Learning Flask To Help With Dog Care: Interview With Chris Hopkinson

flask interview

Chris has been learning Flask to help with Dog Care. He felt Flask would help him in his business activities! Let’s have a chat with him!

Welcome Chris Hopkinson,

Can you present yourself, your business?

While I have a background in computing, programming, and web development, I have been away from the scene for almost ten years. In that time, I pursued a business degree and started a successful dog daycare company alongside my brother. COVID has affected us a great deal, but pre-COVID, we had around 60 active customers who used our service at least once per week.

The current COVID situation led me to rethink my future, and I’m now refocussing on computing. I will take my passion for coaching and channel it into teaching computer science at UK High Schools this September.

In the UK, computer science is taught in all secondary schools (ages 11-16) and the programming language of choice tends to be Python. My transition to Python began at the start of January, and I have loved learning and developing small projects over these past few months.

However, I quickly realised I needed a new project to sink my teeth in to – so that I could learn, apply those skills, and level up.

For this project, I chose something that I knew a lot about – something that I knew, from experience, would be of use. I learn best by working through projects and solving problems as I come across them. Flask seemed like a great framework to suit my style, as I was able to start putting together ideas and sections of the project quickly and without spending much time setting things up.

Why did you learn Flask, how was the experience?

As touched upon above, I learned Flask to improve my Python skills in practical applications of the language. There’s a wealth of documentation, Stack Overflow questions, and YouTube videos to lean on for my development. I also joined a small group of people learning Flask on Discord – which led to more inspiration, motivation and lots of great conversations.

Tell us a bit about your ongoing Flask project for your business. What challenges did you face?

For the past four years, my business has been using Google Sheets/Excel for diary and customer management – which worked okay for the most part. But there was user error to contend with, and customers communicating with us day and night – which takes up a lot of time. In the beginning, when we had fewer customers, it wasn’t such an issue. But as our customer base grew and more enquiries came in, it became time-consuming and created a lot of stress for my brother and me.

There are existing software or web app options available for businesses in our category. Though, any customer management or booking system I’ve looked at in the past has either been too difficult to use or just not right for the way our business works with unnecessary features and complicated dashboards.

My project solves these problems by delivering:

  • A web-based platform that customers access directly; managing their bookings and reducing workload for staff/business owners.
  • Simple views for both customers and staff/owners that are easy to use.
  • A solution that is tailored to small businesses that don’t need complicated dashboards.

I’ve made something for us from scratch, and I’m really happy with how it’s turning out – it’ll save the business both time and money going forward, and streamline operations as the business scales.

What advice do you have for beginners?

For anybody setting out to learn a new skill, identify the learning method that suits you best. Whether that is reading, listening, watching others, or diving in and trying things out for yourself. There’s loads of support out there: tutors and courses, discussion groups, documentation, YouTube, Reddit, Discord, Stack Overflow. Explore and find what gets you through.

Thank you very much. You can check Chris on Twitter