Moving to Continuous Delivery and a Quality Focused Process
We’re all familiar with the waterfall approach of software development. It keeps skill-sets in silos and, from a tester point of view, we were the ones squeezed for time when projects overran.
Adopting agile in the latest Membership Programme incarnation at the Financial Times many years ago started to make a change. The concept of starting to break work into smaller pieces and working much closer to one unit as a team removed the big bang approach of these problems. Ultimately they still existed. Like most development teams our testers were outnumbered by developers, but ultimately had as much if not more to do. The introduction of automated testing if anything made matters worse. When you’re new to agile you can struggle to work out where to build automated tests into the process. We agreed that they needed to be part of the sprint from day one, but this meant we still had split skill-sets – manual and automated testers. Both were needed to get the work done.Continue reading “Removing the Tester Safety Net”
In August 2016 the FT switched from on-premises Splunk to Splunk Cloud (SaaS). Since then we have seen big improvements in the service:
Searches are faster than ever before
Uptime is near 100%
New features and security updates are deployed frequently
One interesting new feature of Splunk Cloud is called HTTP Event Collector (HEC). HEC is an API that enables applications to send data directly to Splunk without having to rely on intermediate forwarder nodes. Token-based authentication and SSL encryption ensures that communication between peers is secure.
HEC supports raw and JSON formatted event payloads. Using JSON formatted payloads enables to batch multiple events into single JSON document which makes data delivery more efficient as multiple events can be delivered within a single HTTP request.
Time before HEC
Before I dive into technical details let’s look at what motivated us to start looking at HEC.
I’m a member of the Integration Engineering team and I’m currently embedded in Universal Publishing (UP) team. The problem that I was recently asked to investigate relates to log delivery to Splunk Cloud. Logs sent from UP clusters took several hours to appear in Splunk. This caused various issues with Splunk dashboards and alerts, and slowed down troubleshooting process as we didn’t have data instantly available in Splunk.
At the Financial Times we’ve recently released a new version of our website, FT.com. “Next FT”, as we’ve come to know it, is now the default experience for our users, and so far it’s proving to be a great one: It’s faster, it’s nicer, it’s better; a success across the board . Yet there’s an aspect of our new site we have largely overlooked: accessibility (a11y).
In this post we will explore what web accessibility is, why it’s important, the current state of accessibility at FT.com and the work we’re doing to improve it.
Approximately a year has passed since Salesforce announced the new Lightning experience. And what a year for Salesforce! At first I thought ‘this is going to take a while, there’s going to be a learning curve, probably known bugs to deal with’, we tentatively started switching on the New Lightning Experience to play around with the new User Interface. In a short while we tested some visualforce pages embedded in the new Salesforce application. Finally, this summer we made the leap to building the first Lightning components and Lightning application.
One of my favourite series as a child was ‘The Flash’. He could miraculously find himself from his home dressed in pyjamas, down the street in front of a shop window within seconds. When I built my first Lightning app this year, the images from ‘The Flash’ running around with the speed of light immediately came to my mind. Three words: fast, simple, beautiful. No wonder they named it Lightning.Continue reading “The Year of Lightning”
Update: Since writing this blog I’ve learnt that there may be a better approach to this problem. These days, Neo4j allows you to make indexes on numeric properties and run range queries that use the index. We can take advantage of this for dates by storing them as millisecond timestamps, allowing us to perform date range queries without the need to maintain a time tree.
If you’re aware of this and still vaguely interested in time trees from an academic point of view, by all means read on 😁.
The new and improved FT website, launching 5 October, has many exciting and engaging new features, one of which is the subject of my own team’s focus: myFT.
“The game centres on a model of a donkey named “Roo” (or “Buckaroo”). The mule begins the game standing on all four feet, with a blanket on its back. Players take turns placing various items onto the mule’s back without causing the mule to buck up on its front legs, throwing off all the accumulated items.” – Wikipedia, Buckaroo!
Fresh faces in FT Technology – Our rotating graduate scheme
Over the past year we’ve been working hard to establish a graduate recruitment scheme for Technology. We’ve taken on grads in the past but in defined roles and wanted to focus on broadening our scope to help talented people get into technology and experience the range of disciplines across engineering.