Rightmove: Through the keyhole of a Front End Engineer and a Java Developer

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Rightmove: Through the keyhole of a Front End Engineer and a Java Developer
Ashton Arnold

Rightmove: Through the keyhole of a Front End Engineer and a Java Developer

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be part of one of the UK’s biggest tech giants? Here, we take you through the keyhole to life in Rightmove's technical team.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be part of one of the UK’s biggest tech giants? Rightmove is the UK’s largest property marketplace and is a digital native business. Its website and apps receive over 140m visits a month – more than ASOS, Instagram and Wikipedia – making it one of the UK’s top visited sites, it manages 70TB of data, using 15,000 servers, and is on target to make 2,000 code releases this year. Rightmove isn’t just a household name – it’s a tech pure play with a large-scale platform, home to a keen engineering community.

Here, we take you through the keyhole to life in their technical team. We’re joined by Dan Wilson, a Front-End Engineer, and Louis Leondiou, a Java Developer. 

Tell us a bit about yourselves

Louis: I’ve been with the business since 2015. My Java experience comes from an Academy I joined after finishing university. While at the Academy I experienced a few different working environments – I was an Automation Engineer at Betfair, worked with HTML and JavaScript at a start-up and worked at Sage developing Java in their internal suite of software.

Dan: I’ve been with the business for just under three years, and in that time, I’ve worked on some exciting, almost entirely greenfield, projects. Before Rightmove I worked as UI Engineering Consultant for companies including Tesco, Canon and a subsidiary of Kuoni, where I helped clients build large scale and multi-language ecommerce platforms.

What does a ‘day in the life’ look like for you?

Louis: I’m currently working in a new team that was created to facilitate communication between our different users. We formed just as Docker was rolled out in-house, so we can be flexible with the tech we use in our applications. We build our services with Node and Java, as well as Kafka. We use Jenkins to test and deploy new code and although we are not there yet, we are aiming towards a fully automatic CI Pipeline. Day to day, we follow scrum agile methodology, with work done in sprints that are defined by the team (two weeks for us). 

Dan: A typical day involves working closely with product owners, QA’s and other engineers to build new features and help come up with technical solutions to solve problems. I’m typically involved in technical discussions, helping make technical decisions and providing technical context for product owners. This includes helping them prioritise product vs technology features, sprint goals and longer-term roadmaps. Most days I will pair with one or two engineers, whether that’s within the team or helping others across the engineering community. I deliver small features that can be built upon and I also work on a group of internal libraries including some Node libraries and our React shared component library.

What attracted you to working at Rightmove?

Dan: The Rightmove brand. I really wanted to work for a household name and contribute to applications I used on a regular basis outside of work.  I also wanted to work on Node projects and get involved in more of a full stack role, including getting some experience in AWS. Another selling point for me was moving into a more product focused role where I could make a real impact on technology and work with the business to come up with solutions for product roadmaps.

Louis: Rightmove deals with 500+ million requests a day, so it’s a great opportunity to develop skills that enable you to deal with huge throughputs like that.

How would you describe the culture at Rightmove?

Dan: Rightmove has a great engineering community, with a lot of very smart people. It’s a very collaborative environment and we do a lot of peer programming. There’s a lot of time and space to innovate as well – we have 10% time out to learn or work on personal projects and an annual hackathon. We also have lots of social groups and do regular outside of work activities. I even went sailing for the first time and competed in one of two boats Rightmove put into the Cowes regatta in 2019!

Louis: Business decisions are shared company-wide and there are clear, well defined and supportive structure in place to help you achieve your career goals. There are also lots of social groups catering for any interest – be it photography, gaming, running, football etc. And you can even create your own group!

What’s the team like?

Dan: We have a great team relationship and we work very closely together. There is always a helping hand when you need it, whether that’s technical or just a chat. The teams are setup with a product owner, a group of engineers (front end specialists, backend specialist and those in-between) and a QA.  We have a good mix of engineers and everyone has the chance to get involved across the stack, with the opportunity to learn something every day. We are all involved in the technology decisions and although I am primarily a front-end engineer, I find myself having an impact on wider technology decisions, including service architecture and API design. Our team has an iterative approach to building products, and we release changes / new features regularly in order to gain feedback from those using it. The teams make their own decisions about technology and we have the empowerment to design what we want our product to look like (with support from principle engineers and architects).

Louis: A team consists of Product Owners, Software Engineers, Quality Assurance Engineers and Designers where there is collaboration between each role consistently. Stand ups happen every morning and discussions often break out throughout the day. The scrum ceremonial meetings keep the team in sync and ad hoc meetings allow the team to come up with new features and ideas to break down and develop.

What do you enjoy most about working at Rightmove?

Louis: I love the relaxed culture at Rightmove and how it feels like you’re working with friends. There is a huge drive on personal development, providing direction and a means to get there making the ‘career ladder climb’ an enjoyable challenge. Learning is also easy – Rightmove has Pluralsight which is a good source for material, but you can also request to go on any training course or conference that you can get yourself to.

I like trying new things and Rightmove have been very accommodating by allowing me to pursue different development directions. I started as a Java back end developer, then I moved into a full stack role but still fully Java, then I moved onto Android development and now I’m back to full stack with Java, Node and React applications. As a result, I have been able to work on an exciting greenfield project where I headed up the proof-of-concept development and showcased it to customers. It’s maturing very quickly, and it has been very exciting and a great learning experience.

Dan: The people are great, and it’s amazing to have a real impact on driving technology choices. One of my personal highlights has been helping two graduate engineers with writing their first front end applications from scratch in React, Node and Express. I find this a really rewarding part of my role, and it’s great to be given the opportunity to tech and mentor others if that’s what interests you.

Are you interested in learning more about a career at Rightmove? The team are currently hiring for tech experts in the following roles – follow the link to find out more and apply!


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