Meet Jannis, Developer at Gidsy!

Today we’re happy to introduce you to Jannis Leidel, one of our back-end developers and resident Trekkie here at Gidsy. Keep reading to learn more about Jannis, his love for coffee and all things Django…

photo: Uninen on Flickr |

Tell us a bit about your background, and how you ended up developing at Gidsy!

I grew up and went to school in Gera, which is a small town in Thüringen. In high school I did my first computer science projects, starting in the Turbo Pascal language and I finished my comp. sci. studies with a PHP based project. At the time, I was more interested in languages and arts and also media, so I went to study in Weimar at Bauhaus University. In 1997 they started the new faculty of Media (in the height of the .com times), which was a novel way of trying to educate people to use different media methods and backgrounds to become art directors, system architects and media scientists. At the time I used computers as more of a tool for art projects, so I did a lot of media installations and interactive pieces. 

Eventually I came to the realization that you have to be really good at art to actually make a living with it, so I started to get into web development instead and did a few projects and internships in the industry. One of the last projects I did in university used Python, so I switched from PHP, and also started to use a very early-stage of Django. It really fit my brain, and from that point on I became a lot more involved. I took part in the Google Summer of Code in 2007, and eventually became so involved with Django that I joined the core team in 2009. After that I started to freelance with my little company called, named after the composer Ennio Morricone, helping start-ups with their prototypes and doing web development in Django and Python. 

…the good news is that the first time I feel like the product actually fits my interests as well.

That’s also how I started at Gidsy – as a freelancer - but now I’m here full time, and the good news is that the first time I feel like the product actually fits my interests as well. I really like it here!

Tell us about your role at Gidsy. 
My role here is backend developer and open source advocate, which means that I help build the parts that drive Gidsy that are not necessarily seen by the users. Server operations, database handling, all kinds of different things that are required for such a modern web application. As open source advocate, I’m very enthusiastic about open source software – not only helping Gidsy use third-party apps, but also that the software we write for Gidsy is contributed back to the open source community.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Gidsy?
It’s definitely the team! I’m really enjoying working with everyone, and having such a variety, different backgrounds and perspectives is the best part. I’m pretty happy about that.

How old were you when you started programming?
It must have been in the 9th grade – I was about 14. The first thing I built was accounting software for school – it probably could have been a lot more creative, but this was a long time ago. The first thing I built for myself was a small website that you could view on your 90s WAP phone that would do a reverse phone book search. Legally it was a bit iffy at the time, but it was a nice project to learn many different types of technologies.

I like…any coffee that is simple to make and simple to drink. It’s a source of life, for sure.

What’s your favourite Gidsy event you’ve attended so far?
Well, I had a really great time at the Gidsy party! 

You really like coffee, right? Where’s your favourite place to get a coffee in Berlin?
I do, indeed! Being a programmer, it means that I’m used to drink a lot of not-fancy coffee. French press and simple espresso, things like that. I really like Görlitzer Bahnhof cafe, Voo and Cafe CK in Prenzlauer Berg. Any coffee that is simple to make and simple to drink. I only drink lattes in places that I know the coffee isn’t that great. It’s a source of life, for sure. 

Besides developing, do you have any hobbies that you do in your spare time? 
I’m a huge movie buff, I love going to movies. I enjoy the blockbusters – I’m a huge Science Fiction fan – but I also really love the old, classic movies. I also like biking, walking, reading, all the general things. 

What’s something you’d love to see up on Gidsy?
I’d love to see an activity with unusual sports, like ultimate frisbee or badminton. More movie activities would also be great – a Naked Gun marathon!

What are you reading right now? 
I’m reading my 15th Star Trek book, called Titan 3: Orion’s Hounds! It doesn’t take a lot of brainpower, but it’s really fun.