Improving Developer Productivity Outside of Google: A Guide for Ex-Googlers
As an ex-Googler, you have likely experienced the frustration of not being as productive as you were within Google’s internal environment. The advanced dev tools and practices used at Google are not easily transferable to other organizations, leaving you searching for alternatives to enhance your productivity in your new company. In this guide, we will explore the key areas where you can introduce new dev tools and practices, inspired by your experience at Google, to make you and your new team more productive.
Understanding the Pain Points
When you join a new company, it’s important to first understand where the pain points lie in your current workflow. The software development lifecycle typically involves various stages, each with its own set of tools. Identifying the areas where you feel the most frustration or inefficiency will help guide your focus on finding better tools.
One common pain point for developers is code search. With the increasing volume of code in modern organizations, the lack of a robust code search engine can significantly slow down development velocity. Evaluating different code search engines and finding one that suits your needs can greatly improve your productivity. Some popular code search engines include:
Another area to target early on is monitoring. Dealing with production issues can be challenging, as it requires a different set of tools and practices compared to development. Introducing monitoring tools that are compatible with modern production environments, such as microservices and Kubernetes, can greatly simplify debugging and issue resolution. Some recommended monitoring tools include:
- New Relic
Code review is another aspect of the software development process that can be improved outside of Google. While GitHub Pull Requests is the most common code review tool, ex-Googlers often find it lacking in certain areas. Tools like Gerrit, Phabricator, and Reviewable offer features that closely resemble the code review flow at Google and may be better suited to your needs. These tools provide better code intelligence and address common pain points with GitHub Pull Requests.
Finally, the build system and continuous integration (CI) process can significantly impact developer productivity. While Google’s build system, Blaze, is highly regarded, it may not be directly applicable outside of Google. However, there are alternative build tools like Bazel, Buck, and Pants that enable scalable builds in large codebases. Evaluating these tools and understanding their compatibility with your existing dev tools is crucial before attempting to make any changes to the build system.
Bringing Google’s Developer Advantage to Your New Company
As an ex-Googler, you have firsthand experience with the developer tools and practices that contribute to Google’s engineering effectiveness. By leveraging this knowledge, you can introduce these best practices to your new organization and boost your own productivity as well as that of your teammates.
Building software at scale is a challenging task, and better tools are essential for improving productivity. Just as software multiplies the productivity of end users, dev tools act as a multiplier for the productivity of developers. By advocating for the adoption of effective dev tools and spreading best practices, you can bring one of Google’s key competitive advantages to your new company.
Remember, it’s important to approach the introduction of new dev tools with pragmatism and practicality. Understand the existing pain points within your team, evaluate different tools, and make a case for their adoption based on concrete benefits and compatibility with the current workflow.
Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment where you and your teammates can work efficiently and effectively, leveraging the lessons learned from your time at Google. By doing so, you can help your new company achieve its mission and drive success in the world outside of Google.
Try out Sourcegraph, a comprehensive code search engine that can greatly enhance your productivity. Whether you choose to self-host Sourcegraph or use Sourcegraph Cloud, you’ll have access to powerful code search capabilities that integrate seamlessly with popular code review tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Phabricator.
Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter @sourcegraph or via email at [email protected] if you have any questions or need further assistance.
About the Author:
Beyang Liu is the CTO and co-founder of Sourcegraph. With a background in Computer Science from Stanford, Beyang has a deep understanding of software development and has published research in probabilistic graphical models and computer vision. You can connect with Beyang on Twitter @beyang or join the Sourcegraph community Discord to engage in discussions about developer productivity.
An ex-Googler’s guide to dev tools