Testing at Tobi


The following is a guest post by Josh Brown, Senior DevOps Engineer at Tobi. Tobi is an online fashion label, a unique combination of fashion, technology, and retail requiring a world-class engineering process in order to maintain and grow such a robust e-Commerce platform. Solano CI helped Tobi achieve these goals by reducing their testing time to the time it takes to get a cup of coffee— coffee time! 

At Tobi, we serve millions of customers from around the world with an e-commerce platform that we built from scratch. Not only that, but all of our internal applications, like inventory tracking and product lifecycle management, are all built in-house. The entirety of our company’s infrastructure is built by us and so we’re acutely attuned to and invested in its performance and reliability. This need for a great and reliable platform and experience by both ourselves and our customers has led us to automated testing and Continuous Integration. Testing and CI are crucial to us, and here I’ll outline how we’re testing and with what systems we currently use, and why.

Our codebase is over 9 years old. Many of our engineers, then, interact with code that may not have changed in some time, let alone actually working directly on that code itself! So they rely on our unit, functional, and integration tests to confidently make changes to those portions of the code that have been frozen for years. These give us the confidence to build on that legacy with the assurance that it serves as a stable foundation.

Since we have over 400 employees using our in-house applications daily, we want engineers to write as many tests as possible so that our employees can execute optimally.  Our team is encouraged to write a lot automated tests and know that our CI system can handle as many tests as the codebase requires to remain stable. CI is a core part of our workflow and all engineers at Tobi utilize it for our multiple, daily releases.

The infrastructure we use to run our build and test process is based around Solano CI. We came to Solano CI in early 2016 from CircleCI, where our builds were taking about 50 minutes (a significant improvement over the 1.5 hours they took before on Jenkins). We liked both Circle and Solano because they were SaaS offerings (so we didn’t have to manage the underlying system). Both rely on a YAML configuration file to configure the build environment, select which tests to run, and manage parallelism.

The biggest reason we switched to Solano CI was, in a phrase, “coffee time.” Solano’s team encouraged me to think about what my team could do if we could get our build and test results back in the time it takes to get a cup of coffee, and intrigued, I challenged them to show me that Solano CI could make that happen. The system’s automated scheduling and parallelism were impressive, and between my conceptual understanding of setting up through a YAML config file from CircleCI and Solano’s docs I got most of the way by myself. But the biggest win, and the reason we decided to buy, was their team’s support: I took my own work to them and they offered recommendations for more efficient ways to do things like set up the database and precompile assets that, ultimately, got us to coffee time. That expertise was really valuable, and their Support team has continually shown that the Solano team are experts of CI and its best practices.

As Tobi’s operations have grown our processes needed to as well, and this set up is the current iteration of our continued efforts to create a strong testing infrastructure. We can confidently produce a resilient and dependable e-commerce platform for our customers and supporting backend infrastructure for our colleagues. And with the testing backstop secure we can focus on what matters most – providing the best service experience and bringing our customers amazing fashion.


You can learn more about Tobi and what they are up to by clicking here

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