One of Food Network Kitchen’s iOS Managers Shares the Biggest Technical Challenge Her Team Faces

For Lauren Jarrard, a software development manager of iOS at Discovery, the technical challenge of working on the back end of Food Network Kitchen’s app is twofold: constantly maintaining a high standard of code quality while ensuring a crash-free experience for their users. So, in other words, maintaining near-perfection on an app that’s a top 100 food and drink app on the App Store. Sounds easy enough, right?

Written by Colin Hanner
Published on Mar. 24, 2021
One of Food Network Kitchen’s iOS Managers Shares the Biggest Technical Challenge Her Team Faces
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For Lauren Jarrard, a software development manager of iOS at Discovery, the technical challenge of working on the back end of Food Network Kitchen’s app is twofold: constantly maintaining a high standard of code quality while ensuring a crash-free experience for their users. 

So, in other words, maintaining near-perfection on an app that’s a top 100 food and drink app on the App Store. Sounds easy enough, right?

For Jarrard, it seems to be — the app has a near-five star rating from nearly 500,000 reviews. Below, she shared the four main areas of focus her engineering team has as they strive for perfection in the ever-evolving world of mobile engineering. 

 

Lauren Jarrard
Software Development Manager II, iOS • Warner Bros. Discovery

What’s the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced recently in your work? 

I oversee the iOS team for our Food Network Kitchen product, and one of the best parts of my role includes bringing new, valued features to the customer (particularly on mobile). While this is really exciting, building for mobile is constantly evolving and always comes with a unique set of engineering challenges.

This year, in particular, the iOS team has been challenged with more frequent releases, all while maintaining a high standard of code quality and the crash-free experience our users have come to expect.
 

Building for mobile is constantly evolving and always comes with a unique set of engineering challenges.”


How did you and your team overcome this challenge in the end? 

We focus on four things:

  • Coding guidelines. We do code reviews on our pull requests, hold weekly developer meetings to discuss comments and agree on coding style, and use SwiftLint to warn on basic code style infractions. The mobile field is ever-changing, so this is when we discuss new approaches or architectures we’d like to try and discuss the pros/cons before starting the code.
     
  • Code coverage. When the iOS development team works on new features, they are expected to create unit tests as well. In fact, our CI/CD will fail a developer’s pull request if you don’t have enough coverage. We use Codecov to add reports to each pull request, which the developer can review for line-by-line coverage.
     
  • Automation. We have a great QA team that’s worked hard this year to automate testing core features in our app. Our CI/CD runs nightly builds which they review every morning.
     
  • Developer Regression. While our QA team has regression paths they go through for every app update, developers should too! We have a deployment checklist that focuses on problems we’ve encountered in the past and tests to run before the app is allowed to store. Our regression checklist relies heavily on Xcode’s Instruments.

 

How did this technical challenge help you grow as an engineer or help you strengthen a specific skill?

The ability to successfully deliver innovative and new features to consumers more quickly and at scale requires a complex and multi-pronged solution — and a talented team of engineers. This type of challenge gives us the opportunity to do what every developer wants to focus on: building great software.

In order to implement such a robust solution, high collaboration and autonomy were equally important. I want every single team member to feel empowered to make confident decisions and lean on each other for support. We are always vocal about the problems we face and help each other determine innovative ways to solve them.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Headshot provided by Discovery. Header image via Shutterstock.

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