Saturday, November 1, 2008

Back after a Hiatus

It's been a year and a half since I joined I've learned a whole hell of a lot during that time and instead of sharing my trials and tribulations of learning rails and building out a pretty darn complex website, I'm going to shift the focus of this blog to share how we're doing things that are different and unique. engineers have produced no fewer than ten unique open source projects as part of our work on the site and have contributed features and bug fixes to numerous open source projects like haml, rails, beanstalk, and git. I'm pretty darn proud of us and I intend to start sharing more about the great things we do.

We've just launched a complete redesign of the site. From a technical perspective, this launch was a resounding success. We have a very solid feature set that exceeded expectations, and we did this with just four engineers. As the architect, I did some up-front coding and planning and got our application infrastructure in place so that the rest of the team could hit the ground running. I spent about two months preparing while the others were building other features. In that time, I overhauled our core data model, implemented dramatic changes to the Cells project, created an entire stylesheet framework built on the awesomeness that is Sass, and eventually ended up joining the HAML project as a core contributor. Needless to say, I've been busy and my family is glad that things are cooling off a bit.

Seven weeks before launch we still didn't have a single template built but I had all the infrastructure in place when the full team finished their other work. Truth be told, I was freaking out and didn't imagine that we would hit our date. But 5 weeks later we were feature complete and two weeks after that we had all the bugs fixed and the site was looking better in all our target browsers than it had ever looked before. The engineers kept complaining that things were too easy and straight-forward and they didn't have to think enough when building out the features. In other words: music to my ears.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be sharing with you as much as I can about how four engineers in five weeks rebuilt what amounted to a complete rewrite of the "core" of Our content system. I will also be describing the open source projects is contributing back to the open source community that has given so much to us. I hope you find it interesting and at least somewhat helpful.

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