This post is part of a series featuring our Developer Experts—community members who represent the best of our products. Feel free to read about our other featured experts and meet more DEs.
Nick and Mike Branstein, collectively known as the Brosteins, have been strong champions of NativeScript and Progress Kendo UI. We recently got a chance to sit down with the brothers and discuss dealing with poor third-party documentation, staying technically engaged, building amazing side projects for bots and farms, and being two brothers in business together.
What are your backgrounds, professionally?
Mike: I've worked in the technology industry (primarily for small businesses), starting as a network/server admin. While on that first job, I bootstrapped my development career by working on a ridiculously massive Access 95 database that produced 100+ page reports. Fun.
Today, I speak, consult, and mentor other teams on application lifecycle management, agile processes, software deployment automation, cloud app architecture and Microsoft Team Foundation Server. I also love mobile app development. Specifically, NativeScript. It's addictive.
Nick: I've been a developer for over 10 years now working mainly on the .NET stack, where I focus on delivering full scale enterprise solutions for my clients.
Where are you based and why?
Mike: I'm based out of Louisville, Kentucky, but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. My wife Abby and I met in college at Xavier University as fellow Computer Science majors. Abby was born in Louisville, so we moved close to her family. A few years after we moved to Louisville, I started building an amazing team of developers, and knew I needed Nick to join us. After the last 10 years of living in Louisville, I've come to love the lack of snow, the abundance of bourbon and a slower, more relaxed culture.
Nick: Louisville, Kentucky. I moved here five years ago to pursue a new job and continue working with my Brostein brother Mike.
With whom are you working?
Mike and Nick: We both work for KiZAN Technologies, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. We provide consulting services focused on Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions to complex business problems.
What projects are you working on now?
Mike: During the day, I'm working with customers to help them be more agile and focusing on process changes for their product owners, business analysts and developers using Microsoft TFS. At night, I'm moonlighting as an author with Nick—we are in the process of writing “NativeScript in Action,” a book that teaches you how to write professional mobile apps with NativeScript. We're excited about the book's upcoming release because it focuses on both plain NativeScript and writing NativeScript apps with Angular! As soon as the book is finished, my next side project is developing cellular-based IoT weather monitoring hardware and a companion NativeScript app to monitor my wife's family farm.
Nick: My current project involves leading a team of developers to build a web application for a large substitute teacher staffing company. The current application provides portals for substitutes, schools and administrators and interfaces with numerous other third-party applications.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve done recently?
Mike: This may sound crazy, but I love automating deployments. The most interesting/crazy project I've done in the past year was developing a NativeScript tweet bot. When you tweeted @MikeBranstein with the hashtag #MakeMeAnApp, an automated system built a custom NativeScript app, then tweeted back a screenshot of the app running in an iOS simulator. If that piqued your interest, check it out.
Nick: The most interesting project is building an asynchronous job processing system using Hangfire, which has processed 4-5 million jobs over the past year.
Which of our products do you use and why?
Mike: I use NativeScript, DevCraft, Kendo UI and Telerik Platform.
Nick: I use Kendo UI daily (ASP.NET MVC). Kendo UI is my favorite UI toolset for quickly creating functional UIs in various web applications. I also use NativeScript for my mobile projects because it provides the quickest and easiest way for me to create a cross-platform app.
What are some challenges you are encountering now in your work?
Mike: The most challenging part of my day job is finding the time to stay technically engaged while leading our business intelligence and application development teams. But it's not all me, because we've built an amazing team that makes it easier.
Nick: One of the largest challenges is managing client expectations daily. The largest technical challenge is integrating with third-party systems with poor documentation.
From your experience, what’s the biggest software pain point in the mind of your partners/clients?
Mike: My customer's biggest pain point is effectively managing and maintaining legacy software and planning for how to bring their legacy systems to the cloud. Making changes to legacy software systems is extremely risky, and not every business has the time, money, appetite and experience to do this.
Nick: This is tough but I think one of the biggest pain points is the maintenance of old systems and how to transition these into new systems.
Finally, what's it like working with your brother?
Nick and Mike: We have worked together for over 10 years now. Being brothers, working together can provide an interesting dynamic at times but we always strive to put the company and our clients first; the proof being that we've worked to implement projects together over the past 10 years. Our successes at work have come because, although we are both similar, anyone that has met us will tell you we are very different. Our differences sometimes get the best of us. Aside from the "hammer incident," however, we've been a successful team because we have complementary strengths; for example: Nick took a stab at writing this and Mike made it better.
The Brosteins recently released their book, "NativeScript In Action," with Manning. For more insight into the book, check out the recent interview that Developer Advocate TJ VanToll conducted with them.