For those that don’t know, “Freeish Time”, is the opportunity for our Cubes to work on passion projects outside of their work projects. They have an entire week to identify a problem, build and create a solution, then present it to the rest of the crew during our Friday Happy Half Hour meeting.
It is such a rad way for the team to break up the grind and focus on a project they might not normally have the time for. Then, after a week of knocking it out of the park being innovative, they come back refreshed, relaxed and re-spired to kick some butt!
We sat down with Micheal, one of our Android Developers, to discuss his Freeish Time adventure…
What inspired your innovation time?
MPF: I tend to think about and look forward to my Freeish time WELL before it’s actually time for it. It’s something we all tend to eagerly anticipate, and this time we were in lockdown so I really had nothing else to do but plan my sacred FT down to the smallest detail! Though, lockdown or not, nothing sets my heart aflutter more than an open calendar and nothing but time to dive into a passion project full of small details and nuances!
As I had been thinking about my innovation time for a while, what I really wanted to do was to find the best React Native starter kit and investigate the latest, as well as the best, tools that we could use to make our apps better, more reliable and faster to develop. My Freeish Time was a real chance to expand my knowledge but also ensure that our processes are better. Which is a total win-win when it comes to personal and professional goals for this time!
What were the key learnings?
MPF: I felt that throughout my week I had numerous key learnings as I was gaining knowledge in a few different topics. In terms of starter kits, I had a look at what was available for new React Native Apps and the features for each. A starter kit allows any team to fully focus on the development of the features that make your app unique, instead of building your app from scratch. As you can probably tell, this dramatically cuts development time! Through my research, it was clear that the Ignite Starter Kit was the best in the market… currently! Ignite is more of a generator for React Native and allows lots of plug-ins or alternatively you could start your own.
Even though this was the bulk of my Freeish Time, I did also manage to look at the different databases available for React Native apps, and the pros and cons of each. A mobile database stores all the data for the mobile app onto the device and this data can also be stored on a server and shared with other users. When looking at databases, my main judging criteria was whether it worked offline, synced automatically when online, automatically resolved conflicts, listened to real-time updates across clients, and how objects are stored / object mapping. Much like Starter Kits, there are a lot of options out there, so when choosing one, it is definitely worth doing your research and looking at the specifications to pick the best one for your project.Finally, the little time I had left I used to investigate new tech that other companies are using to create and test their component libraries across different platforms including web and mobile.
What were the challenges?
MPF: The main challenge for me is that there is so much tech out there to research! If I had perhaps had a bit more time, I would have liked to have a look at other tech involving more powerful React Native IDEs, other app building platforms, automated testing, and over-the-air app updates. But, tomorrow is another day, and my next Freeish Time is only around the corner! So me expounding on my learnings could easily go into another one!
I really couldn’t have planned for a better outcome for this week. I got to really challenge myself, and push my comfort zone to work on it. And in turn, I’ve come out with infinitely more knowledge on the starter kits which will undoubtedly help in countless projects to come in the future! Another Freeish Time success, and as always, I’m so stoked to work in an agency that encourages me to better myself and do whatever they can to facilitate it. Already looking forward to the next one!