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Checking out Sky's JavaScript event at the Leeds Tech hub

22nd January, 2016

Sky have been investing big in Leeds recently, and are set to move their digital technology teams into the city to join their existing technology presence. This will see Sky having around 500 colleagues in Leeds. Sky continue to invest in London, and their “OTT” teams are mainly based there which manage Sky Go, Now TV and the new Sky Q.

I discovered via LinkedIn that they were putting on an event focusing how they use JavaScript and its related web technologies. Since its the area I am most interested in at the moment from a tech point of view, and it was also a good excuse to checkout their new purpose built offices. The event started with a series of short talks from various people about how they use some of the new and cutting edge technologies to deliver online experiences to customers on a huge scale and then followed with some pizza, beer and some workshops. Its easy to take for granted highly reactive apps that we use on our computers and mobile devices every day – but its the technology behind them that gives them the power.  I will write up a very brief overview of what I learned and who the speakers were and some of the key points that I managed to note down.

“Leeds is becoming the tech powerhouse of England”

– A quote from Sky, which made quite an impact. With all of the people speaking and the turn out of people you did get a sense of Leeds being a centre for digital and technology.

A list of the speakers.

Peter Slater – Peter works in the digital trading tribe at Sky on a new project being written in React, JavaScript and Scala.

Phillip Morgan – a Software Engineer working in the Broadband Squad within the Service tribe, working primarily in JavaScript and Go.

Mark Girling – A web developer at Sky with programming experience in a number of technologies including .NET, JS and Ruby.

Vincent Orr – JavaScript developer whose interests are in primarily the front-end using functional programming and reactive programming techniques. An avid open source contributor, recently to the projects and communities of RxJS, CycleJs. @Cmdv on github.

Richard McIntyre – Richard is one of the Principal Engineers at Sky and is interested in quite a number of programming languages and frameworks. He is quite a fan of JavaScript which he used to author his open-sourced testing tool called ShouldIT? He lived in Japan for 15 years which has shaped much of his culture and thinking.

Things that I learnt

  • Sky work using the Spotify model. Quite an interesting way of how their engineering culture works and how teams and management can work together in the most productive way.
  • Redux which is a predictable state container for JavaScript apps. Peter mentioned how he uses this in combination with React so definitely something I will want to look into.
  • How Sky build there apps to be reusable with different components. Some of these concepts were quite familiar but it makes it even more important to maximise code reuse and conventions when working in a bigger team.
  • Generally lots of interesting ideas of how reactive programs work and communicate with each other. Web technologies blend the idea of website, web app as well as mobile and desktop apps.
  • A general feeling that theres lots of different new technologies out there – they’re not all perfect but its a case of getting stuck in and experimenting.

 A few pictures I took from the event