Moving to Multiple Deployments Per Week at thetrainline.com

Here at thetrainline.com we have several useful online tools for helping our customers plan and manage their train travel, including Train Times and Live Departure Boards. We recently changed the way we build, test, and deploy these kinds of applications to enable us to release new features much more frequently and easily; in fact, we shortened the deployment cycle from one deployment every few months to multiple deployments per week.  These changes have produced a sea change in team culture, with a marked increase in product ownership by the team. This post describes what we’ve done so far, and where we want to go over the coming months.

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thetrainline.com at Silicon Milkroundabout 6.0 – November 17th 2013

We (the tech team at thetrainline.com) will be at the Silicon MilkRoundabout recruitment fair on 17th November 2013, between 12 noon and 5pm. The event is at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London.

Drop by and visit us on stand 17, and have a chat about what we’re up to!

thetrainline at Silicon Milk 2013

We were at Silicon MilkRoundabout 5.0, so look out for our dark blue stand.

Accelerated Agile – comparing theory to practice

I recently attended a training session run by Dan North (@tastapod) called Accelerated Agile. This blog post summarises what we learnt: Dan argued that some organisations/teams using Agile practices have lost sight of actual achievement and are unconsciously going through the motions, too comfortable in the fact that they are ‘doing Agile’? Why might this be happening, and how can it be avoided?

Dan North at Foo Cafe

Dan North in full flow

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Chef training with Stephen Nelson-Smith – the trainline approach

At thetrainline.com we have been using Opscode Chef since 2012 for automation of parts of our server infrastructure, particularly the build (CI) machines. We recently had several days of intensive Chef training with Chef expert Stephen Nelson-Smith (@LordCope on Twitter) of Atalanta Systems, spread over a few weeks, in preparation for scaling up our use of Chef. Here are some details of how we structured the Chef training, and what we got out of it (and why).

Testing Tools for Chef

Testing Tools for Chef – following the outside-in GOOS-style/BDD approach

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Trainline Engineering at Silicon Milkroundabout 5.0

The Trainline Engineering team attended Silicon Milkroundabout 5.0, the tech hiring event held at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane on Sunday, May 12th, 2013. It was a great event, well organised and with excellent turnaround of quality job seekers.

thetrainline at Silicon Milk 2013

thetrainline at Silicon Milk 2013 – I’m on the left 🙂

The event’s participants are mostly startups, but also more established companies attended like StackExchangeyammer, king and us at thetrainline.com. This year many startups gravitated towards recruiting mobile applications development skills alongside more traditional javascript, php and design skills. It was an excellent opportunity for informal conversations with fellow companies, which resulted in several invitations to present at meet-up events.

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Engineering Day Feb 2013 – WebPerf, Service Versioning, Deployments, Chef, and more

We in the engineering team at thetrainline.com hold an ‘open day’ every six months to share what we do with other (less ‘techy’) teams in the company. The most recent Engineering Day, in February 2013, saw members of the HR, Legal, Commercial, Marketing, Finance, and other teams (plus our Exec) attend presentations and demonstrations from members of our tech teams covering: web performance, service versioning, deployments, infrastructure automation, testing, ticket retailing, and even a workshop on ‘How to build your own website‘. Continue reading

Why we built an on-premise private cloud for software test and integration

At thetrainline.com we recently transformed our software release process by rebuilding our problematic test and integration environments on a private (on-premise) PaaS cloud platform. The outcome of the 8 month project was a fully automated and repeatable infrastructure and software build process that reduced the environment build time from 12 weeks down to 4.5 hours, achieving ROI within 8 months. In this post we’ll share the rationale behind why we chose private cloud over the readily available public cloud offerings, details of the components, what we’ve learnt, and how we were able to use the experience to improve our other environments and processes.

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Feed Your Team – How Calories Correlate to Technical Excellence

pizzaIn theory, an Agile Dev team should be self organising and self motivated to continuously improve their development environment. Keeping up the motivation and learning needs dedication; here at thetrainline.com we’ve tried various formats with varying degrees of success but as a development manager I feel that the approach with the greatest success can be correlated to… calories. Continue reading