Last week at Tech Fest Vancouver (a local recruiting event), I pitched the audience of ~700 on “why you should work for Hootsuite”, in two minutes, with no slides.

The shorter the time frame for a speech, the more effort required to distill only the essentials. Mark Twain said If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.” [1]

I spent some time thinking about why our organization is special, above and beyond the more obvious and public facing perks (a poor substitute for culture), and decided to tell a story about what motivates me to go to work everyday.

Channeling my inner rockstar.

Blinded by the lights. Photocredit https://www.facebook.com/techvibes

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The KISS Principle

The KISS Principle states that most systems work best if kept simple, avoiding unnecessary complexity. By applying this idea to the Hootsuite App Directory, we were able to make a massive difference in speed and functionality, while simplifying the overall process.

What is Hootsuite’s App Directory?

Hootsuite’s App Directory is a program for 3rd party developers to build apps and integrate them into Hootsuite web dashboard. We currently have over 100 apps in the App Directory, including popular apps like YouTube, Tumblr, Mailchimp and WordPress.org. These apps not only extend the dashboard’s functionality, but also provide great value to our customers.

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Each semester, Hootsuite Engineering hires five to ten cooperative education university students (co-ops). We treat them as full-time software engineers and give them real problems to solve. In the past two years, 34 co-ops joined our Engineering department at Hootsuite. Of those 34, ten of them (29%) joined us as full-time employees after graduation. We hope to increase this ratio as more of our co-op alumni graduate.

From left to right, Adrian Zhu, Jason Dippel, Paul Kim, Jon Jeffery, Mackenzie Marshall. Jason and Paul are currently co-ops on the Dashboard team, where Jon, Adrian, and Mackenzie are former co-ops now working full-time.

From left to right: Adrian Zhu, Jason Dippel, Paul Kim, Jon Jeffery, Mackenzie Marshall. Jason and Paul are current co-ops on the Dashboard team, whereas Jon, Adrian, and Mackenzie are former co-ops now working at Hootsuite full-time.

I have attended multiple co-op hiring events, and I am frequently asked “what does Hootsuite look for in a co-op?”. I personally hire co-ops onto my team, and review hundreds of applications every semester. I see many outstanding job applications, and want to share what I look for when reviewing them.

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It’s mid-April. Winter is over and spring has sprung, but it’s not quite nice enough yet to hit the beach (or roof) after hours. Your team has been working really hard, and could use a pick-me-up to celebrate their successes – something exciting that’ll get the blood racing and maybe work off some of that winter beer. At Hootsuite, we opted to set loose a wildly creative group of people with nothing more than imagination, vague guidelines, and a common goal. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

How about a full 18-hole mini golf course that defied logic, gravity, and convention; a bunch of money raised for a great cause, and an evening unlike any other, even by Hootsuite standards?

On April 17th, we turned the second floor of Hootsuite’s HQ1 into a full mini golf course to raise money for the Special Olympics. Eighteen departments were selected to build a hole each, and each player donated $5 to join a random team of four. When the course officially opened at 5:30pm, many surprises were in store for our excited players. Read on for a small sampling of the creativity, ingenuity, chaos, and engineering triumphs that went into #hootputt 2015!

#hootputt pictures by Candice Charleton

#hootputt pictures by Candice Charleton

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With technology changing almost by the minute, how do you ensure your team stays current – while still writing code and meeting deadlines?

Hootsuite does many things to keep their engineering team up to date with the newest technologies. In my time here so far, one thing in particular has stood out: Guilds.

It’s clear that Guilds contribute many positives to a company, but for iOS developers it was even more crucial: in 2014, Apple released a new programming language for native iOS applications called Swift. iOS developers have been programming in Objective-C for years (we love our square brackets and infinite method declarations), so learning a whole new language seemed like a daunting task. How do you make time in your day-to-day life as an engineer to master a completely new language? This is where Guilds come in — they’re the perfect way to come together to learn as a team.

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Sensu reports problems with your main page of your site, your Graphite graphs confirm that page execution time is off the charts, Pagerduty is blowing up your phone, and your Elasticsearch cluster is drowning in error logs…

Outages are a deluge of ALL CAPS emails, PagerDuty alerts, and text messages from our various monitoring tools. That’s good! A relief, too – I want to know when things are going sideways. That said, all these disparate systems each compete for my attention by shouting at me, and sometimes I find myself wishing for a ‘system’ that collects the noise and spits out just the facts – specifically, useful insight into our application issues.

Researching and implementing this ‘system’ has been the focus of my co-op term in Operations Engineering.

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Asynchronous file uploading on the web and especially the mobile web used to be a struggle. Three reasons come to mind:

  • AJAX’s inability to send file data meant Flash and hidden frames became the go-to solutions
  • Mobile browser support for Flash ranged from non-existent to extremely limited
  • Many mobile operating systems — including older versions of iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry — lacked support in their browsers for the HTML input type=file attribute
Thankfully, the task of asynchronous file uploading on web and mobile web has been greatly simplified recently. In this post I share some considerations and details that went into the cross-platform, photo uploading app on our mobile web app.

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Three out of ten visitors to your website are malicious bots. Crazy, right? A report from Incapsula states that humans only account for 44 percent of website traffic. So what makes up the other 56 percent? Bots, mostly bad ones.

“Bad” bots are those involved in a variety of malicious activities such as taking down servers through denial service attacks, stealing data from servers, hijacking servers, spamming ads, and more. How can you defend your sites/servers against these bots? Through basic network security practices, including Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS). Here’s some information on our setup, and how to install one yourself.

Incapsula report

2014 Bot Traffic Report by Incapsula

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Love technology? High school student in grade 11 or 12 or self-taught? Live in BC?

Hootsuite’s Engineers would love to help you develop your technical skills and knowledge about people, process, and technology by working with you over the summer. You’ll pair with a mentor and work at our Vancouver office side-by-side with a passionate, egoless team of Engineers having fun building something bigger than themselves. Experience what it’s like to make a difference in people’s lives by building the products that turn messages into meaningful relationships.

There are opportunities at Hootsuite in all aspects of Engineering including software (both mobile and web), operations, security, and IT.

This is a paid position with a competitive salary.

Application instructions are at the end of this post.

Passive learning creates knowledge. Active practice creates skill.James Clear

Photo courtesy of @jaimestein

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Hootsuite sends millions of messages to social networks every day. This is our bread and butter, so any unexpected errors sending these messages requires that we quickly detect, diagnose and fix the problem. For example, was it because of a recently deployed code change, or a change in behaviour on the social network? Logs are an invaluable tool for debugging issues like this in production, but without easily searchable information about the context of the error, we could find ourselves looking in the wrong direction.

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By Davey Heuser via Unsplash.com

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