Hundreds of requests per second, two developers
Jerome joined WOVN as a backend engineer. Keeping things performant was a big technical challenge, as they have hundreds of requests per second and billions of records in their database. To top it off, for a time it was just him and one other developer responsible for the backend.
Jerome is originally from France, but he got his first job in South Korea, working in the gaming industry. That job led to burnout though, and so he spent two years travelling, ending up in Japan on a working holiday visa. He said, “By the end of one year, I wanted to stay in Japan, but I felt like I didn’t have enough experience to be hired at video game companies like Nintendo or Capcom. I wanted a change and looking at job boards, I saw many Ruby was in demand.”
Returning to France, he got a job as a Ruby on Rails developer. When he got laid off though, he was ready to try for a job in Japan again. Discovering WOVN, he fell in love with their product. Though he managed to get an offer at WOVN, by the time his visa was ready to be processed, the border closed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, and has now been working remotely for them for almost two years.
With WOVN moving to work fully remotely in response to COVID-19, his situation has actually improved. He said, “It has been my dream since high school to work remotely. It was one of the reasons why I chose computer science in the first place. I always enjoyed working remotely more than in the office. Before Corona, basically everyone at WOVN was at the office and I wasn’t, so the meetings were a bit annoying because somebody would bring a laptop and pass me around, but I could not hear everybody as they were too far from the mic. But since March, everybody has become remote, and if everybody is remote, that’s not a problem.”
I enjoy Ruby on Rails. I think it is pretty concise and easy to read. When we get a feature request, the product owner will ask us if we can do it. Even just thinking how we can implement it in the most efficient way possible is enjoyable.
Jerome was first hired as a backend engineer, where his work involved tasks like writing sidekick backend jobs to process reports and imports and exports of data, something he enjoyed. He said, “I enjoy Ruby on Rails. I think it is pretty concise and easy to read. When we get a feature request, the product owner will ask us if we can do it. Even just thinking how we can implement it in the most efficient way possible is enjoyable.”
The first technical challenge Jerome encountered at WOVN was the sheer scale of their application. Not only does the application receive several hundred requests per second, but they have huge amounts of data to deal with. Every page in a website that uses them has a corresponding record in their database, and each page can have thousands of values. Considering some of their ecommerce clients have websites with millions of pages, this dataset becomes so large that performance is critical.
To make overcoming these performance challenges even more impressive, for some time, Jerome and only one other developer were maintaining the backend. He gives a lot of credit to WOVN’s infrastructure team for keeping things running smoothly. Now the team is up to six, and he appreciates having colleagues to bounce ideas off.
We’re not in firefighting mode all the time, so if there’s something you’re interested in, you have time to dive in. You don’t just have to fix it and move on to the next task.
He appreciates that what the developers work on can also be guided by their own interests. He said, “We’re not in firefighting mode all the time, so if there’s something you’re interested in, you have time to dive in. You don’t just have to fix it and move on to the next task. For instance, one of the new hires recently proposed to optimize the CI to make it faster. Nobody asked him to, he just did it because he was interested in it.”
This isn’t something developers need to do on the sly either, but is part of their development process. He said, “When we have an idea, we will discuss it with the product owner team. If you look at our backlog, it’s kind of separated between the team improvements, every idea we have as developers, and there is a product backlog, which is like product requests, feature requests, or support requests coming from other people. In each sprint we try to mix fun tasks and work tasks.”
In the last year Jerome was asked to step up to be the team leader of the backend developers. He said, “I was happy to do it. I went from just doing my tickets to having to care about other people and other team stuff. I kind of enjoy it.”
Since switching to a team leader position, a lot more of Jerome’s time has been spent doing code review. He said, “Code review is also fun. Giving advice to somebody. Also when you write code and other people chime in and you can learn a lot, as the overall level of the other developers is good.”
WOVN is not a company where you’re always working on a single part of the application. I’m working on pretty much everything I want to.
Jerome recommends others join WOVN because it is a place where you can see the impact you’re having. He said, “I want my work to feel useful. In the grand scheme of things, we’re just developing a translation website, and it’s not like we’re developing a vaccine. But at least I feel like my work is useful for my colleagues and the customer support team.“
He also thinks it’s a good opportunity for people who like to have a great breadth in what they do. He said, “WOVN is not a company where you’re always working on a single part of the application. I’m working on pretty much everything I want to. For instance, I don’t care much about frontend, but I could work on it if I wanted to. From my point of view, that’s a pretty good atmosphere.”
Because you can follow your interests, there’s great opportunities for learning. He said, “I’ve been learning a lot, especially about sharding and performance stuff. I feel like I’m learning something every week. Whether it’s Redis, or designing an API.“
He concluded, “WOVN is growing, and it’s nice to be in a company that is growing. I’m happy I joined and I would recommend a friend to join WOVN as well.”