Automatic Deployment at Shopify

Hi, I'm Graeme Johnson, and I work on Shopify's Developer Acceleration team. Our mission is to provide tools that let developers ship fast and safely. Recently we began shipping Shopify automatically as developers hit the merge button in GitHub. This removes the final manual step in our deploy pipeline, which now looks like this:

Merge → Build container → Run CI → Hit deploy button → Ship to production

We have invested a lot of engineering effort to make this pipeline fast enough to run end-to-end in about 15 minutesstill too slow for our tasteand robust enough to allow cancellation at any stage in the process. Automating the actual deploy trigger was the next logical step.

Graeme Johnson

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How We're Thinking About Commerce and VR With Our First VR App, Thread Studio

Hey everyone! I’m Daniel and I lead our VR efforts at Shopify.

When I talk to people about VR and commerce, the first idea that usually pops into their heads is about all the possibilities of walking around a virtual shopping mall. While that could be an enjoyable experience for some, I find it’s a very limiting view of how virtual reality can actually improve retail.

If VR gave you the superpowers to do anything, create anything, and go anywhere you want, would you really want to go shopping in a regular mall?

More than a virtual mall

It’s easy to take a new medium and try to shoehorn in what already exists and is familiar. What’s hard is figuring out what content makes the medium truly shine and worthwhile to use. VR offers an amazing storytelling platform for brands. For the first time, brands can put people in the stories that their products tell.

If you’re selling scuba gear, why not show what it’d look like underwater with jellyfish passing by? Or a tent on a windy, chilly cliff, reflecting the light of a scrappy fire? It sure would beat being in a fluorescent-lit camping store. In VR, you could explore inside a tent before you buy it, or change the environment around you at a press of a button.

Daniel Beauchamp

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Shopify Merchants Will Soon Get AMP'd

Today we're excited to share our involvement with the AMP Project.

Life happens on mobile. (In fact, there are over seven billion small screens now!) We're not only comfortable with shopping online, but increasingly we're buying things using our mobile devices. Delays can mean the difference between a sale or no sale, so it's important to make things run as quickly as possible.

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an open source, Google-led initiative aimed at improving the mobile web experience and solving the issue of slow loading content. (You can learn more about the tech here.) Starting today, Google is pointing to AMP’d content beyond their top stories carousel to include general web search results.

Haani Bokhari

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Why Shopify Moved to The Production Engineering Model

The traditional model of running large-scale computer systems divides work into Development and Operations as distinct and separate teams. This split works reasonably well for computer systems that are changed or updated very rarely, and organizations sometimes require this if they’re deploying and operating software built by a different company or organization. However, this rigid divide fails for large-scale web applications that are undergoing frequent or even continuous change. DevOps is the term for a movement that’s gathered steam in the past decade to bring together these disciplines.

Until about a year ago, Shopify followed the traditional model and felt the pain of having ownership separated across teams. Developers were responsible for deploying changes, while three separate teams owned scaling, monitoring, and maintaining the runtime infrastructure respectively. Having many distinct teams with sometimes divergent goals trying to run the same production system created short-term chaos and made it hard to align on long-term goals.

We thought carefully about how to solve this problem in the right way. Running a large-scale web platform requires very deep operational skills in key areas such as networking, data storage, server management, scaling infrastructure, and transaction processing, so Shopify still required people dedicated to expertise in these areas. On the other hand, the company was building out products and features at blistering speed, so we couldn't accept any kind of organizational or technical barriers that would slow the rate of innovation.

 

John Arthorne

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How our UX team's approaching accessibility

Last updated: September 9, 2016

At Shopify, our mission is to make commerce better for everyone. When we say better, we’re talking about caring deeply about making quality products. To us, a quality web product means a few things: certainly beautiful design, engaging copy, and a fantastic user experience, but just as important are inclusivity and the principles of universal design.

“Everyone” is a pretty big group. It includes our merchants, their customers, our developer partners, our employees, and the greater tech community at large, where we love to lead by example. “Everyone” also includes:

We take our mission to heart, so it’s important that Shopify products are useable and useful to all our users. This is something we’ve been thinking about and working on for a few years, but it’s an ongoing, difficult challenge. Luckily, we love tackling challenging problems and we’re constantly chipping away at this one. We’ve learned a lot from the community and think it’s important to contribute back, so — in celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day — we’re thrilled to announce a series of posts on accessibility.

 

Dave Newton

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Shopify heads to Dublin for SREcon Europe

Production engineers from Shopify will be crossing the pond to speak at SREcon Europe from July 11 to 13, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. From flash sale engineering to fuzz testing to multi-tenant architecture across multiple data centers, we got you covered!

Image credit: Giuseppe Milo

Jaime Woo

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How to set up your own mobile CI system

Over the past few years the mobile development community has seen a dramatic shift towards the use of continuous integration (CI) systems similar to changes present in other communities — particularly web developers. This shift has been a particularly powerful moment for mobile developers, as they’re able to focus on their apps and code rather than spending their time on provisioning, code signing, deployment, and running tests.

I’m a software developer at Shopify currently working on our Developer Acceleration’s Mobile team. My job is to design, create, and manage an automated system to provide an accelerated development experience for our developers.

Based on our experiences at Shopify, we will be talking about “hosted” vs “BYOH” systems, how to provision Mac OS X and Ubuntu machines for iOS and Android, and the caveats we ran into throughout this series. By the end, you should be ready to go build your very own CI setup.

 

    Julian Nadeau

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    Five Shopify talks at RailsConf 2016

    RailsConf banner

    Updated June 9, 2016

    RailsConf is tomorrow! For the first time, the conference will be in Kansas City, known for jazz and barbeque and home to the Royals. If you're heading down, here are the details for the five presentations we'll be giving:

    • How We Deploy Shopify - Kat Drobnjakovic

    Shopify is one of the largest Rails apps in the world and yet remains to be massively scalable and reliable. The platform is able to manage large spikes in traffic that accompany events such as new product releases, holiday shopping seasons and flash sales, and has been benchmarked to process over 25,000 requests per second, all while powering more than 243,000 businesses. Even at such a large scale, all our developers still get to push to master and deploy Shopify in 3 minutes. Let's break down everything that can happen when deploying Shopify or any really big Rails app.

    Wednesday, May 4, 11:40 am to 12:20 pm, Room 3501 G

    • Foreign API Simulation with Sinatra - Konstantin Tennhard

    Nowadays, we often rely on third party services that we integrate into our product, instead of building every aspect of an application. In many cases, well written API clients exist, but on occasion you run into the issue that there isn't a ready to use client or it simply doesn't fit your needs. How do you write a good API client and more importantly how do you test it without hitting the remote API. So far, the standard approach has been replaying requests with VCR or stubbing them with Webmock. There is a third option: simulating foreign APIs with Sinatra from within your test suite!
    Wednesday, May 4, 1:40 pm to 2:20 pm, Room 3501 EF
    • How Sprockets Works - Rafael Mendonça França

    Almost all applications have assets like CSS, JavaScript and others. That means the asset pipeline is an integral part of the Ruby on Rails framework. In this talk we'll show you how the asset pipeline works, and how you can take full advantage of the asset pipeline's features. Ever wondered how to convert an SVG to PNG automatically? Wanted to know what exactly happens to your CoffeeScript files? We'll explore that, and more.

    Wednesday, May 4, 3:40 pm to 4:20 pm, Room 3501 H

    • Testing Rails at Scale - Emil Stolarsky

    It's impossible to iterate quickly on a product without a reliable, responsive CI system. At a certain point, traditional CI providers don't cut it. Last summer, Shopify outgrew its CI solution and was plagued by 20 minute build times, flakiness, and waning trust from developers in CI statuses. Now our new CI builds Shopify in under 5 minutes, 700 times a day, spinning up 30,000 docker containers in the process. This talk will cover the architectural decisions we made and the hard lessons we learned so you can design a similar build system to solve your own needs.
    Wednesday, May 4, 4:30 pm to 5:10 pm, Room 3501 AB
    • Rails 5 Features You Haven't Heard About - Sean Griffin

    We've all heard about Action Cable, Turbolinks 5, and Rails::API. But Rails 5 was almost a thousand commits! They included dozens of minor features, many of which will be huge quality of life improvements even if you aren't using WebSockets or Turbolinks.

    This will be a deep look at several of the "minor" features of Rails 5. You won't just learn about the features, but you'll learn about why they were added, the reasoning behind them, and the difficulties of adding them from someone directly involved in many of them.

    Thursday, May 5, 11:40 am to 12:20 pm, Room 3501 DC

     

    Come say hey, and we're looking forward to chatting all things Rails! And if you're a dev interested in joining Shopify. Kayla Boyer will be at RailsConf: reach out to her through Twitter. To check out open roles or to learn more, head over to our Careers page.

    Jaime Woo

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    Adventures in Production Rails Debugging

    At Shopify we frequently need to debug production Rails problems. Adding extra debugging code takes time to write and deploy, so we’ve learned how to use tools like gdb and rbtrace to quickly track down these issues. In this post, we’ll explain how to use gdb to retrieve a Ruby call stack, inspect environment variables, and debug a really odd warning message in production.

    We recently ran into an issue where we were seeing a large number of similar warning messages spamming our log files:

    
    /artifacts/ruby/2.1.0/gems/rack-1.6.4/lib/rack/utils.rb:92: warning: regexp match /.../n against to UTF-8 string
    

    This means we are trying to match an ASCII regular expression on a UTF-8 source string.

    Scott Francis

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    Developer Onboarding at Shopify

    Hi there! We’re Kat and Omosola and we’re software developers at Shopify. We both started working at Shopify back in May, and we felt both excited and a little nervous before we got here. You never know exactly what to expect when you start at a new company and no matter what your previous experience is, there are always a lot of new skills you need to learn. Thankfully, Shopify has an awesome onboarding experience for its new developers, which is what we want to talk about today. The developer onboarding process at Shopify is constantly adapting to the needs...

    Kat Drobnjakovic

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