Migrating from Underscore to Lodash

Modernizing the front-end stack

The core Dropbox web application is 10 years old and used by millions of users per day. Hundreds of front-end engineers across multiple cities actively work on it. Unsurprisingly, our codebase is very large and somewhat irregular. Recently written parts have thorough test coverage, other parts haven’t been updated in years.

Over the past two years we’ve worked to modernize our front-end stack. We’ve successfully moved from CoffeeScript to TypeScript, from jQuery to React, and from a custom Flux implementation to Redux. Having completed these migrations we identified our utility library, Underscore, as one more candidate for migration.

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Building better compression together with DivANS

Compressing your files is a good way to save space on your hard drive. At Dropbox’s scale, it’s not just a good idea; it is essential. Even a 1% improvement in compression efficiency can make a huge difference. That’s why we conduct research into lossless compression algorithms that are highly tuned for certain classes of files and storage, like Lepton for jpeg images, and Pied-Piper-esque lossless video encoding. For other file types, Dropbox currently uses the zlib compression format, which saves almost 8% of disk storage.

We introduce DivANS,

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Extending Magic Pocket Innovation with the first petabyte scale SMR drive deployment

Magic Pocket, the exabyte scale custom infrastructure we built to drive efficiency and performance for all Dropbox products, is an ongoing platform for innovation. We continually look for opportunities to increase storage density, reduce latency, improve reliability, and lower costs. The next step in this evolution is our new deployment of specially configured servers filled to capacity with high-density SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) drives.

Dropbox is the first major tech company to adopt SMR technology, and we’re currently adding hundreds of petabytes of new capacity with these high-density servers at a significant cost savings over conventional PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) drives.

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Security culture, the Dropbox way

The Dropbox Security Team is responsible for securing around 1 exabyte of data, belonging to over half a billion registered users across the world. The responsibility for securing data at this scale extends far beyond the Dropbox Security Team—it takes a commitment from everyone at Dropbox to safeguard our users’ data every day. In other words, it takes a strong security culture.

The first core company value at Dropbox is “Be Worthy of Trust.” From a security perspective, this means keeping our users’ stuff safe. Our culture of security is built on this foundation of trust and is a fundamental part of our identity.

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How we’re winning the battle against flaky tests

Testing is a crucial part of maintaining a code base, but not all tests validate what they’re testing for. Flaky tests—tests that fail sometimes but not always—are a universal problem, particularly in UI testing. In this blog post, we will discuss a new and simple approach we have taken to solve this problem. In particular, we found that a large fraction of most test code is setting up the conditions to test the actual business-logic we are interested in, and consequently a lot of the flakiness is due to errors in this setup phase. However, these errors don’t tell us anything about whether the primary test condition succeeded or failed,

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Introducing WebAuthn support for secure Dropbox sign in

The easiest way to keep a secret is to not tell it to anyone. Unfortunately passwords don’t work that way. Every time you sign in you have to tell the website your password, making it more challenging to keep the secret safe. That’s why we recommend turning on two-step verification for your account, which adds an extra layer of difficulty for anyone who has guessed, eavesdropped on, or tricked you into giving them your password. And it’s why we’re excited today to announce support for WebAuthn (“Web Authentication”) in two-step verification, a new standard for strong authentication on the web.

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