At Thumbtack, we do most of our work in PHP and Python. Our website is written in PHP, and much behind-the-scenes is written in Python. Because we are constantly working in both languages, we often run into features of one language that we wish we could have in the other. In particular there were 3 features of Python that we really wanted in PHP: string slicing, string startswith, and string endswith. We recently wrote equivalent functions in PHP and added them to our source tree, and in that time they have been used many times,
There are few things we love more than understanding how people are using Thumbtack. Whenever possible, we use direct interactions with our users to learn about their experience. We perform usability tests, in which members of our design team will sit down with a user, ask them to do something on Thumbtack, and watch how they accomplish it. We call users to ensure they’re having a good experience, and ask them for ways they think we can improve. And users who have trouble with a part of the site will contact us directly.
These interactions provide us with great information on a micro scale: the experience of one user using one particular part of our site.
Early Christmas Morning, around 2 A.M., I was on vacation with my family in St. Thomas. I had just fallen asleep when I was woken with a phone call. It was my coworker Steve. “The site is down,” he said. I pulled out my laptop, checked the website, and confirmed. This is a spot everybody in operations has been in before, and I immediately had that sinking feeling in my stomach and assumed the worst… all the hard drives spontaneously exploded and we have complete data loss. Of course we take regular backups every few hours, but rebuilding our production server and restoring it from backup would not be a fun task,