The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Ever been so pleased with a company’s service, you actually write a review about it? That review was probably written on Trustpilot, the world’s most powerful review platform. Trustpilot’s mission is all about progress. They offer consumers and companies a free and open way to connect, collaborate, and ultimately improve business. And with more than 71 million reviews on hundreds of thousands of websites to date, Trustpilot is making a lasting impact on companies around the world. Powering that growth are 800 people spread across eight global offices—all building with the help of GitHub.
For the last eight years, Trustpilot’s growing developer team has been relying on GitHub Team to keep up with their rapid expansion. When VP of Engineering Martin Andersen first started at Trustpilot nearly a decade ago, there were maybe 10 developers, and they were all working on the same code base. “We were encountering many challenges which were taking up more and more time,” says Andersen. “We had scaling problems, merge conflicts, and deployments were always an issue.” Then they switched to GitHub Team. Finally, they had the shared workspace they needed—in other words, “a core repository for our code,” says Andersen. GitHub Team automated their messy workflow, making their software easier to manage and faster to build. Suddenly, collaboration was simple; everyone was aligned and on the same page. And that made it effortless to scale the team to 130 engineers.
Trustpilot found GitHub Team enticing for a few reasons, namely the hosting options. “We didn’t want to deal with installing and hosting ourselves on a server in-house when we could have GitHub do it,” says Andersen. With unlimited repositories and all the tools they needed to collaborate on code in one place, the Trustpilot team was hooked. For Trustpilot, it was crucial that GitHub Team was equipped to work with packages and repositories of any size—Andersen’s team was transitioning the codebase to microservices, including both big repositories with many services and small repositories with single services. And the team has more than 600 services today, most in separate repositories.
GitHub is the world’s mono repository, so sharing our open source there is natural.
Beyond repositories, GitHub made it easy for the Trustpilot team to integrate other services as they built out and automated their workflows. Whether they wanted to update a backup mirror, trigger CI builds, or update an external issue tracker, the team used webhooks to “get these small annoyances done automatically,” says Marc Nyholm, Site Reliability Engineer. Linking Trello was especially essential for project planning, ticketing, and incoming bugs. “Usually a card will be connected to a pull request, so when the next step is a code review, that’s easy for someone to just click through the integration, review the pull request and approve it,” says Nyholm. “It makes the whole flow for developers a lot faster.”
One of Trustpilot’s core engineering principles is “aim to open source.” From Andersen’s perspective, “GitHub is the world’s mono repository, so sharing our open source there is natural.” He knows there’s a bit more overhead in doing it, but he tries to push and nudge his team in that direction. Not only is it a healthy exercise, but because more eyes are on it, the code is generally more polished.
Just last year, Andersen’s team started using Prometheus for metrics and couldn’t find a good exporter for the different kinds of log shippers. They turned to the open source community to get more insight into what happened on their logging. With those learnings, they built the Beat-Exporter—and it took off. A few million downloads later, there’s now an active community on that repository. “We don’t actively spend time pushing anything,” says Nyholm, “But we’re very open and very willing.” You almost have to be, if, like Andersen, your team prides itself on its use of open source. “The internet is built on open source, and we would like to give back,” he says. “We don’t want to be building things ourselves if they are problems someone else has solved, and if we can help our needs and help the rest of the community, that’s a win-win.”
It’s also why they built Ilenia, an open source project named after one of their Italian translators. Trustpilot needed a library that could connect React with their translation system. Now that library is used for content in 15 to 20 different languages on Trustpilot, and is free for anyone to use.
Trustpilot carries this same open source ethos by placing an emphasis on knowledge sharing throughout their internal company. “We have an innersource policy,” says Andersen. “Everybody has access to create pull requests on all repositories. You can see all our code. We don’t lock down anything.” This allows every team to see what other teams have and own, so developers can keep working at a high velocity. It can be difficult to manage tons of dependencies across teams, which is why this innersource policy works so well—it eliminates any friction and sluggishness.
GitHub Team’s world-class security tools were another draw for the Trustpilot team. With token scanning, alerts, and enforced two-factor authentication, GitHub Team excels at keeping code secure. Trustpilot also uses routine vulnerability scans and automated security updates to weed out high and critical vulnerabilities. “Trust and integrity are very important to us,” says Andersen. “We’re very comfortable with using GitHub both on a pricing perspective, but also a security perspective.”
Despite all of the security and open source benefits of GitHub Team, the single most important aspect for the Trustpilot team is how much of a difference it has made in how fast the team can run. From built-in CI/CD to tools like GitHub Packages, the ease of team discussions to new levels of repository insights, everything adds up to help Trustpilot work more swiftly and more collaboratively. “A lot of things just happen automatically for the developers with GitHub Team,” says Andersen. “As long as they make sure they name their projects right, permissions and the whole pipeline will be set up for them, so they don’t have to spend time doing these tedious things.”
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