Full stack engineers have one of the most misunderstood roles in tech. Yet Forbes ranks full stack engineers high in its list of the happiest jobs. To find out why, we spoke with Arthur Ziborov, our R&D Engineer and an early Lokaliser.
We sat down with him to draw on his experience, dig into how Lokalise has evolved since the early days, and hopefully steal some of his secret sauce to happiness.
A career of creation
For most of us, a path of knowing precisely what we want to do from a very young age is rare – it can be a lifelong, painstaking journey to become who we are. Not for Arthur.
Arthur, an intensely curious child who always wanted to understand how things are made, taught himself to play Moonlight Sonata on the piano and re-installed Windows on his grandmother’s PC at the tender age of seven:
“Looking back, I now realize that it could have turned out to be a disaster since my grandmother stored all the accounting on that computer.”
He adds: “My relatives always said I would be a programmer. So, after the 9th grade, they sent me to Riga Technical University to officially study programming. That’s when the beauty of programming hit me. I realized it has it all – design, sounds, interaction, video, etc. – and it became the catalyst that sparked a lifelong passion.”
What exactly does a full stack engineer do?
“If there’s one thing that developers can’t agree on, it’s what constitutes the role of a full stack engineer.” To start with, the role varies significantly between companies. And as products become more complicated, it becomes harder and harder to expect someone to contribute to all parts of the product.
We asked Arthur to define the role for us:
“It’s an individual responsible for bringing the end-to-end features of a system to life – from the initial user interface to the backend code running on the server.”
It can still be quite hard for the rest of us who are non-programmers to grasp exactly what that means. Here’s a helpful analogy:
“Let’s say you are on a professional race team. You have specialized people responsible for different details like fuel, tires, engine, suspension, etc. While they may have some idea about how other parts outside of their direct responsibility work, their experience is generally siloed. A full stack engineer is a person who can zoom out to see the entire picture, and if needed, can work on it.”
To cement that, Arthur’s daily work consists of multiple elements:
“Most of the time, I communicate with other developers about certain technical decisions for any upcoming features and help our support team with technical questions. Because I have experience developing features from scratch, I often communicate with the product team on how we can improve certain features and make them better.”
Beautiful code in a melting pot of programming languages
DHH, the founder of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp, once famously said: “Writing beautiful code is hard. As hard as writing beautiful prose. There is not one pattern, one trick, to turn ugly ducklings into swans.”
We are here, of course, to talk to Arthur about how he thinks of beautiful code:
“Everyone has different standards. For me, the code is beautiful when I no longer want to improve it. When everything is tidy, and you can understand how all of it works at a glance. The opposite of that is code that breaks often, is not extendable, or brings tears of pain to anyone who looks at it.”
Working at Lokalise
As an early employee, who has been with Lokalise for half a decade, we were curious to hear about what Lokalise was like in its infancy, how the product has evolved, and how Arthur’s role has grown alongside a rapidly growing company.
“To be honest, I don’t really feel that a lot has changed with my role. In the early days, it was fun to invent, design, and then implement a new feature – I feel like I am still doing that right now. The only change is that there are a lot more people in Lokalise. It’s hard to focus on a single thing since every part of Lokalise is very interesting.”
From the perspective of how the product has evolved, “when we just started, Lokalise supported only a few file formats (just iOS and Android) and had a simple text editor. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to believe how many features were added.”
The factors of happiness: Creativity, creation, and challenging work
“What makes you so happy?”: “The feeling you get when you see your hard work come to life as intended is like no other.”
Programming is hard. It takes a long time to learn and a lifetime to master. One can begin to see that satisfaction stems from challenges. Beyond that, it’s found in the creativity that flows from bridging multiple disciplines: “Since I love creating things, from music to videos, and VFX, programming is the only thing that tickles all parts of my brain.” says Arthur.
“At Lokalise, the most exciting part is seeing features you created serving customers and helping them overcome their challenges. Receiving compliments on the speed and delivery of specific features from employees at notable enterprise companies is nice too.”
When asked about his favorite feature, he says, “I like how the background file importing system turned out. It allows you to queue up multiple files for upload and monitor the progress in a separate window. The thing I like about it is that there were a lot of technical challenges involved, and in the end, it just works.”
A caring work environment that fosters growth
At Lokalise, growth isn’t optional, says Arthur:
“It’s impossible to stay stagnant in a fast-paced company on a hypergrowth trajectory. The product went from ‘family style’ startup to being ‘en route to unicorn’ in what feels like a blink of an eye.”
“Since I was there from the beginning, it is really hard to believe what we achieved over the years and how far we have come. While Lokalise is getting quite big, it is still pretty small. The opportunity to grow with a project like Lokalise and learn from the best is priceless.”
When asked what the biggest perk of working at Lokalise is:
“I like the no BS approach. I am an open-hearted person and don’t like it when you can’t be yourself. At Lokalise, we have a diverse, positive, smart group of people who want to do great things, and I love having the opportunity to learn without feeling tied down.” says Arthur.
“It feels great when the company is taking care of its employees with a wellness benefit, paid meals, e-book subscriptions, and not to mention, the stock options.”
Final thoughts on career growth and a life well lived
On where one starts with a career as an engineer in localization, Arthur imparts these words of wisdom:
“For me, it does not matter what career path you choose, as long as you truly enjoy it. When you enjoy your work, professional growth comes naturally and willingly. So, do what you enjoy and find a way to make money off it.”
Thank you, Arthur, for this enlightening talk!
Wondering if Lokalise could be your new workplace? We’re actively hiring people for product, customer success, sales, marketing, and engineering roles. Head over to our Careers page to see if we’re a good fit for you or help us out by spreading the word.