WebDevStudios Day in the Life of a Backend Engineer

Dave Romsey

Job Title: Backend Engineer

Years at WebDevStudios: 2.25

Dave Romsey, Backend Engineer
Dave Romsey, Backend Engineer

I’ve always been a big fan of WebDevStudios (WDS). I can’t remember precisely what drew me in, but WDS always seemed to make good choices about WordPress development practices.

When trying to stay on top of WordPress happenings, something related to WDS would always be part of the conversation, whether it was wd_s, CMB2, the podcasts, or informative blog posts. I adopted a “what would WDS do?” approach to problem solving, which yielded great results. Oh yeah, WDS’ 100% remote thing greatly appealed to me too.

Years later, after long commutes to do agency work, then dabbling in freelance, an opportunity to work for WDS presented itself. I applied, and went through a paid engineering trial, which re-enforced my opinion that that these folks were _doing_it_right().

I passed the trial, which was a great and challenging experience in and of itself, and officially became a Backend Engineer (BEE) at WebDevStudios.

A Typical Day

A typical day involves thinking about solutions and creating tickets, writing/testing/reviewing/discussing/documenting/and deploying code, as well as some other odds and ends sprinkled in. That’s probably not much of a surprise to anyone. I’ll go over things in a little more detail below.

First Things First: Getting Ramped Up for the Day

Each day, I go through a little routine to get myself set up for the day’s tasks. The process looks something like this:

  • Check email and Jira tickets for updates and send responses to keep conversations flowing.
  • Review Google calendar to see what meetings are scheduled for the day.
  • Check Harvest Forecast to see what projects I’m assigned to. (We track time using Harvest. It integrates well with Jira and web browsers via an extension, which makes tracking time a cinch.)
  • Slack conversations
  • Give birthday/anniversary tacos: We use HeyTaco, a great extension for Slack that allows us to give virtual tacos to coworkers for achievements or for other recognition. Everyone has five tacos a day to give out. We typically give out tacos for birthdays and anniversaries, which we are reminded about via a Slack bot.
  • Team standup: We typically have a quick team standup to discuss what we’ll be working on for the day and discuss any blockers.

The Bulk of the Day

It’s no surprise that most of my day as a backend engineer is spent writing code. Everything we work on is tied to a specific ticket in Jira, which is great.

Work on Tickets
  • Jira/Slack: We use Jira to track ticket progress and communicate with clients and a dedicated Slack channels for project-specific discussions.
  • Github/Bitbucket: All of our code is maintained under version control and each ticket has its own branch. We use a naming convention that makes it easy to associate branches with tickets and also allows for better integration with Slack.
  • Write code: Personally, I use VS Code (tricked out with a bunch of extensions). VS Code is a well supported, cross-platform editor. At WDS, developers are free to use whatever tool they want to get the job done. VS Code, PHP Storm, Sublime—use whatever makes you happy. That goes for operating systems too. By the way, we have a Slack channel called #cool-tools where we share links to utilities that help us to be better engineers.
  • Implementing features/enhancements/bug fixes: Most of my time is spent writing code to fulfill the requirements outlined in the associated Jira ticket. All of the code we write must pass WordPress Coding Standards and linting.
  • Deployments: For the most part, sites have development, staging, and production environments. For local development, we use Local or Docker, depending on the project. Each environment has its own deployment pipeline using Buddy. PRs to staging and production require peer review.
Odds and Ends
  • Slack chats: We have numerous channels to discuss various topics. Each project has its own channel. We also have a general channel to let everybody know when you’ve arrived and when you’re leaving, and for general announcements. There are also plenty of channels for discussing hobbies and non-work related topics.
  • Zoom meetings to discuss tasks: Sometimes, particularly with more complex tasks, it’s beneficial to get together with another developer to plan out solutions. Even though WDS is 100% remote, I don’t ever feel isolated.
Regularly Scheduled Meetings and Scrums

There are a variety of regularly scheduled scrums that we attend over Zoom. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Client calls: With some clients, particularly on larger projects, we will meet regularly to discuss tasks and priorities. I keep it professional, while also letting a bit of my free-spirited personality shine through.
  • Weekly BEE scrum: This scrum is for BEEs only (frontend engineers [FEEs] also have their own dedicated scrum). We discuss everything backend here, with some banter sprinkled in for good measure. During our BEE scrum, we’ll cover topics and links that were mentioned in Slack throughout the week. One of the most exciting reoccurring segments is our “Let’s get pedantic” discussion where we talk about exhilarating topics such as whitespace, project file structures, and so forth. There also might be a shoutout or two for TablePlus, and I might sneak in a review of Taco Bell’s current Limited Time Offer (LTO).
  • Weekly FEEBEE scrum: Here, the FEEs and BEEs get together to discuss React and Gutenberg related things. There’s almost always a demo of some kind.
  • Monthly engineering scrum: Here, we discuss any changes or updates to the engineering process. There may be a demo of new tech.
  • Weekly company scrum: Each week the whole company gets together each Friday over Zoom to discuss company achievements and announcements, new work prospects, and social media happenings. We also have an opportunity to give out “real world tacos”, which are basically shout-outs to individuals who went above and beyond during the week. We typically end the company scrum with a Team building exercise.
Maintaining a Balance

Another thing I like about working at WDS is the balance of time spent on meetings vs coding. I rarely ever feel like I’m stuck in meetings all day or that I’ve been staring at code all day and haven’t talked to anyone. I don’t take this for granted.

Wrapping the Day Up
Wrap it up BEE!
Wrap it up BEE!

EOD updates: Each day, engineers will post an end-of-day update to the project channels that they are assigned to, outlining what they did that day for each ticket. This gives everybody a birds eye view of what’s going on, and helps to prime the pumps for the following day’s standup.

Before signing out of Slack, I try to send out any remaining tacos I have for the day.

Me Time

Work/life balance is great at WDS. Once I get my time in for the day, I know that I can switch over to my personal life. This helps me to be the best backend engineer I can be.

I’m always up to something, though it changes frequently. Here are some activities and hobbies that are currently or routinely part of my day:

  • Bike rides: I live very close to a bike trail and I thoroughly enjoy going on bike rides. It’s super refreshing to my mind and body. During the colder months, which are plentiful here, I put my bike on a stationary trainer. This isn’t nearly as fun or mentally stimulating as riding outside, so I listen to music (like my awesome 80’s playlist on Spotify) and play Tetris while riding the stationary bike.
  • Exercise: Sitting all day does take its toll, so I try and get some light exercise in. Also, I go hard in the paint when it comes to fast food on the weekends, so I try and work some of that off.
  • Bug photography: I enjoy taking macro photographs of tiny creatures.
  • Carbonating water: I gave up pop years ago but I do love the zing of a carbonated beverage. I’ve mastered the art of making the moist painful bubble water possible.
  • LEDs: I love good lighting! Incandescent bulbs on dimmers are my go-tos for general lighting, but I do enjoy some RGB for accents. I’ve recently started using WLED on a QuinLED-Dig-Uno (ESP 32). Now I want to put LEDs on everything!

That’s about it. Thank you for reading about how I spend my day at WebDevStudios! We’re hiring backend engineers right now. Take a look at the job description and apply today.


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