How Hatena broke free of maintenance and improved their entire CI/CD pipeline
Hatena is a Japanese internet services company based in Kyoto, operating various online services, including Hatena Bookmark, the most popular social bookmarking service in Japan, and Hatena Diary, a well-known blog hosting platform used by thousands of people, many of whom are developers writing their own tech blogs.
Hatena currently has around 150 employees, from which around 10 are mobile developers. Their app development department consists of web app engineers, iOS and Android engineers, site reliability engineers, and customer reliability engineers. Teams are divided according to the different services they provide.
The company’s mission is to fulfill users’ needs of “knowing more, connecting more, and expressing more” — all through software. They also aim to continuously introduce contemporary tools and processes into app development in order to provide top-level services and products with the latest technologies. Their brand philosophy emphasizes the importance of creating an ideal workplace for their employees, where people love to work and spend their time.
The inconveniences of self-hosted CI
As most mobile app companies around the world, the teams at Hatena want to release high quality apps with frequent iterations, while continuously improving user experience. Since both app quality and the frequency of updates directly affect the number of installs and user reviews, safeguarding quality was one of the main priorities. One of their biggest challenges was to develop apps that are easy to use, but at the same time, lead the game by offering modern functionalities.
Continuous integration has been crucial for maintaining the quality of apps from the very beginning. In the early days, Hatena's teams were using Jenkins on a local Mac machine but managing this turned out to be overly time consuming. One of their most dreaded tasks was having to annually restart the Mac, which caused a blackout in the entire office.
With the aim of avoiding such inconveniences and minimizing the time and human resources spent on maintenance, they started looking for cloud-based CI/CD platforms. When they first came across Bitrise, they immediately appreciated how easy-to-use and intuitive its UI was, and how they could set up workflows much faster than on other platforms.
Breaking free from maintenance
Some of the first positive experiences were breaking free from the frustration of code signing procedures and other lengthy processes they used to have to do on Jenkins on a daily basis. Hundreds of mobile-specific integrations and the fact that Bitrise offers immediate support for latest Xcode versions — usually within a day — also make the developers' lives easier.
The mobile teams have around 250 builds running across 10 different apps and their maintenance is achieved without any efforts — thanks to the user-friendly GUI. They’ve recently started migrating over all of their remaining apps from Jenkins, so by now, Bitrise covers almost every single phase of their mobile app development cycle. Their most often used integrations are fastlane, the Certificate and profile installer, and the Cache Steps — these are integral parts of almost all of their workflows. They also continuously monitor the state of updates in the library and have a workflow that automatically posts the updates from the library to Slack once a week.
Moreover, they introduced scheduled nightly builds, which means that Bitrise conveniently takes care of their releases while they are sleeping, instead of spending hours on them in the office.
No more manual Xcode downloads and office blackouts
Since the Hatena teams started using Bitrise, they've been able to implement significant improvements into their pipeline, resulting in a streamlined development lifecycle. For example, publishing to the App Store used to be a manual process — now it’s automatically done on the platform in a fraction of the time.
Using Bitrise also enabled them to monitor crashes and reduced the time spent on backtracking issues and fixing bugs. Not only can they now concentrate on improving the app, but they also managed to completely eliminate the repetitive manual tasks. They no longer have to worry about manual Xcode downloads, nor about office blackouts. Thanks to all of this, developers can focus on the code itself and create new features for users.
All in all, switching to Bitrise has enabled them to ship higher-quality apps to their users faster, and accelerated their growth as well: they’ve recently created new apps focused on online novels and manga, expanding their already popular app portfolio.
Hatena is always looking for mobile engineers. Check out their careers page for current openings!