Back to Insights

Dashboard from Scratch: Interview with Sunday’s Lead Developer, Denis

This time we’re sitting down with Sunday’s Lead Developer, Denis, to talk about his work on Sundash, our very own dashboard. As the chat goes on, it becomes clear that Sundash is something Denis really cherishes: he answers the questions with ease and insight, and his face breaks into a smile whenever he talks about his team. To get the full impression and learn more about how we built a metrics dashboard in-house as a growing company, read on.

Hi, Denis! To start things off, could you tell me a little bit about your background?

I started my web development career over a decade ago as a full-stack developer and have since worked on a variety of projects, including big and high-load ones with millions of daily unique users. This was when my focus shifted towards backend development, where I enjoyed working with large amounts of data and creating reliable, scalable systems. At one point, I spent over five years on a project creating scalable solutions for shop APIs. Moving on, I joined Sunday, which was looking for someone to kick off Sundash – a new step for the company towards publishing. I started Sundash on my own and later on was joined by a Product Owner and a team of developers to create this project from scratch. Over time, more developers joined us from different parts of the world. All of this experience has helped me grow both personally and professionally, and I am extremely grateful for it.

Oh, so you were hired specifically to build Sundash? And what was your initial vision for it?

Initially, Sundash was meant to simplify Sunday’s internal processes because the company used multiple tools to do basic operations. But Sunday kept growing, and the processes became more complex and required even more tools. So the idea was to create a tool that would automate and simplify as many things as possible to leave more time for publishing managers, game leads, and growth managers to focus on more important tasks. We wanted to take the routine out of their daily lives and make everyone happier and more efficient.

Has this vision evolved over time?

Over time, Sundash has become one of the most important solutions for our company. It is now effective not only within teams inside Sunday but also with our external studios. All of them use this tool to drive their market positions up.

This seems like a huge project to start, especially on your own. How would you even approach such a big task and responsibility as building a data dashboard from scratch? 

As with any other solution, the first step is to identify the problem you want to solve. Once you have a clear understanding of the issue, you can start thinking about potential solutions and how to achieve them. Finding the right tools and people is key, as is developing a roadmap that outlines your minimum viable product and future expansion plans. Also, following the agile methodology allows for adjustments along the way. Just make sure to cover the minimum requirements while still considering both short-term and long-term goals to ensure success.

What were the main challenges you faced in the initial stages of developing Sundash and later on?

For me personally, the initial challenge was to understand Sunday’s business model and revenue-generating processes. That’s because coming from a background in e-commerce and publishing, it was my first experience in the game development industry. So I had to aggregate a lot of input and think of possible solutions to address the company’s automation issues.

Even though my focus has always been on the backend, throughout my working history I was involved in many other processes as well. At Sunday I had to apply all of this knowledge to build the Sundash infrastructure from scratch. To set it up, we used cloud technologies provided by AWS while supporting the project on both the front-end and back-end sides. It was quite challenging in the beginning, but we were successful with it – the project took off and is being used by the entire company. Our plan now is to make it even more flexible and user-friendly as we continue to develop it.

What were the learnings you made in the process? Were there any unexpected ones?

There were many things I learned. Most importantly, I had to dig deeper into the technologies I only knew a little bit from my experience, like DevOps and frontend development. I had a general idea about those but I had to deepen my knowledge to actually build something well-livable and useful.

Building one of my biggest projects ever and making things come to life was really exciting. But, it also gave me a feeling of responsibility that something I’m building right now will be worked on by other developers and it has to be maintainable while complying with industry standards. This was a bit challenging, but we released everything on time, and the current project is still running and being maintained on this little carcass I built in the beginning.

What are the future plans for Sundash now?

As of now, we have already achieved the most important feature, which is to automate our internal processes regarding social marketing, and we went even a little bit beyond that. Next, we will work on expanding our project to include social and ideation-focused features, so people can generate ideas for new games, express their opinions and share knowledge.

Also, even though we have a stable backup system behind Sundash, we still want to rework our whole front-end application. And this is something we are about to start soon. We want to make Sundash more user-friendly, more intuitive, and more solution-oriented with a whole new design. 

And finally, we are going double down on live operations to support the currently live games.

When making future plans like this, do you take into account feedback from users?

Absolutely! Feedback is crucial for our team, because even though we do a lot of work for Sundash, we are not the main revenue-driving force. This means that we have to support everyone else to achieve success as a whole. That’s why we are in constant contact with all of our stakeholders, be it game leads, publishing managers or studios. We always try to understand where we can support them the most, what features they are interested in, and what could be improved in the current build. 

What was the most fun aspect of working on Sundash?

For me, the most fun aspect was interacting with the team we have built. Working with people of different backgrounds who specialize in various technologies, seeing them work together, achieve their goals and celebrate success together was something really fun, exciting, and inspirational to me. Also, it was really interesting to try out all the new technologies that we had to implement in our project. When you create something entirely new and you see how it works and how people use it, that’s quite a unique feeling that makes you want to achieve even more.

And to finish things off, do you have any advice for tech teams working on implementing big projects like this?

There are some:

  • If you have to build a web application, it’s quite crucial that you have people who are professionals in their specific fields. Frontend developers should not be forced to work on the backend systems in the same way as QA engineers shouldn’t work on DevOps. Everyone should know their clear responsibilities and what is expected from them so your project advances in the right direction.
  • And there is no universal solution for every problem – every problem has to be analyzed. Then, to achieve a specific solution, specific technologies have to be used.
  • Also, it’s important to break the idea that you want to implement into smaller steps. This way you’ll have a clear roadmap with clear iterations and your team will know the direction to go and what will be coming in the next weeks and even months.

Thanks, Denis!

Sundash is a reflection of Denis’ dedication, extensive expertise, and smart hiring choices, as well as his team’s high skill level and efficient communication. All of us at Sunday can’t wait to see the dashboard website that we’re so proud of developing further. If you’re as invested – stay tuned. Soon we’ll be going more in detail about the development of Sunday’s tech stack. And if you want to use Sundash for your studio, publish with us!

Interested in publishing with Sunday?

Ready to begin your success story?