AltSchool & Frontside
AltSchool is always looking for ways to improve the effectiveness and velocity of its development effort. With their primary web application almost 4 years in the making, they wanted a development partner that could not only work hand-in-hand with them to deliver stunning new features, but identify and clear away the deep-seated infrastructural roadblocks that impede the forward progress of developers and wasted large sums of time and money every week.
Education in many classrooms looks looks almost identical to 100 years ago. AltSchool is on a mission to change that. Their goal is to enable all children to reach their potential through learner-centric environments that prepare them for the future.
AltSchool is a partnership between educators, entrepreneurs, and engineers who are driven to deliver whole-child, personalized learning. They're working together to build a comprehensive platform to personalize learning in schools, with the goal of making the best education the most accessible. They started by opening our own schools. Now, partner schools can join the AltSchool network and leverage AltSchool’s technology and services platform.
Check them out here: https://www.altschool.com/
We first began helping AltSchool with their feature work; reworking legacy code as we went along. Among other things, we tackled the unique UI problems of constructing re-usable and well-tested file upload components that could be shared between their web and native application.
The work was challenging, but once they realized that we could help with so much more, they asked us to re-focus our charter to the purpose of attacking core infrastructure problems by bringing to bear our distinctive expertise in UI engineering.
"The Frontside developers have an incredibly high level of technical expertise. They've built complex plug-ins from scratch, massively improved our testing infrastructure, and contributed to critical-path product initiatives. When I pair programming with Frontside developers they simultaneously show me how to use software they've built, and help me adopt new ways of thinking. Their code is well-tested and documented, which has raised the bar for our team around testing and documentation. I consider them educators as much as individual contributors, because they can communicate so clearly about their ideas, and they have deep skill."
— Benji Shine, Staff Front-end Engineer, AltSchool
Tricky asynchronous processes in your frontend can seem downright impossible to test, and often lead to fragile builds that burn development cycles and burnout developers. We tackled this for AltSchool by refactoring their tests to embrace asynchrony and stabilize their build.
We also improved their dependency management to be both deterministic and fast.
With deep thinking about AltSchool’s challenges, Frontside improved the testing infrastructure and reduced build times by 40%.
So now when AltSchool thinks about Frontside, they think about a team that can see the big picture of both their business and their codebase and make the changes necessary to help them run smoothly both now and in the future. For AltSchool, that investment has paid repeated dividends in the form of better developers, better development, and real savings each every week.