Konstantinos Galanakis

February 21, 2018

Evangelia and me hanging around on her previous birthday, just a couple of months before Katerina was born.
Evangelia and me hanging around on her previous birthday, just a couple of months before Katerina was born.

Konstantinos Galanakis is leading an important and crucial Toolset effort with Views compatibility – a huge task involving learning new technologies. What are the secrets of his accomplishments? He is a good team player, energetic and enthusiastic about his work and manages himself with little supervision. Let’s meet Kostas…

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. Heraklion, its capital, and an important shipping port is also famous for Knossos, a huge Bronze Age palace, the mythical Minotaur, Arab corsairs (Barbary pirates), being the birthplace of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba the Greek).

Heraklion is also the hometown of OTGSian Kostas Galanakis.

Kostas, what is it like living in Crete?

The people in Crete are genuinely friendly, they are kind and hospitable. I’m sure this is why the crime rate in Crete is very low. It’s a good place to live and work and raise a family. My parents and also my brother with his family also live in Heraklion. I met my wife, Evangelia, here in Heraklion through a mutual friend. It turned out that my mother and her father were actually working together, but somehow we never met through this connection. We have a ten month old baby, Katerina, and I devote most of my free time to my wife and daughter. After Katerina has had her nightly bath and is settled for the night, I like to go for a run, as I’m usually training for marathon running or play tennis with my friends at the nearby tennis club.

You’ve been working with OTGS for about a year and a half now.  What were you doing before that?

I was working as a research and development engineer for a laboratory focused on Human-Computer interaction for the Foundation for Research and Technology, located in Heraklion. During this period in my working career, I was also developing WordPress sites for small companies as a freelancer. While I was trying to find a Multilingual solution for WordPress, I came across OTGS for the first time. I bought a lifetime subscription of WPML which I am still using :-).

Then, one of my close friends joined OTGS. Up until then, we had been working together but after he joined OTGS, I knew I had to do something to work with him again!  I felt the time was right for a new challenge in my life (as if becoming a father wasn’t enough!) so I took the plunge and applied for a developer position. The rest is history.

OTGS has many developers working on different projects.  What is your role here?

I’m working for the lesser known sibling of WPML, Toolset. Toolset is a suite of tools that allows users to create beautiful and functional sites using custom post types and custom fields without writing PHP code. The Toolset Suite consists of several independent tools, and I’m handling the maintenance and development of one of them, Views. I’m implementing new features as well as fixing bugs and helping supporters with questions coming from clients. My work also necessitates digging through a lot of third-party code in order to deal with and solve compatibility issues.

What would you recommend to someone interested in this kind of work?

In order to do this job, one needs a strong knowledge of PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, jQuery and also a good understanding of how WordPress works.

Then, the only thing I would add is to have a will strong enough to keep on persevering until the root cause of any problem is found and dealt with.  Most of the times the solutions are easy and straightforward but things can become tricky from time to time.

Which teams or employees do you work closely with?

Katerina swimming by herself for the first time!
Katerina swimming by herself for the first time!

Normally, most of the time developers work with other developers, but since I’m the only one working on Views, I mostly join forces with the others when I need them to review my code. I do, however, work considerably with our testers and I’m lucky enough to have that old friend of mine on my team, whom I know now for almost 20 years, so we understand each other easily without having to give too many explanations.

Working online has its own unique challenges. How do you cope with communicating with team members from different time zones?

It’s very easy for me to work with people from different time zones. I’ve worked on several projects in the past with friends or colleagues living abroad so I was already comfortable with this before I joined OTGS. The only thing we need is to have a few overlapping working hours. During those hours we discuss any open issues, and clear away all the gray spots so that everyone can carry on working by themselves. For smaller concerns which can be resolved quickly, we prefer to communicate through Mattermost during the overlapping working hours. If I need to contact a colleague outside his working hours, I can leave a message on Mattermost for him to see when he gets back online but at such times, I usually prefer email. We don’t use Skype so much anymore. When we need to have a video chat, or some screen sharing session, we are doing it through Google Hangouts.

What if there’s a power cut at a crucial time?

If there is a power cut and we are having an important meeting at that time, we usually switch to an external power source and a 3G internet service. Fortunately, where I live, we don’t often experience power cuts or internet service outages, so I’m covered with a UPS that keeps my machine up and running for about 30 – 40 minutes. If the power cut lasts longer, I always make sure to compensate the lost time the very same day, after the power is restored.

How do you plan your day?

On a typical day I wake up at 7:05. I have breakfast and read my personal emails and the daily news. I start my work at 8:30 by clearing my inbox and planning my day. If I don’t have any issues still open from the previous day, I browse through the tasks that are assigned to me in my YouTrack dashboard. I usually start with the most important one or with the one that requires the least amount of work. At 11:00 I join the Views daily meeting where all the members of the team can discuss what’s on their plate for the day. After the meeting, I carry on working with as many tasks as I can until the end of my workday.

Some OTGSians are actively involved with WordCamps, WP meetups or similar activities. How about you?

The three of us at a nearby playground, which we visit a lot.
The three of us at a nearby playground, which we visit a lot.

I would really like to have the time to be involved with WordCamps and meetups, but for the time being, because my daughter is still so young, I feel my first priority is to spend time with her. I do my best, though, to attend the local WP meetup which takes place once a month here in Heraklion. I also attended WordCamp Athens last December, which was awesome and I’m also planning to attend WordCamp Europe 2018, in Belgrade, this June.

Have you thought about your future goals?

What shall I say?  I hope I can be part of OTGS for many more years. I hope that I will keep grappling with challenges that will make my work more and more interesting! More than anything, I hope that my family and I remain healthy to face the future together.