At Artsy, we love TypeScript. We use it in most of our node/web/mobile repos. Today, I want to talk about a specific case we found while trying to make our types more strict on palette-mobile, which is our Design System for React Native.

Check this out:

const welp: "hello" | "world" | string // `welp` is of type `string`.

Like the comment says, even though we have two specific strings, the fact that we do a union with string, makes welp have a type of just string. This is because both "hello" and "world" are strings, and the union tends to go to the type that includes the most.

Think of set theory and bubbles.

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We recently got a report from one of our galleries in the Los Angeles area that they weren’t showing up on our Los Angeles exhibition listings.

I fielded the report and right away confirmed: when we asked our core API for /shows?near=<los angeles coordinates>, sure enough this gallery partner didn’t make the cut.

Turns out they are based in Santa Monica, a separate and neighboring municipality. They must not be within the 25km radius that we use by default for these sorts of queries.

Case closed. Or so I thought.

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At Artsy, exploring ways to improve the developer experience is part of our makeup. Whether it’s implementing hot-swapping for Express.js or integrating the Rust-based SWC compiler into our front-end build pipeline, we’re always trying to reduce the amount of time it takes for a code cycle to take place. CI is no exception. When a developer opens a PR, we want to ensure they get timely feedback. Do their unit tests pass? Does the app build correctly? And how about smoke tests? Each of these jobs are complex processes that take time, and the more one can parallelize said tasks the less devs will need to wait. Scaled out to a whole engineering org, minor improvements to CI can be radical.

In this regard, two things came across our radar recently that we’d like to share: sharding via Jest, and a (free) way to parallelize integration tests via CircleCI’s split command.

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Amongst the many, many things that organizations have to contend with around cookie consent laws is Apple’s very own browser, Safari. Did you know that Safari will only retain a client-side cookie for 7 days? This is in support of Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature, designed to protect a user’s privacy.

These privacy efforts are great but, in hand with laws like GDPR and CCPA, their rollout often creates a UX nightmare for users without some extra care. Here at Artsy, we’ve landed on a way to make things slightly less bad and want to share our approach.

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How do you tell when it’s time to deprecate a system? If something mostly works OK, is it worth spending time and effort replacing its functionality?

At Artsy, we realized several years ago that we needed to be able to group a bunch of artworks together. If we wanted to have a page with all of the ceramics by Lucio Fontana, or contemporary prints from the IFPDA Fair Sprint 2022, or a gift guide curated by Antwaun Sargent, we needed to have a way to make that happen.

We decided to call these things “collections,” a reasonable name for a collection of artworks. In order to create them, we developed a service called KAWS, named after the artist (whose works we wanted to put in several of these collections).

Now, 4 years later, we’ve taken down the service and folded its functionality into Artsy’s main database and API, Gravity.

Let’s talk about why and what we learned along the way.

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As I am writing my first blog post for Artsy, here is a short introduction on who I am: My name is Kaja and I am an engineer in our Berlin entity. As a Ruby-born programmer I am calling myself a backend engineer, but that also may change and is more about emotional identification and less about what I actually do (as you will see in this blog post). My background is not in engineering at all. In university I graduated in philosophy and historical linguistics, both the most impractical but most beautifully theoretical subjects I can think of. I really love being in the world of ideas and thought experiments that challenge the current status of what is, as opposed to what is thinkable.

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For those unfamiliar, Artsy is a fine art marketplace. Knowing that, it follows logically to say that the form via which our partners list artworks for sale is an integral part of Artsy’s core systems. This form, known only as “The Artwork Form,” is whispered about in the halls of Arty’s New York headquarters. It is legendary. It is a colossus. It is old enough not only to predate React v16.8 hooks and context APIs, but Artsy’s use of React entirely. The first version of the Artwork Form was built in 2014 using ruby and haml, and began its refactoring into JS/JQuery/React a full 2 years later, after having expanded considerably from the original implementation. That process (at least what we’ve gleaned from our git excavation) was incremental, experimental, and passed through many hands before it landed in the lap of the current Partner Experience (PX) team.

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Ufff, 2021 was a tough year. It was the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic. We tried our best to support each other through these challenging times and in that spirit, we feel like it’s important not to lose sight of our accomplishments. As we say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022, here are some Artsy Engineering wins from this past year.

What did you ship in 2021? We would love to hear about it and celebrate with you!

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When I started at Artsy a few years ago, I’d never written a line of Ruby. I feel at home with JavaScript — it’s been my buddy since I started my career over 20 years ago. I’ve written enough tests in JavaScript that I sometimes feel like I can write them in my sleep (as long as they don’t involve async React events 😅).

Most of the code I write at Artsy is still JavaScript, but now I write some Ruby code too, and I’ve written enough RSpec tests that I’m starting to form opinions about what I think they should look like.

My most recent work has been JavaScript again. I’ve been writing Jest tests against one of our React apps. But rather than reaching for the testing patterns I’d become accustomed to over my years of JavaScripting, I’m finding that something’s missing in my Jest tests! My experiences with RSpec have me longing for two features in Jest:

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We have a handful of regularly scheduled meetings in place at Artsy devoted to knowledge sharing.

But what about the unstructured ways in which we share knowledge? If structured sharing time demonstrates that a team is interested in spreading knowledge, unstructured sharing time demonstrates that spreading knowledge is the default mode for the team. Instead of the team forming habits of working in isolation or hoarding expertise, they’ve formed habits of learning from and teaching each other.

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