Marketplacer and its websites served user-provided web-optimised images from the same webserver as its actual application, and stored both the original image and the web-optimised versions on disk. Each image’s filename was stored in a column on the related model, and uploads were handled with the Ruby gem carrierwave.

Marketplacer’s websites would often have many duplicate images stored against database records and on disk:

  • a templating system allowed users to copy manufacturer provided images to their own adverts
  • users would duplicate existing records between stores of the same franchise
  • different sites with the same models would use the same original…

This post describes the structured logging setup used at Marketplacer to publish information about each request to our Rails application to our ELK stack.

Our primary goal for our ELK platform was forensics & long term usage analysis of back-office functionality. For example, we wanted to know:

  • has this route or controller been used at all in the last six months?
  • how did this advert’s price get set to zero, and by who?
  • we’re seeing a sudden uptick in transactions per second every day at 1 AM — is it one of our API users, or is it a bot…

As a developer, designer or other direct contributor to the product creation process, there’s a single principle that drives morale, productivity and motivation:

I feel that I am effectively working on something I find interesting and meaningful in a safe environment.

If these conditions are not at least mostly satisfied, other perks like team lunches, hack days or remote working options become less relevant. Annoyances like noisy open plan offices, frequent interruptions or a long commute have a greater effect.

It is not possible to completely satisfy all of these conditions for all contributors. Some of the items mentioned in…

Our full-system integration tests take too long to run: between five and eight minutes in a highly optimised CI environment, and over an hour if run on a developer’s laptop.

One of the ways we’re trying to manage this is by logging which tests take the longest and then printing them out at the end of the run, eg:

In this particular run refunds_invoices_spec.rb is taking three minutes to complete. If we divide that by the eight workers on that CI instance, that’s adding a good 22 seconds to each run, assuming a perfect distribution of tests between workers.


I’ve traditionally thought of myself as a backend developer: my career, before management, was in Java, C, Perl, Python and Ruby. I admit to scoffing at the idea of Javascript as a “real” language as late as 2011, even though some amazing work was being done with it in the previous decade.

Recently, I realised that I was really enjoying writing Javascript. This came as a complete surprise to me, which says a lot more about me than it does about Javascript.

I’m now going to tell you about four tools that make Javascript an actual joy to program with…

Michael Pearson

String Concatenator

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