Engineering Blog

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Software Engineering: A Learning Curve that Never Straightens

Working in tech is a lesson in dealing with moving targets. But if there’s one area in the business where that paradigm hits hardest, it’s in software engineering. Not only are the goals constantly shifting and the customer requirements constantly evolving, but the tools, methodologies and development environment beneath you are also on the move. That’s actually not too bad – as engineers we like playing with new things – but we get two challenges out of this. How do we discover and learn about new things? and how do we then introduce those new things to the business in such a way that we don’t destabilise processes and don’t follow false trails?

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Shining a Literal Light on Software Builds

When you’re building complex software projects, the stability of your code base is critical to the efficiency of your engineering team,. At Highlight, we rely on local builds and testing to reduce the likelihood of errors reaching Trunk and disrupting other peoples’ work, but inevitably errors still slip through. When this happens, the whole team can be impacted if things are not resolved quickly.

Naturally, we have a notification system in place that sends emails and post a Slack messages when builds fail, but we found that these weren’t being checked frequently. How could we create more effective notifications?

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APIs: Ready for Prime Time?

The work we do at Highlight involves collecting information.

A lot of information, from networks all over the place.

In the time it took to write these two sentences, Highlight has collected 3,000,000 metrics from around 100,000 devices across 30,000 locations in 84 different countries around the world. A diverse population of WiFi Access points, WAN routers, network switches, Broadband connections and other technologies from a wide list of vendors. In another minute or so, the service will do the same again.

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Highlight: moving up the stack

Highlight’s development team recently embarked upon a challenge to update some of our web tech stack. For the past 5 years, we’ve been using KnockoutJS to deliver web components to the browser. This has served us well and technically done the job, however, other frameworks that could give us performance improvements have entered the scene.

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