Interview with Julian, a lead Android developer at Applover

Read an interview with Julian, a lead Android developer at Applover Digital Agency. Read about how Applover team is working these days and how they tackle app internationalization and localization challenges.

We love to talk with our industry peers about how do they actually approach app development, how they cooperate together and why they love what they do. This time we have interviewed lead Android developer at Applover, our friendly digital agency from Poland.

Hello. Could you briefly talk about yourself and about your position in Applover?

Hello. My name is Julian. I’ve been with Applover for almost four years now. I work as a lead Android developer. Apart from daily development work for both in-house projects and external clients, I try to take care of our Android team. I mostly focus on facilitating better communication, removing impediments and organizing meetings or new initiatives.

From a group of 4 friends, Applover managed to grow quite rapidly into a healthy, almost medium-sized enterprise. That also surely means that people have become more specialized in the team and the team synchronization, both within and between teams and management. Majority of IT companies were forced to adopt home offices on an unprecedented scale. Some have thrived, some have seen a drop in their productivity.

What is the 2020 like for Applover and the dev team in particular?

We have been fortunate enough to avoid any major drawbacks in 2020. The entire market has changed in really unexpected ways. We have not been significantly affected by the whole situation due to our twofold strategy. Providing both full-stack and team extension services has allowed us to stay agile and pivot when needed.

When it comes to the day-to-day operations, we have always been remote-friendly. Switching to the fully remote work mode was not that difficult as we already had some relevant experience. We made sure to keep the spirits high and everyone feeling included in the team by organizing remote team building activities. It was very well received and honestly quite fun.

I noticed on Applover’s website that the employees are offered quite interesting perks and benefits. Hackatons, gaming tournaments or EduSessions. Apparently you get to spend a lot of time together at work and off work. Does it help the morale, do people feel more refreshed thanks to them? And what is your personal favorite perk?

I think it really does. All the team building events are usually tons of fun and we tend to look forward to them as they are inherently a social way of improving morale. On top of that, we often use our sports card benefits to meet up after work, taking care of physical fitness while spending time together. Personally, I am loving the additional motivation to work out so I think the sports one is definitely my favorite benefit.

Applover’s tech stack is broad, so I would imagine that customers frequently ask for a development of a multi-platform application. An Android, iOS and web applications are for instance quite common. Since they use different formats for localization strings, how do you approach localization in general?

We tend to use platform-specific open-source libraries that connect to a shared spreadsheet hosted online that contains the translations. Each platform’s library then translates the spreadsheet to the resources required by the environment. It usually works great but definitely has some quirks we need to be aware of when using such a system.

Is localization and internalization a big part of UI and UX design, can you tell? I would imagine that varying length of texts or writing from right to left could pose some unique challenges.

Well, of course, internationalization has to be thought of since the first mockups and first lines of code in every project that is to be localized. Supporting different text lengths, plural forms, declination, character sets, even the direction of layout is quite difficult to get right. Fortunately, the major platforms have inbuilt mechanisms to help with developing features with localization in mind. We take great care in making sure no unexpected issues arise due to internationalization mostly by incorporating it into our planning from the get-go.

One more question about localization - do customers commonly ask for a manageable localization? I’ve heard stories from my friends and colleagues that some, in order to save money, had hired students or questionable agencies for a localized mobile or web app development. It was delivered, though all the strings were hard-coded in the resource files, which was obviously extremely unpleasant for the customer to modify later on. Do people care and think ahead how they will manage the translations?

It has changed a lot in the last few years. Honestly, my first programming job was basically spewing out same-ish apps with different texts and colors for different markets. As you can imagine I did not stay there for a long time. Fortunately, these times are long gone and companies now realize that it is both more scalable, cheaper and easier to do localize properly from the start. You would be hard-pressed to find someone still doing it this way.

Recently, we have seen a great spike in the number and quality of localization tools ranging from simple scripts for personal apps to enormous systems capable of supporting the largest projects. This, coupled with more awareness of proper internationalization standards causes more people to plan accordingly and focus on the end result in different configurations, languages and markets. Personally, I find it really uplifting that more and more people care about products being accessible and comfortable to use for everyone, no matter the language and locale.

You might be interested in an interview with Jan Kamiński, Co-Founder & Head of Sales at Applover.

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