A Java EE Startup: 200 Schools on safsms.com

An interview with Faiz Bashir (@faizbash), Java EE entrepreneur and almost an airhacker.

Faiz, could you please introduce yourself? How did you started with Java / Java EE?

As FlexiSAF’s CEO, I am responsible for FlexiSAF’s day-to-day-operations, as well as leading the company’s product development and technology strategy. I co-founded FlexiSAF and has been the CEO since 2009 when the company began its full operations. I am ambitious and enthusiastic in improving the quality of education using technology.

I started learning Java in 2000 using Java How to Program by Deitel & Deitel which was given to me by my Uncle, Eng. Aziz. Since then I never looked back again. It was in 2008 that I started paying attention to Java EE. All my projects are now Java based. I am Sun Certified Professional with the following certifications: Sun Certified Business Component Developer, Sun Certified Developer for Java Web services, Sun Certified Web Component Developer and Sun Certified Java Programmer.

How Java is doing in Nigeria? Are there any meetups, JUGs etc.?

Based on my interaction with developers in Nigeria, I think people shy away from Java. They feel the learning curve is very steep. However, I think big enterprises use Java EE but I am not sure of the market share between Java EE and .Net. With technologies like Android however, Java is gaining more popularity. There is JUG in Abuja since 2011 which is being headed by my Friend Bulama Yusuf. However there hasn't been a meetup for sometime now. There are JUGs in 2 other cities in Nigeria (Lagos and Port Harcourt). Bulama informed me that they have been communicating with Oracle Nigeria to organise a nationwide conference but that has been slow.

Could you please briefly introduce your application?

We have a number of applications for schools, but the most popular one is SAF School Management Software (SAFSMS). It is a web-based application for managing school's processes and students' records. Currently over 200 schools are using SAFSMS. It is completely based on Java EE on the server side and Google Web Toolkit on the client side. We are now working on a cloud version for SAFSMS which is going to be Software as a Service (Saas)

Many are thinking, Java EE is not appropriate for startups. What is your opinion about that?

I think it is a very wrong opinion because I have seen startups that use other technologies and eventually find it difficult to scale and have to migrate to Java EE. Java EE is really straight forward and takes care of the so many complexities ordinarily you have to worry about.

Which Java EE / SE versions are you currently using?

We use Java EE 7 for our current projects. We still use Java SE 7 but will soon migrate to 8.

Is there anything to simplify in you code base (legacy interfaces, superfluous patterns etc.)?

I think there's nothing really to simplify because all our code base is post J2EE1.4. We keep everything simple.

What tools, servers, IDEs, operating systems are you using?

Most of us are Linux guys, we use Ubuntu. But a few of our designers use Windows. We were using Mercurial for SCM but recently migrated to GIT. I think I prefer GIT's branching model to Mercurial's. We now use Gradle for our build tool. Netbeans is our preferred IDE. GWT is our preferred UI tool and we also recently adopted GWTP as the framework for our GWT. We have also adopted Arquillian for our unit tests and use Arquillian Drone for integration tests. We use Docker to encapsulate the full stack that our applications need to make them portable. We haven't really done full CI but are considering Jenkins for that now. Amazon EC2 is our preferred cloud computing platform.All our applications are deployed on Glassfish, however we are thinking of following Arun Gupta (to Wildfly).

Any lessons learned?

I think the most important lesson I learned is to always use tools and automate whatever needs to be automated. It will greatly cut down the cost of running your business and obviously increase revenue.

If you had the chance to start-over. Would you choose Java EE again?

I will choose Java EE always without any hesitation

Where can readers find more about your system. Do you have any links, resources to share?


Faiz, thank you for the interview!


Faiz, thanks for the recognition. This reinforces the Chinese proverb: "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". The 21st century fish is of course JAVA! Continue to pass the message: “Get into Java and you won’t go wrong.” That is the best advice you could offer any young man you come across. Tell them, “If you learn to program in Java, you’ll never be without a job!” Best regards, Aliyu A. Aziz

Posted by Aliyu A. Aziz on March 16, 2015 at 02:13 PM CET #

As one of the leading designers of FlexiSAF's products, I'm more than excited to have us featured on Adam Bien's blog, it's quite an honor. We have been great fans of your works because we are in love with the Java technology.

We also can't wait to come over to Munich for one of your workshops and get to discuss more on a personal level.


Posted by Al-Ameen on March 17, 2015 at 12:22 PM CET #

Wow...I mean Woww. you guys really doing a good job out there. I heard about you guys but never thought you are using JAVAEE for dev. keep it up FLEXISAF.

Posted by Abba Barau Umar(Fsoft) on March 22, 2015 at 09:31 PM CET #

Kudos to our Boss (ie FAIZ BASHIR) for the profound recognition by Adam Bien the Java Guru, and we also wish and pray to the Almighty ALLAH for more increase in blessing and Professionalism, Ameen wish you all the best in the World of programming.

Posted by Abu-Abdillah Mubarak Husain Sukola on June 23, 2015 at 12:27 PM CEST #

It's really exciting, keep it up sir.

Posted by Abubakar Bello on July 23, 2015 at 04:04 PM CEST #

I've worked with FlexiSAF as brand developer for a little over 7 years now and their success so far is a testimony to their dedication to excellence. With profound respect for the team of programmers, I must single out Faiz Bashir for recognition.

I'm proud to be a part of this story, and this is only the beginning.

Posted by Richard Nwaneri on August 13, 2015 at 12:00 PM CEST #

This is one company I know in Nigeria that is dedicated to coming up with something original not mattering the number of times it fails.
FlexiSAF has really struggled its way to stardom and this gives us hope that we too can do it.
As Marianne Williamson says towards the end of the popular 'our deepest fear' - as we let our own light shine, we give others permission to do the same.
This is what FlexiSAF stands for and that is exactly what it is doing.

Posted by Hamid on December 21, 2015 at 01:00 PM CET #

A very nice interview indeed. Thanks to Adam bein for having this interview with FlexiSaf CEO bcos FlexiSaf deserved to b honoured.
I wish You guys best of luck.

Posted by Abubakar Mukhtar on January 08, 2016 at 10:44 AM CET #

A team of smart, bold and great minded professionals, guys your responses are really your qualities, please it up... Sambo

Posted by Mohammed Sambo on March 04, 2016 at 07:05 AM CET #

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