DUGGA - Enabling business expansion through platform performance upgrades

The scope of the project
Azure
Celery
Django 1.11
Docker
jQuery
PostgreSQL
Python 3.6
RabbitMQ
Selenium
uwsgi
Links
https://dugga.se/

DUGGA - Enabling business expansion through platform performance upgrades

Background

Dugga is a digital test-taking platform that facilitates flexible, easy, and secure knowledge assessments for schools, universities and other educational organizations. Initially started as a research project in Stockholm, Sweden, and developed in collaboration with pedagogical experts, teachers, and students, today Dugga serves thousands of users nationwide and beyond.  

However, as Dugga’s service grew in popularity, so did the demands on their platform. Dugga got in touch with us at Fastdev to help solve performance issues and allow for faster expansion throughout Europe.

Challenge

To optimize Dugga’s platform, our team at Fastdev needed to navigate a set of tough challenges. We needed to figure out a way to boost the number  of knowledge assessments Dugga’s platform could cover— which was currently at only 2-5%. Another issue was that the platform was unable to cope with higher workloads. If more than 2,000 students tried to log in and take exams simultaneously the platform grew slow and performance suffered. Other issues hindering performance were the amount queries being made to the database and the existing code structure.

We got to work optimizing the platform, which involved everything from structural changes to bug elimination and user interface improvements. 

Development Process

Step 1

First, major structural changes were required. To improve the performance of Dugga’s platform, we redesigned the architecture of Dugga’s database and this allowed us to optimize SQL queries—reducing the number of queries per page from an average of 300-500 to 30-50. We also refactored the underlying code to make it more readable and flexible, eliminated a series of bugs, and updated the software on Dugga’s server to allow for the full operation of the platform application.  

Step 2

Next, we wrote code for new tests to increase test coverage. We also addressed the workload capacity problem by integrating the platform application with Microsoft Office 365 so that students could log in to the application through the Microsoft Office environment. API was also added in order to enable new schools, classes, and students to join the application.

Step 3

Finally, we addressed various user interface issues. An automated process was created to fix the problem of the user interface freezing during use. We also added the possibility for student work to be downloaded in PDF format.   

Results

Our optimization mission was successful. With the help of our team at Fastdev, Dugga was able to make the upgrades needed in order to remove barriers to business growth and increase their capacity to effectively serve more students and teachers across Europe. 

As a result of platform improvements, test coverage increased from 5 to 17%, the amount of SQL queries decreased from 300-500 per page to 30-50, and user capacity increased from 2,000 to 7,000 users. 

“Fastdev is flexible and has very competent employees,” says Claudia Rademaker, operational manager at Dugga. “They can effectively adjust the programming and development languages that we work with. Cooperation with them is extremely positive for us.”

Teachers can easily create and edit exams for students on the platform, adding different question types and any supporting information needed.

Teachers can easily create and edit exams for students on the platform, adding different question types and any supporting information needed. 

Dugga’s 7,000 plus student users take their exams on a user-friendly and responsive platform.

Dugga’s 7,000 plus student users take their exams on a user-friendly and responsive platform. 

Teachers use the platform to grade each exam or hand-in and then publish the results.

Teachers use the platform to grade each exam or hand-in and then publish the results. 

As a result of our close collaboration, we at Fastdev decided to invest in Dugga through a “work for equity” scheme. As a co-owner, we take responsibility for the technical aspects of running Dugga’s platform, helping with ongoing development, testing, and improvements. With access to our resources, Dugga is able to scale its development team as needed to adapt to their variable needs.

“We feel very positive about Fastdev partnering with us both in business and technological development,” says Patrik Nilsson, CEO at Dugga. “It reduces direct costs for us, while we get a dedicated partner that is truly committed to helping us.”

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