Last year, Paul Cowles and I authored a blog post on accelerating cross platform development with serverless microservices. Our experiment for our Query Builder feature, was using AWS Lambda as the serverless backend for our Android and iOS apps.

Presenting at AnDevCon

Last week, I had the great honor to present our experiment at AnDevCon in Washington, DC. This was my first speaking engagement and I was very happy to #workoutloud and share what we had been working on to a wider audience.

Unfortunately, the sessions were not recorded, but I have uploaded my slides to slideshare. The talk is very much a natural extension of the blog post Paul and I wrote.

Open Source Library

If you are interested in trying AWS Lambda as a serverless backend for your own cross platform experiment, we have also created an open source library which will walk you through the steps from creating an AWS account, to invoking your function through API Gateway. It can be found on Github:

Using this sample project, you will be able to automate the deployment up front, avoid some of the difficulties that we encountered, and get up and running quickly. We would love to hear feedback and hear any success stories, so if you do try it, reach out to me on Twitter @NeilPower or Paul Cowles @paulrc. While AWS Lambda and serverless microservices are not a silver bullet solution to cross platform development, we believe they are a valuable tool in the cross platform toolbelt.

Conference Highlights

Aside from my own presentation at the conference, I got to hear a number of interesting talks from other Android developers. Benjamin Scholtysik gave a great talk on Mobile DevOps, Continuous Integration and Deployment. Here at Hootsuite, we recently started using buddybuild for our mobile pipeline and refining our Mobile DevOps processes has been on the top of our minds recently.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big fan of automation and tooling, and so I really enjoyed a look at the suite of tools fastlane is offering for Android developers. Todd Burner spoke to us on how we can save 10 hours a week with Fabric and Fastlane. We already use Fabric extensively but after Todd’s talk, we’re going to take a closer look at fastlane. Right now we’re manually maintaining our app’s screenshots on the Play Store, screengrab seems like it could save us a lot of time by automating that process.

Another talk that I found very engaging was Doug Stevenson’s talk on Firebase. He showed us their Test Lab, Crash Reporting, Remote Config, and Performance Monitoring tools. The new Performance Monitoring tool looks very interesting, I’m excited to try it.

On the final day of the conference there was a half day Kotlin tutorial which was standing room only, a lot of interest for this newly official Android development language!

AnDevCon was a great experience and an excellent way for me to work out loud, a cornerstone of our Hootsuite development culture. I really enjoyed having an opportunity to share what we’ve been working on with the community at large.

Updating your app to target the latest version of Android can be tricky – there will always be some new challenges to solve. But when you’re called out by an actual Android architect on Google Plus for a problem with your app, you know that you need to act fast…

Android Marshmallow. © Google
Android Marshmallow. © Google

Being Called Out

After our Marshmallow release, our Product Manager Lars Vedo saw a post on Google Plus about our app. In the post, Phil Nickinson from mentioned how, on Marshmallow, he couldn’t share an image to Instagram through Hootsuite without first giving permission in the Instagram app. Phil’s Google Plus page has 37000 followers so it didn’t take long to get our attention. The post also got the attention of Adam Powell, an Android architect at Google. He responded to the above post saying “This means Hootsuite does sharing data wrong.” … Ouch.

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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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