How to keep possession in the frontend game
Julia Mihet is one of SciSports’ software engineers working at the Amersfoort office. Although she has a degree in finance & economics, she decided to switch to programming. She moved to the Netherlands together with her partner last year and was recruited by SciSports to start working on the frontend of SciSports’ leading player recruitment platform. In this post you will get a better understanding of what it is like to work as a software engineer for one of the fastest rising sports analytics companies in the world.
The ultimate player recruitment platform
As a frontend developer at SciSports, Julia is responsible for the looks and functionalities of SciSports’ platform. The platform, one of the company’s main products, is also known as ‘The Google of football players’. SciSports’ platform is an online platform that provides direct access to 90,000 active football players around the world. A platform full of search and filter tools in combination with data-enriched player profiles to support football experts in their scouting journey.
The frontend flow
One of the components you work on as a frontend developer is building charts for the football player profiles. This means that the UX/UI designer delivers a prototype of how the chart should look like. Then it’s up to the developers to implement it in the frontend. One of the most recent charts is the footprint for the Player Roles model. The model contains a set of 22 different Player Roles that commonly occur in modern football. The chart shows you which of the 22 Player Roles, are most related to a specific player. Java Script and a library called ‘Vega’ play a big part in the creation of these awesome charts.
“I like the fact that the system we are working on is very complex, and not just a simple website,” Julia explains. “The user makes a lot of actions when he/she enters the platform, this makes the code more complex. It’s never boring because new challenges come across every day. The constant flow of new ideas and concepts and the fast rising number of users are two of the key drivers for this.”
The software team starts the day with a meeting where everyone is present, the so-called standup meeting. During these standups you inform each other about the task(s) you have been working on the day before and what you are going to do the rest of the day. If there are any obstacles for the team, they are discussed and addressed. After the meeting, everybody starts working on their own tasks again.
When the team gets the instruction to build a new feature in SciSports’ platform, they are in charge of finding the best suitable solution based on given customer’s requirements to the feature. The solution usually consists of designs and a technical plan, which is eventually broken down into smaller tasks. The smaller tasks can be picked up by any team member.
It’s important to make new features easy-to-use and understandable for the end consumer. With raw data, an average person can’t do anything. The information needs to be understandable. That’s why there are demo’s every two weeks where the entire company is invited to gather important feedback. Based on these sessions, features will be refined and improved. Eventually the new feature is ready to be released to the customers.
So what’s next?
The team is currently working on the next ground-breaking model: the Contribution Ratings. The frontend format we use for this one is the scatter plot chart. Internally they call it a ‘shotgun chart’ because it looks like someone shoots a lot of bullets into the visualisation. The Contribution Ratings feature shows you how well the player performs in various actions. You can explore if a player is a good finisher, passer or dribbler. The plot shows individual players in the context of other players on the same position in the same league. In this way you will see if a player is performing better, equal or worse, on a certain type of actions, in a glimpse.
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