Front Engineering with Laurent Perrin

Front is a shared inbox application that has seen rapid adoption within companies. Front allows multiple members of a company to collaborate together on a conversation–whether that conversation is in email, Twitter, or Facebook Messenger. This is useful when a customer email needs to be shared between the sales and engineering teams, or when a single email address is shared between different members of the same team, such as “contact@softwareengineeringdaily.com”.

This might sound like a niche problem, but it is actually a problem faced somewhere within every single company. Because the problem of shared inbox is so prevalent, the company has grown its user base quickly, scaling the team as well as the infrastructure.

The sensitivity of the data (emails) that Front is handling means that security is paramount. And as users of Front rely on it more and more as a central point of communication, uptime and consistency needs to be maintained.

Laurent Perrin is the CTO at Front, and he joins the show to describe the software architecture and product strategy for Front. It was a fascinating show, and we covered the full stack. On the backend, Front pulls emails into S3 buckets and maintains the schema of the inbox in a SQL database. The desktop Front client is written in Electron, which is a way to write desktop applications in HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS.

We also talked about the system for keeping the communications “real-time”–it’s important that users are aware of what each other is doing, since you don’t want to be preparing a response to an email at the same time I am.

 

Show Notes

Transcript

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