Transistor Product Release
Published on 19 November 2018
This month’s theme is Transistor; a semiconductor with three connections used to amplify or switch electronic signals. While Smartsheet did deploy some bug fixes and new features, we’re going to focus on a brand new product recently rolled out called Dynamic View and some of the developers behind it.
Built with TypeScript and React on Node.js, Dynamic View gives users granular control over their sheet sharing capabilities—allowing users to share only specific sections of their sheet without sharing the entire source. Dynamic View is an impressive example of what can be achieved using the Smartsheet API.
Dynamic View was built by a small, dynamic (yes, I went there) team of six. The team was a mixture of seasoned and up-and-coming developers. Three of the newest editions to the team— Liz Leong, Diane Zevenbergen, and Tori Teagle— were integral to the project's success.
Like a Transistor, the connections between these three developers amplified the project to a higher degree of success. These three helped to build and ship Dynamic View within their first six months at the company.
The team came together quickly from wide variety of background and experiences.
Between teaching English at a university in China and completing a coding bootcamp, Liz has worked through some challenging situations. Her “strength through struggle” mindset brought an infectious determination to the team.
“I think the hardest part of the project for me was working in the backend a lot then leaving the team for a bit [on vacation],” said Liz. “When I came back I was doing primarily front-end work. A lot had already been built out by other people on the team, so it was hard for me to figure out how the data moved around the frontend through the React components.”
Diane is a lifelong learner; a fact that helped her discover and implement the ‘react-visualized’ library to work with the grid in Dynamic View.
“There’s more to do with it [React] and figure out, like how to make our grid more adaptable,” said Diane. “It’s a really cool tool and a lot of fun, but I still need to figure out a number of details.” Diane’s consistent growth often leads to new insights that help her team. “I really like React, but after using it for a couple of months I already see ways that we could’ve used it better.”
Also a strong learner, Tori completed a Software Design program at University of Washington Bothell after programming piqued her interest at her old job. She joined Smartsheet and immediately started working on the Dynamic View project.
“I was a bit unclear of what it was at first,” Tori said. “There’s a generic ‘oh, this is for IT ticketing’ and that’s easy to understand, but it took me a little longer to understand how it can be used to manage a process.”
Having a big picture understanding of Dynamic View helped Tori solve an incredibly challenging part of the project, View Shares. View Shares makes up a core functionality of Dynamic View—giving users fine-grained control over what other users are able to see. “One of the most challenging things I worked on was View Shares. Checking everything [permissions] that I needed to ended up being a lot more complicated than I thought it would be and I had to redo it many times,” Tori said. “I ended up with something readable and clean so I’m happy we redid it so much, but it was definitely a challenge getting there.”
The artwork for this release was created by Tim Lebel, Software Development Engineer II, who works in developer operations. Made with watercolor, the release art gave Tim a chance to explore his artistic side again.
“My mom was very artistic, so growing up I remember drawing a lot,” said Tim. “However, I did not continue with visual art into adulthood. This was a great opportunity to try it out again.”
Tim approached the piece with a strong concept from the beginning.
“I was surprised how quickly the idea came to me and solidified. I envisioned what the piece would look like almost immediately when I heard the release name, and I did not really deviate from that,” Tim said. “I wanted to paint a vacuum tube because I felt like it was more visually interesting than a modern transistor. I liked the idea of taking this impersonal technology object and making it into a cute character. A lot of my job in developer operations involves taking very technical tasks and systems and making them friendly and approachable for developers within Smartsheet.”