Observability and the Development Process

Historically, monitoring has been an afterthought of the software development cycle: trying to predict the various ways something might go sideways right before release, and crafting metrics and dashboards to prepare. Observability is the practice of understanding the internal state of a system via knowledge of its external outputs–something that should be built into the process of creating software from the beginning.

In this talk, we’ll discuss what this might look like in practice by using Honeycomb as a case study: how we rely on visibility into our system to inform planning during the development process, to observe the impact of new changes during and after release, and, of course, debug. We’ll start by describing the problems faced by a SaaS platform like ours, then run through some specific instrumentation practices that we love and have used successfully to gain the visibility we need into our system’s day-to-day operations.


Christine Yen


Christine Yen is the cofounder of Honeycomb, a startup with a new approach to observability and debugging systems with data. Christine has built things at companies large and small and likes to have her fingers in as many pies as possible. Previously, she built Parse’s analytics product (and leveraged Facebook’s data systems to expand it) and wrote software at a few now-defunct startups.