Our takeaways from AWS re:Invent

Although AWS re:Invent 2018 is now over, the announcements will have a wide ranging effect on how we build our products over the coming years.

We use AWS for our Serverless microservices built using the awesome Serverless Framework, so it is really great for us to see the rapid iteration and improvements to the backing services that we use on a daily basis (check out our post on going serverless).

Serverless at Comic Relief

It has been over a year since we first embarked on our serverless journey at Comic Relief, and our functions have been happily running in production ever since. We’ve invoked over 40 different functions – millions of times – and spent no more than a couple hundred dollars, most of which spent on invoking functions hammering our servers as part of load testing. We built APIs on top of various databases, simplified our contact service, built a step counter service for UK schools participating in our billion steps challenge for Sport Relief, run a UK schools lookup service, and are currently converting our main donation platform to a serverless application.

Organising productive hackdays – how to make the most of your hackathons

Hackdays and hackathons are a fantastic way to engage your development team in new challenges. At Comic Relief, we’re pretty pleased with the outcomes of our hackdays – while we may not always get a product out of the day, we never leave a hackday without gaining clearer view of what we need to do to solve user and business problems.

This post is just a few practical tips for anyone who’s looking to organise a hackday – sharing what we’ve learnt from organising our latest hackday. 

Pattern Lab — the beauty of a shared styling library

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of Pattern-Lab (or a Pattern Library), it’s essentially a living style guide; a common tool in modern web development. At their most basic, they are continuously updated documents that help documenting common design styles for web components, bringing together the intended look & feel with the images and codes to build them.

Why we made our platform product open-source

Over the last year a key objective for the Technology team at Comic Relief has been to build products not websites. Tech Lead, Peter Vanhee, explained in a previous blog post how we’re using Drupal 8 to create a reusable platform product for building campaign websites. Since then the team have been working to deliver another website using the platform codebase and also preparing to open-source the codebase.

Drupalcon Baltimore talk & slides

Two weeks ago, I presented our story of rebuilding rednoseday.com on Drupal 8 at DrupalCon Baltimore, Drupal’s largest gathering with an attendance of over 3000!

I talked about our journey of building a product to power all our editorial websites at Comic Relief (see my previous blog post), and focused on three topics: editor experience, automation & streamlining, and using decoupled services.

From Drupal 7 to standard PHP development

In the past we used a Drupal 7 multi-site powering at least 3 different sites at the same time with all our business logic bundled inside of various massive custom modules shared along all the sites and some of them with dependencies of external modules (like Message Broker) and each site was using a different version of these modules.