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Day 116

August 23, 2019

It’s been 116 days (15 work weeks) since I started my first official engineering job, and it has been really great. I have an amazing manager who has granted me autonomy to work on a few challenging and fulfilling tasks. I just want to write a brief recapitulation of those tasks, as well some other things I’ve done & learned (personal stuff included), since day 1… mostly for my own sake, so that I don’t forget 😅.

Babel v6 to v7

The first big task that I got to tackle was upgrading our frontend code’s Babel version from v6 to v7. This would enable React’s fragment shorthand syntax, and simply clean up some tech debt. The hardest part of this was ensuring that our app still compiled properly for Internet Explorer 11, and a good deal of this was working around the existing webpack implementation and all its plugins, minifiers, optimizers, etc… I had 0 webpack & babel knowledge prior to this, and can’t say I retained all that much because I was sort of on-my-own for this task, but I definitely learned a lot and if I needed to upgrade it again, I’d feel pretty confident in doing so.


  • use the babel-upgrade tool

    • don’t need all the auto-generated plugins
  • in your webpack babel-loader options:

    configFile: false
    compact: false
    • This was the key to compiling correctly for IE11

Recompact to Hooks (in progress)

For this, I got to write my first tech spec! It sucked. It looked like a yelp review. But the decision to move forward with this was quick and swift! (Did I mention ‘amazing manager’?) A lot of components have been a very quick conversion from withState to useState, while for others I’ve really had to understand class lifecycles better in order to refactor the lifecycle HOC with useEffect. The hard part has been two things: 1. figuring out how to refactor Recompact HOC usage that is intertwined with other HOC’s like withFormik, and 2. refactoring other people’s code.


  • refactoring composed HOCs is not fun
  • Cypress integration testing is DOPE
  • props & method naming is suprisingly tricky


I’ve learned a ton through referencing existing SCSS usage, and implementing our designers designs. Component-specific SCSS modules, classname nesting, global @mixins, using said mixins with @include, etc.


  • Not the biggest fan, but I appreciate it
  • I want to see how a large project uses styled-components
  • react-spring


I’ve only scratched the surface of Cypress and integration testing, but I’ve been adding tests to my work for migrating to React Hooks. It has been very eye opening.


  • @aliases are limited to the scope of a particular it block
  • use data-cy where possible

Meanwhile, at home…

Apollo GraphQL server + AWS DynamoDb, deployed with Zeit/Now

My manager told me, “you should get good at spinning up node servers”, so I looked into… spinning up node servers. The last time I did anything server related was a GraphQL node server from following a tutorial using Prisma, and I essentially copy-pasted my way to something sort of nice. I remembered nothing. This time I decided to follow this very minimal Apollo guide, keep the copy-pasting to a bare minimum, and see how to connect both DynamoDB and deployment with Zeit/Now myself. I eventually made a GraphQL node server that updates my DynamoDB. I’m still adding to it, and figuring out how to structure data on the DB level.


  • Building features myself is fun! But retaining the knowledge is difficult and extra crucial.
  • Apollo’s deploy-with-now docs are out of date
  • GraphQL subscriptions don’t seem to work on a Now v2 deployment
  • You can add things like AWS/dynamodb/docClient to the context object of an ApolloServer
  • now secrets are really finicky to set up

    now secrets add <secret-name> <secret-value>
    # for <secret-name>
    # `MY_SECRET` will become `my_secret`
    • setting the secrets in now.json
    • I’m not yet sure the difference between build.env and just env.
  "build": {
    "env": {
      "MY_SECRET": "@my_secret"
  "env": {
    "MY_SECRET": "@my_secret"

What’s next?

I want to continue GraphQL node server and DynamoDB stuff, and integrate it with this blog. Maybe learn more about the differences of running the server on a serverless environment like Zeit/Now vs. AWS/EC2 or Heroku. I’d like to figure out websockets & GraphQL subcriptions soon, and they don’t seem to work on Zeit/Now.

I want to start getting familiar with Next.js and SSR react and whatever that entails.

That’s all for now. See you again in a few days? Weeks?

Kevin Wang

👋 I'm Kevin Wang
🎓 New School for Jazz '13
💻 Software Engineer
🧗🏻‍♂️ Rock Climber


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