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How we ship code, delight customers, and build a team where engineers flourish. The Overflow blog covers all the latest work and learnings from Buffer’s engineering team.

OverflowJun 11, 2014
How to Think About Security at Startups: It’s a Never-Ending Job

In late October 2013, Buffer suffered a major security breach. As a startup of 8 people at the time, I’ll admit, security wasn’t a top priority on our minds. Our approach when it came to security was to checkmark the basics like setting up proper firewalls, enforcing SSL, and salt+hashing passwords. Going through a security breach changes your perspective on this. We made a huge mistake by doing the minimum. Since that fateful day we’ve completely revamped how we approach our application securi

OverflowJun 10, 2014
What You Might Find in Buffer for iOS 8

Recently Apple announced iOS 8 and along with it many features that will be hugely useful for Buffer for iOS. Here are my initial thoughts on what you might find in our iOS 8 update this fall. Buffer sharing via App Extension We’ve sometimes struggled to get Buffer integrated in other applications, with requests coming in almost hourly for us to integrate in X & Y. With App Extensions we’ll be able to provide a composer that is available in all applications that use the Action Sheet. Sneaky pee

OverflowJun 6, 2014
From Android Contractor to CTO: My Story As An Engineer

In August 2012, my cofounders and I decided to pull the plug on Fancite, the startup I had been working on for over a year and half. Making that call was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. Sunil and the C-suite, South Africa The days that followed were highly existential. Initially, I was relieved and excited about doing something new, however as a few days passed my (perceived) reality hit me: “I wasted all that time building something that achieved nothing.” I remember being filled

OverflowMay 15, 2014
How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals: The Story of Fighting Alligators and Building Bikesheds

Web apps are great. Really they are – I’m a big fan! Using web apps has been a huge step forwards in so many ways. Productivity has sky-rocketed. Writing web apps is terrible. There’s so many things to think about that, to be honest, you don’t really need to think about and shouldn’t really be thinking about at all. But, when you spend an hour just trying to sign up for a web host to put your new world-changing app, you get time to think about other things that would also be amazing to do. An

OverflowMay 6, 2014
Buffer’s April Engineering Report: New Happiness Dashboard, New iOS App and 20+ Vulnerabilities Patched

Coming off of the momentum we had in March, April was another solid month for the engineering team at Buffer.  We really stepped up our game on the security front.  We’ve also made strides to better scale Buffer, overhauled the ios7 app, and continued making progress with hiring. Here’s a tl;dr of how April looked * Over 20 security vulnerabilities were patched and we released some awesome security features * No systemwide downtime (win!) but still had a few hiccups * 1 new offer made, an

OverflowApr 6, 2014
Why Full-Time Programming is a Part-Time Job

The internet is not lacking tales of all-night coding sessions. Or non-stop, no-time-for-weekends crunch periods at critical and not-so-critical times. So, it would seems to be the case that it is possible to program constantly, only taking breaks for as long as it takes to answer a call of nature or maybe scarf down a pizza. Which is really strange to me. I feel like I have never been as productive as I have been since starting at Buffer . And yet, I have never spent

OverflowMar 12, 2014
Meet The Single Line of Code That Generates Nearly $4 Million a Year

At the core of how Buffer schedules posts is one line of a cronjob configuration that hasn’t been touched since the very start when Joel founded Buffer. We still rely on that single cronjob that runs every minute of every day. While this configuration is the same, everything else around it has evolved. Today, Buffer schedules on average 300 posts per minute and over 432,000 posts a day. Here’s a look at some of the challenges and iterations we’ve made to the core of wha

OverflowMar 6, 2014
How To Stay Focused on Your Goals When ‘Yak-Shaving’ Takes Over

At Buffer we have a focus on self-improvement. We share what we are working on each week and get encouragement and tips from other members of the team. Here is a recent example. One of my improvements recently has been to get a software side project up and running. As I’m a programmer by trade, this shouldn’t present any particular difficulty—but software has this uncanny knack of making things slightly more complicated than they really should be. This is the story of the last few weeks—the e

OverflowFeb 9, 2014
From Taiwan to Bali: How I Toured Asia, While Working as an Engineer for a Distributed Team

In August I was given the amazing opportunity to join Buffer as a front-end developer. At that time I was living in Taipei teaching English. Buffer is a distributed company so while I coded for them I was able to continue teaching. At the end of October, I left my teaching job because I just couldn’t do both jobs for much longer. It left me exhausted with no time for side-projects. Wi

OverflowFeb 1, 2014
The January Engineering Report at Buffer: The first one! Looking forward to a great 2014

As you may know, transparency is one of the key values at Buffer.  We’re striving to be fully open about how Buffer and how our happiness team is doing.  As we’ve finished the first month of 2014, I’m happy to introduce the first monthly Engineering Report at Buffer! Engineering Goals One of the first things Joel and I did at the start of this month was reflect back on how 2013 went and set down some key goals for 2014.   At a high level, here are the most important ones. Transparency As a

OverflowAug 1, 2013
Scaling Buffer in 2013

Since joining Buffer last September, it’s been so amazing to see how much we’ve grown in just under a year.  This is the first time any of us on the team has built something that’s achieved this level of scale and in doing so, we’ve learned so much.  I want to share a general overview of Buffer’s scale, and the technology stack that we’ve built to fulfill it. Some Quick Stats about Buffer’s Scale * 2 backend engineers, Colin and Sunil [

OverflowMay 3, 2013
Veggie Day: Customer support for engineers

At Buffer, we’ve been experimenting quite a bit with the support/engineer relationship. A high bar for support is one of the key pillars of Buffer.  We have three full-time ‘happiness heroes’ for a team of 10 and answer 60% of emails and tweets within the first hour.  Where we get slowed down are with the more technical issues that are reported, which require deeper investigation. For a few months we had established ‘the 5 veggies rule’ where it was highly encouraged that each developer did fiv