based Integration platform, boasting the largest number of different SaaS integrations without the team that can make the vision come to life - and expand. And Cloud Elements knows a thing or two about expansion, offering more integrations than their competitors combined, while evolving to make it it possible for developers to build into third party platforms.
Core value #1? Customers first. The Cloud Elements team listens to their customer base and it drives their product evolution.
We caught Josh between his love for trail running, traveling to Norway with his wife and building his own passion projects to sit down for a behind the scenes look at Cloud Elements and how they make CloudApp a part of their ground breaking process as they prepare for integration domination. We asked Josh a few all-important questions about inspiration, new product development and of course how his overall process has helped make the Cloud Elements user experience the best in class.
Q. First things first, how did you get into this industry to begin with?
Josh: I grew up in Ohio and went to school at Miami University (OH) where I studied computer science. Pretty quickly I fell in love with software development and the challenge of solving problems in elegant and efficient ways. I’ve always been a back-end developer, but the last few months I’ve been leading a front-end project at CE and have loved it. I enjoy the challenge of designing and implementing a good UX, which has been a fun and difficult new challenge.
Q. When you start a new project, how do you see it to the end?
Josh: First and foremost I try to think through what the minimum viable product (MVP) is before starting something. I do this to know how to prioritize certain features and how to get something out quickly to determine whether we’re actually solving a legitimate problem and people will use this solution. With a lot of projects, that ends up not being the case, but this process also allows you to fail quickly so you can pivot your idea, or move on. From there I tend to follow the scrum based methodologies, and continually iterating to success.
Q. How much of your work would you say is focused on user experience and content?
Josh: My work is focused heavily on user experience and content, but not in the traditional sense.
What I mean by that, is that at Cloud Elements, we’re an integration platform where everything is API-based. We’re constantly trying to design and architect the easiest to use RESTful APIs for our customers to integrate with and have a seamless user experience, however it’s not the traditional UX that I think of with a pretty UI.
As far as content goes, it’s extremely important that we have a good developer portal for our customers to find the documentation they’re looking for quickly and consistently. We integrate with hundreds of different SaaS companies, which means we have thousands of APIs. This creates a real challenge in how to develop content in a scalable, easy to find way.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration?
Josh: Mainly sending and/or receiving Michael Scott GIFs via the giphy Slack integration.
OK, but seriously…
I admire the senior leadership* at Cloud Elements a ton. They’re not only phenomenal leaders but work as hard as anyone on the team at what they do, and never ask you to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves. I lead our product engineering team and have tried to develop a similar mentality. I want to lead by example and demonstrate hard work, as I think it’s contagious and naturally flows down to those you’re leading. I also love and believe in our product, and want to continue to advance the product to solve other business’ problems.
*Note: Two of Cloud Element's co-founders, Vineet and Atul started off as consultants who realized they were having to build the same API Integrations over and over again into common SaaS companies. They decided to create a hub where customers could integrate an entire category of services and solve a huge market problem.
Q. How do you guys use CloudApp in your workflows?
Josh: CloudApp is used in a variety of ways. Most simply, it’s used hundreds of times per day amidst the engineering team via Slack, sending screenshots and GIFs to help communicate whatever it is that may be going on. Customer Success uses it to communicate in Zendesk with customers who they’re working with.
My favorite way it’s used is something we started about six months ago. On the engineering team at CE, we do our best to keep all of the developers in Github, and not pull them out to use a handful of other tools for Project Management, peer reviews, etc..
That being said, about six months ago we created a pull request template that each and every developer populates anytime they’re ready to push code. This template includes a “Highlights” section, which all devs know will be included in our public facing release notes at the end of each sprint, as well as on our release notes webpage. Developers are encouraged to include screenshots and/or GIFs (using CloudApp) to help communicate and demonstrate these changes. Then, when a sprint is complete we have a tool that runs, pulls all of the pull requests from the last release, pulls out all of the “Highlights” sections, and generates our release notes web page and email programmatically.
Leveraging CloudApp in our Github pull requests has made it much easier for other developers to understand what changes were made and also to add much more value to our pull requests.
Q. Now let’s get to the serious stuff. What’s your favorite movie?
Josh: Wedding Crashers.
Q: Can you share some links with us of some cool projects you’ve worked on that we don’t know about?
Josh: I’m a big trail runner and Strava nerd, so I’m always toying around with ways to use Strava’s API to build fun apps. Awhile back I built this app to simply pull all of your activities from Strava and overlay them on Google Maps. I’m excited about a project I’m currently working on called Sniktau, which pulls your Strava activities and compares them to all of the summits in the US. It will then gamify this data, keeping track of who has the most summits, most times up certain peaks, FKTs, etc.
Q. What was your childhood dream and can you say that you achieved it?
Josh: A pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. No...no I haven’t. :)
If you’d like to learn more about Josh and the entire Cloud Elements team you can check them out here. Have questions for Josh or us? Leave a comment or shoot us an email.