Facebook, Curiel, Instagram discussed on Software Engineering Daily


Blee byron. You are an engineer at robin hood. And you're a longtime engineer at facebook. Welcome to software engineering daily. Thanks for having me. You're part of the initiative to get facebook onto mobile and this was a key inflection point in the business some people may not remember but there was a time when facebook was used as a desktop web application when did engineers at facebook start to realize how important mobile was. I think there are a couple moments over the years where that happened. There wasn't like a single inflection. Point early on. Facebook was definitely just a website that you went to on your desktop computer or maybe laptop because it started in two thousand and four. You know that's years before the first real smartphones and really two things happened in the early years of mobile one was a focus on flip phones and other popular phones that had some very basic to the internet and so facebook's for a long time had a facebook dot com mobile website and for the first few years that was really about extending to second screen and creating a small version of facebook that you can take with you and then when the iphone first came out in two thousand seven or at eight there was first version of it built as a website. If you remember the the very first version of you couldn't actually make apps for you could only make sense for and there was one engineer at facebook who did that and the following year when the software s came out that engineer through abandoned the the website that he had built i built a mobile application instead. That was sort of the very beginning than there. Were a couple other interesting moments. That happened another was through the recognition. That mobile was becoming somewhat important as a second screen. So i would say this started to happen in may two thousand nine. And that's really when i started helping out. I was the designer for mobile. At that time. I joined facebook. Originally as a product designer and touch devices were becoming more popular. But we're still very much considered a second screen as alternate experience temporarily while you're away from your desktop computer or laptop but we really in two thousand nine took a big refocus on that experience feel-good the native application for iowa that we had was extremely limited. It was built by a single engineer. That engineer had left the company had kind of started to fall very far behind. What the rest of our product is doing so we built version of the mobile site that felt good on a touch device and that actually ended up becoming really important platform to start building products for mobile one of the really challenging things that i faced when reaching out to other designers or other product people at facebook in those earlier years trying to convince them that mobile was something. Important was the scary scenario. Where you'd spend all your time in energy focusing designing and building experience for a big screen in a browser and already the problem of making it work across the internet explorer fire fox chrome was kind of problem enough and when it came time to move things to mobile the prospect of supporting in iowa native app android native app a touch website and a flip phone optimize website sounded like it would just make the amount of engineering work five x and so you could imagine that especially if you don't quite know how important mobile is it's totally reasonable that your instinct would be. Maybe we should look into that later. That's not the right priority. Now and so as a consequence. The mobile product constantly lagged behind. So when we did this effort to make the touch optimize website. Just really good just much better than anything else that we had built for mobile up until that point we kind of refrained that conversation instead of going from one platform to five platforms. We were able to make going from one platform to two platforms. Because if you built for that mobile website you would automatically get flip phone in basic phone support and we would deliver that directly to ios and android apps via this essentially a glorified web browser that we had built so i and android apps. Were these glorified web browsers a little bit of extra sauce on top. You know they they let you upload photos. They let you survive. Include your location for check ins <hes>. But other than that. They were really just a thin wrapper around our website so that really simplified proc development and that was in an early accelerate for the facebook product team to start thinking about what building for mobile would look like and start making that more of a priority. Then i would say the the next inflection. Point was in two thousand twelve and that's a lot of really interesting. Things happened in two thousand twelve. One is that we saw the chart of mobile only users take up dramatically where now became clear that it's mobile was not a second screen. There was not just going to be a significant number of people who only use mobile soon and very soon it was going to be a majority of people who only use mobile and in fact desktop would become not only used less than mobile but desktop would become the second screen so we saw this inflection point coming. We realized that we were quite far behind on product. Two thousand twelve is also the year that facebook did its ipo and the early filings and mark zuckerberg's tour around he's talking to potential investors. He had the highlight all. The risks for the company and one of the top risks was that we saw this giant shift to mobile devices and that we hadn't figured out good product from only at and that's also when within facebook. We were sort of revisiting. This technical decision to bill everything on web and bring things back to native development on both iowa san android which sort of unfolded into a lot of super interesting engineering work that we had to do

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