Interview with the winner of the DevNet community contest
Today we talked with Maarten van den Hooven, a true Kentico enthusiast who took part in our Q&A contest and ensured his victory by providing most answers to his fellow developers. Read on to find out how he did it and what he thinks about Kentico.
Hi Maarten, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Maarten van den Hooven and I started with websites when I was around sixteen years old. Soon, I started my own company to build websites for other companies and, besides that, I started with a Dutch company called Netaspect. There I learned my first Classic ASP steps and later ASP.NET. I also got to know the first CMS systems, such as Microsoft CMS. At this time (2001), CMS systems where still emerging and really basic, but I enjoined creating websites and building intelligently to let the magic happen on the screen of the users. After working for five years, I had the opportunity to start something completely different. At that specific moment, I wanted to try and have more experience in my life, so I jumped into an adventure. This adventure was moving to Spain, renovating an old cortijo (ruin) to start a small hotel. I did this for 5 years, it was a fantastic time with a lot of experience and memories I will never forget, but it was also not the life I wanted to live. It was clear to me that I wanted to go back to ICT.
I also met a girlfriend in Madrid, so I moved there and started again working in ICT. There I learned new technologies such as MVC and the rhythm again of working longs days at a computer, and I liked it.
After two years of living in Madrid, we (my girlfriend, daughter, and I) moved to Holland and I started working in Breda with TrueLime (formerly known as IBL software). This was in 2012.
With TrueLime, I learned the world of Kentico, and directly loved the way how it works – the system allows you to build a flexible customizable website within the system without creating a lot of custom code.
Why did you join the competition?
I love competitions, I am really a fanatic. And then when two things you love come together (Kentico plus a competition), what else can hold me back?
Did the competition help you to learn something new?
More than I thought, because by reading other users’ struggles with their problems, it lets you see what can happen and lets you have a look at Kentico from another angle. Then trying to understand the question, making or searching for an answer, lets you learn all the corners and borders of Kentico.
How long did it take you to answer a question typically? And what was the most difficult question you answered?
Normally, I need like 15 to 30 minutes to answer and create a correct answer. A correct answer is not always the correct answer for the problem, but it needs to be an answer that can help the user to look at their problem with other insights.
Sometimes you need to code your solution in your local instance and try it first. That takes some more effort and sometimes you get lost in time and, whoops, the hours fly by.
The most difficult question was about a layout somebody wanted (http://devnet.kentico.com/questions/layout-with-web-parts). It was not really difficult in a technical sense, but the question had more than one question inside, and I needed to read it a couple of times to understand what they really wanted. What they wanted was similar to the solutions we build, but then I needed to verbalize really clear the answer and my story, and that was quite difficult. But after two answers, I could help them on their way. So that made me very happy because it had cost me a lot of effort to explain my thoughts.
How do you stay up to date with technology changes?
We build a lot of new sites and, luckily enough, we can do this always in the latest version of Kentico. So I learn a lot by building and trying new things because of the requirements from the client. Besides that, reading articles of Kentico and MVPs is really nice.
What can we do to make DevNet better?
We need a notification system for the users who are answering questions because you do not know if somebody has followed up on your answer or that the answer is marked as being correct.
I think we can reveal that this is coming soon. But let's move on... What's your next goal as a (Kentico) developer?
I like to be more active in the community with a blog and looking more often at DevNet. I did two presentations on the last two Kentico Connections and I love to spread knowledge about Kentico and show the world what is possible with it.
What would be your best advice for a novice Kentico dev?
Install Kentico and check all functionalities of the demo sites, the API examples are also really nice. Try and do it, and with the first steps you will learn more and more. But try not to think directly in custom solutions, so much is possible with Kentico itself. Also read the questions on DevNet – this can help a lot. See what other people are doing and look at what developers advise, they can help you a long way. The last thing is don’t be scared to try, trying is learning, and making mistakes only make you more experienced and a better developer.
If you could add or change one thing in Kentico, what would it be?
I love the new approach of Kentico 9 with Continuous Integration. Besides that, we have two things a lot of clients ask for and are difficult to achieve with the current Kentico. One of these things is search and filtering of the search results. This always needs custom adjustments and doesn’t perform well. The second thing is a social portal. There is a lot demands on intranet, but more with a social character to them. The current Kentico intranet is bit out of date, and we miss, for example, a social activity stream.
Can we count on you in our Q&As in the future?
Of course because it is really nice to help people and you learn so much doing it.
Thank you Maarten for your time! We wish you success with your future projects and see you at Kentico Connection Brno!