Provides an API to Get Information about Veterans

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In this episode of Running in Production, Charley Stran goes over building the API with Ruby on Rails and React. It’s running on 10+ auto scaling EC2 instances on AWS GovCloud and has been since mid-2018.

There’s around 140,000+ lines of code and ~20 developers. We covered what it’s like working on government contracts, how AWS GovCloud is different than the regular AWS platform, the code base being open source, code reviews and a whole lot more.

Topics Include

  • 2:17 – 20 developers (~50 people total) run just the site
  • 3:10 – The platform has been up and running for 18+ months
  • 4:28 – Motivation for using Ruby on Rails
  • 5:55 – The application is running Rails 5.2, but they want to upgrade to 6.x
  • 6:14 – It’s currently a single Rails monolith but it may get broken up at some point
  • 8:13 – What’s it like working on a government contract?
  • 9:13 – The app is roughly 140,000+ lines of code which is API driven and uses React
  • 10:25 – The entire application is open source on GitHub (to my surprise)
  • 11:32 – What makes React a good fit for this application? Complicated forms mostly
  • 13:56 – The VA has their own UI design specifications publicly posted
  • 15:09 – Tailwind CSS isn’t being used but Charley likes it
  • 16:07 – Docker is being used in production and it runs on AWS GovCloud
  • 17:59 – PostgreSQL and Redis are used but there’s not a ton of data in the DB
  • 18:45 – How AWS GovCloud is different than the regular AWS platform
  • 20:32 – It’s all on EC2 instances that’s managed by Terraform and Ansible
  • 21:15 – They use Auto Scaling Groups, CloudWatch, SNS, Elasticsearch and more
  • 22:45 – is being used for error reporting
  • 23:03 – Getting external services approved for usage on AWS GovCloud
  • 23:56 – On average 10-15 t3.large instances power the web servers, but it fluctuates a lot
  • 25:41 – The EC2 instances are running the Amazon Linux 2 AMI
  • 26:35 – Each deploy takes about 20 minutes to run from start to finish
  • 27:28 – Charley walks us through deploying from development to production
  • 29:24 – So far he hasn’t had to get woken up at 3am (except from his 2 year old)
  • 30:07 – Jenkins controls their CI pipeline, which is kicked off from git pushing code
  • 30:54 – With multiple instances and an ELB, there are zero downtime deploys
  • 31:16 – Database migrations can sometimes get complicated
  • 32:14 – They aim for 90%+ test coverage
  • 33:10 – Between 2 and 5 developers typically review code before it gets merged
  • 33:52 – Their team works remotely and waiting for builds can get interesting
  • 35:08 – Rubocop analyzes the code base along with Code Climate
  • 35:50 – A “development” environment exists on AWS but developers run the code locally
  • 36:45 – VCR is used to help cache remote API calls to other VA systems
  • 38:27 – Each API has its own version
  • 39:47 – Attempting to get rid of the need for fax machines
  • 40:41 – All of the data is backed up and recovery would be quick if something went wrong
  • 42:18 – How is Terraform being used?
  • 43:03 – Best tips? With undocumented APIs, write tests and pry into the details
  • 44:10 – Biggest mistakes that were corrected? The mocking layer
  • 45:17 – Every developer is accountable for their work and will help to resolve issues
  • 46:27 – Charley’s consulting company Oddball is hiring and you can also find him on Twitter
📄 References
⚙️ Tech Stack
🛠 Libraries Used

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Feb 03, 2020

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