For the last two years, we've used Peril to automate quite a lot of process at Artsy. You can see
a full overview of what we automate in
artsy/README. As a service, Peril is a bit of an iceberg
of complexity, most tooling-y developers at Artsy have contributed to our user-land Dangerfiles
but very few have touched the server itself.
To lower that barrier, I gave our Engineering team a run through of how the server works and how a lot of the pieces come together. Jump to YouTube for the video, or click more for a smaller inline preview.
Our experience has been really positive building a single platform data-driven app. We've been able to drastically increase the number of contributors to the codebase and with minimal guidance, web-developers are able to be productive and ship features to our iOS apps.
That said, for this 3 year anniversary, I want to dive deeper into some of the less positive aspects of our transition. We think these trade-offs are worth it, and that this may be what a successful cultural transition eventually looks like for some companies.
First of all, that's very exciting! Software engineering is pretty darn cool—you get to learn lots of new things, understand the technology you use every day better, and contribute to the mysterious maw known as "the internet".
Last February, I also decided that I wanted to pursue computer engineering. I'd been at Artsy for a bit less than two years at that point, first as a marketing intern working on SEO and then as a coordinator on the CRM (read: email) team. I'd consistently been working on small technical projects; first doing some work on a tool for SEO optimization for our Editorial team, then building emails with MJML, and a few other bits and bobs. But I didn't think of it as a serious pursuit.
Mostly, that was due to my experience programming in the past—I did about half a CS major in undergrad. At the time, I felt that programming wasn't right for me, and I dropped the major during my third year.
It was Artsy's Engineering team that convinced me that programming was something that I both wanted to and could do. Our engineers have always welcomed learners and been happy to answer questions and empower other teams to do technical work. I eventually realized that the parts of my work where I was coding were the parts I enjoyed the most, and that I would likely feel more fulfilled if I made programming my full-time occupation.
Here's what that journey looked like. Hopefully my experience proves helpful to you as you begin (or finish) yours!
On select occasions since 2015, Artsy Editorial has created a number of custom, one-off articles featuring unique layouts, styles and experiences. After trying a number of implementations, the
EditorialFeature component was introduced to the process during Artsy’s 2018 year-in-review projects.
By moving the implementation of custom articles to Artsy’s component library, we were able to remove some of the friction and time investment necessary for engineers to spin up these articles, and enable bespoke layouts to be housed in Artsy.net’s Article domain rather than a custom Express app. Acting essentially as a wrapper to accept article data, any component can be rendered as a child of the
EditorialFeature component, allowing for flexible combinations of new and existing features, and for minimal or maximal interventions.
Artsy uses 3 separate editorial platforms now, we built our own for Artsy Magazine, use Medium for our Life at Artsy blog and Jekyll for the engineering blog. There was a healthy debate about whether we would migrate to one, or two systems, but I had pretty strong opinions on migrating the engineering blog to Medium and nipped that in the bud pretty quickly.
With Signal vs Noise being a high profile of a example of migrating to Medium and back again, I thought it's worth taking the time to examine our reasoning for doing it ourselves.
At the beginning of January we discovered an interesting note in TypeScript's roadmap about linting:
Meanwhile, ESLint already has the more-performant architecture we're looking for from a linter. Additionally, different communities of users often have lint rules (e.g. rules for React Hooks or Vue) that are built for ESLint, but not TSLint.
Given this, our editor team will be focusing on leveraging ESLint rather than duplicating work. For scenarios that ESLint currently doesn't cover (e.g. semantic linting or program-wide linting), we'll be working on sending contributions to bring ESLint's TypeScript support to parity with TSLint. As an initial testbed of how this works in practice, we'll be switching the TypeScript repository over to using ESLint, and sending any new rules upstream.
At Artsy we've been using TSLint for a few years now; it's worked well for us, and we've even written our own custom rules. However, given the vastness of the JS ecosystem and how fast it moves, it's easy to recognize this announcement as an exciting moment for tooling simplicity.
Interviewing is hard. Interviewers want to make sure they're hiring the person who will add the most value to their team; candidates want to make sure they're joining a company that aligns with their goals and perspectives.
Recent trends in hiring are white-boarding sessions, trivia questions, and hours of take-home assignments. At Artsy, we don't use any of these. We often get asked why not - and how we assess technical skill without them.
At Artsy we’ve been moving towards GraphQL for all of our new services. Acknowledging GraphQL is a relatively new technology, we faced some challenging questions as we were developing one our most recent services.
Naively as my first attempt to define GraphQL types and schemas, I naturally tried to map our database models to GraphQL types. While this may work for lot of cases, we may not be utilizing some of the useful features that come with GraphQL that can make the consuming our data a lot easier.
GraphQL: Interface or Union?
Think of the case where we are trying to expose search functionality and the result of our search can be either a
Album. One way to think about this is to have our search query return something like:
Last year, I wrote about the process of fully automating our weekly engineering-wide standup. One of the benefits of automating what was a meeting run by a single person to a meeting run by everyone is that we removed a single point of failure. However, I may have fibbed just slightly when I called our standups fully automated.
This blog post is going to cover how (and more importantly, why) I finally automated the last 5% of our weekly standups. Let's go!