AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers

Pol Piella Abadia, Senior software engineer at the BBC

December 15, 2022 Jeroen Leenarts
AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers
Pol Piella Abadia, Senior software engineer at the BBC
AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers +
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Pol, a senior iOS developer working on the iPlayer app by the BBC. He loves sharing content and writing about all things mobile development and Swift.

He also writes on his blog. https://www.polpiella.dev/
Follow him on Mastodon. Or Twitter.

He did his first conference talk at Do iOS in 2022. I'm sure Pol will share that link once it becomes available. He did an amazing talk titled "Fantastic Swift Tools and where to find them".

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Jeroen Leenarts:

Hi and welcome to another special edition of my podcast. I'm sitting here with Paul paella I hope I pronounced that correctly. You live in Manchester United Kingdom but you're originally from Spain and if I say this correctly, Barcelona so if you're not if you're not local there you will say Barcelona or something and then make make people from that area cry because you pronounced incorrectly. So Paul, Barcelona Bitsa. UK that's that's quite a journey already. And you lift at all three places. So let's start there.

Pol Piella Abadia:

Yeah, so um, as you said, I am originally from from Barcelona. I was born and raised there. And then when my niece was born, my brother went over move to to Ibiza with his wife and yeah, they just they just started the live there and they decided to move there. So my parents like started going a bit more I started to go in a bit more to see my knees this my brother. And so that led to me like starting to, you know, work over summer there. i My dad was a DJ when he was a uni and he spent like, you know, he found that his degree through DJing. So I've always had like a big interest in music and in DJing and stuff. So I decided to work summers and through like, a connection from my dad, I was able to like work at amnesia in Ibiza, the nightclub. So that like, led me to have a big connection with the island and my brother and stuff. So yeah, I was over there work in summers for about three years. And I kind of wanted to get to work in nightlife. My dream was to be a DJ and stuff. I actually saw a tweet from GitHub this week saying What were you doing 10 years ago? And I was like, while I was finishing, you know, high school and tried to wanting to be a DJ and stuff and yeah. And then while I was in Ibiza, my Yeah, I decided that I wanted to kind of like take a leave of absence from uni and not finish my, my last year of uni, and then I met my wife jumped a bit of time there. But yeah, basically, I decided I wanted to get some like education and go to do some some engineering. So I decided to do music tech. So electronic engineering with music technology. Yeah. So the unit that I found was in the UK. So I moved over when I was 18. to New York to your university. Did my degree there on the every summer I was coming back and working at amnesia over summer. And then on the last year, I was like, Okay, last summer, I'm about to go into my last year of uni, I really want to, you know, do this for a job. I want to be a DJ, I want to start a career. But I wasn't too keen on like nightlife. So I was like, Okay, I'm going to try it out this summer. And I'm going to see how it goes. And that summer, I was like, I'm kind of like really hating this, I'm, you know, I was gonna take a leave of absence to know go back to uni and pursue my like music career. But by the end of the summer, I was like, you know, I really want to, you know, go back to the UK. I also coincidentally, met my girlfriend that summer, who is Scottish, and she was in Glasgow, at Glasgow uni at the time. So I was like, you know, if I stay in Ibiza, it's probably not going to work out with long distance and stuff. So it was another factor that made me go back to the unit to finish my last year. And I don't regret it at all, because I did an iOS module on my last year of uni, which introduced me to the whole, like, programming and app development and stuff. And it just went from there. After uni. I got my first job as an iOS developer, and I moved to Manchester for it. And I've been there since Yeah, and I love it.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, well, that's it. Let's cut off the feet and talk to you again next week. Just kidding. So, so you, basically, I wanted to ask that next how you got started with iOS development, you already jumped ahead a little bit there. And that's that you did a module in university, but this module was that like, the first and only programming experience that you came across? Or what was that about?

Pol Piella Abadia:

Yeah, so as part of like electronic engineering. In the university I went to you get to choose like between two paths in like the second third year of uni, which is either you're going to hardware electronic engineering, or you go into like the digital electronics. So I chose the digital path. So I did a bit of like Java while I was at uni and I did a bit of C and C++ which I really really didn't enjoy. I was like I really don't like this it was it was very hard for me to grasp a lot of concepts because I hadn't done like, you know, any app development before and I was there to do like music technology related stuff. So I didn't you I didn't really have a big interest on that boundary. Last year, I had an amazing lecture, amazing professor who taught us about iOS development, but he did it in a way that we would use a library called audio kit. And we would make music apps basically. So we had to make a synthesizer, we had to make like a drum machine and stuff, using iOS development, and yeah, and just audio kit and do some like audio signal processing and stuff. It was a lot of fun. So I felt like that was like the amazing introduction, introduction, I needed to do app development.

Jeroen Leenarts:

But the Java and C and C plus work that you did in your education before that was that also related to signals process.

Pol Piella Abadia:

So it was in a way, so the Java one was completely not related. And I really didn't enjoy that. Because it was, I think we had to make like, an algorithm that made like, it was like a flock of birds that would follow each other, I think it's quite common in like university degrees. And the other ones, I think, the C one, it was in my first year, and we had to make, like, it was also audio related. So we had to make like, the situation was a bar needs, like a system that, you know, they don't want to pay a pianist to go and play in their bar. So you have to make a system that plays like a harmonic sequence of notes that resembles a pianist with that, with that code, we were gonna, like make BNS poor like, we were gonna like, you know, we weren't gonna substitute them or replace them. It was just terrible. And we Yeah, it was it was, it was alright. But I feel like it was it was too difficult for me to grasp a lot of the concepts at the time. And then the C++ was like audio processing and algorithms and like, plugins and stuff. And we I felt like we got a template. And we didn't know enough C++ to actually have fun with it and develop anything good. So it was a lot of like fighting it and just copying code and stuff. It wasn't, it wasn't too good.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And the then you had the program that was like, took you into iOS development. But were you already considering yourself an iOS developer, when you finish that, that lecture? Or was it more like you needed to gain some experience after that, as well?

Pol Piella Abadia:

Yeah, so I think this is very common in like programming. But when I did the course, by the end of it, I was like, I did my final year project as well in iOS, which was an app, an augmented reality app using AR kit, which basically put like a synthesizer on the real world. And you can play with it and interact with it. But yeah, I was like, Well, I'm on top of the world, I'm, I'm the best developer there is, and I've got experience, I can land a job. And so then I went over and applied for a job in a music technology company, Manchester as an iOS developer. And when I realized that when I got there, and I did my interview, I realized I did not have the skills to be like a proficient iOS developer, but they were kind enough to give me a sort of like internship for like six months, and then I would join as a junior. Yeah. And that was really my Kickstart to iOS development. That was where I learned the most, like, that's where I realized, you know, I don't know enough here, I needed like this work experience, to you know, get me started.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So you did your internship with a company and to really learn programming for iOS at that time, and I reckon you didn't stick around there for a crazy amount of time, but still, like 18 months or so or so that you stuck around? There are still 18 months or so. Did you stick around her?

Pol Piella Abadia:

Exactly. Yeah. So I was there for about a year and a half. I met some amazing people still like some of my best friends here in Manchester from that from that time, and then I moved over to another job. So I felt like the for management reasons, the company the team wasn't going very well everyone was kind of leaving and he was we didn't have a clear focus. And we were in doing that much like iOS, we were being pulled in like different directions to do other sort of like things that neither neither doing. So I just decided to go you know, go somewhere else. And I left and I went to student discounts company here in the UK called Student mints. And yes, Ben, they're about I think another year working in Yeah, completely swift focus, like iOS development for for a full year which was was very good.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And then I reckon that you made a big move. So you went to another company even still?

Pol Piella Abadia:

Yeah, I went for another company. I felt like yesterday, the mentor was a great like, the perks were absolutely amazing. Like, I didn't work a single friday afternoon for a year, it was fantastic. Like we would get like early finishes on a Friday. It was like very, you know, they had a lot of focus on your mental health and like keeping you happy and stuff, which was brilliant. But I felt like the work was getting like very repetitive. So I was like, I need to, you know, see how things are done in like a bigger place and learn from like, get more context and learn from from more people. So I just decided I applied for a job that was going on at the time at the BBC. And yeah, I've been there for about a year and a bit now, which it's been, it's been an amazing experience of her.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, because you've worked at three very different companies, I think because music tribe, that's the single product company, right?

Pol Piella Abadia:

So they've got so it's kind of like a conglomerate of companies. So it's one parent company that has acquired a lot of products. But we were really working only on one product. So yeah, we didn't really have communication across a lot of things. Really, it was just very, very focused.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And student beans, that must have been a solo single product or an agency.

Pol Piella Abadia:

Now just one product into one product.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So and then of course, BBC, I think you worked, or you work on the iPlayer. Right. Yeah, I play with him. And but that's also a single product. So could you say that you've touched three products in your entire career thus far?

Pol Piella Abadia:

Yeah, you can you can safely say that. Yeah.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Cool. So but your day job is not the only thing that you do. Because next to that you also have a blog and a newsletter. What made you get started with with your blog, because your blog is Paul PLF.

Pol Piella Abadia:

Yeah, that's the one. So yeah, I think I was looking at this the other day, I think it started like, over a year ago. Now, maybe even longer than that I can remember when the first article I published, it's taken a lot of forums since then, like it's changed, like technology stack quite a lot. I think I'm with something that I'm happy, happy with now. And the domain was originally Paul Biya codes instead of Dev. So it's changed a fair amount, but I'm at a place where I'm happy with it. I think what made me like started was the I, I felt like I had, you know, stuff that I wanted to say I didn't quite like have a platform that I liked. I wrote a bit for my for student beans for their blog, on medium. So I think I wrote like one or two articles for them a while ago. And yeah, kind of really enjoyed the writing and the sharing and sharing knowledge. And I feel like I'm a person that learns more when they share. So if I can speak and you know, write or talk about something, then it kind of means I understand it. And if I can share like concepts with other people, then it helps me understand things as well. So yeah, he was also to build kind of like a knowledge database for myself. So I could just refer back and look articles. So even now, I think the the article that has performed the best and has been like featured the most was one that I did looking at swift packets, plugins before they got released. And I think it got shared that a lot of times, and it's the most visited, like ever in my blog, and I still refer back to that. Now when I go like, Oh, I need to do this. And I just go back and look at how, you know how people asked before even though the, the ABA has changed a bit, it's still the concepts are pretty much the same. But yeah, it was basically to build a knowledge database for myself on a fly could help like other people, and if other people find interesting along the way, that was just an added bonus.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And is it is it hard to keep content coming out regularly.

Pol Piella Abadia:

It really is. I eat a lot of effort. I feel like I didn't like I used to think that, you know, people did this for for a living and it was like their day job and stuff. But then I see, you know, for example, Antoine and like, his blog, and his newsletter, like he posts a lot and he posts like weekly as well. And he's got a day job as well. And he's got, you know, a kid as well. And it's, it's a lot and it's hard to like, you know, find find content and find things to talk about. And I kind of in because I've got quite a lot of things going on at the moment with the newsletter and everything. For the past, I think two months or so I haven't posted that much. So I was like, oh, I need to you know, get back on my blog, because that's, that's the thing that I started with. And I really, really enjoy writing. And so I've set a challenge for myself until the end of the year to kind of like post every week and I'm going to try to keep that up on the next year as well. And I've got a lot of things that I want to talk about. It's just finding the time and be more organized to kind of write articles and Finding some downtime to write articles. I do have the time to be honest. It's just sometimes I'd rather you know, what still a vision or something I need to Yeah, I need to use my time.

Jeroen Leenarts:

You only have so many hours in the day. Right? Exactly.

Pol Piella Abadia:

Yeah, absolutely. And relaxing and you know, taking time to spend with Yeah, with family and with, with my girlfriend, my friends, it's, it's very important as well. So yeah,

Jeroen Leenarts:

and what's your process for for writing for your blog 10. Because not only do you write for your blog, but also for your newsletter, and your newsletter is sort of more like aggregating other people's content. But for your blog, you must have a process, right, because you have some ideas. And at the end of the day, you have like a finished piece.

Pol Piella Abadia:

So I tend to so I use, like a task kind of manager, project manager, where I've got back a backlog of ideas, basically. So if I'm at work, and I've looked into because a lot of the of my process is, you know, I'm working, and I've have an idea, or I've worked on something interesting, and I go, Oh, that would be a nice topic to talk about. So I write it down in my like, inbox kind of thing where I go, Okay, this would be something I would begin to talk about. And then I kind of organize it by when I want to post it that I've started doing this now, by the way, so there's a little bit of refinement that could go into this. And by organized by when I want to post it. And then that week that I want to post it on, I kind of like start working on the article, I piece together a few ideas planet, look into some, like do some research and see if other people have talked about it and and get some like, you know, learning information as well to look into documentation and stuff to make sure that I'm saying the right things and I'm not lying to anyone. And then I just sit down and start writing and and then I review it, I usually get a friend or two to review them as well. And then I just publish it.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And we spend a lot of time checking the article content, cuz she just mentioned that her? Yeah,

Pol Piella Abadia:

a lot of time, a lot of time checking. I think I tend to Yeah, we usually quite like scared of publishing things. I'm always like, Oh, it's not good enough for you know, I've beaten that fear a bit now. Because I've seen like people who have admired a lot sharing my content, like you know, your stuff weekly, or even Antoine, or even even yourself as well like sharing content that I've written. And it's, it's great to see any kind of bootstrap fear keeps that fear at bay a bit when you see like, you know, you're getting rewarded, and you're seeing like, other people are enjoying your content. But even still, it's a bit of a nerve racking experience for me when I go like, Oh, I'm going to publish this. And then I go, Oh, it's not good enough. Or, you know, let's review it again.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Now, the best remedy is to just keep going. If you're if you're starting to doubt yourself. Yeah, cuz after we have a podcast as well, every now and then. But But for people who want to do something similar to you, do you have any tips or ideas based on your own experience?

Pol Piella Abadia:

I think the the thing that kept me going at the beginning, when I was getting like, you know, when no one was reading my articles, and I didn't know. Yeah, or anyone, like I don't think anyone was actually reading what I did. And I felt a bit demotivated, I think just do it for yourself. I think that's the, that's the most important thing, like do it. Because because you enjoy the process, don't do it. Because you you know, you want people to read it. I know, it's a very good like part of it. And it's a very good thing that, you know, people read your content, and they like what you write, but just do it, because in the future is going to be very useful to refer back to something you wrote a year ago. And you found something tricky. And instead of having to look through a lot of documentation and trying to find articles online, you can just refer to your to your blog and have a look at what you wrote about the topic. So yeah, I would say if you really want to do it, there's no real barriers, you can just create a medium account or write your do your own, like WordPress, or whatever like site do you want to do, you don't have to be like me, because I really like a challenge and call it all from scratch. You don't have to do that. There's a lot of off solutions, ready to you know, to start blogging right away and get other main like right away without having to do to do anything. So yeah, if you really want to do it, just I'd say just do it. Because there's even if two people read it, then there's two people you have helped and I have enjoyed your content. And you're going to have that thing there forever. And you're going to be able to, you know, to refer back to it and read it and yeah, it's it's it's a great feeling when you're referring to your own articles to do to do certain things. It's quite Yeah, it's quite good.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And what are some of the biggest benefits that you have reaped from writing your blog article, Stan?

Pol Piella Abadia:

I think like there's two like very, very big benefits. stuff that I think I've, like I'm getting like now, like, at the moment, one of them is like my improving my writing. And my technical writing. I know, like, for any, any, like native English speaker and stuff that might be, you know, you might get that kind of for free or in a way like you might be more more confident writing in English, but for me, like technical writing is still like something I need to work on. And I still work on and I've been doing like a Google like, I would definitely recommend this Google, like technical writing course, which I think it's been, it's been amazing, I've not quite yet tried, or you suggest that I think it's like some configuration, but I was very, very confused when I saw it. But yeah, I think the biggest reward for me is how much I've learned. Because now when I have to write like issues for work, or I have to write like, some piece of documentation at work like it, I feel a lot more confident doing it than I know what I'm doing. And when I have to even do demos at work as well, um, you know, I treat it like writing a post in a way and I treat it like, you know, I'm gonna as if I was writing for my blog, I'm going to, you know, learn about this, and I'm going to write it and I'm going to do a little demo, and then I'm going to share it with my team. So it's helped me like develop that kind of skill set. And then the other main benefit, I would say, is the people I have met through writing articles as well, because I think another big focus that I've been, yeah, something I've been really focused on was is to be like, more active like, on Twitter, or Mastodon, I know, it's not maybe not the right time to be really active on Twitter, but I'm just trying to, like, engage more with the community. And it's, yeah, and through my articles and stuff. I've gotten, like a lot of feedback and a lot of people saying, oh, have you looked at this? Or have you seen this article, and it's the learning process of like, sharing, like, I'm not scared of feedback. And I really like welcoming. And it's the learning process of putting your, you know, your code out there, and your, you know, your little demo projects out there and someone going like, oh, you should do this this way. And alcohol, like, Whoa, that's a great idea hadn't occurred to me. So having that kind of, like, network and not having like having that constant like feedback loop. It's, it's amazing. Like, I think it's, it's so great, and it's helps you like grow and like learn a lot faster. I think it's yeah, it's just fantastic.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Right? And but you also recently got started with doing some presentations on more public channels, right? So I remember you being in Amsterdam, like a month ago, when we record this, so how did that happen?

Pol Piella Abadia:

And so yeah, I, I was trying to get a bit more into Yeah, in the public speaking, I had done a bit at, at my job, like internally, doing like, a bit of like dogs and we have like a meeting every kind of every week where we sometimes demo things and I quite enjoyed that bit of, of my of my job, and I enjoy like, you know, sharing things. And I as I said before, like I learn by sharing as well. Like, if I can explain something to someone or if I can talk about a topic, then it probably means I understand it. So yeah, I decided to maybe go ahead and try do it in a conference as well, which was at the beginning nerve wracking, but very exciting when you do like the call for papers that you know, submitted to a lot of places I got a lot of rejection and a lot of like places you know, that had failed like all the spaces and I couldn't I couldn't make it or maybe my talk wasn't, you know, my topic was interesting enough for the conference. And then I got the opportunity in Amsterdam, at the Deutsches conference, which was was amazing and it was my first like in person conferences as a speaker. And then I got a couple more which were remote. So I did I did speak at a job fair for a remote job fair for Latin America, the people are organized and I spoke at the mobile DevOps summit bid rice organized as well. Talking about CI and I've really really enjoyed it it gave me like the motivation of you know, applying for more and I've got that kind of like speaking buzz at the moment where I'm just applying to a lot of places and see seeing what I get for next year.

Jeroen Leenarts:

All right, and either on already any videos of you presenting a fail because I think the online thing there were some videos available right? I think there

Pol Piella Abadia:

is there is one from bid raise. I believe that one is online and then there's the one from that from that remote. The know why I've got so much trouble saying remote job fair. Doesn't it doesn't come out. And for that remote job fair. I've got a recording of level as well, I created the YouTube channel for it. Don't expect any good content from it that's just going to be to upload my dogs and stuff I'm not planning on making videos or anything is just to add, yeah, add those stock videos that I get get sent and stuff.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, we do iOS. Because, yeah, there's a reason you're in my podcast right now, because I invited you to do iOS, we're still working on processing the videos, and we want to publish all 14 of the talks simultaneously. So Marco, our video guy is working really hard on editing those. But one thing I can share is that your talk was actually one of the most appreciated talks during the conference, actually, Oh, nice. So it was well, very, very well presented. And also the content was spot on in the sense that like, it had like a nice entry level to get people started. But there was so much interesting information that I saw people walking away from the, from the bench, just one after the talk with like, heaps of notes on websites they wanted to visit. So and you had some good things in your in in the in the final slides as well. So I will make sure to link to that stuff. When it is available, it is interesting to see that you basically took the journey, like you just ran into iOS development, just basically a little bit of chance, then you got started and you discover that that's something that you really liked doing. And then after your education, you made your career out of it thus far, because you never know what you're going to do in 10 years from now, the first few years were filled with iOS development, and now you're working in a big company. What is the BBC actually company? Or is it is the public goods? Organization?

Pol Piella Abadia:

That's a very good question. I think it is publicly funded. It's funded by yeah, by the public on a license fee on a tax kind of thing.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And so So you've seen some interesting code bases already, I think, and I think, especially at the BBC, there were are there are a lot of colleagues around that. Well, you can learn a lot from these people, I think. And by that, by this point in time, you're also teaching a lot to other people. Maybe even, that there must be a synergy going on there. You're teaching through your blog, through your presentations, through your role, because I also saw on your LinkedIn, that you quite recently switched from a iOS developer role to a senior iOS developer role. So congrats on that, because then also implies that you have some say in what, what a new person on team gets told and gets taught to get up to speed with things. So that's a good progression, you're so you're showing there, and especially on on the way that you communicate Concepts of Programming, it's really enjoyable. And that's also one of the reasons why I quite often mentioned your links in my in my podcast, because it's, yeah, of course, you write about something that other people have written about as well. But you you have a different angle, a different explanation that just add something to the understanding of the whole concept of the topic of your article. So thanks for that.

Pol Piella Abadia:

Thank you, thank you for the kind words, I really, really appreciate it.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And anything else we need to talk about? So you, you live in Manchester, you got through, well, bit of education, and then you had to stick around there for obvious other reasons as well. Any any plans in that area into your future? Or is it still just discovering a bit what both of you want to do with your lives and then move on from there?

Pol Piella Abadia:

I think so. Yeah. I think I think at the moment, so my, my girlfriend works in the, in the office, like five days a week. And she Yeah, she's Yeah, she's kind of she needs to be based in Manchester at the moment. And I do need to be based in Manchester as well, because I've got like a hybrid, working contract kind of thing. So I work I work one day from the office and four days from home. But and I really, really enjoy the work I'm doing at the moment and I wouldn't want to move anywhere else at the moment. Like I'm very happy with Yeah, with where I am. We're at work and stuff. But I think eventually I would I think we both me and my girlfriend would like to move back to Spain and just live in Spain probably get like a an EU remote contract or something and move back to Spain by then. I don't foresee that. Like I don't see that anytime soon. Really.

Jeroen Leenarts:

It's good to learn still at the BBC, right? Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Well, with that poll, I think we've covered most of the important bits. Where can people find you online?

Pol Piella Abadia:

So they can find me? Yeah, popiah deaf, so at my blog, they can find me on Twitter as well, which Yeah, it's at Pau Paul period FOB leaf and then on LinkedIn as like follow up as well I think those are the main ones that I'm that I'm focused on at the moment and that I'm active on Mastodon as well. I do cross posts from Twitter the Master then and I check it like quite regularly as well. Just I'm not planning on leaving Twitter but just in case you know, the whole world burns or the whole Twitter burns and I Yeah, and I'm left with no one's lying

Jeroen Leenarts:

down as like salty chickens or something. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Pol Piella Abadia:

So yeah, can find me on a master and I think it's shared on my website as well. All my links are shared on my website. So if you go to Paul Piazza def, you can find everywhere you can find me online.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, now we'll make sure to put those links in the show notes so that people just that are one tap or one click away from your content, and highly recommended to check out his articles. The styling of His blog is very bare bones very simple, but the content on there is like really, really interesting and really good. And as if you're an iOS developer, you will definitely learn something new if you just have a stroll through the articles by Paul, and thanks for that.

Pol Piella Abadia:

Awesome, thank you so much.

Paul’s journey from Barcelona to Ibiza and back.
How did you get started with iOS development?
Pol's first job at BBC.
What made you decide to start a blog?
Do you have any tips or ideas for people who want to start a blog?
Are there any videos of you presenting at the conference?
Paul’s current role at the BBC and his future plans.