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Coffee break with database expert, Nikola Živković

Aug 26, 2019 - 6 min read
Educative
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At Educative, we get to chat with developers from all over the world, get to know their story, who they are, and what inspired them to become developers and teach those around them.

Today, we sat down with Nikola Živković and got to learn more about his career and the exciting world of MongoDB and database management.

Here’s what we talked about:


Get insider advice on the latest MongoDB skills

Learn from Nikola’s 10 years of experience as he covers top concepts and projects.

The Definitive Guide to MongoDB


Introducing Nikola Živković

Nikola Živković is a software developer with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He’s earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Novi Sad back in 2011, but by then he was already working for several companies.

At the moment he’s part of the Vega IT Sourcing team from Novi Sad. During the time span in the industry, he worked on large enterprise systems as well as on small web projects.

In the past couple of years he has been specializing in Data Science (Machine Learning and Deep Learning to be precise) and his goal is to unite this knowledge together with some best traditional programming practices.

Apart from that, he has experience in knowledge sharing, talking at meetups and conferences, and as a guest lecturer at the University of Novi Sad.

More about his interests and work can be found on his blog.


What are you working on these days? What technologies do you use/prefer?

Well, that is a difficult question. I am keeping myself quite busy this year.

At the moment, I am the Team Lead at Vega IT Sourcing, and I’m also running the blog and AI consulting company Rubik’s Code.

Apart from that, I am a part of the team behind the traveling conference, Geekstone Heroes Talks, and I am finishing up my book. So yeah, quite busy.

Regarding the technologies, it depends on what I am working on. When I am working on some AI-related projects I generally use Python/TensorFlow combo.

However, I do a great deal of web/software development, so I use .NET technologies and a lot of JavaScript as well. As far as the DBMS, I use both SQL and NoSQL databases extensively.


How did you get your start in studying and teaching software development?

Well, when I was a kid, my dad didn’t like me wasting my time, so he encouraged me to work at his friend’s computer repair shop. That is how my love for computers was born.

Later on, I did some small software development gigs in high school and then got into the Computer Science program at the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad.

Teaching is a very empowering thing. The whole concept is pushing you to be, not just a better engineer, but a better human being as well.

I had the chance to work with some really amazing and smart people, and had the chance to learn a great deal from them. It would be incredibly selfish if I kept that whole experience just for myself.

Ultimately, sharing and helping other people is pushing us to become the best versions of ourselves.


What’s the relationship between software development and data science?

While the two seem to be quite different, they have a lot of mutual points. People from the data science world will tell you that you need a completely different skill set from software development. While this is true to a certain extent, it is not completely true.

Data scientists have to write the code at the end of the day as well, so knowing good software development practices is necessary.

Also, all those findings and models will be used in the same application, so data scientists and software developers need to work together.

That is exactly what we at Rubik’s Code are trying to do, to put both of those fields “under one roof”.


What excites you about MongoDB and why is it so popular?

Well, NoSQL databases took the world by storm, like a decade ago. Their capabilities to store unstructured data gave them an advantage in certain situations over SQL databases, like the ability to handle large amounts of data and create relationships from it.

As usual, salespeople presented this as a silver bullet and solution to all your problems. This is not the case, of course, but it was an intriguing and interesting new approach. So, I got interested and learned how to work with this type of databases and when to use them.

MongoDB was one of the first, if not the first, NoSQL databases I tried out. It was easy to understand and to use. It helped that everything was represented as a JSON file. I think that is the source of its popularity as well. JS community really liked JS-styled database.

Apart from that, technology stacks like MEAN and MERN busted MongoDB’s popularity for sure.


Where do you see the future of database management going?

Well, this is a tough one. To be honest, I have no idea. We have more data than ever before, and the biggest problem/challenge is making sense of it all.

Some predictions show that we’ll have 193 zettabytes of data by 2025!

Also, data is more constrained today by regulations like GDPR. I am sure some solutions based on these things will emerge, but I am not really sure what and how it will look like.


What advice would you give people just getting into programming?

Start small and build it up step by step. Learn good principles and stay focused on one language and technology stack.

Once you are able to follow the majority of good principles, see what is marketable and transfer that knowledge to it.

That is how it has always been - Learn the oldest principles and the newest skills. That is a key to success.


Wrapping up

If you’d like to explore the world of NoSQL and MongoDB, Nikola has brought his years of experience and love for teaching to Educative with his course, The Definitive Guide to MongoDB.

This course will teach you to use MongoDB to its fullest with advanced techniques and insider tips. By the end, you’ll have hands-on experience with multiple database projects that prepare you for a career as database administrator.


Continue reading about MongoDB


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