The Engineering Team’s Fall 2021 Cleaning

Whenever I go on vacation, I like to spend a little time tidying up the house before I leave. There’s something to coming home to a messy house that just kills the relaxation you get from a bit of time away. That same principle applies when it comes to company retreats!

Customer.io recently held our Fall Virtual Retreat. But, before we slipped on our VR headsets, fired up our tiny campfires, and readied our kitchens for a baking competition, we spent a week doing a little Fall Cleaning. 

What is Fall Cleaning?

Fall Cleaning is an opportunity for the Engineering team to focus on group sharing, education, and, most importantly, taking care of the little tasks that never seem to bubble up the priority list. Our goal for the week was to connect better as a team, learn from each other, and do things that would make it easier to do our work by reducing the technical burden (sometimes referred to as tech debt).

Fall Cleaning Sessions

Twelve different engineers gave talks, including one who recently joined the team. Sprinkled throughout the week, and recorded for folks in different time zones, our team held several talks on a wide variety of topics, such as:

  • Introductions to technologies like React Native and Machine Learning.
  • Architecture discussions around our front and back end.
  • Discussing our engineering process and strategy at Customer.io.

Additionally, we held a separate Lightning Talk session, where folks spent five minutes or less on a topic. They introduced some internal tooling, gave debugging tips, and talked about interface design patterns. 

We didn’t just spend the week on a Zoom party, though. Our UI Developers spent a good portion of the week upgrading older components in anticipation of an upcoming major library upgrade. We got stuff done. Including:

  • Cleaned up tests, retired old test helpers, and reorganized files.
  • Fixed a bunch of warnings in our codebase and updated some of our dependencies.
  • Fixed an issue with our API clients.
  • Started a couple of hack projects we finished during the retreat—check out Sticky Notes if you haven’t!

What’s Next?

Did we fix everything? No, but that wasn’t the point. Fall Cleaning isn’t the only time we spend on learning or reducing the technical burden–we share throughout the year. When we work in an older area of code, we take time to tax the project and refactor if the opportunity presents itself. But having this dedicated time to take a thoughtful approach is helpful, as is the focus and energy of having the whole team working on it together. I cannot wait to see what the team tackles when it’s time for Spring Cleaning before we head to Athens, Greece in April 2022!

Engineering Manager Brian Sensale

Brian recently joined Customer.io as an Engineering Manager. He lives north of Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Megan, kids Celia and Audrey, their cats Lewis and Clark, and Celia’s goldfish Goldy and Feisty.

Our engineering team is always hiring. Check out our open positions!

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