Thursday 29 May 2008


We recently signed up through EngineYard for the NewRelic beta programme. What a revelation!

We are no longer digging through log files for all the important (but hard to find) data on bottlenecks or benchmarking data. We now have a clear picture of normal and good application behaviour.

Some highlights:

  • easy install - minutes
  • real time data
  • responsive support
The last aspect is worthy of note - trying the developer mode on one of our apps caused a graceful failure - NewRelic didn't show up because of some gnarly routing in our app. I dropped the guys at NewRelic a quick email expecting a response in 24 hours (perfectly adequate IMHO). 10 Minutes later I had feedback and a resolution in a little while longer - awesome speed guys!

As we like to act on data, this app rules - now we have the data and can operate on our apps with greater precision than we thought possible.

I seriously recommend NewRelic if you want to know your Rails app inside and out.

Credit has to go to both partners in this venture - EngineYard has always delivered kick ass hosting and support for Moneyspyder and now EngineYard and NewRelic together help us deliver world class performing and scaling Rails applications to our clients.

Monday 5 May 2008

Moneyspyder - who, what? Why are you so good?

Yes, what is the big thing about Moneyspyder?


First of all, we are using Ruby on Rails as the core of our technology offering. It's still considered new and therefore cool! Yes, cool for technical folk but the end result is certainly considered cool by our clients. I'll explain:

A core strength of Rails is its support for rapid development and an Agile approach - ho hum, that old spiel again. Yes but with a twist. We enable our clients to play to our strengths you see. We have a core set of Internet retail site components on which we can build custom specialist functionality very quickly and to a very high quality.

What's at the core then?

  • Users

  • Products

  • Variants

  • Categories

  • Brands

  • Baskets

  • Orders

  • Payments

  • Fulfillment

  • Promotions

  • Search

  • Content Management

  • Split Testing

  • Analytics

  • Gifting

Yup, I think that just about covers what would be considered 'standard' in a web shop. (Do let me know if you think of any more.) Thing is, not all of these components are always going to be required. We can add and remove these components through quick and simple configuration. Not coding - just a config tweak and kazam! Gift wrapping is available. Less time focusing on technology integration - more time focused on client sites performing better month on month with new functionality.

Each component listed above is built as a Rails Engine - a plugin module if you like. Now Rails allows us to drop in a new component really quickly, easily and safely...oh, and we can choose the version we want to use (thanks to Piston) could be one of our components or a 3rd party plugin. We pick the one we are happy using and it's pinned at that version until we say otherwise. In summary, our modularity gives us speed, strength, flexibility and reliability. We like these and we know our clients like them too. They tell us. This is certainly a case of pragmatic technology choices doing the required job with little or no techy bling for the sake of techy bling.

Analytics, testing and gathering data is a core feature of the Moneyspyder philosophy. We make sure our framework captures as much data as possible so that we can say with certainty what customers are doing and when. For example, we can see when promotions work. We know the right types of promotions to setup on our clients' sites. We also know that promotional messaging is key to promotion performance. Our promotions module will let customers know how much more they have to spend to secure a 10% discount or free delivery. We call this Promotion Proximity Warning - PPW. It works - we see a clear uplift in both conversion and AOV when PPW is turned on.

Customers think searching is cool - data says so, customers say so. We make sure our search solution fits hand in glove with all our searchable components to maximise conversion on clients' sites. Products, brands, categories, static pages - all indexed and searchable. Our search is not indiscriminate though - it honours archived or pre-live entities. If your new product range is not set to go live just yet - they remain safe from appearing in search results until you say so. Search uses internal tagging to relate products, brands and categories - really handy for automatic intelligent population of related products when trawling through 1000 products and relating them really should be a job for a smart machine. We consider internal SEO to be just as important as external SEO - especially considering the 3x more likely purchase propensity of searching customer over casual browsers.

Well, that's a start. Drop us a line if you want to know more about us...