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Maxime Vaillancourt

The Changelog The Changelog #416

Shopify’s massive storefront rewrite

Maxime Vaillancourt joined us to talk about Shopify’s massive storefront rewrite from a Ruby on Rails monolith to a completely new implementation written in Ruby. It’s a fairly well known opinion that rewrites are “the single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make” and generally something “you should never do.” But Maxime and the team at Shopify have proved successful in their efforts in this massive storefront rewrite and today’s conversation covers all the details.

Maxime Vaillancourt Shopify Engineering

Shopify rewrites away from their Rails monolith

Maxime Vaillancourt shared the background and details of how Shopify reduced their storefront response times with a rewrite.

The Rails monolith still handles checkout, admin, and API traffic, but storefront traffic is handled by the new implementation.

Designing the new storefront implementation from the ground up allowed us to think about the guarantees we could provide: we took the opportunity of this evergreen project to set us up on strong primitives that can be extended in the future, which would have been much more difficult to retrofit in the legacy implementation. An example of these foundations is the decision to design the new implementation on top of an active-active replication setup. As a result, the new implementation always reads from dedicated read replicas, improving performance and reducing load on the primary writers.

Similarly, by rebuilding and extracting the storefront-related code in a dedicated application, we took the opportunity to think about building the best developer experience possible: great debugging tools, simple onboarding setup, welcoming documentation, and so on.

Shopify rewrites away from their Rails monolith

Maxime Vaillancourt turven.xyz

See how many other people are currently on the same page as you

A neat idea:

turven is a tiny widget that shows how many people are currently on the same page as you, for “warm fuzzy feelings” purposes. There’s something cool about seeing that there’s another soul out there, somewhere on our little blue planet, who’s reading the same thing at the same moment ✨

In practice, I’m not sure if it’ll make us feel less lonely or more lonely:

You’re the only person in the whole world on this web page right now. Why not invite a friend?

I guess it depends on which web pages you frequent…

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