Community Blog When Passion Meets Technology | Interview

When Passion Meets Technology | Interview

Causen Indra was a third prize winner at Alibaba Cloud’s Re-Cloud Challenges 2022, a low-code development competition that encouraged participants to .


Causen Indra, 29, is defined by his passions. The computer science graduate from Batam, Indonesia, was a third prize winner at Alibaba Cloud’s Re-Cloud Challenges 2022, a low-code development competition that encouraged participants to use low-code development tools to build creative projects.

The competition provided Causen with an outlet for two of his deepest passions — programming and the island of Bali. Not surprisingly, therefore, Causen performed well in the competition, against more than 900 other contestants.

Re-Cloud Challenges 2022, part of Alibaba Cloud’s Project AsiaForward, was a virtual low-code development competition for participants in Indonesia and Malaysia, co-hosted by Alibaba Cloud, Tianchi and CodePolitan. The 45-day competition, which started in January 2022, encouraged participants to build innovative websites and web solutions, using Alibaba Cloud’s low-code development tools, including ALICMS, Image Search and Intelligent Speech, to solve real-world problems, and complete other tasks including attending online sessions and sharing their projects on social media.

Ravages of a pandemic

Causen was late to the competition. He heard about it from one his online tutors in early February 2022, with just about a month to go before the projects were to be evaluated. In that short time span, he was able to conceptualize, create all the content and finish his project, a website called “Re-Visit Bali”. The aim of Re-Visit Bali is to reinvigorate awareness of the island’s many appeals, after the COVID-19 pandemic desolated its tourism industry.

“Almost all businesses in Bali depend on the tourism industry,” Causen says. “So, when COVID-19 came, hotels, spas, and many other businesses had to close. Many of my friends in Bali became jobless. So, I wanted to revive interest in Bali and its many attractions.”

Causen himself lost his job when the pandemic hit. A computer science graduate from Bina Nusantara University in Jakarta, Causen was familiar with programming. His first job after graduating was at Bali’s tourism office, where he was tasked to build a tour management system for the administration of tour groups’ accommodations and schedules. However, two months after he completed the system, COVID-19 and the ensuant lockdowns happened.

Causen subsequently went to work for his uncle in Surabaya City, and later joined his family’s thriving building materials business at Batam, as a sales manager. Although his current job does not require his programming skills, the programmer in him is still alive, eager to improve the operations of his family business. He says: “We still do everything manually because we don’t have a point-of-sale system. And we can see the number of customers increasing daily. I don’t know how much longer we can go on doing things traditionally, because it’s really tiring for us. So I am creating a management system to handle our customers and I am doing this after work because that is the only time I am free.”

An island not forgotten

It has been almost three years since he left Bali, but Causen still reminisces about it often: “Everyday in Bali is like living in a paradise. And I never feel bored, even though the main industry of Bali is not programming work. While I had a lot of work at the tourism office, whenever I felt stressed, I can always go to the beaches. There are many fun things to do at Bali, many beautiful places not yet discovered. And almost every week, if I have leisure time, I will explore Bali.”

Causen created the “Re-Visit Bali” website in just two weeks, something that he feels would not have been possible if he had to build it from scratch. He explains: “If I had not used ALICMS, it would have taken me about three months, using methods like PHP to do all the templating. The imaging component would also have been a lot more complicated, with algorithms and all that.”

However, as somebody who studied programming, Causen’s mindset had to change when developing the website as ALICMS did not require what he considers to be “technical knowledge.” He says: “Previously, for someone who didn’t know programming at all, it is very complex to do all the adjusting for different screen sizes, because there’s a lot of coding involved. However, ALICMS takes all this complexity away and makes you focus on the content itself and not on the programming work. I almost didn’t have to do any kind of coding work, it was all ‘drag and drop.’ So, I was able to focus a lot on the content.”

Fully original work

Causen adds that all the content on the website was developed by him. “Every story in this website is from my personal experiences at Bali. These are not stories that I copy-pasted from other websites. And I am trying to show Bali for all it is. The first thing that comes to people’s minds when you mention Bali is the beaches, but Bali is much more than that.”

“Re-Visit Bali” is organised according to the major parts of Bali — Denpasar the capital city; Ubud, known for its traditional crafts and temples and shrines; Nusa Dusa, a confluence of luxury hotels, resorts, and beaches; the seaside town of Jimbaran; and others. The website also features profiles of restaurants, options on accommodations, activities that tourists can undertake, and other useful information. “All the restaurant reviews are done by me also because I have tasted the food,” he adds.

Given how easy it is now to set up a website with low-code programming, does it mean that programmers and/or developers will no longer be needed? Causen does not think so. He explains: “Programming is about teaching you how to solve a problem. I think that’s the important principle that we pick up as programmers. It’s not so much about what programming language, framework, database, or technology we use. At the end of the day, programming is about how to make business and life better, and hence, how to make this world a better place.”

Benefits of low code programming

Causen feels that low-code programming will accelerate go-to-market for new businesses significantly: “If you have a million-dollar idea, and want to introduce it quickly, one of the benefits of low-code is that the speed and ease of development is greatly enhanced. And even if you need to build something that is fully customized, in low code it is much faster. So, there will always be a need for full stack developers who can build everything from the back end to the front end, except they are now more efficient.”

In fact, Causen believes in the importance of instilling programming know-how as early as possible. “I was 18 years old when I first learnt programming. If I had learnt it earlier, I think I will be a much better person today. I believe that technology is key to improving the future.”

And in line with this belief, Causen intends to run programming classes for children one day. And what will he teach?

“A block program or low-code program like ALICMS, where things are as easy as ‘drag and drop’,” he replies, “where it’s as easy as pressing a button, and everything works, but where they also understand the process behind it.”

“It is really important for young people to learn to think programmatically,” he adds.

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