Ruben Oostinga

Can Software be Art? Xebia’s Ruben Oostinga Thinks So. An artist who found satisfaction in software? Meet Ruben Oostinga, 30, who wanted to study animatronics in college because he liked building 3D models on the computer. “But when I needed to make clay figures for my entrance admission assignment, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted – I wanted to express myself creatively through computers,” he says.

The Apeldoorn native tells of how he chose to pursue computer science at the University of Twente after almost attending art school. The 180-degree switch may puzzle many creative types but for Ruben, it was a natural fit. “People don’t realize how creative building software can be. You have so many different solutions for every problem, you can really pick and choose what you do to solve them,” he says. “If something doesn’t work, or doesn’t look good, you can go back to any point along the road and start again. You can't do this when you're constructing a building—you can’t scrap it and try again.”

He also finds programming aesthetically pleasing. “There's also a certain elegance to programming. If you are an experienced software developer, you try and build elegant code that is easy to read and delivers what the business requires. It’s all just text, but when you achieve it, it’s beautiful.”

Doing Something Different Every Day

Ruben came to Xebia via a consulting stint at Capgemini, which he joined to be able to satisfy his need to do something different all the time. “But it wasn’t the best fit for me, so I started looking around—and then a colleague told me about Xebia, and how the atmosphere was so different from anywhere else,” he says. “So, I did an assessment there. And I got in.”

In his six years at Xebia, Ruben has worked on and completed projects for several Dutch household names, including Suit Supply, ING, Marktplaats, and The Sting. As a full-stack developer, he builds new applications for clients or executes architectural improvements.

Software development, in his view, is all about problem-solving, which his creative brain loves. “You could solve a single problem in a day, but sometimes you solve dozens of problems a day and then you feel really productive and as if you’ve really created something,” Ruben explains, when asked what he loves about working at Xebia. “And of course, once you’ve created something, it's not just you using it, it's not just your customer using it—if you do it right, it's millions of people using it.”

"Joining Xebia is an investment in yourself, because of the opportunity to grow so quickly, in different environments, by interacting with different customers regularly, and with constant access to the latest technology." (Ruben Oostinga)

Constant Learning at Xebia

Does that mean someone who joins Xebia can expect to start fixing things and improving people’s lives immediately? For Ruben, the answer is yes. “I remember joining an XKE and then seeing the people talk about these topics where I was actually learning. Whereas at my former employer I felt like I knew the things I was doing, but I was not learning as much.”

Learning and problem solving is something he wants to continue doing for the rest of his career. As a restless, artistic person, he feels Xebia offers opportunities to do just that, at a progressively greater scale. 

“Because you’ll be working on a range of different projects, you learn at an almost exponential rate—both from your colleagues and from experience. So, joining Xebia is an investment in yourself, because of the opportunity to grow so quickly, in different environments, by interacting with different customers regularly, and with constant access to the latest technology. You can basically apply what you’ve learned with one client in another role and you’re able to keep that pace going because of the support that Xebia provides in terms of regular innovation and learning days, Xebia events and trips, and activities such as archery and go-karting and clay pigeon shooting. And yeah, there was this one time all of us went to Ibiza…” 

Ibiza and other regular annual trips apart, Ruben has grown in his career. He has gone from Java to Angular to React and even cloud infrastructure. He has moved from being a back-end developer to front-end, while also sharing his knowledge with his colleagues and his clients through articles, presentations, and workshops. “Sometimes, it’s about getting out of your comfort zone—but when you do that, when you have the backing to explore—these new endeavors become second nature, and your comfort zone expands.” 

Ruben Oostinga @ Devoxx Belgium about Progressive Web Apps.

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