A Cork technology specialist’s recently launched book is set to help software developers and businesses around the world harness the potential of the internet, and has added an exciting new dimension to an already promising career.
Joe Lennon, a Cork software developer who graduated with flying colours from UCC’s flagship Business Information Systems degree programme in 2007, was approached by New York based publisher Apress to write the book after they read a technical article he’d posted to an online portal run by IBM. The article examined a database system called CouchDB that makes it easier for developers to create web based applications.
"I started writing ‘Beginning CouchDB’ in June 2009 the first draft was finished in September 2009, and the book was published in December" said Joe going on to explain how CouchDB is a new database management system that is steadily growing in popularity and is being used by many large organisations including Apple, IBM, BBC, MySpace, eBay, Meebo and Mozilla.
"As a new technology documentation on the subject is still quite scarce," said Joe. "As a result, it can be daunting for a newcomer to get to grips with CouchDB. ‘Beginning CouchDB’ aims to plug that gap by guiding the reader step by step through installing, configuring and working with CouchDB."
Having an internationally published book under your belt at the age of just 24 is quite an achievement, but Joe is no stranger to doing well. He achieved First Class Honours in each of the four years on the Business Information Systems (BIS) course at UCC, and was awarded a UCC University Scholarship in his third year for his performance in the summer examinations. During the third year Joe also spent 6 months with Fidelity Investments in Boston as part of the BIS Placement Programme, gaining his first real experience of working in IT.
"I learnt about all aspects of software projects working for Fidelity Investments and gained invaluable communication skills from the experience. I also learnt a lot about exactly what it was I wanted to do for a career. I enjoyed being an analyst, but I always felt the urge to go ahead and actually develop the software I was documenting," Joe said.
"BIS has provided me with a wide range of skills and characteristics that have been extremely helpful in all aspects of my work. Of course, the practical nature of the software side of things has helped me to become a good coder, but what probably helps the most is the way that BIS shows you not only how to develop software, but how to implement it, how to demo it, document it, debug it, package it and sell it to a customer," said Joe. "There is a strong focus on the professional side of things, and much of this is led by the experience gained during the Third Year placement programme. It’s easy to teach someone how to code – but you can’t teach experience."
Joes latest career move as a technical author is off to a flying start with ‘Beginning CouchDB’, and here again the skills and experience gained at BIS proved invaluable.
"It is important to have an appreciation for the basics of any aspect of software that you are writing about – and BIS lecturers always taught based on this principle," he said. "Also, the process of writing a book involves a lot of work other than writing itself. You need good communication skills, presentation skills, technical skills and the ability to craft good examples – again, all capabilities that I have gained in no small part thanks to BIS. Finally, the BIS department is a very youthful and energetic department. The lecturers are very approachable, and everyone who works in the department will do everything in their power to help you should you ask. Many of the BIS staff were very supportive of me when I announced I was writing a book, and of course, Prof. Ciaran Murphy and Patricia Lynch kindly arranged to host the recent launch of the book, which was hugely generous of them.
"The decision to study BIS was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I hope to return to the department in the not too distant future to discuss the possibility of doing a Ph.D."