Fairway Assists PayPal With
Mission Critical Data Analytics Tool

Challenge

PayPal, an eBay subsidiary, needed to bring an important internal analytics tool from rough beta to a production quality application on a tight deadline. Millions of transactions take place through PayPal’s services every day. Over 100 data analysts in the Data Management team study data points about the PayPal product and provide real-time insight into operations. Their activities include tracking sales trends, evaluating new product performance, analyzing general usage metrics, and more. This data is used to help PayPal develop new data-driven products and services. PayPal’s ability to analyze vast quantities of data efficiently and effectively is critical to their competitiveness.

To make analyzing data more efficient, PayPal realized that they needed an internal data analytics tool that would import data sets from sources within PayPal’s vast network. Using this vision to guide them, Data Management designed Sparkline, a report gathering, data visualization, and collaboration tool.

The Data Management team was ready to take Sparkline from its beta form to a usable application. However, PayPal did not have staff readily available to fill all of the roles necessary for the project. In order to meet their goal of releasing Sparkline to its internal data analyst community in four months, Pay Pal needed to quickly add quality people to the development team who could make immediate contributions to the project.

Solutions

Working alongside PayPal’s in-house talents, Fairway combined several technologies seamlessly to deliver an innovative social data analytics tool. Fairway is considered a “preferred provider” for eBay, having delivered many successful projects for them in the past. As a result, PayPal turned to Fairway to provide the additional experts needed to complete Sparkline on-time and within budget. Fairway joined PayPal midway through the Alpha phase of Sparkline’s development cycle.

Having lost Sparkline’s front-end engineer, PayPal’s in-house team for the project included one technical lead/developer and one user interface (UI) designer. The UI designer had just completed a new UI design that needed to be implemented to meet the initial Beta phase, with plans to fine tune it in time for the first production release.

Fairway provided one back-end developer (a Senior Java Development Engineer) and one front-end developer (a Senior UI Engineer), and helped successfully implement the UI design in two one-week sprints.

Tools & Technology Used:

  • Back-end: Java, Spring Core, Spring MVC, Spring MVC with RESTful APIs, JSON, Apache POI, Hibernate JPA Oracle, Hibernate Search, Apache Lucene, MongoDB, ActiveMQ and JMS
  • Front-end: HTML/CSS/Javascript, Underscore,  JQuery, SlickGrid, JCarousel
  • Build: Git, Maven, Jenkins Continuous Integration
  • Test: JUnit, Spring integration testing, JMeter
  • Opening channels of communication within the company

After the initial production release, several new features were requested. One of these requests was to make the core features of the web application function as a single page web app. To accomplish this, Fairway’s back-end and front-end developers created a set of restful JSON APIs with Spring MVC.

Next, they refactored the UI to display a new thumbnail carousel of visualizations. Upon completion, users could navigate the filmstrip and change the selected chart in a single page web app. PayPal also wanted improved global search capabilities for Sparkline’s new single page web application. Fairway implemented this feature by integrating Hibernate Search, which indexes the data model using Apache Lucene.

Fairway created a new search box for the single page web app, enabling a keyword search to be performed against all visualization metadata in the data model and return search results. This element was fully implemented in two one-week sprints.

In addition to importing data from PayPal’s data warehouses, PayPal wanted Sparkline to be able to import data from Excel. Fairway researched options, proposed a solution, and implemented a visual Excel data import feature to the web application. The resulting feature provides users with the ability to import a spreadsheet, see it displayed in a grid developed by Fairway, and then select worksheets to import. Using Apache POI, SlickGrid.js, jQuery and a new set of restful APIs, Fairway’s developers implemented this feature in four sprints.

“Working with Fairway Technologies on the Sparkline project was an enjoyable process. Fairway’s team members are talented, produce results, and are torchbearers for innovation. I look forward to working with Fairway again.”

—Kyle Forbes
Director of Data Infrastructure and Operations at PayPal

Benefits/Results

Fairway was a key contributor to bringing Sparkline from beta to a production quality application, while meeting PayPal’s tight deadline of four months. Fairway’s front-end and back-end developers integrated seamlessly into PayPal’s remote Sparkline team, and worked closely with them to develop requirements that were realistic given time and budget constraints.

The information Sparkline provides has become a key part of PayPal’s internal decision-making process. Using Sparkline, PayPal is able to accomplish mission critical tasks, including:

  • Increased accessibility to data, enhanced data discovery, and improved clarity of data
  • Decreased time to communicate new data reports
  • Helping analysts identify and focus on PayPal’s most important data
  • Revealing new information that PayPal was not aware of prior to Sparkline
  • Giving PayPal the ability to evaluate a products’ popularity, functionality, and opportunities for improvement
  • Opening channels of communication within the company

Company Overview

Fueled by a fundamental belief that having access to financial services creates opportunity, PayPal is committed to democratizing financial services and empowering people and businesses to join and thrive in the global economy. Our open digital payments platform gives PayPal’s 244 million active account holders the confidence to connect and transact in new and powerful ways, whether they are online, on a mobile device, in an app, or in person. Through a combination of technological innovation and strategic partnerships, PayPal creates better ways to manage and move money, and offers choice and flexibility when sending payments, paying or getting paid. Available in more than 200 markets around the world, the PayPal platform, including Braintree, Venmo and Xoom, enables consumers and merchants to receive money in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds in 56 currencies and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in 25 currencies.

About Fairway Tech

Fairway Technologies provides strategic consulting services and end-to-end technology solutions to solve the world’s toughest business challenges. From Fortune 50 multinational companies to startups, our innovative engagement model focuses on your company’s needs, helping to cut costs and freeing your team to innovate. Fairway’s 100% US-based team has decades of experience crafting elegant and effective technology solutions to make your business thrive.

At Fairway, providing genuine support and being attentive to our clients’ needs is a core value. Rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach, we dedicate our attention and focus to create the right solution for each client.

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