Mozilla Services - Year 1 !

What’s this ? read this post.

What happened

Time flies... This is a special entry because today it's been exactly one year since I've joined Mozilla. So I'll try to summarize what I've done during the past year, what worked well, what needs more work.

I was the first "Python guy" hired in the Services team. Since the plan was (and still is) to do all future server-side work in Python, this gave me the opportunity to set up the basis for our eco-system. Since then, more Python devs have joined the team and others have gained some experience in the language, and we're now all Python guys ;)

I created a micro-framework for all our server-side applications. It's a thin layer on the top of WebOb + Routes, with some specific features we need (like a hearbeat page for all our apps). Nothing fancy but it makes it easy for someone to start a Server application sharing a common standard.

I re-wrote all the PHP code that is needed to run a Sync server (Registration + Storage) in Python, using the micro-framework. This was done months ago, and both the core and the apps have evolved since then, following the changes that were made in the PHP parts. Pushing the work in production was the hardest part because it supposes a lot of coordination between Devs and Ops. And Ops had zillions of stuff to do for the Firefox 4 launch, so we missed that launch. Since then, the Registration part was pushed, and we're about to push the Storage part.

I wrote the Easy Setup server, that is used for example when you set up your Android phone's Sync account by transferring your desktop Sync profile. This was really fun because it was the first project I did from scratch. I worked on the design with Phillip and Stefan and I really enjoyed it. A small, fun and interesting project.

I added a IP blacklisting middleware into the Easy Setup server, that rejects calls from an IP if it has done too many attempts in a short time window. This work led to a new project that is currently under development by Ryan: a blacklisting server that can work across several applications.

I've set up a documentation center at is built using Sphinx. The sweet thing about it is that its content lives in a Mercurial repository, so developers can change the documentation directly. The goal of this website is to provide a single place for all our APIs specifications, and our development guidelines, with a minimal overlap with sites like MDN etc.

I've created pypi2rpm and we worked with Richard S. on deploying our Python applications using it. The tool is built on the new packaging tool I am working on for Python and let you create RPMs files for our projects. It's a mix of a PyPI crawler, a version sorter and a RPM creator. We've created a release process based on this:

I've set up a Jenkins server for our server projects. Can't link it because it currently leaves in our intranet. The Jenkins server does the following for every server application:
- builds it - runs its tests - build all its RPMs under Centos5 and Rhel6 - Install all the RPMs under a Centos5 chroot and check that there's no dependency error

I've set up a PyPI Mirror in our intranet so Jenkins (or someone creating RPMs) does not rely on any external resource.

Also: we're having regular MoPy meetings now at Mozilla \o/

What's next

During the next months we will do a lot of work in the Sync application(s) to support new features and optimize existing ones. We'll also start new projects.

For the tooling/framework parts, here are a few paths where I'd like to see us going.

Continuous load testing: one goal I have is to make it possible for anyone to run a load test on one of our applications via Jenkins, on a given stage or dev server. Then see the results, compare them with some previous runs etc. The second goal is to make load tests an easy thing for developers to add early in a project. Writing load tests makes your application faster, just because you focus on it, that's a fact.

I've made good progress in this topic and some stuff are going to land into Funkload itself to make it easier to automate load tests and reports generation. The next task I have is to work with other teams involved with Services, and make sure their use cases in this area are provided by the tools.

A standard for our API specifications. This is a personal project I have, but it is directly inspired by our work at Services. I want to reduce the path from a server API specification to its implementation. For this I am working on a DSL that can be used to describe some APIs, produce their documentation and eventually, be used to run a server. If my experiment goes well, I'll introduce it.

Cross-team code review. Inspired by Jeff and some other people during a MoPy meeting, I started to write a small web site that could be used by a dev to ask for code reviews from people outside its team. The idea is that the website tries to find automatically someone that has the required skill to do the review. A review will cost you some credits and by doing a review you'll earn some.

On working remotely

I am a big fan of remote working. I am doing it for years. It works quite well within the Services team, and half of the team is doing it. The one thing that's hard to manage is the timezones: I am the only guy in Europe and I am 9 hours in front of Mountain View.

This means that if I need to work & chat with my colleagues, I have to do it on the evenings. Also, some events have to be scheduled on the PDT timezone. For instance, production pushes are starting at midnight for me. I had to adapt a bit my schedule for this, it was hard at first but now it's working well.

But... I would really love to see some more people in my team hired in Europe, so I can speak with them on daytime.

As a conclusion for year 1, I love my job at Mozilla. I'm working with a lot of smart guys and we get things done, mostly because everyone in this team is passionate. I a looking forward for year 2.