Built by Damian

Thoughts on being an in-house developer

December 26, 2018

Before my current role at GoDaddy, I’ve always worked at agencies as a full stack web developer. I specialised in WordPress development, building custom themes and plugins for a variety of clients. Although there was a lot of similarities between most websites, they all had their unique challenges which prevented the job from getting stale.

I always thought that working in-house would be the opposite. That I would end up working on the same system every day and it would quickly get boring, but having been working at GoDaddy EMEA for the last 18 months, I can safely say that’s not the case, at least for me.

In my current role as the lead NodeJS developer in a team of 12, I work across a number of different projects which touch all aspects of the business, as well as helping to drive improvements in our platforms, process and help educate the team.

For me, the most significant changes of working in-house at GoDaddy EMEA are:

Change of technology

Although it’s certainly possible to change technology while working at agencies, 99% of my work consisted of WordPress development which meant PHP, HTML, CSS and some JavaScript. Although I’d started doing more JavaScript development, it was still a small fraction of my overall work.

I now spend my days working with NodeJS and use Functional Programming, both of which are a breath of fresh air. For me, the syntax of JavaScript is much more pleasant to work with, especially with a lot of improvements from ES6/7/8 and I like the asynchronous nature of the event loop. It feels much more concise and expressive than a lot of PHP code I’ve seen/written.

Operating at a huge scale

Over my time working at agencies, I went from working on sites that had a few thousand hits a month to a few million hits per month. I now work on systems which handle several million hits per day, and need to respond within a few hundred milliseconds. I’ve always had an interest in performance optimisation and scalability, so this challenge excites me, although it might seem daunting to some.

Operating at such a scale also means a different approach to architecture, delivery and deployment. It’s opened my eyes to CI/CD, microservices and containerisation.

High impact systems

Although I’m sure all of the websites I’ve worked on over the years were important to the business and served a purpose, in only one or two cases was the website an integral part of the business and therefore had direct correlation to the business success.

Where as everything I do at GoDaddy EMEA is directly linked to the core business and therefore the success of the company. This ranges from developing solutions to reduce internal costs, reduce support overhead or directly increase revenue.

Continuity

I mentioned one of the perceived benefits of working at an agency is an ever changing list of projects to work on, however the downside of this is in most cases, not being able to re-visit previous projects and improve them based on feedback/analysis. Although some agencies have long term relationships with clients, many aim to get in and out as quickly as possible and not re-visit it until the website is due a refresh in 3-5 years.

In my current role, I see the systems we work on improving over time, and it’s always possible to go back and make them even better.

More focus

Previously I was always a full stack developer, often because I was the only developer. Although this was great fun, it also stopped me from being able to drill down in everything, as there was so much surface area to what I worked on.

I’m now part of a multi-discipline team, where we have people focused on just the UI/UX, UI/logic (mostly React logic) and API/platform development. This lets me focus on just one aspect and therefore have a much deeper understanding of everything relevant to me. I initially though this might get boring after a while, but I’m still involved in some of the front-end aspects, and I still play around from front-end technologies in side projects.

Conclusion

Working in-house isn’t for everyone - for some people their ideals might be the exact opposite of mine, in which case working at an agency would be perfect for them. 18 months into this role and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve learnt so much since the change, and there is still plenty more to go.


Damian Gostomski

I'm the lead NodeJS developer working at GoDaddy EMEA. I develop business critical applications which operate at a global scale