To expose our internal services to the outside world, we use what is known as an API Gateway. This is a central point of contact for the outside world to access the services Envato Market uses behind the scenes. Taking this approach allows authors to leverage the information and functionality Envato provides on its marketplaces within their own applications without duplicating or managing it themselves. It also benefits customers who want to programmatically interact with Envato Market for their purchases instead of using a web browser.
You may have recently heard reports or seen news about a security bug called “Cloudbleed” affecting sites served by Cloudflare. Envato delivers some websites using services provided by Cloudflare, however Cloudflare have confirmed that none of our websites are directly affected by this security bug. Cloudflare published a detailed explanation of what the bug is and how it came to be, you can read it on their blog.
UPDATE Since the original publication of this post, Cloudflare have released a follow up blog post with information they have learned in their investigations. The second article focuses more on explaining the real-world impact of the bug, rather than the technical details.
On Wednesday 19 October, Envato Market sites suffered a prolonged incident and were intermittently unavailable for over eight hours. The incident began at 01:56 AEDT (Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 14:56 UTC) and ended at 10:22 AEDT (Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 11:22 UTC). During this time, users would have seen our “Maintenance” page intermittently and therefore would not have been able to interact with the sites. The issue was caused by an inaccessible directory on a shared filesystem, which in turn was caused by a volume filling to capacity. The incident duration was 8 hours 26 minutes; total downtime of the sites was 2 hours 56 minutes.
We’re sorry this happened. During the periods of downtime, the site was completely unavailable. Users couldn’t find or purchase items, authors couldn’t add or manage their items. We’ve let our users down and let ourselves down too. We aim higher than this and are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
In the spirit of our “Tell it like it is” company value, we are sharing the details of this incident with the public.
In a previous post, Envato Market: To The Cloud! we discussed why we moved the Envato Market websites to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a little bit about how we did it. In this post we’ll explore more of the technologies we used, why we chose them and the pros and cons we’ve found along the way.
To begin with there are a few key aspects to our design that we feel helped modernise the Market Infrastructure and allowed us to take advantage of running in a cloud environment.
- Where possible, everything should be an artefact
- Source code for the Market site
- System packages (services and libraries)
- Everything is defined by code
- Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) are built from code that lives in source control
- Infrastructure is built entirely using code that lives in source control
- The Market site is bundled into a tarball using scripts
- Performance and resiliency testing
- Form hypotheses about our infrastructure and then define mechanisms to prove them
We made a few technical decisions to achieve these goals along the way. Here we’ll lay those decisions out and why it worked for us, as well as some caveats we discovered along the way, but first.
This is the story of how we moved Envato’s Market sites to the cloud. Envato Market is a family of seven themed websites selling digital assets. We’re busy; our sites operate to the tune of 25,000 requests per minute on average, serving up roughly 140 million pageviews per month. We have nearly eleven million unique items for sale and seven million users. We recently picked this site up out of its home for the past six years and moved to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Read on to learn why we did it, how we did it, and what we learned!
Last month we announced that we had finally completed the move to HTTPS everywhere for Envato Market. This was no easy feat since we are serving over 170 million page views a month that includes about 10 million products listed and are all user generated content. Along the way we have learnt many valuable lessons that we want to share with the wider community and hopefully make other HTTPS moves easier and encourage a better adoption of HTTPS everywhere.
Back in November 2015, one of the Envato Market developers made a
startling discovery - our exception tracker was overrun with occurrences
undefined method exceptions with the target classes being
FalseClass. These type of exceptions are often a
symptom that you’ve written some Ruby code and not accounted for a
particular case where the data you are accessing is returning
false. For our users, this would manifest itself as our robot error
page letting you know that we encountered an issue. This was a
particularly hairy scenario to be in because the exceptions we were
seeing were not legitimate failures and replaying the requests never
reproduced the error and code inspection showed values could never be
Since the end of 2015, the Envato Front End team has been working on bringing a modern development workflow to our stack. Our main project repo powers sites like themeforest.net and serves around 150 million Page Views a month, so it is quite a challenge to re-architect our front end while maintaining a stable site. In addition, the codebase in 9 years old, so it contains the code from many developers and multiple approaches.
As I mentioned above, it’s a 9 year old code base and nobody can guarentee that introducing something new won’t break the code, so we began all the work with tests in mind. This post documents our experiences developing the framework for testing the React based autosuggestion component.
CloudFormation is an Amazon (AWS) service for provisioning infrastructure as “stacks”, described in a JSON template. We use it a lot at Envato, and initially I hated it. Typing out JSON is just painful (literally!), and the APIs exposed in the AWS CLI are very asynchronous and low level. I wanted something to hold my hand and provide more visibility into stack updates.
Today I’d like to introduce a project we’ve recently open-sourced: StackMaster is a tool to make working with multiple CloudFormation stacks a lot simpler. It solves some of the problems we’ve experienced while working with the CloudFormation CLI directly. The project is a refinement of some existing tooling that we have been using internally at Envato for most of this year, and it was built during one of Envato’s previous “Hack Fortnights”.
The Envato development team has always had a strong sense of what we stand for, how we work together and what we expect of each other … at least that is what many of us thought. Around 9 months ago our company participated in the Great Places to Work survey, which gauges how our employees feel about Envato as a place to work. Each department received a breakdown of their feedback, and whilst much of our feedback was great, one statement was a clear outlier “Management makes its expectations clear”. This was a trigger to question our assumptions about those expectations. This post tells the story of that journey.