Learning every week – 21-Feb-2020

Sunrise in Goa

My post this week has been delayed for the first time since I started. I was at a company offsite meetings and retreat this whole week. My week was filled with meetings, presentations, huddles, and a lot of fun activities. I tweeted extensively about various things and maybe you saw some of them. As I sit in the airport food court waiting for my flight, I found some time to write about the week. But it has to be quick.

Day 1

Our offsite this year was themed around the Day 1 mentality outlined by Jeff Bezos as his vision for Amazon. We carried out an exercise around those four values: True Customer Obsession, Resisting Proxies, Embracing External Trends, and High-Velocity Decision Making. We talked about how we understood these four values and where we saw success, problems, and a suggestion to fix those problems.

Over the course of our discussions, we realised that while we were good at true customer obsession (we have a whole custom success management area), we could do better at others. For example, we generally resist proxies but sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking too much about a process. Similarly, we can decide quickly but some decisions get into bike-shedding. We introspected and planned on how to improve.

At the retreat, we presented the State of Axelerant which covered our recent move to service area model and we discussed each service area summarily. We ended that with an update on our revenue efforts (marketing and sales). We then huddled together where I learnt more about the problems each team member was facing.

The learnings were spread out over multiple dimensions and it is difficult for me to recount all the experiences (I will try later). I learnt both from our new vision in keeping the “Day 1” mentality and the current problems faced by our team.

Applitools and Mink (Behat)

Apart from offsite, we also worked on problems faced by other leaders and an interesting thing came up with a QA product called Applitools. We worked on getting Applitools integrated into our Behat workflow. Our approach was to write a Mink driver to interact with the Applitools Eyes SDK’s Selenium driver. As we continued working on this, we found that the WebDriver used by Applitools and the one used by Behat/Mink are incompatible. The same driver class can’t be used with both interfaces and our attempts at writing a bridge failed (as there were some really inconvenient “instanceof” checks in both Eyes SDK and in Mink.

This was frustrating but we also learnt that our approach was fruitless. Eyes SDK has another component which can directly work with images instead of the Selenium driver. Using that, we don’t need to worry about a Mink driver at all but just use the Eyes SDK in the step definitions we need.

Another IT Skills assessment

I found an article on Freecodecamp which describes an evaluation of 213,000 recruitment coding tests from around the world. There are some interesting statistics here but nothing too surprising, I daresay. As expected, JavaScript is everywhere. The article goes into some depth describing trending libraries and frameworks in different technologies as well. Not much of a surprise there. I expected to see React and Laravel at the top and was not surprised. Other than this, there are some numbers showing international recruitment.

Reusing GitLab CI steps

I came across a tweet which mentioned that GitLab CI supports reusing steps from other templates. I was intrigued and found that the syntax has been supported for a while. This is interesting but I wonder how much useful this would actually be. I will be testing this more once I return to work.

That’s it for this week. I am travelling through different places before reaching home and I hope I will be able to manage to write these posts on time. See you next week.