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How Working At Dyn Helps Me Grow As An Engineer

We have the reputation of being more fun than your typical tech company: lots of toys, our Music Meets Tech event, a climbing wall and even a “treehouse” conference room. But these are not essential to what makes Dyn an exciting and happy workplace for us engineers. Our top strength is that we are “learners” as we like to discover new things and want to solve problems.

Dyn gives us a plenty of opportunities to grow and keep improving ourselves:

  • We frequent many major tech conferences nationwide and internationally. During our first quarter alone, we had employees at OASIS, Percona Live: DC 2012, Less Conf, Strata and PyCon just to name a few, meeting tech leaders and innovative minds to learn from their ideas.
  • We maintain a strong commitment toward contributing to Open Source projects. Everyone has the freedom to commit important bug fixes to open software. It’s a great feeling to know that your little piece of code (or even a summary of the problem you found) can be appreciated by and beneficial to programmers around the world.
  • We enjoy our “Unroadmap days” where Dyn engineers have two full days each month to work on anything they like. It gives us freedom to explore and create our own projects while expanding our skills.
  • Everyone is encouraged to host internal “Lunch and Learn” events. It is a chance to meet in an open forum setting and step back from our computers to swap information.

Lunch and Learn?

Dyn Office Shot
A shot of the Dyn Office

Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds!

Anyone who is willing to share experiences from working with a new technology or wants to teach others some new skill is welcome to put one on. After conferences, attendees also provide recaps of highlights and information shared there.

Dyn provides lunch, schedules a conference room and trusts us to make it worthwhile and well presented. Presentations are usually 30-45 minutes long with the chance for healthy debates, questions and dialogues following the main content.

These gatherings are also great for finding out about work that happens on other teams. Bringing employees who do not cross paths on a daily basis together to chat about common problems they encounter provides an opportunity to see whether there is another solution to an issue.

This initiative emerged bottom-up back in 2008 when Cole Tuininga delivered his first “Python Basics for Perl Developers” class. Recent events at Dyn HQ in 2011-12 included talks about Volt database by friends from VoltDB, Cassandra by Tim Chadwick and Alex Lessard, Android SDK by Mike LoVerme, a Geo Traffic Management DNS preview by Alex Lessard, Less (dynamic stylesheet language) by John Norton and my overview of the D3.js library.

Why make these slides public now?

As a part of the Dyn Labs department, I was working on a project that performs high-speed information processing and produces a number of dashboards in addition to more “browser friendly” and printable charts. I tried a few tools and decided to use D3.js, keeping in mind how fast we needed to develop the code and how flexible the visualizations had to be. It helped me to get results more quickly and with that extra time, I was able to prepare an educational event about it!

This particular Lunch n’ Learn gathered about 15 engineers where we discussed visualizations and the benefits and downsides that D3.js has. About two teams are now considering the use of D3.js in their projects and this has added to my opinion that discussions like this are important for communicating new technologies between departments.

I also decided to make my slides public today. After all, it’s part of the Dyn culture and I expect other engineers at Dyn to be share theirs too! I hope my slides are self-explanatory. Note that they require modern browsers to open them. Feel free to comment on Github or below if you have a question.

Wrapping up

Thanks for reading ’til the end. We also published this Smokechart library, which we mentioned in our recent ‘journey to a better dashboard‘ blog post. This library allows you to build neat flame charts, similar to the SmokePing tool which it’s named after. Let me know what you think and feel free to improve it!

If you like how working at Dyn sounds, check out our current open positions.

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