An Insider's Look at the Technology That Powers Shopify

Talk link.

Quick Summary

Watched this talk because I thought it was more software architecture related but it turned out to be a very general and high level overview on 4 areas of Shopify's technology. Lots of cool Silk Road. economical, and historical references though.

Open Internet


  • Joined W3C in 2016 as a founding member of the payments working group, to standardize payment actions on the internet for 3 years+.

    • Principles:

      • "Do you have a wallet?"

      • "Can you make a payment?"

      • "Let's make it fast."

3D Models

  • Shopify is working with the Khronos Group (an open standards body) to advance 3D model formats for the internet.

Security & Privacy

  • A merchant's data belongs to the merchant.

  • "We have the tools to support you, but you have to use them".

  • The biggest threat to a merchant's data is compromised credentials, mainly from phishing emails.

  • New identity vault launched:

    • One account and one setting for everything you do on Shopify.

    • Supports new Web Authentication API (WebAuthn, nice guide here).

      • Allows Shopify servers to interact with secure identity meechanisms on devices (TouchID, Windows Hello, etc.)

  • Additional support on data ownership and privacy through new webhooks and APIs

    • Data request and deletion API.

    • Greater app permission transparency.

  • Ranking and monitoring apps on Shopify platform to make sure that their partners are building applications that respect data on behalf of the merchant.

  • Processing more than 10 billion events everyday, which totals to 10 petabytes of data.

  • Network of 3000+ security engineers who have been paid out more than 1 million USD to find and report vulnerabilities (on test shops).

  • Increasing investment on metafields on Shopify platform.


  • Providing unique products and experience is a key product to make commerce exciting and enjoyable.

  • Guided by the philosophy of The Silk Road.

  • 5 years ago Shopify API had lag between announcing APIs and features.

  • As of this talk, Shopify is powered by the same REST and GraphQL APIs used by clients. No lag between feature announcements and API announcements anymore.

  • New PoS is being built with apps as a core feature built into the experience.

  • APIs are features.

  • Comitting to building as many APIs they can to keep Shopify the most creative platform for commerce experiences.

Global Infrastructure

  • Scaled from 2 points of presence to 180 in over 80 countries in a single year. Decreasing latency for buyers by 30% - 50%.

  • Launching 4 new regions in next 18 months from this talk's date.

  • Requests reach around 5 million per minute.

  • Some merchants are selling more than 8000 orders a minute.

  • Speed matters more than scale for most merchants.

  • Two big performance wins:

    • Upgrade to image delivery service by using WebP (30% smaller and faster).

    • New Liquid renderer that's 7x faster.

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