Academic Research

May 2019 – Dec 2019 — React, Redux, Front-end toolchains, Ruby on Rails, technical uplift.

Streamlining Academic Research with a Modernized Stack

Covidence is a non-profit startup dedicated to supporting academic researchers by simplifying use of the medical research Cochrane systematic review workflows. To prepare for the next stage of growth, the product team at Covidence needed to revamp their aging application stack which had become slow and costly to maintain. In real-world terms, faster reviews mean policy recommendations and outcomes sooner, which saves lives sooner. In one case study, the Stroke Foundation of Australia could provide recommendations an average of 1000 days sooner, directly leading to improved lives people who have suffered strokes nation-wide.

I joined the Covidence team to reinvigorate development to enable new product capability by partially rebuilding the existing stack. The goal was to modernize the system by migrating from a creaky Ruby on Rails server-rendered application to a new React-powered hybrid stack with both client- and server-rendered pages. This would enable a much more responsive user experience in the systematic review pipeline, making it easier for users to complete reviews and achieve real world outcomes quicker.

The project was a significant undertaking, requiring the migration of the entire app while working around the limitations of the outdated Ruby on Rails stack. Despite the challenges, we successfully integrated a modern React toolchain with the latest version of Ruby on Rails, resulting in a large percentage of the app converted to front-end rendering with minimal technical runtime overhead.

The new and improved Covidence app offers researchers a faster and more efficient way to conduct systematic reviews, improving their overall experience and enabling them to complete their work more quickly. By streamlining the review process, Covidence is helping academic institutions worldwide to produce more accurate, up-to-date research.