Jelmer Visser, lead developer at weflycheap, will tells us about his career and especially the reason why he has chosen Strapi to work with.
What was your educational background, and what are you doing for a living?
After high school, I started to study IT management in 2010. During that education, we learned how to set up servers and configure them, how to set up big networks, and how to configure routers and switches. Another thing that we focused on was programming. When I graduated from this education, I was eager to get a college degree and started at a computer science education in 2014 focused on software engineering. In 2018 I graduated and started working at weflycheap.
I work at weflycheap as a lead developer. We are a young team of five passionate developers that work on our own internal projects in the travel industry, such as: weflycheap.nl, vakantiebesparen., and travelstamps.nl. Both weflycheap.nl and travelstamps.nl are powered by a Strapi backend and are our first projects where we did use Strapi as the backend.
Because we are active in the travel industry, Coronavirus has a big impact on our revenue, which dropped to almost zero overnight. We anticipated that by starting blueflamingos.nl. Blue Flamingos is a (web) development/marketing company that is focusing on development and marketing for medium / big companies. We already did some great projects for awesome clients and just released the first version of our corporate website that was built with Strapi and NextJS in just one week!
When did you start using Strapi and Why?
We started using Strapi when we were looking for a new CMS to replace our WordPress CMS we were using for weflycheap.nl at that time. WordPress installation we were using had a lot of custom techniques that were slowing the website down. It was running on a very expensive server with a lot of RAM and caching structures to make it run smoothly.
We decided that we needed new infrastructure for the website focused on new techniques and started thinking about the requirements for these projects. The requirements for the CMS were:
The CMS had to be headless
The CMS is self-hosted
The CMS is open-source and highly customizable
That’s how we found out about Strapi. But at that time it was still in alpha and we were questioning if it was stable enough to use it in a production environment. However, we were in luck: not long after finding out about Strapi, the beta was launched and we found it stable enough to start working with it.
What is the thing you built with Strapi that you are most proud of?
That is without a doubt the weflycheap.nl website. It’s the first project in which we used Strapi and also the hardest project with a lot of customized controller actions, GraphQL schema, integrations, and custom build plugins. Every day we renew the prices of around 1500 holidays and deals automatically. In total, we process between 250.000 and 500.000 different prices (it depends on what is available at that time).
A very special feature that we built, in the beginning, was a sync functionality in Strapi that mirrored the content to WordPress. We built the same in WordPress to mirror the content edited in WordPress back to Strapi. By doing that, we prepared the new data structure for the new frontend. Another advantage was that our marketing team could already work with Strapi, which had a lot more structure and speed than our WordPress installation (which contained a lot of old fields that were not used anymore and made it very hard to work with). This immediately resulted in faster content management and more deals and holidays on the website.
You directly contributed to Strapi, why is it important for you to contribute to an open-source project?
I think it is important that if you use open source software that, if you find a bug or desperately needs something that is not in that piece of software at that moment, you try to fix it yourself first. By doing that, the developers of Strapi can focus on building new features that hopefully will result in more new features or a more stable codebase in a shorter time. You also learn a lot about how Strapi is built and how to write quality code. In addition, your pull request is checked by great developers that will review it and give valuable feedback!
What will the future look like for you and will Strapi be part of it?
In the near future, we will hopefully build a lot of websites for awesome clients and possibly use Strapi as the backend. Because we started Blue Flamingos, and due to the corona crisis, I am seconded at another company right now for a couple of weeks. After that, I hope to contribute again to this great project and help others with issues they may have.