This is how we do it: Product Development at Voys

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Hylke de Jong
3 August 2023 Clock 4 min

On the first of January 2023 Devhouse Spindle ceased to exist and went on as Voys. Joining forces was a long time coming and was the logical thing to do (/spock_mode). Over here and here you can read all about this decision and how it came to be.

Spindle stood for something: a place where we celebrated nerd culture, the perfect place to spend your day as a developer. So what’s happening with that, now that Spindle is no more?

Well… half a year later that nerd culture is certainly still there and we’re going to dial it up to eleven!

From Spindle to Product Development

Spindle didn’t dissolve overnight to never be seen or heard of again. All the good things of Spindle, all the knowledge, all the experience, the whole engineering culture and what we stand for, got wrapped up and rebranded within our organization as Product Development. If you think Spindle was already pretty great, you can think of Product Development as Spindle on steroids. I was the lucky one to lead this new circle.

Facilitating growth

Renaming an internal part of the organization is only a solution on paper of course. There are multiple decisions and goals behind this. One of the main ones being a technical one: our architecture.

For the longest time the backbone of Voys has been a monolithic application, built using the Django framework. And this has served us very well. Especially in the early days of Voys it allowed us to get something awesome going pretty quickly. It almost automatically aligned our developers because of the shared codebase and it was fairly easy to get an overview of the whole applications and its intertwining parts. So, what happend then?

Well, we grew.

Growth comes with challenges and pain. For a long time we were able to mitigate these challenges and pain points with the monolithic platform. But at a certain moment we reached the tipping point. It became too difficult, too much trouble and flat out too complex to build, maintain and scale our monolith. This also slowed us down in delivering new features to our users. Something had to happen.

A look into the future

Thankfully a couple of roles within Product Development were already looking towards the future and thinking about how to make sure that we were ready for the next 17 years of Voys.

We turned to microservices. Not because we blindly follow the hype, but because microservices gave us a couple of pretty clear benefits over the monolith. We deliberately choose to aim for those benefits, while also being realistic about the new challenges microservices bring.

Enter Holodeck

We dubbed our new architecture and platform Holodeck, after the fictional room from Star Trek. In Star Trek, the holodeck can be used to easily recreate whatever you want. That sounds very much like what we want the new microservices platform to be for us.

Switching architectures is no easy task. It comes with a lot of new challenges. Thankfully we are already seeing the benefits of our new approach. We’ve been able to considerably speed up development while at the same time making sure that our solutions are:

  • more robust;
  • easier to scale;
  • and more maintainable.

Of course we are not there yet. I don’t think we can ever say we are. Having this constant moving goal is one of the things we pride ourselves with. Nothing is ever done and nothing is ever going to be perfect. It’s this mentality of 1% better each day that we inherited from Spindle and are still living by.

So many ideas, so little time

So, with all this new found speed, our architecture and platform are no longer a bottleneck for our ambitions. At the moment we have more ideas than we can reasonably build. What we need most of all, is more colleagues. Not only to work on building new features, but also to further shape our way-of-working. We are still on a journey of discovering all the benefits of our new architecture and the optimum way of using it.

That’s where you come in

At Voys we work through self organization (Holacracy), which means you have a big say yourself in how to shape the developer experience. We aim to create an environment in which our developers can thrive and be their best self. We believe in the DevOps approach (the actual culture, not the slide in your presentation with all the logos of the tools you use). We strive to get to an even better product for our users through fast feedback loops and quickly adapting to new-found insights. This means you have a lot of freedom and autonomy to make decisions on how to do the work you see best fit.

If this story has sparked your interest, let’s connect! No harm has ever come from having a coffee 🙂. If you like to have some more information about our tech stack and what we specifically search for in our developers, check out our vacancies. Hope to meet you soon!

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