From Drupal 7 to standard PHP development

The pain

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.

We were restricted to deploying the work of a large team every one or two weeks. When something broke because of the number of changes we’d just deployed together with everything, we were unable to immediately know the source of the issue and sometimes we had to wait till the next scheduled deployment in order to fix the problem.

We needed to undertake a sanity test of the whole site on every deployment because a simple core update could shut down the whole site or one change in the javascript could break all the apps in one go. Every time we felt like we were delivering a Pandora’s box.

Our first Redis Nose Day

We changed a few of the services that support our apps for Red Nose Day giving pages before the big day this year.

One of the more interesting processes was finding a good solution for all our caches and session data. In many cases, we found a Redis service worked well with our Cloud Foundry apps, especially when data has to be shared.

The move to Redis wasn’t entirely seamless, but it worked well for us on the night, and has taught us lots. This is a quick summary of what we’ve found so far.

Women in tech at Comic Relief

‘A lack of women in technology jobs is not just a problem for women, it’s a problem for the whole sector.’

That’s the conclusion reached by the Tech Partnership and Founders 4 Schools, who recently published research into diversity in the sector. Alarmingly, this research also found that only 17% of technology staff are female. Worse still, fewer than 10% of these women are in leadership positions.

Digital storytelling: The next generation

Kids are my favourite kind of user. I haven’t yet met a user with more honest feedback than a pre-teen. And there’s no shortage of it: they always seem to have a lot to say for themselves!

This year our tech team created Comic Relief’s third version of a digital interactive story for teachers to use in primary school classrooms – and it’s the best one yet (not that I’m a proud Product Manager or anything).

My team are my product: How to develop a high-performing team of product managers (or anyone else)

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In my role as Head of Product at Comic Relief I currently have one overarching goal: to embed Product as a way of working. This is in order for Product to provide value to the organisation and it is underpinned by developing a high-performing team.

Building rednoseday.com on Drupal 8

As part of our objectives in 2016, we set out to solve a recurring problem at Comic Relief: how can we build an engaging, fast and secure fundraising campaign website – the likes of rednoseday.com and sportrelief.com – in a couple of months? How can we make sure that editors are able to create compelling landing pages that reach their different audiences?

Optimistic about our future optimization

At Comic Relief, we have 5 core values that we aim to achieve in everything we do; Bold, Creative, Fun, Trustworthy and Engaging. These values can be seen front-and-centre in our campaign activity, but we also embrace these values in how we optimize our digital product offering to ensure that, as well as hitting our campaign targets, we can continue to innovate.