Tales of Extreme Coding: Shark Week at BrightTag

A blog post from the coders at BrightTag this week is instructive in how they responded to a “shark week.” No, it wasn’t giving all the developers time off to watch the popular Discovery Channel series (that doesn’t mean I can’t borrow their icon), but an opportunity to improve the performance of their code. The results were impressive: they cut page load times at least in half, and built internal test tools to make it easier to do more performance tuning in the future. The post describes who did what and how.

Many of the tasks were to first understand the various latencies introduced by the code and to try to cut these down, as well as to produce a real-time dashboard to track particular performance-related issues. That is a great idea, and the more insight you can give your dev team into these things the better coders they will become. One team member “tested several different machine and Java VM configurations to identify the best performance in terms of throughput, latency and footprint.” I wondered why this wasn’t done at the beginning of their project, but still, better now than never.

Certainly, it helped that the coders were fed and watered during the exercise, and the camaraderie was a good motivator too.

The company told me, “Whether this was the use of open-source tools to speed testing and monitoring, or addressing latency and caching methods, each member of the entire team leveraged their Java and open source chops to contribute to the effort.” Nice. They plan on making this a regular part of their coding cycles.

All in all, what the BrightTag sharks did is worth reviewing, and considering for your own Shark Week exercise at your shop.

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