Instagram—the world’s largest visual sharing platform—started by standing on the shoulders of many open source software systems, including Elasticsearch, Redis, Django, and Cassandra, just to name a few. In fact, in 2010, the company’s founders chose to write Instagram’s backend in Python, and today it has the world’s largest deployment of the Django web framework and is now running on Python 3.5, making Instagram the first large-scale service to do so.
Instagram is a big proponent of open source technology and is committed to sharing its engineering efforts back to the community so that we can all get better together. Instagram welcomes collaboration across companies and believes this is the right strategy to evolve its technical stack and build better products.
Hui Ding explains how open source software has helped lead to Instagram’s success, discusses Instagram’s evolution from a mere follower falling behind the community to a leading contributor, and shares perspectives on aligning Instagram’s engineering team and working with the Python community. Along the way, Hui talks about what drove Instagram’s adoption of Python 3 and its commitment to pushing the boundaries of the open source Python and Django effort. Hui also shares Instagram’s latest technical bets around Django and Python, including its open source tool to type check its code base, fully async concurrent request processing in Django, and a new Python runtime initiative. Hui concludes by offering some details on how Instagram aligns open source involvement with company business goals.
Hui Ding is a director of engineering at Facebook, where he heads infrastructure at Instagram. During his time at Instagram, Hui has led many engineering and product development efforts, scaled Instagram infrastructure from supporting 40M+ users to 800M+ users, and built out and grew the organization from three engineers to a 70+-person cross-functional team.
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