10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Have Senior Developers, Tech Leads or Architects

Two weeks ago I published a post titled ‘Why Smart Software Teams Don’t Need Senior Developers, Tech Leads or Architects‘. I received a lot of good feedback, but I also know it was a long read. So, if you’re interested by the title but are looking for a quick brain dump rather than an enjoyable read, here’s the abridged version:

At Tyro Payments, we’ve doubled our Engineering team over the last year.

We don’t hire for, or use, titles like Graduate Developer, Junior Developer, Senior Developer, Tech Lead or Architect. Everyone has the title ‘Software Engineer’.

This is an important part of Tyro’s Engineering team culture. Here are the reasons… Continue reading

Why Smart Software Teams Don’t Need Senior Developers, Tech Leads or Architects

Queue for Steve Jobs' keynote at WWDC 2010

A queue of software developers, not unlike the one that has inundated my inbox for the last year.

We’ve almost doubled our Engineering team at Tyro Payments over the last financial year and we’ll be adding that many again this year.

Most people who’ve worked in or with software teams would imagine that within this surge of hiring we’ve been filling all kinds of different roles – Graduate Developers, Junior Developers, Seniors, a couple of Tech Leads, maybe an Architect. But the truth is we’ve only been hiring for one role: Software Engineer. In fact, it’s the only development role on our team, and it’s the title we give to everyone on the tools, whether they have 20 years’ experience or none. This isn’t just some convenience we came up with to save ourselves HR work. It’s an incredibly important part of the culture at Tyro. Why? Continue reading

What is DevOps? … in bullet points, quotes and tweets


Interest in DevOps is booming. I feel like I heard it mentioned as the motivation for some decision at least once a week last year, and it climbed its way into the headlines of most of the newsletters I receive from LinkedIn, Twitter, InfoQ, etc.

Army soldiers pulling hard on a rope in a tug of war. Teams working together in a DevOps environment concentrate on all pulling together in the same direction.

I thought I understood it. It just means Dev and Ops collaborating closer, right? But as it gained more and more attention, I realised it must be a movement, not just a simple idea, so I set out to discover what DevOps was really about.

This blog is my summary of what I’ve learned from reading about DevOps over the last few months. There are heaps of resources and lots of people making great observations, so what I’ve done is try to distil lots of salient points into bullet-point format to make it easy for people to pick up as much as possible in a short read. Continue reading

When the Production Queue Stopped

Unusual pain

Traffic jam between New York skyscrapersLast week at Tyro we had a fairly serious production issue. Thankfully, the impact was nowhere near as serious as the kind of outages that most Aussie banks have delivered over the last couples of years; our merchants could still accept payments and they could  access their reports, but our backend processing was banked up such that their transactions weren’t appearing on reports for about an hour. That might not sound too serious, but our merchants are accustomed to seeing transactions appear in their reports pretty much instantly, so when our monitoring told us we weren’t delivering on that expectation we considered it a serious incident.

There was lots of good news out of this. Dev and Ops rallied as one team. We fixed the problem, and we managed to fix it without deploying a code patch. We learnt about an important performance restriction in our system that was fixed the next day and gave us knowledge that we can use to improve going forward. And we managed to get it solved before the last bus on my route for the night.

Success… eventually

The bad news was that it took us a long time to get to the good news: it was about nine hours from the first indication of the incident to when we finally executed the winning solution. Looking back, I feel a bit stupid that we didn’t – that I didn’t – solve it in a quarter of that time. All the information we needed to lead us to the solution was staring us in the face, right from the beginning.

Continue reading

Meetup Digest: Migrate to DVCS Sydney (October 2012)

Two weeks ago, I and a couple of other developers from Tyro went to the first “Migrate to DVCS Sydney” Meetup at Atlassian’s new headquarters. Here’s my notes on the most salient points from the evening (with some editorial by me in italics) …

Talk 1 – Jonathon Creenaune from the JIRA team

  • Know why you’re migrating. I’m sure he meant, and may have even said: have a business reason to change, don’t just be a cargo cult.

Continue reading

A Blog About Me

Art installation that says "Replace Fear of the Unknown with Curiosity"Welcome to my new blog! I’ve had blogs before. I had a blog about photography for a couple of months. I had an active blog about Scala for quite a while, which even achieved fleeting fame a couple of times. But when circumstances pull me in other directions such that I haven’t taken any photos for a few months and I haven’t written any Scala for a few months, I’ve got nothing to add to those blogs

While those blogs may have become stagnant, I have not. I’m learning things all the time, every day; things that are fascinating, things that are useful and things that are worth sharing. I realised that constraining my previous blogs to certain topics resulted in constraining which parts of my new knowledge I was able to share with people. I tend to read a lot, both on the web and from dead trees, and I learn lots of things that I think other people might benefit from hearing about.

So, this is my new blog, and it’s about me. It will be about Scala, but also about software in general; and it might be about photography, but also more widely about life lessons; and it will probably have some stuff about writing software at Australian banking startup Tyro Payments; and it might sometimes be about being a Dad and a husband, working happily with people, living in Sydney, playing the drums, designing web sites, reading books. These are all things I do, all things I’m learning from, and all topics where I’ve learned useful things that it would be useful to share. But really, the topic is me. Hopefully, amongst all that defines me, both the person I am and the person I’m becoming, you’ll find something worth reading about and, most of all, some things worth learning.

Image credit: Zephyrance Lou