A year in ZETA — My journey as a software developer
It all started in December 2019, when ZETA (Directi) hired me during my campus placements at IIT-BHU Varanasi. I was elated. It was a moment of pride as all my hard work had paid off. Joining the Directi group of companies was a dream company for most students. And then I planned a trip to Goa, to celebrate (LOL).
Fast forward to June 2020, the pandemic was in full swing and lockdowns were the talk of the town around the world. My friends and I were skeptical about our onboarding journeys at our various organizations. They say 13 is an unlucky number. July 13, 2020, was my first day at Zeta. This was my first full-time job and I was not sold on the whole virtual onboarding.
Beta @ Zeta — Onboarding Program for new joiners
A few days before my joining, I received a meeting invite to Beta@Zeta. I accepted it and prayed for the best. July 13, 2020. I woke up, put on my formal shirt, and joined the event. I was greeted by this extremely relatable and super enthusiastic person who immediately put me at ease and gave me hope. I wanted to make a great first impression and needed this to go smoothly.
My onboarding was quick and smooth, something that is difficult to do virtually. The name of the program told me about Zeta’s love for greek characters.
A week later, my onboarding was complete, I received my MacBook Pro (and goodies of course), and the necessary basic setup was done.
Now, I was ready to go change the world with code (with a few pitstops on the way).
Team Apollo (Mobile Infra Team)
The next pitstop was a month-long, in-depth technical training. I was joining the Mobile Infra Team (Apollo, more greek references) along with 3 other new joiners Abhishek Vanjani, Rahul Choudhary, and Mohit Singh. We were the clueless Ninja Turtles. Sahil Prakash was my Master Splinter. Sahil’s energy and productivity was (the good kind of) contagious. We were introduced to the Apollo Team, which is lead by Apurva Jaiswal.
The vision of the Apollo team was made clear to us. Create a platform similar to AWS, but for mobile apps. We wanted to make the process of developing a mobile app quick and seamless. We wanted anyone to be able to create an app by changing a few settings on the Apollo platform.
Us Turtles were raring to go.
Apurva Jaiswal gave us confidence and clarity on the vision and a solid roadmap to achieve the same.
Just like the Ninja Turtles need to train, practice, and spar before fighting crime in the (fictional) real world, we had our training, a project all new joiners had to complete. We were asked to create a full-fledged app with all the basic flows integrated. Since I was added to the ios team, I was tasked with developing an iOS app. The intention was to give us clarity on the basics of mobile development, the processes the team follows, and write clean and green code. This was my introduction to the world of iOS development.
I had experience working on web development, machine learning, data science, and big data projects. Mobile development was new to me, but I did it. You always remember the first iOS app you develop, and I certainly will remember mine — the Fit Tribe — an app on health and fitness. A special thanks to my mentor Sahil Prakash for his patience with me and my silly queries.
My Home Workstation
The Hustle Began
The technical training and training project provided gave my iOS development journey a running start. Often I sat in awe of the talent in the Apollo Team, but the environment within the team was extraordinary and conducive to learning and innovation. Before I knew it, I was contributing to the various projects the team was working on.
The Tech Journey
A lot has happened over the last year. We have been playing around with the idea of using a modular approach to app development. We wanted each part of an app to be an independent module/SDK. We believe this promotes the reusability of the code, improves manageability, allows for easier debugging, etc.
All Zeta’s apps are built using the Apollo stack. Maintenance of existing apps and improving functionality was just as important as developing new features. The Apollo team uses a rotation policy for this. Each developer works on these tasks for a week before going back to new development. I feel this is a great way to do this. It allows new joiners to work on multiple aspects of the app, all the while learning and improving ourselves.
Server Driven Views
My favorite project the Apollo Team worked on was Server Driven Views.
Views are like Lego blocks. Put a bunch of views together, in a sensible manner, and you have an app. The legacy way of creating views natively in Android and iOS is not very efficient for multiple reasons. For starters, we have to code different UI for both platforms and ensure they are in sync with each other.
To solve these problems, we introduced Server Driven views. It allows us to create views easily and effortlessly. Server Driven Views are powered using Zetlets and Apollo Mario.
Zetlets views are coded using JSON and can be easily interpreted by different platforms, iOS, Android, and web.
Apollo Mario, on the other hand, is used to solve problems such as generating user-specific views, adding dynamic data to the different views, etc. Apollo Mario involves simple configurations that contain details such as the domain events they are listening to, API calls needed to power the UI data, handling user details, etc.
Other Big Projects
One of the prominent tech stacks in Apollo is the Apollo React Native container. It includes all SDKs, modules, and has all basic flows integrated. It is a very diverse and robust framework that can be used to build a new app in just a few hours. Most of our apps are built on the Apollo React Native container.
It provides features such as tour, SSO, secure store, blocker flow, and landing screens flow. Over the last year, we have worked on building and enhancing features on this container.
I have been lucky to work on this and multiple other big projects over the last year, all of which have been the result of a team effort and numerous war rooms.
And the Journey Continues
Life at Zeta is very fast-paced, very thrilling, and very exciting. But it is not all about work at Zeta. We have virtual HITs every Friday.
It has been a year of working from home. We have all gone through some ups and downs. I am grateful to the Apollo team (and all members) for their support.
Did I mention we won an award?
This is an adventure, I’d love to be a part of.
Chetan Singh, Zeta