Get to Know Appian Engineering: Linda Chiang
Briefly describe what team you are on and some of your responsibilities in your role.
I am on the Development Productivity team, and our main focus is to enable customers to collaborate and create their applications more quickly. We have a total of 10 people on the Development Productivity team, and I serve as both the backup squad coach and a technical lead. I help unblock people (whether that is helping them directly or finding additional resources for them) and contribute to the architectural design of our features.
Outside of this team, I am also a manager in addition to leading several internal initiatives within the Engineering department. The Community Committee (CommComm) being my most prominent activity within the department. The CommComm is made up of engineers across the department, and our main objective is to identify department wide fun activities. Pre-pandemic, we’d host things like our annual Engineering Spring Picnics and this week we’ve partnered with our Workplace Experience team to do a Global Pumpkin Carving contest for Halloween.
What excites you about your role at Appian?
I like being seen as an expert or a “go to” person for technical advice or help. My specialties include the import/export framework, the designer environment as a whole, and SAIL development, to name a few. As a manager, I really enjoy helping people grow so they can reach their goals. I have helped colleagues become more comfortable with code reviews and debugging as well as reassure and help them build their self-confidence.
What are your passions and hobbies outside of work?
Dance, gardening, eating, traveling, playing video games — just to name a few.
What would you say is your favorite part about working at Appian?
I very much enjoy being around the people I work with! They make work fun — I see them as friends and not just coworkers. I also really like the area of the product that I work on, as it’s focused around the design/development aspect of Appian applications. I enjoy solving how to (technically) achieve ways we can improve customer development efficiencies.
Can you share any insight into a project you’re currently working on?
Sure! My team is currently working on a really cool new feature called “Shared Packages”.
For context, as of right now, when customers are ready to deploy their changes for an application, they create something we call a “patch”. The patch is only visible to the creator and the creator can only ever have one patch at a time for an application. Since customers tend to work collaboratively, we wanted to allow multiple users to edit the same “patch”, which we are now calling “package”. And users can create more than one package for an application, which will greatly help those who work on multiple tasks at a time.
I am currently working on migrating the existing patch data from the Appian Data Server (ADS), which is an optimized storage layer, to a traditional relational database or RDBMS for short. There are a couple of challenges with the migration that make this an interesting problem to solve. First, we need to be able to know if ADS or RDBMS encounters an issue (ex. The component went down unexpectedly) and then determine how to recover from those scenarios.
We also write data to RDBMS using hibernate, but by default hibernate does not automatically batch writes and making changes to the hibernate configuration may be risky. The alternative is to directly bypass hibernate and use jdbc instead, but there are concerns about maintaining this code across the multiple databases we support at Appian.
What is unique about the software that Appian provides?
Software specifically, I would say versatility. Appian provides so much flexibility when it comes to creating business applications — integrating with 3rd party tools, machine learning/AI, ability to custom build applications and processes, custom theming, etc.
I must say that our process of ensuring we make an impact to our customers is what makes us most unique though.
What attracted you to Appian Engineering?
The people and the fast paced environment.