Brian Rountree is the Frontend Engineering Architect for Yahoo! Finance in the Yahoo! Media group. This article supports YUIBlog’s Ada Lovelace Day pledge; Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the contributions of women in technology and science.
The women of the Yahoo! Finance frontend engineering team are some of the most talented engineers I have ever had the privilege to work with. Their passion for best practices, accessibility and the end user make building the world’s biggest and best finance site an absolute pleasure. On the eve of shipping a massive update to the Yahoo! Finance site that will take our codebase global and push it into data centers around the globe, I find myself feeling incredibly lucky to work with these women on a day-to-day basis. I asked the women on the Yahoo! Finance frontend team to think about what brought them to frontend engineering and what it’s like to work on one of the world’s most frequently visited web sites.
I built my first website in 1998 when animated GIFs were considered cutting edge. I was working as an anthropologist at the time and never imagined that the 5 crummy little web pages I built for San Francisco State University would be the beginning of a path that would eventually lead to Yahoo!.
I love frontend engineering because I love to be challenged and I love to solve puzzles. My job is never boring. The landscape is constantly shifting and to excel you have to keep learning.
Working at Yahoo! keeps my ego in check. I work with brilliant people on a site that’s used by millions of people.
I first got involved with web programming when I worked as a Co-op student during my undergraduate studies. I was working at Hewlett-Packard on their internal web sites and web tools. I was exposed to a wide variety of tasks, but I soon found myself attracted to frontend engineering. I love being able to write a few lines of code, hit the refresh button on the browser, and immediately see results. The instant satisfaction is overwhelming. I love working on the tier closest to users. It is important to me that I provide great experiences to users, and as a frontend engineer I can often influence the usability and design of web pages.
Yahoo provides extensive training in frontend technologies, and it also has a high standard for the code that we write. Yahoo pushes us to write accessible code. To me, it is very rewarding to know that people with disabilities are able to access the features of Yahoo! Finance because I write code that supports assistive technologies.
I am proud to tell people that I work on the biggest finance site on the net. It is a huge responsibility knowing that I write code for millions of users worldwide. At the same time, it is an incredible feeling to know that I am helping people getting things done easier because of the code I write.
All of us know the proverb, “Face is the index of mind”. I would compare frontend engineering to the face and backend engineering to the mind. That says it all. The site is firstly judged by the look and feel, then comes the other characteristics…and that is what I’m into and this is what keeps my daily life interesting.
It’s an awesome experience to be working in finance. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work on a product which is seen by millions of people in the world daily, and I’m grateful to have that opportunity. This project has given me the privilege of working with some great technologists and it helps me learn something new daily.
Frontend engineering is an amazing domain — you get to develop the coolest software that end-users actually see and appreciate. You are constantly developing features that impact the user experience. In addition, you get to learn and work on cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technologies which are continuously evolving. Yahoo! provides a solid platform for frontend engineering.
It’s a double-edge sword — on one hand you get a satisfaction that whatever you develop will be used by millions of users across the globe, on the other hand you have to be constantly on your toes to make sure that the site is running perfectly. Thus it’s challenging and satisfying at the same time.
Yahoo is a fantastic place to be a frontend engineer. The frontend infrastructure and continuously evolving frontend research, not to mention our millions of users, makes developing at Yahoo! a most interesting, challenging and satisfying work experience.
I also started building websites during the time when animated gifs were a hit. After studying Computer Science, I focused on high performance web site development. I joined Yahoo! as a frontend engineer, and it has been very rewarding to see how different frontend technologies have evolved the online user experience and made the web an everyday part of people’s lives.
My focus on the Yahoo! Finance frontend team includes analysis and development of ways to improve site performance and user experience. I also help other Yahoo! properties to identify performance bottlenecks and suggest solutions for improvement. I enjoy sharing the purple spirit with people outside of the company, and I was one of the representatives in Massachusetts Institute of Technology university recruiting program.
It’s going to be my 4th year at Yahoo! in a month and, looking back, it has been such a fulfilling journey. I get to work on a website that impacts millions of people’s daily life, and I get to work with some great talent in a friendly, busy, crazy and fun team environment.
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