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User Analytics: Building Flickr Stats

5:15pm Thursday, 09/18/2008
Topic: Development
Location: 1A08 & 10

Flickr’s statistics product was built to give users insight into the ways that people are finding their photos, by providing traffic counts broken down by any combination of photo, date, referring page or search term. To display this information we’re storing “almost real-time” referral counts for all 2 billion photos on Flickr and creating nightly rollup reports for hundreds of thousands of accounts.

This session will examine every aspect of how a four-person team designed and built this system, from initial product development to post launch operational issues. We’ll look at a number of technical implementation details, including techniques for graph rendering and the optimization of MySQL to handle large-scale data collection.

We’ll also discuss how a handful of simple architecture patterns — federation, background tasks, caching and buffering — allow Flickr to quickly create products like this at scale and how you can do the same.

Paul Hammond


Paul Hammond is a web developer, product manager and father. He has been building websites for as long as he can remember, and now leads a team of hardworking supernerds at Flickr. Before that he was part of the Yahoo Brickhouse team, and previously led technical project management at BBC Radio and Music interactive.

Paul regularly speaks on subjects from Javascript and APIs to the future of broadcasting, at events including South By Southwest, O’Reilly Emerging Technology, and Web Directions North. He lives in San Francisco, and keeps an irregularly updated technical weblog at paulhammond.org