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Meet Julius – .NET, Node.js and frontend Competence Lead at Metasite

With Metasite since


Favourite technology

Node.js + React

Currently studying:

Hybrid architectures

Having joined the Metasite team almost three years ago already armed with six years-worth of diverse software engineering experience, Julius immediately immersed himself into a major software delivery project, helping a FTSE250 financial services enterprise successfully build a new digital self-service platform dealing with securities trading – one serving millions of users.

With the first project successfully completed, Julius then proceeded to lead the development of a complex case-management system for a U.S.-based client, automating a multi-stage workflow used to process millions of records governed by over 600 business rules. Again the project was a success.

We caught up with Julius at the time when he was gearing up for another large scale software project for a global FS giant – delivering a new platform that will help a few million end-users monitor and manage their investment portfolios. While busy with his team working on a PoC, Julius carved out some time to answer our questions.

What was your path to software engineering?

I started out as a software tester in my university days when I was studying applied mathematics – however I did not particularly like the somewhat repetitive nature of the job and always felt I could design better software than my fellow programmers! :) In those days I would occasionally run into Sybase DBMS – eventually I decided to teach myself SQL and get a job as a database developer… Did not enjoy that too much as well – it felt limiting because you were constrained to only run your code inside the DBMS.

So I spent several months studying a number of programming languages seeking to gain a broad understanding of how things work. Started with Java, read a few books, then put effort into learning PHP, Python, VBScript, JavaScript/HTML/CSS by gobbling up a number of books as well. Soon enough I stumbled onto C# and it’s beautiful, elegant style – .NET as a base class library and runtime looked very interesting and capable – so I tried to read everything I could find on it!

And has it been all .NET since then?

While going deeper and deeper into .NET, I consciously didn’t limit myself to it – I still spent time studying other languages as well, even learning some Assembly and of course quite a bit of C/C++ to gain a more in-depth understanding of how various development languages function and what their strengths and weaknesses were.

In earlier days I never really thought I would be writing any JavaScript at all – to me it looked like a toy language with lots of shenanigans, but… here I am now churning out React code! Languages and frameworks evolve so one must keep an open mind and update one’s views accordingly in order not to get stuck in the past with some outdated preconceived notions.

You’ve taken on the role of a Competence Lead covering a number of technologies – .NET, Node.js, UI. Do you have a favorite one?

I don’t feel I need to limit myself to a single one – I like all of them. My current preference is leaning towards the combo of Node.js and React due to its very rich and rapidly evolving ecosystem. I enjoy writing cloud native applications using Express, React/Next.js and serverless offerings.

What’s next on your “to learn” bucket list?

The projects I’m involved in are centered around rearchitecting and rebuilding large scale, mission-critical digital customer frontends used by millions of end-users; they also require complex integrations with various systems of record and other backend applications at the global financial institutions we are helping modernise. Therefore I want to continue absorbing more knowledge about solution architectures, cloud architectures, hybrid architectures… I feel quite strong in that but there is so much more to learn.

Any interesting challenges you have faced throughout your career as a software developer?

Honestly, probably the toughest challenge in my career so far was developing OpenVPN-based Windows applications at one of my earlier workplaces – on a global scale, using .NET. So many different devices, OS and installed software versions, configurations, issues when you are shipping software for end-user workstations! A code library might work correctly for some users while others might encounter issues due to strangely misbehaving antivirus software or a variety of other factors out of your control. …Not to mention people trying to hack your software, changing configuration files, decompiling binaries and all strange error reports resulting from it.

Perhaps the most interesting error report I remember contained just squares – no text, no stack trace, just squares. Also I recall a user contacting support who had been trying to make VPN work in his setup consisting of two virtualisation layers – I think there was a VirtualBox running in Hyper-V based VM, and he was complaining that VPN was not working :-)

Another time a critical software update blew up for some users due to an updater trying to execute a powershell script – turned out antivirus programs really didn’t like powershell scripts running as a part of a software update… The beauty of our field is one can never stop learning!

Even GPU updates or some GPU tweaking software were causing strange crashes. This was a very strange and challenging time with so many issues that you would not encounter in regular web-based software development.

Any favourite authors or books?

Some programming books I really enjoyed:

Concurrent Programming on Windows by Joe Duffy – the only resource that fully explains concurrent programming. Other books are not even close.

Building Evolutionary Architectures by Neal Ford, Rebecca Parsons & Patrick Kua – a must read book about software architecture in general.

CLR via C# by Jeffrey Richter – one of the best resources about .NET internals.

Dependency Injection in .NET by Mark Seemann – best book that fully explains the subject.

Going beyond software engineering field, a few other non-fiction books I enjoyed a lot were The Art of Invisibility and
Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick, and Permanent Record by Edward Snowden.

Also a bunch of books about getting things done. These can be rough: 48 Laws Of Power by Robert Greene, also
Managing with Power and Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t by Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Do you have any blogs or podcasts you like and would recommend to your teammates?

I’d recommend a few blogs I myself enjoy a lot:

Enterprise Craftmanship – offers a lot of good advice for enterprise software architectures and testing, along with plenty of great examples.

ploeh blog -there is nothing more fascinating than Mark Seemann if you read about .NET and functional programming.

And Yegor256 – the author has very strong opinions about everything software related! :)

With so many initiatives in your hands, how do you recharge – and stay focused?

I’m a fan of working out – I think physical health is super important. I love going on hikes and cycling. But most of my non-sports hobbies are related to computers – working on my side projects, researching the rapidly evolving field of crypto, playing computer games… And reading books – lots of books.

Do you listen to music when working – and if you do, what do you like to listen to?

Yeah I listen to music often – really enjoy artists like Celldweller, After Forever, Dark Tranquillity.

What inspires you at work?

I’d say, the freedom to choose my own tasks!


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