Citymaps — “Vietnam”: Tracking Down An Elusive Bug

Bob Matsuoka posted November 22, 2016
In our experience a serious bug -- particularly one pushed in production code -- tends to get found and solved quickly, and is in fact relatively straightforward to reproduce and isolate.  We encountered one recently, however, that did not fit this model, and it ended up causing us a few weeks of frustration as well as some work probably could have been avoided. Background About a month ago, we pushed a fairly…
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Building Skills for Amazon Echo

Irena Shaigorodsky posted November 6, 2016
I am a proud owner of a pre-ordered Amazon Echo (or Alexa). It's a lot of fun for guests and the family alike. It claims to have been born on Nov. 6, 2015, and generally tries to act like an AI. Its voice recognition is pretty decent, especially with accents. When it was released, there was none like it and now Google, and Apple, and various other startups are rushing…
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Mining Text for Review Snippets

Robert Hall posted October 28, 2016
On TripAdvisor we have lists of restaurants and hotels which can be filtered e.g., to show only restaurants which serve a particular cuisine type.  Each location has a set of "tags" which determine which filtered lists it will appear in (for example a restaurant may have the tag of "italian cuisine" or a hotel may have the tag of "free wifi" in which case these locations will be displayed when…
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Swift, Objective-C, Or Both?

Jay Ayres posted January 11, 2016
If you are a developer of a native iOS app written in Objective-C, the topic has likely come up whether it is worth switching your app to use Swift, and if so, when, and how. TripAdvisor is no exception, and with hundreds of thousands of lines of Objective-C code in our flagship app, we have had a huge decision to make on this topic. It is unrealistic for TripAdvisor to…
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Improving the TripAdvisor Flights experience on Android

Cheng Han posted December 4, 2015
Our goal is to create a first class user experience for Android. In an effort to improve this on native apps, TripAdvisor Flights team did a great amount of work about year ago. For our flights app, because most of important flights itinerary information needs to be shown on the search header, it takes a considerable amount of screen real estate, which leaves less space for showing the search result itself. In…
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No Software Engineers? Sorry, Exactly the Opposite

Jeff Palmucci posted November 8, 2015
This post originally appeared as part of an internal email thread at TripAdvisor. If you do not enjoy ranting on the internet (and if you say you don’t, you are not kidding anyone), please read no further. <rant> So last Friday, Ian Bogost’s post on software engineering appeared on TripAdvisor’s internal humor mailing list, “catbert”. In it, he shares his opinion that software engineers aren’t really engineers proper, because of…
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Using NLP to Find “Interesting” Collections of Hotels

Craig Schmidt posted October 5, 2015
There are a lot of hotels on TripAdvisor. At the moment, there are 1790 hotels listed for Paris, 1054 hotels for London, and 466 hotels in New York City. We have been working on better ways to explore these hotels, and find an interesting place to stay. In this blog post, I'll describe an upcoming feature on TripAdvisor, that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to find groups of hotels that…
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The second-best feature of Java 8

Joshua Hendrickson posted September 21, 2015
After far too long, Java 8 finally adds support for real, actual lambda expressions in all of the places you hoped it would. I know of no one who would dispute that the best new feature in Java 8 is support for this basic construct that will simplify code and improve readability. However, you may not be aware that Java 8 includes more new features than just lambda support. So which feature of Java 8 ranks second best? I claim that you…
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Augmented reality on the iPad

Jay Ayres posted September 14, 2015
Another blast from the past, this time related to what was then the new and shiny iPad. We are very excited to announce a brand new Virtual Tours feature for our TripAdvisor iPad app, code-named “OwlCam”. When the iPad launched last April, one noticeable shortcoming was its lack of camera, preventing augmented reality apps from really taking off on the platform. However, augmented reality is such a great tool for…
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Optimizing image sprites for high-density displays with SVG

Jay Ayres posted August 31, 2015
Note: we first published this article several years ago on our old blog. We're republishing today based both on recent staff experiences and on receiving questions on the topic from interview candidates. Image spriting is a well-known technique for improving webpage load performance. Performance is greatly improved by reducing the total number of resource requests to the server, whether those resources are CSS files, Javascript files, or image files. Spriting…
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