Meet the team: Erik Plaggenmars

Erik, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Erik Plaggenmars and I work as an HydroNET software engineer. I am the lead developer of the HydroNET Server. I’m also part of the architecture team, which guides the software developments within the organisation.

Can you explain what the HydroNET Server does?
The HydroNET Server is the back-bone of HydroNET. All data used by our clients is stored at different locations and in many databases. To display the data in HydroNET, the data needs to be collected and processed. This is what the HydroNET Server does. The HydroNET Server applies smart data mining algorithms and performs data analytics to extract useful and relevant information for the end user.

How does a normal day at the office looks like for you?
Every morning, we start with the SCRUM Daily Stand Up Meeting with the team. We discuss the developments of yesterday and explain the activities for the coming day. If a colleague needs help, we can act fast and solve issues as soon as possible. After the DSUM, I start working on my activities for the day. This can be the development of new functionality, but as lead developer I also have regular meetings with our internal stakeholders, which are often the HydroNET account managers who know the user best. During those meetings, we discuss the use cases of new developments and the implications for the HydroNET Server. I also provide support for other colleagues, for example for design or code reviews.

Which of your tasks/responsibilities do you like the most?
This is a really difficult question, as I like most of my tasks and responsibilities. If I really have to choose, I will go for the design of the best approach for new functionality. A new functionality can be developed in many different ways, which all have their pros and cons. To oversee all important factors, like the client needs, the existing functionality and capacity, the consequences on the longer term, the development costs etc., you can define the best approach.

Which project do you like the most?
A few years ago, I implemented our ‘Data Web Service’ at the Inkomati Usuthu Catchment Management Agency in South Africa. The ‘Data Web Service’ translates the data from the DHI database into data that can be processed by the HydroNET Server. It was really special to work in another country and to learn about the IT processes of a South African organisation.

But, there is also another project that I’m really proud of, mainly because of the solution that we created. This is the project in which we developed the Eventdatabase for the German users. The goal was to populate the most extreme rainfall events out of 13 years of 5 minute rainfall data based on radar (so that are more than 1.3 million time steps per pixel and more than 50.000 pixels!). The event database provides tools for water professionals to learn from these events. For example a rainfall event that happened in 1 location can be moved to another region so that the consequences of this event can be analysed: “what would happen if this event would have happened here”. In this project, a smart algorithm is developed to identify the events. I was responsible for the implementation of this algorithm and once the first results came out, I was quite proud!

The development team is currently working on a new back-end of HydroNET and I really like this. All back-end functionalities are separated from each other and are developed as ‘microservices’. A microservice is an isolated process with its own responsibility. For example, the data service is responsible for the processing of the data, while the map service is focussing on the generation and performance of maps. All the different microservices needs to work together to be able to display the right information in the right format in HydroNET. Different colleagues work on different microservices, so the first time that all microservices were connected was quite exciting. And it was a relieve that it all worked at once! This was a great moment for myself, but also for the whole HydroNET team.