In Pursuit of Performance – Sportsbook

It’s easy to draw analogies between the creation of Micogaming’s world-class sportsbook and multi-product lobby and the sporting events from which Microgaming’s operators trade betting opportunities.

The SpinSport lobby is a finely turned Formula One car built obsessively by a team of elite engineers who care not only about beautiful and elegant design in all of its forms but also about the orchestration of sophisticated code. Like athletes and the training teams behind them, we are under no illusion, the only thing that leads to success is hard work and dedication. Complacency leads to failure and failure is not an option.

O’Reilly’s Velocity conference held in Amsterdam provided an opportunity for some of the world’s greatest engineers to share their knowledge and experience of architecting and developing fast applications.

In a world where real time really does mean ‘real time’, millisecond delays can feel like eternity. Once technology has been pushed to its limit, the mind games begin. When two competing sides are at the top of their game and have pushed their bodies to physical perfection, the only thing between them and winning is the mind. Building legendary software in one of the most competitive industries online also requires digging deep into the psyche.

Speakers such as Steve Souders (Ex-Google employee and the godfather of web performance evangelism) schooled Derivco engineers, informing them of bleeding-edge technologies such as HTTP2 PUSH, pre-connection, preload, the power of progressive web applications and why measuring matters. Denys Mishunov enlightened us with his skill and deep understanding of optimistic UI and why performance matters. Performance is not mathematics; performance is perception. Keeping users engaged at all times even when technology is stretched to its limit can buy you time while technology catches up.

Here are a few of my highlights from Velocity Amsterdam 2016.

  • If you have no ‘control group’ you have no control. Measuring matters.
  • Performance gains can be found in the mind of the user. Optimistic user interface engineering utilising placebo interactions can keep users in the active phase and out of the danger zone of the passive phase. Active users are happy users.
  • Bare minimum is good enough. Heuristic loading of an application is essential we must always only send down enough data to facilitate hero engagement.
  • Nudge your engineers to success. By empowering engineers to take ownership of their decisions they are more likely to be high performing innovators.
  • There are always optimisations to be found, but start with maximum improvement for minimum effort. Small increments are sometime not event noticeable to the user. Never stop improving performance, just be strategic.
  • If a successful user interaction is almost always expected, completing integration before technology allows for success. Failure is the exception and must be handled gracefully.
  • Be kind. Performance gains in software are found by high-performing engineers and designers. Their performance is more important than the current performance of the software. Empowerment, safety, values, sharing, diversity and a common mission are essential ingredients for the development of highly performing software.
  • Best practice is not always best. Finding a solution that is right for our software is more important than following best practices. Specifically; media queries in CSS are bloated. Build and serve specifically for a form factor.

My final thought: Time is precious. A faster, more usable application will always triumph in the mind of the user. Creating a safe environment for innovation and learning where everyone has equal input will lead to success in all forms of Velocity.

By John Bushell, Development Department Lead in SpinSport Client, Derivco Ipswich.