About Ian Forsey

Ian Forsey is a principal developer working on the product and search systems at NET-A-PORTER.
Akka

London Scala Users’ Group Event

We are excited to announce that NET-A-PORTER will be hosting a LSUG event at the THE NET-A-PORTER GROUP offices on Thursday 26th March. I’ll be presenting a talk covering some of the lessons we have learned whilst building the NET-A-PORTER product API in Scala, Akka and Spray.

Schedule:

  • 6:30pm – Doors open
  • 7:15pm – Talk: Building a RESTful product API in Scala, Akka and Spray
  • 8:00pm – Q&A
  • 8:15pm – 9:30pm – Pizza and beer served!

NET-A-PORTER offices 3

NET-A-PORTER offices 2

Spaces are limited, so please sign up via the meet-up event page

Hope to see you there!

Akka

Safer Testing with Akka EventFilter

Akka provides a useful feature for integration testing called the EventFilter. This enables assertions to be made on log messages. I love this feature as it gives me confidence that the correct log messages are being generated and if my system starts struggling in production, I will have the necessary information to quickly understand the problem.

Recently, however, I came across an issue which took away much of the confidence I had in these tests.

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Education

Scala at Net-a-Porter

Recently, Ariel announced that we will be presenting our experiences of using Scala at Scala eXchange 2013. We will save all the best bits for that talk, but suffice it to say we have really enjoyed working with the language. Scala is increasingly being adopted at NET-A-PORTER for new projects, and we have been working to ease the transition in a number of ways:

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Software Engineering

Are you failing enough?

When I started in the Labs team at Net-a-Porter, the job description contained the following desired trait:

Candidate is unafraid to fail, but fails fast

This phrase was new to me at the time and it certainly wasn’t something I could say I was actively doing, but three years later failing fast is not only something I strive to do as a software developer, but something I look to do in aspects of my day-to-day life.

So what does this phrase actually mean? The phrase has two parts; let’s look at each of them.

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Web Technologies

Amazon EC2 for Small Development Teams

In the Labs team here at Net-A-Porter, we have been using Amazon EC2 to run small proof-of-concept web applications, and we have enjoyed working with it. In under a minute, you can fire up a new server in the cloud and SSH in. That is incredibly useful when you want to get something up-and-running quickly.

We have learnt a few lessons along the way which I’d like to share in this post. Just to reiterate: we have been using EC2 for small prototypes, so the suggestions below are targeted at small dev teams who don’t have backgrounds in system admininstration. The suggestions are going to be less relevant if you are running large-scale production systems in EC2.

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