Senior iOS Developer
If you’re a good professional without being a good person, it is not enough. And the combination of those two is highly regarded and promoted at Melon.
Orlin Stanchev has been an iOS developer at Melon for 10 years. Along with mobile development, he pursues an academic career in Astrophysics at the Faculty of Physics of Sofia University.
But how do those two quests intertwine?
“While I was doing my PHD, I realized that if you want to progress in science, you need to know how to write code – either for scripts, computation, modelling or data analysis,” says Orlin.
Then he found out that programming is something that interests him further. “I thought: how different could it be to what I’ve done till now? It turned out that it’s quite different, but I was already drawn to it,” Orlin laughs. The first programming language that he used is IDL – Matlab like environment, mostly for development of data and image processing scripts. Then he started exploring Python, as it’s widely used in engineering and applied sciences.
Before Melon, Orlin has worked with data and automatization in several other companies. At one of the companies, he had to implement astronomical algorithms into Java classes for development of robotic operational mode of astronomical telescopes. “It was a sweet and interesting thing to do, but it didn’t give much opportunity for growing further in terms of writing code. It was about transforming human readable mathematical description of the algorithms into Java library that is used in different modules of the automation infrastructure,” says Orlin. He also worked as Python automation developer, but still he needed something more challenges. His first encounter with iOS development came after he joined Melon.
Back then, iOS apps were developed with Objective-C. “I have never worked with Objective-C before. I saw a job ad for the position at Melon and decided to apply. To prepare, I had to find a book on Objective-C and read it through, so at least I understood the syntax. I didn’t even have a MacBook, only an old Lenovo with Linux, which made the task even more challenging,” remembers Orlin.
He says that since he joined, Melon changed a lot in scale and dynamics. “But many things remained the same – the culture and the positive work environment,” he says.
Orlin himself changed a lot for those 10 years.
“It’s hard for me to say to what extent, but I learned a lot. Working with so many people – not only in our team, but within the entire company, helped me grow and develop as a person”.
He has worked on quite a few interesting projects. His current one is his favorite, as it’s a cross-platform app that uses new technologies like Combine and SwiftUI, and needs to be adapted for mobile and Apple Watch devices. “But there were other great projects as well – like the TollPass project I had the pleasure to work in its initial phase.”
His hardest project was his first one – the first time he actually used Objective-C. “It wasn’t rocket science, but it was challenging for me. It was an app that used geolocation on mobile devices and suggested insurance offices near your location”.
Talking about challenges, Orlin shares the two most important things he learned at Melon. “Whenever you put efforts into something, you can make it happen, no matter how hard it is. It is a cliché that we often ignore, but it’s true. The second thing is: if you’re a good professional without being a good person, it is not enough. The combination of those two is highly regarded and promoted here, at Melon,” says Orlin. When asked what he would advise new people joining the company, his tip would be just that: “Strive to keep that balance. It will be appreciated!” Besides being an accomplished iOS developer and academic.
Orlin has another big passion – music.
He’s the drummer for the Melon-born rock band ALI. “Not that software development and astronomy don’t have creativity in them, but music is something different. When you’re performing, you’re expressing yourself with your emotions upfront, rather than using constant rational and disciplinary thinking.”
He started playing trumpet as a kid, together with his twin-brother. Eventually, music made way to physics and science. About that time, his brother started playing drums and Orlin wasn’t fond of it: “It was loud and irritating. My focus then was studying, and his drumming was disruptive,” laughs Orlin.
Later when started his PhD journey, Orlin joined a band with a couple of friends from the department of Astronomy at the Sofia University and sat behind the drums. “It was for fun, but we were an active band with regular gigs. I learned a lot then, because we didn’t take ourselves too seriously and we had space to improvise. I’m completely self-taught. The funny thing is that the first time I sat behind the drum set I started remembering how my brother used to play and tried to mimic him. And to my surprise, I had some technique, a sense of rhythm. And I loved it”.
After Orlin started at Melon, he got involved with the band that was yet to grow into ALI. “After I got to know that there’s a band at Melon, it was only natural to join. We began with a couple of jams in the office, playing mostly cover songs. Soon after there was this snowball effect and before we knew it, we started taking the band more seriously. Now we have a few successful singles, played many concerts, and we’re working on our first studio album.”
At a glance, it seems that it is challenging to balance between the three vocations. For Orlin, the balance lays in loving what you do and using each of those pursuits to recharge from the others. “If I’m at a deadline at Melon and I feel tired, I recharge when I meet with my students or do my scientific work. And whenever those two are too much, music is a way to unwind from all. Giving yourself to the creative flow and the accomplishments that you’ve contributed to is great. Some people go to fitness, and I play the drums,” laughs Orlin.
As a person who’s balancing between three demanding domains, Orlin shares his credo: “Don’t underestimate yourself. It’s a natural thing to do for all of us. We can do a lot more than we expect from ourselves, without pushing beyond an unhealthy line.”