STARCANADA 2019 Concurrent Session : Automating the New York Times Crossword

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 11:30am to 12:30pm

Automating the New York Times Crossword

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The New York Times digital crossword has more subscribers than the population of Iceland. The team responsible for this media mainstay add new features all the time. They release new games, like Spelling Bee and Letter Boxed. They introduce new features, like leaderboards and vertical streaks. They add engaging bonuses like milestone animations to the crossword. How does a team doing so much, with a product so renowned, ensure that they're building in quality with every new release? Join Phil Wells, a software engineer in test for the Games team, as he discusses that very topic. Phil addresses the negative feelings some teams might feel with delivering anything but a perfect product. He'll talk about the software quality practices his team uses to squash those feelings. He'll explain some of the tools they use to ensure that everyone feels confident and happy with their software delivery. Test practitioners will leave knowing that their job is a process of continual shame elimination. And they'll have a few new tricks to help them get the job done.

Phil Wells
New York Times

Phil Wells has been a software quality practitioner for over a decade. Now, Phil is a software engineer in test for the New York Times games team. This team maintains the most popular crossword product in the world. Phil works to ensure that this team builds quality into every new feature and game they deliver. Phil likes to go beyond writing tests and building infrastructure for delivery. He also acts as a coach for his peers in web development, teaching and advocating for modern test practices and technologies. People have all sorts of funny ideas about what Phil does every day. Phil does not construct the puzzle content for the crosswords. Phil does not program an AI to solve crosswords, although that would be awesome. Phil does not know Will Shortz. If you see Phil walking around the conference, feel free to say, "Hi, Phil!"