June 10, 2008
It'll Be All Right On The Night

Last week was mayhem. I don't think I've ever been so busy, and I've not really caught up on my sleep even now. I was far to busy to blog about it at the time, and now my boss Julia has beaten me to it: Better late than never.

Her own blog at the Guardian; I'm so envious. ;-)

A couple of interesting things came up. The third party supplier of our comments system uses a non-relational data store, so I now have first hand experience of the problems that can be encountered. I'm not impressed. To my original list of capability gaps that going non-relational gives you I'd now add one more point; ad-hoc data fixing. We were able to update our side of the data as and when needed, which proved vital.

For example, one new but crucial date field had been missed out of the migration process, and so hadn't been populated properly. We were able to populate it with a new value calculated from a couple of other date fields in a matter of minutes, on tens of thousands of articles. I love the smell of SQL in the morning.

On the other hand, where a date value had been populated incorrectly on the non-relation data store, we had no choice but to do a complete new import, which took 24 hours. Sigh. Hence the delay.

Another problem we discovered on the night was a bug that was causing IE to die. Really die. It turned out that the bug had already been fixed, but that the fix hadn't been back-ported to the release that we were launching on. We needed a very last minute merge and deploy, so I got to demonstrate the speed and usability advantage of the Subversion command line interface in the hands of someone who has the hang of it. Marvelous.

Posted to Software development by Simon Brunning at June 10, 2008 01:46 PM
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