Knowledge Base

We’re improving how we release features

Started by: steve__mc
On: 10/10/2018 | 15:31
Replies: 38

by: steve__mc
handy giff-staffer

on: 10/10/2018 | 15:31 edited: 10/10/2018 | 15:32

Hi everyone! You may not know me yet, but I’m hoping you will soon. I’m Steve, and I’m Chief Operations and Technology Officer at giffgaff, which basically means I look after our fantastic Operations and Technology teams at the gaff.


In the year or so since I joined giffgaff our product teams have released a whole host of new stuff, from simple optimisations like auto-generating member names on registration to whole new features like the extra 1GB on goodybags and Dashboard Light.  It’s been exciting to be a part of, though it’s just the tip of our ambition. Last month we embarked on a project that I think is going to be really important for the future. At the moment it’s all a little bit behind-the-scenes, so I wanted to bring it a bit more into the spotlight for you all.


The short version: we’re going to be improving how our product teams work - continuously releasing changes to our software as we make them.  You’ll have access to new features and fixes as soon as they’re coded and have a chance to tell us what you think much more quickly.


Some of you may know we currently we work in 2 week bursts of development, called “sprints”.  At the end of every 2 weeks we collate all our changes together and release them. As we make lots of changes every sprint, each release involves loads of testing, and usually a bunch of people coming in very early in the morning (4am!) to actually do the release - it’s quite painful and lots of effort.


The good news - we can streamline this. If you’re a bit more tech-savvy, you may be aware of the concept of continuous integration and continuous deployment; for those that aren’t, the basic idea is that by automating all the testing and deployment we can release our code whenever we want - as soon as it’s ready.  We’ve already made a start, and in fact we did a release on Friday at 10.30am. Hopefully, you didn’t notice any issues - and that’s kind of the point.


This is a goal that a lot of tech companies have been trying to get to, because it allows features and changes to make their way to being used that much quicker and ultimately allows us to create better software because we get to hear your feedback as soon as we’ve coded something.


In order to get to that point, we need to take some time to change things around, get to grips with new tools, reorganise and get ready. It means that for the next few months, you might notice a little less change on the giffgaff front, so bear with us if it feels a bit like things aren’t moving at the usual pace. A few months into the new year, we’ll be able to show you how powerful this change can be. I’m really excited about it, and I’ll share our progress as we get closer to that goal.


Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll pop back in soon to answer as many as I can in the next few days.




giffgaff Chief Operations and Technology Officer
Message 1 of 39
by: figment_uk
on: 10/10/2018 | 15:38



Sounds very interesting.   My first question, however, has to be how quickly can you revert a change if something you deploy doesn't work as expected?

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Message 2 of 39
by: bornagain1
on: 10/10/2018 | 15:39
Thanks for heads up @steve_mc 👍
Message 3 of 39
by: jokeyboi77
on: 10/10/2018 | 16:49

Cheers for the insight @steve__mc, although aren't we moving to Vanilla next year? Or is that the changes you're talking about? And being on the £7.50 goodybag no extra GB for me. 😋

Message 4 of 39
by: django21
on: 10/10/2018 | 17:07
Thanks for the future update on whats happening in the future. Sounds really interesting.
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Message 5 of 39
by: stephenpperry
on: 10/10/2018 | 17:29

This is a great read and great news, hopfully it streamlines workflows and leads to more operational profit for GG and better deals for us. 

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Message 6 of 39
by: alexmgg2
on: 10/10/2018 | 17:36
This sounds as though it could be a good thing, though I'm slightly cautious because I think that for it to work really well it would need some process for users to give rapid feedback about any unexpected bugs found in live testing. This would need to be available to anyone who experiences a problem, but at the same time, we need to avoid it getting clogged up with less tech-savvy users saying that they can't activate their SIM, or whatever.

The apparent problems that some members have in using the Help & Support forum (activate pending new questions to old threads, which then tend to get overlooked, for example) do seem to show that some people find it difficult to make the best use of available online support facilities, and we need to try to make any new system as inclusive as possible. Probably not an easy task!
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Message 7 of 39
by: persco
on: 10/10/2018 | 17:39

Thanks for the update. This is a great step forward. I hope you guys have vanilla platform move in mind as with the features being developed. No point getting used to a feature now that can’t be replicate onto the new platform. 


Looking forward to tomore of your work

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Message 8 of 39
by: steve_mc
on: 10/10/2018 | 17:41

Please stop replying to steve_mc ... This guy has two underscores @steve__mc!

Message 9 of 39
by: persco
on: 10/10/2018 | 17:42

@steve_mc wrote:

Please stop replying to steve_mc ... This guy has two underscores @steve__mc!


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Message 10 of 39