WHILE YOU MIGHT know a bit about the journalists who publish articles on this site, there’s actually another group working hard to bring you the news every day: the incomparable tech team.
We’re running this behind-the-scenes tech series because we’re currently expanding this great team. If you think you’d be a good fit – or know someone who might be – then we want to hear from you.
This is our team, which is growing all the time. We crossed the fearsome tech/editorial divide (think the gulf of iOS vs Android) to talk to some of the lads – John Needham, the web team’s Lead Developer, Conor Maher, the DevOps Engineer and Stephen McBride, the Lead App Developer.
So, in order to gain some insight into the brilliant people who make our apps and site run smoothly, allow us to introduce them…
Hello! We know you’re busy so we’ll try not to keep you. Can you tell us a bit about your roles within the team?
JN: The web team write the code that runs our websites and powers the APIs that are used by our iOS and Android apps. We also write and manage the tools that are used by our editorial teams.
CM: I oversee the hardware and cloud infrastructure behind the website and provide tools that help the developers work their magic. I also plug things out and back in again.
SMcB: I maintain and develop the apps for TheJournal.ie, TheScore.ie and DailyEdge.ie across Android, iPhone and iPad. I also frequent the office coffee machine an unhealthy amount.
So, tell us, what kind of hardware are you guys using day-to-day?
JN: I use a Windows machine running multiple Linux virtual boxes for development with three 24-inch monitors. For my phone, I’m currently using a Nexus 5 (I’m a huge Android fan).
SMcB: A 27-inch iMac with extra side monitor. I use a Nexus 5 smartphone and have heaps of mobile test devices like a Samsung S3, HTC One, Nexus 7 and various iPhones and iPads lying around on my desk.
And what about tools or programmes?
JN: We make use of multiple technologies for developing and on the site, I develop in Sublime Text, and we manage all our code using Git and Github. Our core server stack uses Ubuntu, Nginx, PHP and MySQL, as well as Memcache and Redis.
We also make use of multiple Amazon cloud services, such as S3, RDS, CloudSearch, DynamoDB and ElastiCache.
If we could be a little nosy for a second: what are you currently working on?
JN: We’re just about to roll out our new quiz feature that we’ve been working on for some time, I’ve had a great time making up test quizzes about people in the office. I can’t wait to see the response from our readers.
I’ve just started researching how we can perform cohort analysis on our traffic to better understand the needs of our readers; it’s a great excuse to play around with new tools in Amazon.
Now, flattery aside, what’s the best thing about working with TheJournal.ie tech team?
SMcB: We’re a small, close-knit team who get on really well. We each have a lot of responsibility, but we can also have a great impact on the product we’re working on which is really rewarding.
The app is the most downloaded news app in Ireland and it’s how most people view TheJournal.ie each day. It’s really quite cool to be able to spot people on the DART or bus getting their news fix from the app each morning and evening.
JN: Definitely the awesome staff. [Thanks John!]
And the most challenging aspect?
CM: The enormous scale. We are one of the most visited websites in the country and we currently have six tech team members. Our traffic is constantly growing and this brings new challenges every day.
Can you recommend your favourite apps or gadgets to our readers before you head off?
CM: The Nexus 5′s integration with Google services makes life a lot easier. A lot of the services we use have nice Android apps with real-time push notifications.
SMcB: TheJournal.ie aside, of course, it’d be Reddit Sync for browsing Reddit, Spotify for music on the go and Facebook Messenger for chatting.
JN: I’m always playing with new apps on my phone, currently playing Hitman Go, but getting tired of it now, maybe a commenter would have a good suggestion for what to play next?
Thanks guys. We promise we’ll do our best not to undo any of your stellar work in the back office this afternoon…
Are you a developer and like the sound of what we do? Well, you’re in luck – we’re currently looking for an experienced developer with a track record of building amazing web products. Find out more here, or feel free to share this article with a friend you’d think would fit in on our team.