Professional Work

Professional Work #

At Narvar #

As manager of the team responsible for Narvar Returns & Exchanges for Shopify, I lead a team of five developers, and we’re still hiring. I work with a product manager and a designer to plan the future of the application. Some highlights:

  • I reached across teams to rework our ticket prioritization and scheduling system. Previously, the team manager took direct responsibility for pulling priority issues out of a chaotic and disorganized backlog. I brought customer-facing teams into the process and gave them a leading role in deciding ticket priorities. This involved negotiations among six different managers of teams with different constituencies and priorities, but ultimately increased time to resolution by 50% and reduced status update requests by 90%.
  • The mid-market Shopify Returns product has always been a ground for experimentation before features are implemented in the enterprise product. Repeatedly, we took high-priority CEO-driven projects with externally imposed deadlines, and landed those projects precisely on time.
  • I act as the front line to assess and diagnose incoming tickets.
  • An engineering manager should know the codebase. I make sure to spend time delivering bugfixes and minor features every week.
  • I work across time zones and continents to manage a distributed team.

At SurveyMonkey #

As manager of the team responsible for third-party integrations in GetFeedback, I led a team of five developers. I worked with a product manager and a designer to plan the future of the application. During this time:

  • We created a new Salesforce integration microservice, with an experimental frontend. It ran within a Kafka-based microservice architecture that hosted an increasing number of services, as part of an initiative to unify GetFeedback and another recent acquisition, Usabilla.
  • We built a contact database for survey response attribution, with an innovative client-side spreadsheet import system. This system was designed as the centerpiece of a customer-experience management platform which would encompass GetFeedback and third-party CRMs.
  • When Zendesk and SurveyMonkey announced a planned merger, we played a crucial part in a crash effort to build a Zendesk integration. The merger fell through, but the Zendesk integration is now available to all customers.
  • Through it all, we continued to maintain and improve our existing Salesforce integration.

There were several changes of direction in this period, and so my management style emphasized stability, medium-term goals, and a clear business rationale for each effort. My team had excellent retention despite general attrition, and feedback from my managers and team members emphasized my calm and positive attitude. (Full disclosure: I was sweating bullets half the time.)

At GetFeedback #

As a full-stack developer on a small team, I had responsibility for every aspect of the GetFeedback application. Using Rails and JavaScript, I did countless features and bugfixes. This system was based on Ember.js, which was a fun trip outside the React box.

  • I made many improvements and refinements to the Salesforce integration at the heart of our business.
  • I implemented a print-friendly view of one of our main analytics reports, a surprisingly complex task that got deep into browser-level rendering, and even saw me analyzing the Chromium source code to understand the graphics pipeline.
  • I wrote a quick and dirty tool to suggest possible fields for univariate segmentation, filtering out fields whose datasets were too noisy, too sparse, too this, too that.
  • I implemented import and export of spreadsheets for multilanguage translations. This was a fun job that got me deep into the various specs for language naming, string encoding, and spreadsheet parsing. I ended up with a lot of respect for UTF-8.
  • With a co-worker, I created the Actions feature, which permits customers to easily generate complex workflows for established use cases. There is now an entire team working on a similar concept.
  • I played a large part in integrating Twilio with our existing distribution methods, permitting SMS survey distribution. Twilio is great! I understand now why they had billboards all over SF just saying “ask your developer.”
  • I did a lot of backend work on our billing and subscription systems. Tax calculation is hard, and even filling in the gaps in a third-party API was a real task.
  • With co-workers, I connected one of our main analytics views to a live-updating object database instead of Postgres, greatly improving its responsiveness and filtering abilities.
  • And amid all this, I fixed countless bugs and did many small features.

At Paperless Post #

From May 2011 to December 2017, I worked on the design tool, the single-page webapp used to customize cards in Paperless Post. I am proud to have worked with a great team on a complex product that directly adds value to the lives of our customers.

The second incarnation of that design tool is powered by an embeddable canvas-based JavaScript module nicknamed “the viewport”. This module is at the core of the Paperless Post card system, and powers the React-based desktop web site, the Redux-based mobile web site, the iOS-based native apps, and the nodeJS-based server-side renderer.

Undo/Redo #

I wrote a pretty solid undo/redo system for the old Flash/JavaScript hybrid version of the design tool. I am still proud of it! Some of my finer technical work. Required a lot of grit to go through and apply it to every aspect of the application. This article, originally from the company tech blog, describes it in detail.

And Everything Else #

I did a lot of heavy lifting at Paperless Post.

  • In my first months, I proposed and led a refactor of the architecture of the Flash code behind the card design view.
  • In my first year, I proposed and led a refactor of the business logic which tied the Flash and JavaScript design components together. The refactored business logic still runs in the application today, in an evolved form.
  • As we developed the HTML5 canvas-based viewport module, a co-worker and I got elbow-deep in the fine details of text editing, since we had to implement all text interactions from scratch. Ask me about selection pivot points some time.
  • Text editing requires a lot of mouse sequences. For instance, to select one word at a time, you double click and drag before releasing the second mouse click. JavaScript only gives you mouseDown, mouseMove, and mouseUp. I wrote an extensive state machine to cover the full range of mouse input.
  • When we brought the viewport to the desktop web, replacing the old Flash/JS hybrid application, I proposed the use of React, and designed the architecture.
  • I wrote a generalized client-side data model class which implemented an Observer pattern. The model class supported transactions: we could perform a lot of model property changes before emitting a single event describing the batch of updates.
  • Right before we discontinued the Paper product, I implemented a recipient addressing feature. Knowing that the feature might not be used in the long run, I designed the data model so that it would have no impact on the rest of the database. Although the feature was not especially difficult, I consider this item an example of my technical judgment.
  • In my last project at Paperless Post, I worked with an ad hoc team to get card creation working on mobile browsers. The mobile-web app is pure JavaScript, hosted on S3, and it communicates with the server’s JSON API. I was pleased to have the opportunity to use Redux on the job, and I was satisfied to leave the company on a win.

Statistics #

According to git, my 5,376 commits and 494 pull requests add up to 171,332 lines added, 141,331 lines deleted, across 1,127 unique files in three repositories.

Edit: At the time I left the company, the PR count was over 500. A nice milestone for a major part of my professional journey.