Behind the Scenes: NextRoll’s AWS BugBust

Who ya gonna call? NextRoll’s BugBusters!

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently invited NextRoll’s world-class Engineering team to test its new BugBust solution, the world’s first global competition for Java and Python developers to collectively fix one million bugs.

Embracing NextRoll’s Monkey Culture Creature (which represents how we take work seriously – not ourselves), 15 NextRoll Developers took on the six-hour BugBust challenge. They had a lot of laughs along the way. For each bug busted, the Developers collected points. And each bug had a different point value, based on how difficult it was to squash. The top three winners received Amazon gift cards at the end of the competition. 

The BugBust provided a fun way for our NextRoll team to find and eliminate software errors using Amazon CodeGuru. It was also an excellent opportunity to bring together folks who don’t always work together or see one another while working remotely. 

“The biggest benefit I found is that it functions as a really good reason to collaborate across teams that normally would not, especially when we’re all sort of stuck in a remote-first world,” said Danny Fowler, NextRoll’s Sr. Software Engineer, DevOps. “We miss that work-oriented socialization that happens naturally in-office, and the BugBust event was a fun way to regain some of that.”

While the competition was close, Chris Evans took the lead and won with 27 points, beating Miriam Pena Villanueva, who won second place with 26 points. 

​​”It was really fun to break away from the routine and a valuable team-building exercise because we learned a bit more about aspects of the code to improve,” said Miriam.

In total, the NextRoll team busted 55 bugs!

“A good outcome for six hours of work, I’d say,” said Danny.

Behind the Scenes

While the quality of the video could make viewers believe an entire film crew visited each participant, it was the Developers who filmed each shot themselves!

Before the BugBust, the NextRoll Engineers featured in the AWS YouTube video received a large Pelican Case full of recording equipment. It included two iPhones, AirPods, a lavalier microphone, a ring light, and a camera stabilizer – so the NextRoll team could record the experience with high-quality gear. 

Thankfully for Jose Hernandez, a senior software engineer and front end developer at NextRoll, he has a professional background in film and was well prepared for the task.

“Watching (the other NextRoll Engineers) backchannel trying to figure out the equipment and strategize shots was fun for me, and I was able to help out a bit,” he said. “So overall, I probably had a lot more fun than the others.”

Jose also recruited his wife to help with some B-roll shots around their home. 

“I directed my wife with a camera. Not only did we get some great shots (objectively, I’m still self-conscious about my posture, etc.), but she got to feel some of the satisfaction any filmmaker gets when they see it turn out well,” Jose said. 

Chris Evans said he was grateful for some direction from the lighting company over video chat to help him set up the equipment.

“It was relatively easy to set up things with their instructions,” he said. “For me, the highlight was during the BugBust, when I figured out the fastest way to score points.”

In the end, even after all the set-up and a day of busting bugs, the participating NextRoll Engineers said it was a great time. 

“Static analysis is an important part of any developer’s toolset,” said Jose. “This is something we routinely instrument in our process, with things like linters and type checkers, yet the standard tools are fairly mature and limited in their own evolution and application. Amazon can leverage its vast insight and Machine Learning to help us stay ahead of anti-patterns as they emerge before they become pitfalls. The potential for things like this and GitHub Copilot to change the way we work entirely in the near future is indeed daunting, but also exciting and full of wonder.”

Learn more about NextRoll’s Engineering team and check out our open Engineering positions to join our team!