Facebook Product Engineering Open House recap

The other day me and a couple of coworkers went to the Facebook Engineering meetup hosted at the Facebook’s office.

The main draw for me were the topics of the scheduled talks – pretty technical, focussed subjects, and of course, seeing the office which I didn’t have a chance to visit yet.

My expectations for the talks were totally on point – all of the speakers were really good, very technical and knew what they were talking about. Some of the details were a bit above my head, personally, as I don’t have much in-depth knowledge of hadoop and related technologies (zookeeper, hive), but it was still interesting to hear about problems that arise and how the production engineering team solves them.

The intro talk by Dave Viner about the role of production engineering at Facebook in general was great too. Not many end users realize that it takes more than your regular front-end or back-end developers to run a huge, super heavily used service like Facebook behind the scenes. So their team touches everything from scalability to infrastricture to performance optimization and automation. Pretty cool stuff. I also really liked the demo on Open Graph, how the idea from 2011 came to actual realization in early 2013 and what it took and what sorts of problems the team ran into when building releasing this feature.

After the talks I asked my coworker Kedar what he thought, and he said “I wish I was smarter”. which was funny but also true for me. Those guys are solving really hard, interesting engineering problems – something I miss in the management part of my job. Plus I’m always jealous of people who get to work with super smart geeks and can learn a lot just by rubbing shoulders with them daily and working on something together.

All in all – really good event, and me and guys were all glad we attended. Oh, and of course I have to mention the food and the office: the office was nice, but nothing out of ordinary, actually. Drinks were plentiful and various – from a few different kinds of beer, wine to Starbucks bottled drinks to coconut water to Naked juice… anyone could have their pick. They served a lot of tiny appetizers, with some cupcakes and desserts and other small snacks available as well. I also snatched a tshirt for Sean, and wonder if he’ll be getting weird questons when he wears it, because the back of it says “Facebook Infrastructure”.

Thanks to Facebook for pulling a great, smart event together, and hopefully there will be more of them in the future.

PS: For those interested in good tech talks/meetups in NYC, some of my favorites are Code as Craft talks at Etsy (there’s one coming up in August), and Web peformance meetup . I like that they tend to focus on interesting engineering problems vs technology/framework du jour.