Real talk from a Vagrant burn-out

This was originally published on Chad’s personal blog on 21 Feb 2014. Hey, kid. Someday, some charmer is going to smooth talk you. Why would you want MySQL and PostgreSQL both running on your machine all the time? they’ll probably ask. Just run them when you need them. Then they’ll tell you about some slick way their company allowed all of their developers to click buttons on some website, like ordering a Fatty Meal at a McDougle’s: MySQL, Redis, a custom queue server, and our main app, please. Then BOOM. They get a fully configured VM, just like that! With exactly the things they need and none of that other crap. They spin it up, they get their work done. No fuss, no hassle. No having developers waste time configuring their environments. And most of all, your charmer will woo you with how you’ll never again have developers saying, it works on my machine! That’ll be their biggest selling point. It will also be their biggest lie. »

Wrapping Rest APIs with Ruby

At PipelineDeals, we have a growing number of satellite apps—we still have one main monolithic Rails app (which we’ve started calling p.core), but ever so slowly, we have ported bits & pieces of functionality out to smaller, separate apps. These apps communicate with p.core and each other in a couple of ways: A pubsub messaging system we built ourselves Our own APIs! Essentially, our main Rails app (p.core) broadcasts events that happen in the system to any satellite app that pays attention. So, for instance, if a person’s email address was updated, we would send a pubsub message like person:updated:123456 and the payload would include information about the attributes that changed. Conversely, when a satellite app needs to make a change to a model in p.core, the satellite app will use our public api to write changes. When using our own APIs, we’ve grown into a pattern for wrapping them with Ruby classes that feels very clean and predictable to us. »

Introducing A Series of Pipes

We on the PipelineDeals engineering team feel proud of the work we do! But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the previous (lack of) content on this blog. We aim to change that. So why the name change? Reason 1: our previous WebTwoPointOh-style name for it, PipelineDeals DevBlog, makes us want to take a nap. Reason 2: software engineering has a lot in common with plumbing (an idea I stole from @ngzax, who probably stole it from somewhere else). Allow us to open the access panel and show you how it all works »

Super-fast deploys using AWS and ELBs

At PipelineDeals, we deploy code frequently, usually 2-3x per week, and sometimes even more often. As all web application developers know, deploying is sort of a nervous process. I mean, sure, 99.99% of the time, everything will go perfectly smooth. All your tests pass, your deploy to staging went perfectly, all the tickets have been verified. There is no reason to fear hitting the button. And, the vast majority of the time, this is true. But all web application developers also know that sometimes, there is a snag. Sometimes the fates are against you, and for whatever reason, something goes bust. Perhaps you have a series of sequenced events that must occur to deploy, and one of the events silently failed because the volume that /tmp is mounted on temporarily had a 100% full disk. Perhaps that upload of the new assets to S3 did not work. Perhaps you did not deploy to ALL the servers you needed to deploy to. And then, the worst happens. For a short period while you are scrambling to revert, your customers see your mistake. They start questioning the reliability of your system. Your mistake (and it is yours, even if some bug in some server caused the problem) is clearly visible to your customers, your bosses, and your peers. »

To Be Truly Redundant on AWS

PipelineDeals is hosted on Amazon’s AWS cloud platform, and has been since 2007.   During these years we have been exposed to two separate mass outages, all of which affected their US-EAST availability zone. Compared to other AWS availability zones, US-EAST center is their busiest, has the cheapest hourly server rates, and (happens to be) the most prone to massive outages. Given that the majority of our customer base happens to be closer to the east coast, we keep our servers hosted in US-EAST.  What this means, however, is that we must be prepared to jump ship to another availibility zone with as little downtime as possible. »

Announcing V3 of the PipelineDeals API

The developers at PipelineDeals are happy to announce a new version of our API. V3 introduces many changes, including the following: Read-only access to all of your admin data A new, simplified way of handling custom fields for Deals, People, and Companies New, more powerful filtering for Deals, People and Companies »