'Tech' blog posts

Install sassy studio and ruby to compile your sass files quicker

Until yesterday I was using a free version of Mindscape Web Workbench to handle my SASS files and compile them into CSS. Over time, however, as the CSS in projects became more complicated and the files became larger, Mindscape just wasn't quick enough. Upon the guidance of Kit, I decided to switch tools and move to Sassy studio.

Sassy Studio relies on Ruby (Sassy uses a Ruby library to compile the SASS), so you'll need to install that too. The order in which you install these tools does not matter. You might already have Ruby available on your machine depending on your skillset. My current Visual studio version is 2012, you might need to check your versions to find a compatible extension.

Install sassy studio

You can install it from https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/85fa99a6-e4c6-4a1c-9f00-e6a8129b6f4d.

Install ruby

You can install that from http://rubyinstaller.org/downloads/.


Once you have both installed, boot up Visual studio and check your settings (The ruby path is important, the rest is up to you). Here are mine:

Sassy Studio Settings

That's it, done. My SASS is compliling much quicker, and I don't need to wait as long to refresh the page when I'm "Making the logo bigger". Kit tells me about faster tool using C, which uses time travel to compile your CSS, but for now I'm happy with Sassy Studio.

Should you use Angular2 in production?

Recently we had a small debate about Angular2 and what the benefits and pitfalls of using it for a project right now would be. In the end Fabrizio and I came up with a short list of pros and cons.


  • Typescript will force developers to write better code.
  • Angular2 should be faster than the Angular1.
  • It is best not to invest in a framework if it is to be shortly discontinued.
  • You will be one of the Angular2 pioneers.
  • The development process will be very strict and it will require a good knowledge of the project.
  • Localization of application will be easier with the implementation of the shadowDom.
  • Debugging templates will be easier because they will raise runtime exceptions.
  • The code needs to be built before deployment. This will slow down the process but will spot code errors and typos.
  • Gaps between browsers implementations of new standards will be handled by specific libraries (Angular2 will emulate the shadowDom).


  • It is in an Alpha version. It means that the inner structure could (and it will) be subject of big breaking changes.
  • The API is not stable yet (breaking changes will be introduced).
  • Not all features are implemented yet (you will have to reinvent the missing parts and then once they get officially implemented, your custom workarounds will be obsolete and probably not as optimized and not as good as Angular2).
  • Not enough documentation. Also not enough code examples on the web, so much work will be pioneering.
  • Ecosystem is not there yet (not all libraries and tools are ported yet). For example: there is an alpha of Bootstrap; Foundation isn’t there yet; the router is not ready yet. The lack of availability of convenient libraries may mean more development.
  • Both versions will remain on the market and both of them will be actively developed.
  • The team is still thinking about "how to do things for Angular2".

So that's what we came up with. Of course there is no ultimate answer and surely Angular2 will be a good tool once it's ready. But before that happens, we think it's probably best not to use it for serious projects that need to go into production.

Speaking of framework readiness here is an appropriate comic from Commitstrip that hits the spot.


Flexing our CSS muscles


I just recently started working on a small pet-project to keep sharpening my skills on the whole stack in my free time. One of the things I decided to go with is angular-material. It's an official Angular implementation of Google material design and it uses flexbox layout instead of the grid layout we're used to seeing in frameworks such as Bootstrap or Foundation. We talked a bit over it and since we will most probably use angular on most of our future projects, we decided to keep an eye on the whole thing so we could start using it when it feels production-ready.

Bigger, faster, stronger - Data that is. Our new love for InfluxDB.

Big data has been a hot topic for some time in our Industry, and Dovetail has of course been exposed to the challenges of creating, consuming and reporting on large data sets. InfluxDB is our new friend on this journey.

Without going into the details of the project - Kit, John & Trevor have been working with a new client recording large amounts of information from sensors, then creating valuable, responsive reports on the fly for end users.

We created the initial prototype using SQL Azure, but quickly found this would not perform sufficiently as a long term solution. The team did some research into time-series databases and settled on InfluxDB as a great next step.

InfluxDB is developed specifically to handle time series data and automatically summarizes data at specified intervals, resulting in much faster reports from large datasets.


Since we're all now humming the song now, we might as listen to it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDpmVUEjagg (Great tune).

We're now running umbraco version 7

It took me a bit of time to upgrade certain part of the site (mostly the blog), but it was worth it as we're finally running our own website on the latest version of umbraco.

I posted about the release of version 7 almost a year ago. The main upgrade is to the backend UI which has been given an overhaul. There is new functionality we still need to take advantage here, but I'm liking what I've seen so far.

Umbraco version 7

Your mostly Mossy technology update, week 36

I've started collecting links that go past my Twitter feed, Facebook stream, Slack channels and many other news sources (read: distractions). These are my notable saves from this week. P.S. this won't be weekly, I'm not a machine!

Designing for Website accessibility. A nice checklist of, mostly obvious, but often overlooked details on designing for visual impairments and other disabilities. The internet is is like any other public space. It should be open and accessible to all who wish to use it.

IBM's new smart chip. We still haven't figured out why our brain is so powerful. Okay, we (not me, scientists) have a fair idea why it's powerful. I find it interesting that the faster chips are the ones trying to mimic a neural network.

The feature guy. You don't always make software better by adding features. Sometimes, taking away features or polishing existing functionality is a better use of time.

Balancing bike stations. A discussion cropping up here a lot is the difficulty in keeping the Dublin Bikes stations with bikes and also with spaces. Turns out it's a lot more complicated than we thought, and it's not quite been solved yet.

Create a cloned SQL Server Azure Database

Today, I wanted to create a clone of a SQL Server Azure database. I was looking at various ways of doing this, including exporting and re-importing the database, but thankfully, there is a much easier way.

I ran the following SQL command against the master database on the SQL Azure server:

AS COPY OF Old_Database

 For more details, check out the official documentation and this Idera blog post.

Improving the experience for touch and mobile input

How to Simplify Input with Steppers. I've always been a fan of Luke Wroblewski. He simplifies UI and input problems, and demonstrates why they shouldn't have been complicated in the first place.

Improve touch UI with steppers

Our mobile apps and touch screen systems are pretty good as they are, but they will be given the LukeW treatment in their next iteration. As we all know, there is always room for improvement.

See the entire series of videos, they're short and well worth your time, regardless of your industry.

Testimonials 2 - The Sequel

In last week's blog post I bemoaned the fact that search engines had conspired to give Dovetail a lot of useless traffic; namely people looking for sample testimonials. That post piqued my interest in what people wanted with our "sample testimonials".

"Surely they're just satisfied customers looking for inspiration to write their own genuine testimonials", I thought. I was wrong.

 I started by taking snippets from our testimonials, replacing the word "Dovetail" with the wildcard character (*) and performing a search. Here is a sample. Our testimonials were being stolen.

Some people used our testimonials as starting points for their own unique variation. They'd copy a couple of sentences from our testimonial and then they'd take it from there:

Textomation Testimonial


Others would be a bit lazier and just replace "Dovetail" with their own company name:

CreativeNic Testimonial

 Others were lazier still. They didn't even manage to remove "Dovetail":

BlackSwan Testimonial

 My personal favourite is a copy of our testimonial from Inland Fisheries Ireland, a very specific testimonial:

Portia Salmon Testimonials

As you can imagine, I began to doubt all testimonials as I went through this process. I have been assured, however, that all of Dovetail's testimonials are real. 

Teamwork.com launch party

Last night myself, Martin, Garrett and some friends from the Dublin software development scene had the privilege of witnessing the launch of Teamwork PMs latest iteration - the birth of Teamwork.com.

A little Googling will tell you just how much they spent on that domain name, and there is discussion about how crazy it seems. But I think the important message which can be taken away from this is that the guys have huge pride and confidence in what they are doing. They are here for the long haul and to continue to solve real problems, really well. The polish of the new product and the quality of their marketing website certainly backs up that message.

Teamwork.com Launch - Peter McCanney and Martin WallaceHaving fun with the height difference between Martin and Peter McCanney. Photo taken from Mossy's eye level.

Garrett Heaver and Martin Wallace
Left: Garrett Heaver and Martin Wallace at the Teamwork.com launch in the gravity bar. Right: The gravity bar as seen from the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Dublin 8.