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Shopify & E-Commerce

If you’ve ever seen Kelly’s Twitter account then you’ve probably heard of Shopify, an E-commerce platform that gives you everything you need to sell online. This week we’re talking to JML, CTO at Shopify, and we’re giving you all the details.


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Shopify & E-Commerce

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Show notes

Who are you and what is your role at Shopify? - 1:05
What does a typical day at Shopify look like? - 1:41
What was your path in tech? - 3:36
What is Shopify & e-commerce in general? - 7:44 What makes Shopify different from competitors? - 12:41
Why should developers pay attention to Shopify? - 13:42
What are your favorite things that have been built by Shopify? - 22:09 How has Shopify’s design system, Polaris, changed development? - 24:28 What tech stack do you recommend focusing on for new Shopify developers? - 30:06
What does the day in the life of a Shopify developer look like? - 31:01

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Transcript

Kelly 0:03 Welcome to the Ladybug podcast. I'm Kelly.

Unknown Speaker 0:05
I’m Allie. And I’m Emma. And we’re debugging the tech industry. net, which is the premier way to build and manage fast modern websites that run without the need for web servers to play sites directly from get to a worldwide application delivery network for the fastest possible performance. That love is built in continuous deployment automatically builds and deploys your site or app whenever you push to your get repository. You can even attach deploy previous to your pull request and turn each branch into its own staging site. Use modern front end tools and say generators like reacting Gadsby or view and next, for the backend net Lyft I can automatically deploy AWS lambda functions right along the rest of your code. Simply set a folder and drop in your functions. Everything else is automatic. There’s so much more automatic forms identity management and tools to manage and transform large images and media learn more about nullifies powerful platform at Nola phi.com slash leave. So let’s go ahead and just Start with the VC questions. Can you tell us a little bit more about who you are and what your role is at Shopify?

Unknown Speaker 1:05
Yeah, cool. My name is Michelle linear. A lot of people just call me JML for short. So if you see that on the internet, you’ll see JM, L’s me, and I’m the CTO at Shopify. So basically the full fledged, I guess, head geek, been here before about five years. And, yeah, I have a, like, a super fun job, you know, spent half of my time on technology and half my time, you know, trying to build a company, and making sure that, you know, I, we stay sane as we do that.

Kelly 1:34
I bet your day probably changes a lot, given how much you have going on. But what was what would your standard day to day look like for you?

Unknown Speaker 1:41
I try and like I really try and, you know, make sure I do two things. And I kind of almost planned my weeks around or like half of it is on how we’re building Shopify. Like there’s a huge amount of decisions around like the technology, we’re going to use the architecture we have, you know, so many different peoples with opinions about how we’re going to evolve Shopify, so half my week. spent on like, literally spending time with teams going, you know, what are we doing with check out this, you know, this year? And what kind of decisions do we have to make? And a lot of times, you know, you know, obviously it’s hard as a CTO to be across all the, you know, every line of code in Shopify, obviously, that’s not going to be happening. But when I do a lot with teams that just go, do we have permission to, like, explore a bit, you know, and often as a company gets bigger, you’re like, are we exploring still, right? Like, and a lot of teams will come to me with, you know, Option A and B, they go Hey, JML you know, we look into the bit we have two options, can you help us pick which one? And often I’ll go what why isn’t there an option C or D? Like what like why not let’s look at let’s explore a bit more before we you know, we have a time pressure and we think that we we actually understand what this off. So that’s half of my week, which I as you can tell like is like super enjoyable because it keeps you on your feet. I think, you know, I think some of the decision we’re making about how we’re evolving shofar going to be like, pretty critical for the long term. And then half my week is spent on you know, I’d say, you know, running the company, you know, internal PR communication, doing podcasts like this, making sure that people understand the story of, you know, what it’s like to be on the engineering team at Shopify, and listening to people, you know, we have a lot of people who, you know, it’s their, maybe the first time in their, in their life in a company that’s growing really quickly. You know, it’s sometimes it’s hard, you know, having a new role. There’s a lot of questions. You know, some, some weeks are harder than others. And you know, I guess half of my week is I’m an armchair psychologist. Maybe that’s it. So software developer have to after the weekend, half the week, an armchair wannabe psychologist.

Emma 3:36
That’s awesome. So I’m kind of curious, could you give us a rundown of like your background, so you’re obviously technical. How did you get there? Like, did you study computer science and in college, and what was your career path up until this point?

Unknown Speaker 3:50
Yeah, it was kind of really interesting. So I got into this in high school. So I did a minor in arts in high school. So half my curriculum was like math and science and half was painting and music. One year I had this crazy like, my dad got me this computer. And I had a crazy idea with my drama class that we were doing a Phantom of the Opera and Lehman’s that I play. And I was like, What if I did all the music on my computer, I didn’t like a keyboard computer. And at that time, I think it was an Atari ST with Coinbase was like the software program you can use to sequence that. And my drama teacher looked at me going like, you’re effing crazy. Like what else? So I remember I went home and went home and over the weekend, I forget which song I did, it might have been empty chairs and empty tables, or literally the Phantom of the Opera, like main song. And I see like, just you know, recorded like three, four, you know, like, parts to it. And I played it back in in drama class and I forgot my drama teachers name and she was like, Okay, let’s do this. And then I literally did the whole thing my granddad had it recorded on VHS at some point. And and then at that point, I was like, man, computers are really power. Like, this is fun. Like it allowed me to do things that I couldn’t do. I really enjoyed the creative process. And then I stumbled through high school and I went to my guidance counselor. And I was like, Hey, I have to apply for university. What do you think? And she’s like, well, you kind of like playing with computers and music class. Why don’t you do that? So that’s how I got into computer science and I’d never programmed before going to computer science at all. And I remember I was extremely intimidated. I remember my first class at Ottawa University. I tried to sit beside the person I thought had programmed before I remember him I still remember his name is a really good friend Pascal. Like like Blaise Pascal, you know, the, the physicist Blaise Pascal, show me how to program and first year of university and I think I got addicted, you know, from there. So I think the combination of seeing how, how enjoyable and creative I could be with a computer and then figure out how they work was like, I don’t know, I just got lucky I stumbled into it. So I did a cop side degree and then, you know, worked as a, you know, as I guess a regular developer for 15 years on a lot of open source projects. Building platforms building developer tools and, and at some point, I think someone like my boss just said, Hey, we need a we need a team lead for this area. You seem to be keen and engaged. You want to do it and I was like, Sure, why not? And I think that’s, you know, maybe that was 13 years ago. And then I realized, like leadership is hard, have fun stories. I grew up in a town where I went to university in a town in Canada called Ottawa, Canada, where we’ve had a lot of big tech companies. So like Nortel, who was like a huge, huge tech company in the telecom days was here, corral draw, which is a competitor photoshopped and the days was here. We had, like blackberry was Canadian. So as that as a, you know, young person growing up, I saw all this booming tech, but I also saw it collapse. Right? Like I was reading a newspaper and I hear stories about, you know, how building companies is hard. So I think about 13 years ago, I had this pivot point going, cool. Computers are great. I’ve had a great time, you know, in open source communities, trying to get a taste of what it’s like to work. humans, but hey, building companies is it feels like, if you have really good ideas about software, you still have to build a company to help kind of scale it and grow it. And I knew nothing about humans, you know, outside of myself, like really, you know, like I, you know, I always, I never did a psychology course I didn’t do any, you know, like, I really almost did too much computers in some way. So I, I was really excited by the challenge of like, it seems like it’s really hard to build companies, like what would I have to learn now to figure out how to, like work with people build companies have bigger teams. So I think that’s where I got into, I guess, more full time leadership from there. So anyway, sorry, long, long winded story, from arts to computers to leadership and kind of kind of how I ended up here and then yeah,

Kelly 7:44
yeah, that’s it. That’s a fun journey for sure. I mean, you’ve been exposed to so much over time. So let’s let’s talk about Shopify a little bit. First off, it’s two parter one, what is Shopify? And we’re going to be on the topic of e commerce obviously as well. So can you Define that

Unknown Speaker 8:01
too. Absolutely. Okay. This is always a challenge when you’re so in depth in something like,

Emma 8:07
no pressure, but I know nothing about e commerce. So teach it to me like I’m five. Yep.

Unknown Speaker 8:12
So let’s start with Shopify. There’s millions of people around the world who have great ideas for business, right? So imagine that the T shirt, you’re wearing it, right. And that or that the sweatshirt you’re wearing. Imagine you you you created that you’re, you know, a maker, and you’re like, cool. How do I start selling this? Right? And you think about like, what it takes to start a business. You’re like, I gotta open a bank account. I’ve got to figure out where my stocks going to be. I’m going to figure out how many how many shirts Do I have to sell? I’ve got to put a storefront up, whether it be online or you got to open a stop. Sure. You have to decide, are you going to take Amex and Visa and MasterCard? Or are you going to like all that Shopify is job as a platform to make it easy for you to get up and started and in some ways not have to worry about all those other things, because you’re stressed enough about trying to figure out what you know your product right? Trying to figure out what let’s make an awesome product that people love. So sharp eyes job always been to have entrepreneurs backs and to build and to make sure we’ve got the technology to make it so that you can basically have an idea, open a shop and start start making money and our jobs to bend the learning curve of entrepreneurship in some ways. So we often talk less about commerce and more about entrepreneurship, or I’m just like, we’re here to support entrepreneurs who have great ideas who don’t have a computer science background might not be super literate about how like, what our commerce infrastructure works like, right? Where do I get terminals? How do I accept credit cards to shop buys jobs to take all that away and make it super easy, right? So that’s, that’s kind of our origins. And then ecommerce is just the internet’s bent the curve of how easy it is to do that, right? literally how easy it is to have an online store to accept payments and to like manage your shop, right? Like you’re going to get questions from people people are going to order things are going to get the wrong sizes. Like how do you make sure that when you do decided to run a business that you Don’t spend your time doing boring stuff. No, I think so I think sharp eyes job is like a supporting platform for entrepreneur entrepreneurship. And a lot of people don’t see Shopify in their faces because you don’t see Shopify. We’re kind of a supporting actor ever. We’ve let people have their own brands because we like a kind of a founding principle for Shopify is we think entrepreneurship suit should be super creative. Like we don’t want like, we don’t want shopping experiences that are like going to the dentist office. It’s white, it’s boring. We want like creativity, fun quirkiness. So we’ve let entrepreneurs on Shopify build all these crazy shopping experiences, which is great. So Shopify has been almost, you know, in the backseat supporting people. And that’s kind of where we built a lot of technology make that happen.

Emma 10:42
That’s really interesting, because, well, two parts one, I like what you said about Shopify, not really being in the limelight, because a good product or good tool that enables others to do things should should kind of fade away into the background, if it’s doing its job and enable people at that point to rise up. I love that. I’m And secondly, it’s kind of cool to see the transformation of like, you know, when all these big companies and chains started coming out, it kind of almost disintegrated some of the more like mom and pop businesses and family run businesses. But now, like Shopify is enabling these people to come back and kind of compete on a larger scale, which is really cool.

Unknown Speaker 11:22
Yeah, exactly. And compete and own kind of own the relationship with their customers. You know, like, if you have a business, the people who are buying from you are, like, they’re so important, right? You want their email addresses you want to, you know, be able to talk to them directly. You want to be able to even not just selling things, but like create really good experiences, right? Like sending videos of what it’s like to build your shirt and what it’s like to live like that. And a lot of commerce over the years became, there’s a lot of middlemen, or middle people who are involved in like, Oh, just give me your give me give me a shirt and I’m going to sell it for you and I’ll take a cut. So a lot of Shopify is allowed entrepreneurs to go direct to consumer right like Own your customers on the experiences and Make sure that the you know, the money flows that people who kind of deserve it and own it. So anyway, that’s that’s kind of a philosophy around rush off. I

Emma 12:07
yeah. And I think I think one of the reasons that I’m observing is kind of someone who’s new to this, this e commerce industry is, Shopify seems like there’s a very strong ethos behind it, like the Y statement is really strong. And I, and, you know, just hearing you talk about it, I’m not surprised or shocked, in the least, to, you know, see the success of the platform, because there’s a very strong live governing that. So I’d like to just talk a little bit more about Shopify, and what makes it different from other ecommerce solutions out there. I don’t even know what other ecommerce solutions that are out there, like what competitors are there. But yeah, what makes it different?

Unknown Speaker 12:41
Yeah, I think I mean, there’s a couple things, you know, I talked about how like, we believe in like this creative entrepreneurship. So we’ve created software to be extremely flexible. You know, so if you like you have an idea of like, a way you want to, like set up your store or where you want to do business, like we’ve made that possible. So we have a really, really strong API. Kind of Culture and platform, which I think is a huge differentiator, because, you know, it means that people like staples.ca, which is, you know, basically staples, and Canada is running on Shopify, and so as 100 or 20 hundred 50,000, like starting people last last year. So it’s just very stretchable. And I think that’s been, I think, a big advantage of our platform. And what’s what’s great as well as you can kind of start on our platform, and not too many people have scaled out, which is, you know, so you know, for example, Kylie and Kanye and Keith and like all those, I guess super sellers are still on Shopify as well. So you do have comfort that we’ve we’re kind of experts at high scale of commerce as well, which is I think what we’re really known for as well,

Kelly 13:42
and people listening obviously know that I run a Shopify agency. So my entire business model is all thanks to Shopify, if Shopify didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here. So I obviously know the reason why I I love Shopify personally as a developer, but why in your own words, should Developers be paying attention to Shopify, and why should they consider building for Shopify?

Unknown Speaker 14:04
Yeah, it’s a great question. Because there are, you know, a lot of different SDK is out there. There’s different platforms. I think, like I just take an example of like really good friends of ours at stripe, right? So stripe technology company who provides a lot of, I’d say, like payment infrastructure for the internet, right? Their job is to make it really easy to take credit cards, we actually use stripe to power, you know, some of the technology behind Shopify, which is good, but I, one of the advantages for Shopify is we just have a lot more building blocks. So imagine like, you know, just think about what it takes for you, as a developer to you know, create a, like a unique buyer experience. You have to care about the checkout flow, taxes, shipping fulfillment, like all that is kind of taking care already. So I mean, maybe you know, what was fun as I actually built my first Shopify app about five years ago. And I had this cool, crazy commerce idea, which is I wanted to sell everything in my house. Like literally everything. I’m like, What would it take for me to like, liberate all the crap I’ve collected for in the last 25 years because I was, you know, I had two teenage kids and we were moving countries and I’m like, let’s let’s try this for real and. And that’s not a typical ecommerce kind of workflow, right? I’m like, not everything was sold online, so people are going to pick it up. So I had this really cool challenge of, of I, I wanted to create a customized experience where people can buy things off my, you know, my house for sale shop, where they could, they could pick up and see it before they buy it. But they could also reserve online. And, you know, that’s kind of not a typical flow, which meant that the other thing is I wanted to build a small auction on the website so that Imagine you’re selling things in your house, right? And like, you go to Kijiji or Craigslist, and you sell it and everyone’s going to say, Oh, that’s really cool. I want it Can I come see it? And what happens you know, if someone comes and sees it, it takes a couple of days, and then they leave and then in between that someone would have paid with a credit card right away like I just lost the sale. So I had this crazy idea of what if I created a Shopify store where I had Mini auctioning in place, which is when someone went and and you know, wanted to buy my piano instead of saying, and it but they didn’t want to pay up front, they reserved it. So they went on the online store, they put the reserve button. And once it was reserved, I booked a meeting with them. And they came and saw it. But in between that time, if someone was browsing the online store, and they clicked on the piano, it showed a little pop up and it said, By the way, this items reserved, but if you really, really want it, and you want to pay cash right now, a bit and tell me like how much you want. So So I built, you know, that was an app that I was able to build on Shopify, with all the great API’s that were available, I could extend the online store, and I made an extra 1500 bucks, you know, by by having this kind of quirky idea I had no idea was going to work, but just with the API’s that were available on the platform, you know, I and it was fun, because I didn’t I you know, I was an employee of Shopify, but I made it an exercise to not have to talk to anyone at Shopify, you know, to see, can I make this thing happen? So I think that’s like one of the advantages like as a developer, like that’s super powerful and You know, it meant that I didn’t have to worry about fulfillment I didn’t have to worry about, like all the back office stuff. You kind of just get that for free. So I think that’s one of the huge advantages of building on Shopify. And what, I guess we invested a lot of time and just having really good API’s.

Emma 17:13
Yeah. And so sticking with that, like you wearing your developer hat at the moment, like what surprised you the most is ecommerce has evolved over time. I think it’s like the extreme creative experiences that are happening.

Unknown Speaker 17:24
You know, the other thing too, is we’ve had a very North American centric view, I think, for the you know, the first 10 years and realizing that even just this concept of credit cards, like we take that for granted so much. So I think one of the big learning of Shopify now is like, how do we make sure if I work where, if anything, commerce and entrepreneurship is actually very diverse? Like it’s very different. I mean, I think I follow Kelly on Twitter, you travel all over the place, right? It’s probably different. Like every country, it’s like, like you sometimes pick up in stores, the only way to pick up something online sometimes, you know, like, for example, in Germany, credit cards aren’t actually used that often. Because they got great banking infrastructure so literally at the bank transfers that are more popular than credit card. So

Emma 18:05
that sounds to me the most when I moved here to I was like, What do you mean? I have to like wire money? I don’t get it. Anyway, how does that work?

Unknown Speaker 18:11
Exactly? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 18:14
Exactly. Right. So, you know, what’s been fascinated? Like how do we build software now that actually supports that huge diversity of you know, ways of payment, huge diversity of like, like shopping experiences and in huge diversity of like, the back office, right of like, you know, a lot of people use Shopify where they drop ship, which means that they don’t hold any inventory. And you know, in Japan, for example, when you sell something, often you actually get it delivered to the convenience store that’s close to you. So you have these pickup points. You know, so that’s like, it’s just fasting as you go through and you get to travel the world and, and kind of learn about this, like huge diversity of of ways that people like exchange goods and say like our job at Shopify is not to harmonize everyone on one way are ways to support it. And I think that’s both like super Cool. It sounds very easy to say. But it’s been like a huge technical challenge. And I think that’s what I’ve personally had to learn is like, Okay, how do we do this now? Right, like, and as you can tell, I’m pretty excited about that. It’s, it’s pretty cool.

Kelly 19:13
Yeah, speaking of technical challenge, I have two words to reply with that, which is order editing.

Unknown Speaker 19:18
Are you excited about that? It’s awesome.

Kelly 19:19
I am so excited about that. It’s been, it’s been a pain point for our customers for a while. So to date, you’re not been able to edit your orders within the shop by admin. But basically, the entire order structure has been rebuilt from the ground up to allow for the ability to edit orders, which I believe will be launched, either by the time this episode is live, or very soon thereafter.

Unknown Speaker 19:45
I think it’s pretty soon I lose track sometimes of like, what things have actually shipped, but that’s not what it should be really close. I mean, that’s, like a fascinating feature. It was. I mean, we’ve had that in our backlog for 10 years. You know, and I think you’re like, Why does it take so friggin long to fix That thing but you think about editing an order, right? So like, again, you buy something online, and you go, man, I got the wrong size. You’re like, Oh, I want to add socks. Oh, I want you know, like so like what happens you have to take extra payment, you send it to them. What happens if that items already been fulfilled? Like what if your warehouse that I’m going to put in a box like do we stop the box? So there’s a lot of there’s a lot of repercussions for that, which is fastening but the other thing we realized when we work on order editing was trying to figure out why do people like after you’ve ordered something want to change? And that’s really fascinating to think about like I bought that chair that doesn’t fit my room. So we’re looking at well what would it take for us to make it so you can figure it out if it fit your earlier not so that’s where there’s some really cool stuff we’re doing with AR like augmented reality which is actually trying on things ahead of time like let’s put that couch in my room so that I don’t have to return and and phone Kelly up to you know, order edit. It’s like so we as we’ve gone down the journey of trying to also fixing order We also look at, like, Why do people return things? And then there’s some really cool technology things we’re doing. We’ve also looked into, you know, things like people are buying, like a lot of clothing online. And it’s not the exact blue that shows up on screen. And you start thinking going, Well, how was that image compressed? Was it a JPG or PNG, maybe we’re losing colors. So it got me into interested in a lot of like image specification work where there’s actually a working group, looking at image quality, and specifically around color ranges, because we’re realizing a lot of clothes are being returned. Because again, like the cut, like people are really sensitive to like that blue fits me perfectly because I’ve got the right hair and that, but if like it comes up with like a slightly different shade of blue, like you kind of have a crappy experience, but that’s all related to how the image is shown how it’s compressed and what the screen technology is. So anyway, this long story short order editing has been a bit of like a Pandora’s box of really understanding what can we do to prevent orders happening and really just really know, how can we help that purchasing experience a lot more. So it’s been super geeky.

Kelly 22:09
That’s why we’re having this conversation. Okay. Is that? Okay? So on the same topic, you know, you you’ve been guiding teams and in been directly involved in launching a number of tools and resources that have been built by the internal Shopify developer team. What are some of your favorites that have been created?

Unknown Speaker 22:30
Hmm, great crowd favorites. Am I allowed to pick? I think, like, Polaris has been great. Like, you know, just going back to, you know, my first experiences in app developer, I remember the first thing I did was like, Google CSS file for a Shopify app, which I think everyone is doing at some point is like, can I find a quick CSS app that isn’t going to match the Shopify admin so we made that entire class of problems go away by just really having a great design light design language? component library. So I think that was like, like huge for the community. I think the graph QL API has been huge as well. So a bit a bit of a backstory. But you know, Shopify, obviously we’ve got a like a commerce platform. But we also have a lot of client application. So we have mobile apps, web apps and different flavors. And the API we had for our app developers was not the exact same API that we had to build our own client experiences. Our web app was not built on the same API’s, we gave her app developers. So it meant that, you know, when an app developer had a bug, we’re like, we would not feel that first. And as a developer, you always want to feel the pain before your customers do. So a couple of years ago, we literally rewrote our front ends for mobile, all our mobile apps or web apps, and up to be powered by graph QL. So not only was it was actually really, really productive environment for app developers, but also we use it before app developers do as well. So we have a really good pain cycle. So if there’s a bug in Glasgow, like our performance problem, like our dashboard, go nuts and we see it ahead of time. So I think really, really excited about graph QL is not just because graphical school but we know dog food across the entire platform.

Emma 24:08
No, I think that that’s really cool. And we we just published recently in design systems episode. And as someone who’s like they’re really into design systems, I can tell you how many times I’ve like searched for Polaris is like an example of a well done design system. I’m curious, just quickly, your take, like, how do you think Polaris has really helped the developer experience within Shopify?

Unknown Speaker 24:28
What’s it like? Like, the first thing is, there’s some things we shouldn’t be debating, you know, as a front end developer, I’m like, it’s a button. You know, like, and this is the colors we’re going to use. And like, I think, like allowing developers to focus on the problem they want to solve and maybe like, take 80% of the visual things, like not a way but just let’s just we kind of agreed to what those things are going to look like, like, let’s Yeah,

Emma 24:52
you reduce the overhead and let them focus on the things that are really meaningful.

Unknown Speaker 24:57
Absolutely, right. Like I remember like 15 years ago. For design systems were thing like you almost only had like there’s no design system for the web. And you kind of adopted one for iOS and Android. But the web didn’t have one. Like, at a previous company, we’re always like, a lot of people were debating the like the visual language. So I think just taking that away, and then sharing with the ecosystem ecosystem has been great. And then, you know, it’s great to like in players, you can create mockups really quickly. I don’t know there’s some tools or you can literally just like, in some ways, be a bit controversial. But a lot of designers spend time doing like high fidelity mockups. And if you can have designers focus on on like the actual user experience, right? Like the wireframe is the flows. And literally just let everyone build super simple UI is with the React components like you can like do a mock ups. it’s it’s it’s backed by dummy data. And if you can do that, like super quickly, then you don’t, you don’t actually even need Photoshop or sigma mockups anymore. You can just actually write the code, and then you can spend all your energy on really focusing on like, what’s The first but like what things you want to get done on the first page, not what how’s it going to be laid out? I think, I think a really good design system with some of the tools that like sigma has and frame RX around literally having like a react Template Library has been like, super productive, especially like, I’m not a designer, but I can, I feel like when I’ve got an idea, and I have to make it, like, feel really good, like, it’s super easy to do that. And I think like, I think if if anything break, also breaking the boundary between, like a front end developer and the back end of it was just like, just giving developers great tools that they don’t feel intimidated by, oh, man, I’m not a backend developer or I’m not a front end developer. Like how do I get my job done? Like, I’m always a big advocate of like, developers should be really full stack and like, and I think the specialist and the front end development, the specialist in API development specialist in back in development should make it easier and approachable for like, just every developer to be able to, you know, implement the feature and and i think Polaris has been like a huge tool for us.

Emma 26:55
Yeah, that’s really cool. Talking about like coated prototypes, and then you’re not throwing away code. You’re wasting resources or design time on creating this high fidelity mockups. That’s that’s really that’s awesome.

Kelly 27:07
And and also, you know, talking about the graph QL API’s that you’ve been creating like the the storefront API especially, I’ve been getting my my hands very dirty on that as recently both in terms of building out a headless store using Gatsby for the front end. So that’s on the React side. And also, I’ve been working with Miss L, which is on the VJS side. So I’ve now worked the storefront API on both ends using react DN view and it is so much fun. Like I’ve been in the Shopify theme development space since 2014. So five years now. And it’s like reintroduced funds the entire process.

Unknown Speaker 27:43
Oh, I mean, do you want to you want to tell us a bit about that. Like, what’s that storefront that you created from scratch like? Well, I’m curious about what problem you’re trying to solve?

Kelly 27:52
Yeah. So the the Gatsby site, there was not the only problem that I was trying to solve was how do I do this? I was just, it was purely out of curiosity, like, how does this storefront API work? And how can I use it for the site that I’m building using the cell, that the pain point that they were experiencing was the page load time going from like homepage to collection to product, the more stuff you’re loading on the page, the slower becomes, and this has been a, you know, a user experience issue for a long time. Now, especially when you you know, you have people shopping internationally, who may not have the strongest network connection, the more things are loading, especially on mobile, it can really get bogged down. So we’re using the cell to build out as that’s going to be the front end framework for the store that’s going to be launching pretty soon here. And it is lightning fast is such a great experience as a customer to be able to very quickly flip through the different products very quickly add things to the cart in no time because everything’s loaded up front. So you don’t have to continuously reload that page data every single time you visited another page.

Unknown Speaker 28:59
Exactly. Oh, that’s Because that’s I think for for the listeners to start for an API is, I think the API we launched a couple of years years ago that lets people build their entire shopping experience kind of API driven. So I think one of the great examples of that was I think we work with a game developer altos adventure. And as you played that, I think it’s a snowboarder, a skier going down and jumping over llamas, but you know, as as a game developer, like the creator really like interesting following. And what they did is they built their online or their swag store, right in game, right? So that way they can you can go in the game, you can go and actually buy badges up or you can buy swag. I think I remember like, I won’t quote any numbers, but I think they doubled their revenue by just having an in app purchasing experience off their store. I think that was all 100% power by the store for an API.

Kelly 29:43
Yeah, there’s, there’s so much you can do with it. And it also brings me to another question for you now, is I obviously know what I’m interested in coding as far as languages and text echoes. But for somebody who’s never been exposed to building for Shopify, whether it be a Shopify store or shop by app, what tech stack would you recommend they focus on? To get that experience?

Unknown Speaker 30:06
I think we’ve tried to be pretty agnostic to like one tech stack because we realize, you know, you know, in Germany, it’s PHP and view. And in North America, it’s react in JavaScript. Like, it’s actually interesting to see, there’s a lot of regional differences about what’s kind of hot these days. So we’ve we’re trying to get better and have a lot of like, examples across different languages and tech stacks, because we found them to be pretty regional. But other than that, I mean, you know, like, obviously, like JavaScript, TypeScript and react are the cool kids Kool Aid these days. And it’s also very productive as well. So I’d say just pick something you’re comfortable with. And we’ve, you know, I’d love to hear feedback as in if it’s hard. If you pick something you like, we should, you know, we’re pretty agnostic. We’re trying to make it just API driven. So we’re trying to make it easy, although, as you say, the players components are react so that that does make it a bit easier, right. If you’re if you’re familiar with reactor, I think it’s it gets superpowers.

Emma 31:01
Awesome. Yeah. And I guess this kind of a last question, what is a day in the life like for a developer working at Shopify

Unknown Speaker 31:07
Day in the Life? Wake up in the morning we like you know, it’s it’s interesting, it’s we have kind of three modes of being a developer, Jeff I’d say, you know, like three kind of like personas that we have, and I hate just generalizing like one is, we take a huge responsibility for software that’s running, you know, like there’s an operational role, which is what keeps Shopify running. So, you know, we have a developer hat called ATC, which is air traffic control. And most most teams have an air traffic control developer role, which is like, what’s going on? You know, are there any issues that are coming up? How’s production running? How are the builds going, you know, and they’re almost like the the communication glue, to just keeping Shopify up and running and fast. So that’s like a day in the life of HTC is like triage and bugs, massaging the builds making sure like, you know, Master is green, all that Fun stuff, I think we have another role of developer, which is, Hey, I’m working on some really cool new feature. You know, like, and I think at that mode, it’s, we do a lot of exploration, which is explore and build. So a lot of prototyping, and we throw away a lot of, Hey, how are we going to build this and try a lot of things out and get feedback, you know, you know, we try to encourage, like, a lot of, I guess, PR is that, like a goal of a PR and a tech design isn’t to get it to production, it’s to come up with a really good solution. So we do a lot of that, which is like showing people our work going, Hey, here’s how I want to solve this thing. What do you think and here’s a PR and, and, and often PR, like, I just want to get it merged. But for us, a lot of it is we just really want to explore kind of the problem space. And then that’s the hat of a developer, which is like working on feature work and you know, working on infrastructure changes, etc. And we have another role of a developer which I’d say is you’ve got a gargantuan feature tips, but right like order editing, like Kelly mentioned, you’re like, I’m going to implement order rhetoric. We haven’t tested for 10 years, man I’ve got a really talked like, I’ve got to really understand what this is about. And that mode is a lot of developers here really get engaged with, like our merchants and understanding, like, how does commerce work? And why is order editing hard? And like, Why do people use it? So I think that that third hat of a developer is to put on your like learning how to how commerce works, and make sure that you bring that into how you develop features, right, that when you’re writing code, they actually understand, like how people are going to use it, you can visualize, like the 15 or 20 reasons why people order edit, or have to edit orders. And you can build like as you’re building the feature, and you’re testing it, and you’re like, you have the kind of that empathy. So I think that’s probably the, you know, the third part of the third motive developers are at kind of a chop fight. So and maybe there’s no Day in the Life kind of depends on what hat you have.

Kelly 33:48
Right, right. I love that. And from what I’ve heard from other people who who currently work for Shopify and development team, they absolutely love what they do. So we are going to post links to both The Shopify careers page in case you are looking for a new position with Shopify, we’re also going to link to some resources for people who are interested in learning how to build a Shopify app, or how to build shop by theme, basically anything to get started with developing for Shopify JML. Thank you so much for your time. This has been really awesome. And I’ve learned a ton and I’ve been in this space for five years now, as I said, and I’m sure Emma has has been doing numbers. Yes,

Unknown Speaker 34:28
sometimes. Well, Kelly, thanks for having me.

Kelly 34:32
Thank you so much.