EMx 072: People-Centered Solutions with Travis Elnicky
In this week’s episode of Elixir Mix the panel interviews Travis Elnicky, software architect at Podium. Podium is Utah based company that has been using Elixir for three years. Travis explains Podium’s history and its experience adopting Elixir.
When Travis started at Podium they were a small startup with, he was their 16th employee. They were using Ruby on Rails and focusing on collecting reviews for local businesses. When they saw a need for a messenger application, they tried a few solutions choosing Elixir because of the familiarity they felt coming from a Rails background. After switching to Elixir, Podium grew rapidly. Now Podium has 700 employees, 130 of whom are engineers.
Travis discusses with the panel how things are run over at Podium. Their teams are aligned around products and features. This makes all their engineers' full-stack developers. Podiums teams run with a lot of autonomy, they also have teams that help with internal tooling to tie the products together.
The panel is curious about the recruitment process at Podium. Travis explains that their hiring is mostly based on referrals, which they found has been pretty reliable. The panel discusses the value of referrals incentives programs. By hiring referrals they save money placing ads and going to fairs. Referrals tend to be more aware of the job they are going into and already have a friend to help them transition jobs and frameworks.
Next, Travis walks through what it is like for a new hire at Podium. After onboarding, the new hire sits down with their team lead and codes, taking it all the way to production. The panel considers the advantages of new hires diving in, whether or not they know Elixir. It introduces them to the work they will be doing, gives them confidence by contributing to the team, and the one on one attention shows them the culture of unity at Podium.
Podium has a lot to offers its developers. It has a team whose focus is internal developer experience. Podium maintains a focus on learning and growing in Elixir. They offer training for those who are unfamiliar with Elixir. Once per week, they do a Nerd Lunch, the company buys them all lunch while Podium engineers teach their fellows about software.
Elixir 101 training also happens every week and is also taught by Podium engineers. Allowing Podium engineers to teach gives learners a chance to teach which in turn helps them learn. It also allows engineers to network outside their assigned teams. The panel considers how people-centered all the solutions are at Podium.
The panel wonders if Podium ever uses outside trainers or services. Travis shares the wonderful experience they have been having by using Plataformatec’s Elixir Development subscription. He says it has been incredible to be able to jump on a call, talk to them and get some feedback. Using the subscriptions allows their senior developers to level up, while the other classes and lunches helps the junior developers to level up.
Podium recently sponsored ElixirConf and send a big crowd to a few different conferences every year. Travis explains the value of the conference is not only in the education received by the engineers who get to go. At Podium, the engineers who go to the conferences then come back and present what they learned at the conference, sharing what they think Podium could apply to their stack. This makes the conferences valuable to the entire team.
The last topic the panel discusses in the episode is the CI at Podium. The panel explains that most of the feedback for a new developer should be coming from the CI. Travis explains how the CI is set up. When he started they were using Github and has moved to Gitlab. They use credo checks, unit tests, sobelow, and dialyzer.
The panel asks about Elixir formatter and how they check format in the CI. Travis explains what he likes about credo and gives tips for running it. The panel has Travis introduces sobelow and what it does for Podium. Dialyzer is considered by the panel, they explain the trade-off of using dialyzer while sharing times that it had saved their bacon.
- Mark Ericksen
- Eric Oestrich
- Michael Ries
- Travis Elnicky
- Sentry– use the code “devchat” for two months free on Sentry’s small plan
- Sustain Our Software
- Views on Vue
- Two Years of Elixir at Podium: Thoughts
Why did Podium choose to use Elixir?
They felt a familiarity with Elixir because of their Rails background.
What are the benefits of hiring referrals?
Hiring referrals saves money placing ads and going to fairs. Referrals tend to be more aware of the job they are going into and already have a friend to help them transition jobs and frameworks.
What are some of the people-centered solutions used at Podium?
Nerd Lunch and Elixir 101 classes both taught and run by Podium engineers.
Why does Podium send a large number of engineers to conferences?
The engineers are educated and come back to share what they learned at the conferences and what they think Podium could add to their stack.