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Sentry Turns 9!

Today marks nine years since the very first commit to Sentry — or as it used to be called, django-db-log.

Sentry was born to solve a very simple problem: debug Django projects, which normally sends an email for every error. We needed to log exceptions to the database and expose aggregate views. Ultimately, this was essential for any high traffic application due to various failure scenarios overwhelming your inbox. While you could achieve the similar results with logs, this also helped us prioritize which issues were the most important, often by how frequently they were occurring. Additionally it gave us immediate access to that data via a web UI.

Over time we expanded the scope of Sentry. It started as simple aggregation in Django, then expanded into collecting things like stack locals and richer context. Due to community demand we eventually brought it into the larger ecosystem for Python error monitoring, removing the Django requirement. As the months and years went by, many of the core contributors grew into other roles at new companies, and often those companies weren’t using Python at all. This was the trigger that really led us to our initial cross-platform functionality, and started with support for Ruby error monitoring (via Chef) and JavaScript error monitoring (via Mozilla).


The biggest change of course was when we spun out the cloud service — — and began to put real investment into the project. For the first few years of its life we used the revenue from the service to fund community events (ever been to karaoke with us at PyCon?), but it was still very much a straightforward mixed open source plus cloud service. If you didn’t want to host it yourself, we did it for you for a small fee.

Today we have massive technology companies like Stripe and Uber running Sentry behind their firewall, but equally large organizations like Dropbox and Hubspot trusting our cloud. This part of the story has been interesting, as we’ve hit a point where very capable engineering organizations use both our cloud as well as open source offerings, simply because they wanted to outsource part of the burden. All in all, Sentry has continued to grow and saturate the market, to the point where you’d be hard pressed to find a technology company that doesn’t rely on it, let alone a reason to choose a different product.


Looking at where things have ended up, it’s crazy to think about the shape of things just a couple of years ago. Sentry the company is now 30 full-time employees spread across San Francisco, Austin, and Vienna. While we’re still heads down building the core of Sentry, our ambitions continue to grow. A lot of investment lately has been into many things that are under the hood, such as cross-language call stacks and first class deploy tracking. While Sentry may look and feel similar to what it was almost a decade ago, under the hood we’ve become so much more.

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