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“Team effort is always important. We try to erase any blockers we have as a team, helping each other out. We always try to work the smartest we can. At NordLocker, it’s not about the grind but about working as effectively as possible.” Tomas Vaškevičius, PHP developer @NordLocker.
Tomas is one of our developers, who joined NordLocker’s growing team in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we’re sitting down with him to talk about his first few months as a member of the NordLocker team, the challenges he’s faced during this time, and much more.
Hello, Tomas. Let’s start with an easy one. What is your role at NordLocker?
Hi. I am a PHP backend developer, and I work with NordLocker’s business-to-business (B2B) platform.
How did you become a PHP developer?
It’s a funny story. Several years ago, I was working with C# but wasn't enjoying it at all. The language wasn’t the issue: I didn’t know what clean code or testing were, so, unsurprisingly, my code would break. A lot.
Suddenly, I got an invite from a small company to join them as a PHP developer. Hesitantly, I did, and that’s when everything changed. We invested a lot of time in clean code like writing tests, watching video series by Robert C. Martin, the author of Clean Code, and improving our work processes. Even though I was laid off due to inexperience after three months, the learning experience was life-changing. After that, I found more opportunities to work with PHP and, after 5 years, joined NordLocker.
What attracted you to join NordLocker?
I always strive to grow professionally, and NordLocker seemed like the perfect place for that. It’s a relatively new product, with their backend team just starting to form. That’s why I knew there would be a lot of stuff to cover and a lot of room for professional growth.
Let’s get deeper into your work. What is your experience working with different frameworks?
Before joining NordLocker, I was mostly working with the Symfony framework on a monolithic application. It is one of the most popular PHP frameworks out there. There’s a strong community constantly improving the framework, specialized tools making the developer’s life easier, and quite extensive documentation. I also got to work with the Slim framework, a micro framework for writing web applications and APIs.
What are the differences between the Symfony and Slim frameworks?
What instantly seemed similar between the frameworks was the Dependency Container concept. The container centralizes the way services are constructed — this makes the development faster, and the architecture becomes more controllable. There is also the concept of autowiring — the ability of the container to automatically create and inject dependencies. It uses PHP’s reflection, an API that adds the ability to introspect classes, interfaces, functions, methods, and extensions. It’s really nice that both frameworks take advantage of this powerful PHP feature.
What seemed easy to implement in Slim was the middleware. Middleware is a way to move common request and response processing away from the application layer. Slim middleware solution is simpler because Symfony needs an additional EventDispatcher component, which can take time to figure out. Slim framework, on the other hand, follows the PSR-15 standard, which creates common ground for most PHP developers. It’s like learning to drive — there’s a set of rules and standards every driver should follow.
Which framework do you prefer?
Even though I still love Symfony more (and we do have some services that use Symfony), Slim is a very easy-to-learn framework when it comes to developing microservices, which we do in NordLocker. Symfony can also be a microframework, but, for someone starting out with PHP frameworks, I would recommend Slim simply because it’s so easy to learn. But, if we ever go with a monolith application, I’d go for Symfony because of the many features the creators and community provide. So, it all boils down to what you need at the moment. Don’t disregard something just because you feel comfortable with the things you already know.
You’ve been with NordLocker for 4 months. What challenges have you faced here?
Since I am quite new here, the biggest challenge for me is getting to know the product from the technical side. NordLocker has a lot of services communicating in-between the applications, the cloud, and other services that I haven’t even had time to explore fully. And, of course, security is also a challenge. We have to go above and beyond to make sure that NordLocker is as secure as it can be.
What about working with the team? What makes the NordLocker team culture unique?
I like a lot of things about the company’s culture. For example, team effort is always important. We try to erase any blockers we have as a team, helping each other out. We always try to work the smartest we can. At NordLocker, it’s not about the grind but about working as effectively as possible.
Also, the sense of ownership is really important here. You have to take initiative in making decisions. While it can feel overwhelming, I think the autonomy really helps us grow.
What advice would you give to someone considering joining NordLocker’s team?
Be ready for a fun ride. We are quite a young team, so there is a lot of stuff to create. Don’t be afraid to take initiative, and you will be rewarded. Also, ask for help if you need it. I promise to give my full support whenever you need anything.
To wrap it up, let’s talk about your hobbies. I’ve heard that you like to hike. Can you tell us more about it?
Sure! Since my work requires a lot of thinking, I enjoy activities that don’t require much brain power. I found out that long-distance hikes on foot reboot my brain the best. For example, I traveled a 500-kilometer pilgrim route called Camino Lituano last year. It goes from Zagare, a town near the Latvian border, to Sejny in Poland. I loved every bit of this journey. I got to know my home country better and, thanks to the people who organized this route, visited places that I would’ve never visited. I even volunteered to help them with their website update.
Sounds like even when you’re running away from it, work still finds you.
Yes. Actually, I think that hiking and creating new things are quite similar. When you start, it often hurts. And you’re probably also bad at it. But, at the half-way point, fears and doubts are slowly replaced with the belief that you can achieve your goal. And, if you keep doing it, you reach the point where nothing can stop you anymore. I think this applies to PHP, product creation, and life in general.
Are you a PHP developer looking for new career opportunities?
If you’re also a PHP developer like Tomas and would like to join our team, you can contact Ema ([email protected]), our talent attraction partner. Of course, you can also visit our Careers page for all the available positions at NordLocker.
John believes that the best things in life are simple. He uses the same approach when he’s writing about online security. John says that his #1 pet peeve is phishing scams. Ironically, his favorite non-work related activity is fishing.