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A Suspension Bridge as a Metaphor for Reliability

This week, we spent developer time on improving Parabol’s reliability.

Parabol is a reliable app. Since 2017, we’ve had only a few hours of downtime—the majority of which has been planned. There have been only a handful of issues requiring a hotfix between scheduled deployments. However, a growing engineering team means growing product complexity and a growing number of minor issues. Last sprint and this are largely focused on improving product quality.

On the bright side, having a larger team also means tacking issues we might not otherwise would have prioritized. This week, one of our developers started work on an enhancement to the way messages are delivered between our client and server.

Guaranteed delivery

When a user interacts with Parabol with their team, their actions are sent back to the Parabol server so they can be shared with their colleagues. For example, when a new task card is created, that task appears on all of their teammate’s screens, too. When a user drags a reflection card around during a retro position information for that card is shared. However, we’ve observed that not all teammates receive these updates reliably. Despite lossless network protocols being used between the users and elements of our infrastructure sometimes a message is dropped. There are a variety of technical reasons for this, but suffice to say, we don’t want that to happen: It’s mysterious if you’re the only user who doesn’t see the task appear.

Soon our application will separate messages into categories of “ok to drop” and “guaranteed delivery” which will ensure that all clients will see the same thing nearly at the same time. This enhancement also unlocks future planned capabilities we look forward to sharing in a future post.

Until then, onwards!


Friday Ship #236 Metrics for 2021-Jan-22

Green lights across the board. We’re seeing a rate of sign-ups we haven’t seen since May of 2020. We’re also seeing healthy engagement among our cohort of Sprint Poker early access users.

This week we…

hung our coming soon page for Sprint Poker up on Product Hunt.

conducted many, many interviews for our open jobs.

released v5.32.0. Here’s a list of all the quality enhancements that made it into the release.

something big happened, but it’s too soon to share 🙂 Stay tuned to learn more.

Next week we’ll…

begin planning for our next virtual team retreat.

Have feedback? See something that you like or something you think could be better? Leave a public response here, or write to us.