Clément Desableau, our software development engineer

15 May 2023 5 min read

Today, we're getting to know more about Clément, who joined us as an intern for CryptPad and stayed on as a full-time employee for the XWiki Client team. Passionate about programming, music, and open source, Clément became an essential member of our development team. In the following interview, you'll get to know him better and learn about his journey from intern to full-time employee at XWiki.

in 5 things
  • Favorite artist: Choosing only one favorite artist is not possible, so here is a top-notch selection from different genres I listen to: Jacob Collier, Louis Cole, Tigran Hamasyan, Teminite, Periphery, Igorrr.
  • Best book ever read: I don't really read. 😬 One book that I really find interesting though is "The Art of Being Right" by Schopenhauer.
  • Dream destination: Maybe some lost place in Canada, one day...
  • Quote you live by: Don't try to change the past, learn from it to try to change the future instead.
  • At the office or remote? Remote for comfort, office for the mood.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi, I'm Clément Desableau, I'm 24, and I'm working at XWiki as a member of the Client Team. I studied at the EISTI (now CYTech) IT engineering school, during which I also did two internships, and spent my last school year working half-time at XWiki.

If I had to describe myself succinctly, I'd say I have two main passions: programming (didn't see that one coming, heh? 👀 ) and music. I absolutely love programming, so being able to work and get paid for it is a great opportunity! I also program a lot in my free time, mostly web stuff that I never finish ( ♥ Javascript / Typescript, ♥ Vue). Nowadays though, watching videos/streams on the internet or playing games are taking up more and more of my free time. 😬

Regarding my musical side, I took cello lessons for 12 years, and I continue to play today, having the great opportunity to be part of the semi-professional orchestra of Orsay. I also started playing bass in the music club of my engineering school, and I still play today in a band with a friend. I also like to compose random stuff on FL Studio from time to time.

The first internship experience

How did you find out about XWiki and what made you choose it for an internship?

I discovered XWiki by chance at FOSDEM 2019. I was invited there for the weekend after winning a hackathon organized by my school with some friends. One of my friends recognized another student from our school at the XWiki booth, so we went to talk to him and the rest of the team. We discussed internships, as I was looking for one. Since we had a great initial contact, I didn't think twice and applied, and now here I still am to this day! 😃

What was your internship experience like?

For my first internship at XWiki, I worked on the Cryptpad project. I worked on many different things, mostly related to UI/UX. Initially, I was assigned bug fixes and small improvements to familiarize myself with the software. Later on, I was entrusted with larger issues and the implementation of significant features.

Towards the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to propose new features for the software, such as the ability to download a folder as a zip, or to modify a plain text file in the drive directly using the markdown editor. It was a great experience to work on these proposals and see them come to life!

What did you find to be the most interesting and challenging tasks?

Concerning the challenging part, I would say that getting to know the software itself was quite a task! Learning to work on a software that has hundreds or even thousands of files is not something you learn at school or experience with your personal side projects. When I joined the team, the codebase of Cryptpad was already extensive, beyond anything I had personally ever experienced! And, of course, working in a professional environment was also very new to me. Fortunately, Aaron and Yann were there to make me feel comfortable in the new environment.

Concerning the most interesting part, I'm not sure if I had a very strong preference for one task over another; I'd say that I enjoyed most of the tasks I was assigned on.

Since I worked a lot on improving the usability aspect of the software, there is this very satisfying feeling of seeing and experiencing your changes right away, having instant gratification for your work. This was even more satisfying toward the end of my internship when the ideas that I proposed ended up being incorporated into the product.

And what about integration into the environment? How easy, or difficult was it for you?

This internship was my very first professional experience, so there was obviously some kind of apprehension building up just before I started.

But from the very first day, the welcome was so warm and the people were so nice to me that I felt like I was part of the team for several months already! That genuinely surprised me; I wasn't expecting people to be that friendly and caring toward each other.

Coming to the office every day was also part of the internship experience. Eating lunch with the team every noon, or playing baby-foot during the pause helps to know people better, and build relationships that are not strictly related to work.


Clément is delighting our colleagues from the Paris office with his cello skills.


Open-source impressions

Was open source something you had an interest in prior to XWiki?

Yes! I already had a strong interest in open-source software, as they offer great alternatives for paid and proprietary software, which I'm often not very fond of because of their privacy policies. I also find that many open-source software are great solutions to discover and start learning new stuff you are interested in, without having to spend hundreds on expensive licenses. I had quite some fun testing modeling using Blender (even if I'm so bad at it!), editing photos using Gimp, or composing music using Musescore or LMMS!

What's the open-source value you identify with most?

One of the key advantages of open-source software, in my opinion, is the trust it offers. Since the source code is available to everyone, you can rest assured that the software does what it says (especially privacy-wise).

There are numerous proprietary software solutions that claim to be free but engage in spying, data collection, and resale. With open-source software, you can be certain that it is genuinely free to use. And even if an open-source software goes "bad" one day, you can still fork it and remove all the "junk".

Coming back for a second internship

What made you decide to come back for another internship?

I overall enjoyed a lot my first internship at XWiki. The people were really nice, the mood at the office was always good, and the shared values of the enterprise, such as openness, enthusiasm, and ethics, matched mine. Since I had no reason to seek a different opportunity for my second internship, I decided to stay!

How were things different, considering you were part of a different team?

Not only was I in a different team, but I was also fully remote this time. So, I had all the comfort of working from home, and I didn't have to do my daily 2-hour commute. However, I missed the atmosphere of the office quite a lot, with all the things that added to its charm: going to get lunch with the team at noon, randomly discussing things with people at the open space, and, of course, the famous baby-foot game pause at 16:00.

Something I feel a bit sad about for this internship is that even though I worked in a bigger team than the past year, I ended up talking much less with other people. Because I spent my whole internship working on the new LiveData component, I didn't have many opportunities to talk a lot with other people (except Marius, with whom I occasionally worked on the backend side of LiveData).

What has it been like to work as a junior web developer at XWiki?

It feels like there is so much to learn! Not only about the software or technical knowledge but especially about everything that surrounds it. For example, how to work efficiently as a team, how to communicate effectively, and what are the best work practices to respect.

Fortunately, people are always there to help you, sharing their experiences and what they learned, and they were also understanding when you make a mistake.

...and staying as a full-time XWikier

In the end, what was it that made you decide to stay as a full-time employee at XWiki?

The same thing as my second internship! 😃

Moreover, something that helped is that for my last year at school, I chose to do a professionalization contract, alternating one week at school and one week in an enterprise. Given my positive past experience, I obviously chose XWiki as the enterprise, and this naturally led to a full-time working contract upon the completion of my studies.

Did you feel like anything changed after this in the way you view or do things?

Not really. Actually, I was part of XWiki for a long time so I barely noticed any changes. 😅  Also, I continued doing the same work I was doing from my half-time work before, so the only difference for me was the contract type and the salary. 😁

Lessons learned

What would you say is the most valuable lesson you learned at XWiki, so far?

I learned a lot at XWiki, and I'm still growing a lot. However, I'm not sure if there is one lesson I would highlight more than others. For now, I'm just seeing myself as globally gaining experience. 😃

XWiki in one word

If you could describe XWiki in one word, what would it be?


Favorite memory at XWiki, so far?

Seminars are obviously memorable, but I also like the following one: Between my first two internships, I randomly popped into the office to say hello to the team, and it turned out that they were going to an escape game and they were short on a player! So they invited me to play with them. What good timing! 😄


Clément together with a part of the XWiki team at last year's seminar


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