2013

Umbraco 7 is coming

In fact it's here, in RC mode. We haven't installed it yet, but we are very excited about some of the upgrades that come with newest version of Umbraco. Umbraco is our go to Content Management System and allows us to integrate with our custom software seamlessly for our clients.

Umbraco 7

We love umbraco. We've used it as our CMS since version 3. In fact, one of our clients still uses version 3 and it's still working perfectly for their needs. But over the years, the backend management site has become quite cumbersome and was definitely in need of an overhaul. The workflow for the backend starts to creak when a site/blog starts growing in size. The new version promises to solve a lot of those problems by using more of a wordpress style for handling large news archives or blogs.

Management of media and images is also drastically improved and we know that these features will be welcomed by a lot of our clients.

Our own marketing website (this one, the one you're reading right now) will likely be our testing ground to get used to the new UI and features of Umbraco 7. Once we're happy we can deliver it as part of great software solutions to our clients with it we will begin the rollout/upgrade.


The Marvellous Muenchian Method

Recently I've been doing some software consultancy work on a payments system, to do with SEPA integration, and ISO 20022.

As part of that I've come across Steve Muench's Muenchian Method of Grouping in XSLT. It's been around for 13 years, but this is the first time I've needed it. I won't describe it here - I couldn't improve on Jenni Tennison's description here - I just want to state well done Steve. Given the constraints of XSLT 1.0 it is a very neat, elegant and efficient way to solve that particular issue.

Thanks very much Steve!


A record year for LUAS!

Congratulations to LUAS, RPA, Transdev, Alstom and everyone else we work with on the LUAS - the tram service carried a record 30 million passengers in 2013.

Here's the coverage in today's Metro:

30 million LUAS passengers

Here in Dovetail we're very proud that our custom software development has contributed to this great achievement.


The Bird's Eye View: Issue #19

We've had a hectic time lately, but it has been worth it as we delivered some fantastic results for our clients, and had a few surprises on the way...

First up, I was over in Southampton last week for the launch of a major project we have been developing with IKEA, and their partners LIDA and GB. The "Swipe a Surprise" promotion is an innovative loyalty scheme that gives every a customer a prize every time they make a purchase. I think it really embodies the spirit of IKEA that everyone is a winner! Dovetail provided custom software development for both front-end (touchscreen kiosk) and back-end systems (registration, prizes, printing etc) for this exciting new development. It made the press quickly and is going down well!!

ikea kiosks ikea_billboard

One of the perks of the trip to England was that I got to stock up on some essentail office supplies:

mr_porky_pork_scratchings

Why are pork scratchings not available in Ireland? Our colleagues in IKEA quite rightly consider us deprived!

Next up was not a typical software development job, but we delivered a hardware solution for Alstom for use in one of the LUAS control centres in Sandyford. The surprise here was that I never before realised that the CCR is a room with a view: it's right beside the Stillorgan reservoir and feels like the seaside! Sort of.

luas ccr 1 luas_ccr2

Finally an unpleasant surprise: we really love Pinchy our office crayfish, but he is now the only resident in our tank. Without going into the sad details, he's a bit fatter now, and the other fish are gone. Bad Pinchy. Ollie - your gift of Pinchy will always be greatly appreciated, but we'll need to be more careful about choosing tankmates in the future!


The Bird's Eye View: Issue #18

We have a new addition to the team this week. John Ludgate has joined us. With almost a decade of software development experience, John will be a very welcome addition to the team. We are extremely busy at the moment, so another developer will help us continue to deliver great solutions to new and existing clients. Welcome John! He’s just finished his first office beer so I can assume he’s enjoyed his first week.

Mailgun logo

We’ve started using Mailgun. Over the past few years, mail providers like Hotmail, Outlook and Gmail have become much more strict, when receiving mails, in an effort to combat spam. Traditionally we use our own SMTP server, but we have found that some mails to some providers are not getting through. Mailgun is a SAAS product that takes care of email for developers. As simple as email is, it is a tricky to get right when sending to lots of providers from lots of bespoke applications. We have now decided to utilise Mailgun for all future projects and updates to existing applications reducing the need for any extra software development time from the team.

Movember update Mossy Breen

It is now 2 weeks into Movember, and as promised here is a photo of my “progress”. I’m pretty happy with my new moustache, although I miss my beard, and cycling to work in the morning leaves my face pretty cold. If you can spare a few euro, please donate to raise awareness for men's health, and make my ridiculous face worthwhile.

(Edit: Photo reminds me of this -- Martin)

Milton from Office Space



The Bird's Eye View: Issue #17

Man, we have been busy the past several weeks. Completing a few projects with some clients, and diving straight into new projects with other other clients.

Our focus for the past couple of weeks has been with IKEA. We have embarked on two new projects with IKEA, one going live next week and one closer to Christmas. Both projects are on the IKEA FAMILY Kiosk system, which we put live in August 2012. The IKEA FAMILY kiosk project has been a great success and we are building on that with new functionality. All will be revealed as we go live with the changes. This is very a much a team effort with Myself, Tomás and Trevor all involved.

I have started Movember once again this year. Having failed to convince the others of the benefits of a sweet moustache, I am going it alone in Dovetail this year. A wolf pack of one you might say. Check out my MoSpace and please donate to a great cause. It's the least you can do, and when you see upcoming photos of my 'mo' grow, it will be worth it.

Movember

PerfectCard provide prepaid debit cards that can be used in the biggest shopping centres across Ireland. Last week, Tomás integrated their MyPerfectCard web application, where customers can order debit cards online, with secure web-services provided with Fidelity allowing card holders to view their account balances and recent transactions online. It was a messy affair involving a web of digital certs, but he sorted it out.

Martin attended an Open Government Partnership meeting with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last week and is in London for the annual Global OGP Summit this week. He was recently interviewed by the international OGP Civil Society Hub and you can read about his efforts to help get this initiative for increased government transparency, accountability, reform and citizen participation onto the Irish agenda here.

Open Government Partnership London

Have a great weekend. We've got some big news coming next week, so stay tuned.


The Bird's Eye View: Issue #16

A big launch this week for a long-standing client. The new CIS website went live. Here's what the team in CIS had to say about the new site:

CIS has enhanced its website using a responsive design, perfect for viewing on all devices be it a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.  As builders are always on the go, their service is fully accessible to them on their smartphones. Understanding that access to information in a timely manner is essential to be able to make informed business decisions, CIS have brought all the available building projects in Ireland into one place which is updated in real time by a team of researchers in Dublin and Belfast.

CIS Ireland screens

Mossy has been on a support week this week, completing smaller pieces of work which usually involves enhancing some of our existing clients systems to keep the up to date with changing business requirements or offerings. Mossy worked on small changes with Maynooth Shower Systems' internal service call management system, Perfect Card & MVI Hazel.

The European Sharepoint Conference registration has gone live this week also. Mossy spent some time over the past few months working with Helen and Declan from the European Sharepoint Conference to ensure the new easy to use booking system was ready for the launch of their 2014 conference programme and registration this week. The new system allows conference attendees to register for up to 5 of their colleagues, choose tutorials and receive automatic group discounts which are calculated as they progress through the booking process. The backend systems have also been improved greatly to ensure the ESPC team can easily manage conference bookings and have full visibility of attendees, tickets, invoices and credit card payments.

I have been doing some consulting work with a new client, but unfortunately I can’t talk about it. All I can say is that it is to do with electronic payment processing, and it’s really interesting!

Since the last birdseye view Martin and Mossy went to the IIA awards. They had a great time and the hangovers weren’t too bad. No gong for Dovetail this year, but we congratulate Michele Neylon of Blacknight for winning the Net Visionary award. We like Blacknight - they do a lot of our hosting and provide great support.

Martin has been busy putting a few proposals together, and helping to wrap up the CIS project.

Tomás achieved a milestone as he integrates one of Aramark’s financial systems with their new Oracle Financials system. The project team kicked of User Acceptance Testing this week and it is going well.

Finally we decorated the fishtank with new plants. We had to get plastic ones because Pinchy the crayfish has devoured every green thing in the tank. We got a selection of really nice silk ones from Seapets and the tank looks great!

Fish tank plants in GEC offices


2013 Web awards nominee

We're delighted that we've been nominated and shortlist for the 2013 Web Awards for "Web agency of the year".

Web awards nominee

Okay, so we nominated ourselves, but if you're not in, you can't win. The Quarter finalists were announced today for most of the awards categories. The "Web agency of the year" category goes straight to the semi-finals so we will have to wait a little longer to find out if we're considered the cream of the crop for web agencies and software houses in the Irish market. We think we are and hopefully the Judges will too.


The Bird's Eye View: Issue #15

We are delighted to say that Dovetail has been nominated for another award, this time for the Realex Fire Web Awards categories "SME/Small Business Website" and "Agency of the Year".

The awards are on in the Four Seasons on November 6 and it's a great night out, so we're all looking forward to that one.

Back in the office, you may remember mention of our new crayfish, Pinchy.  Well when we first introduced him to the tank a couple of weeks ago, he got very busy very quickly, burrowing passages into the pebbles along the bed -we were all very impressed at his work ethic. He was completely out of sight for a couple of days, the only evidence that he was still there was the rearrangement of the architecture of the gravel.  Then he re-emerged - a much bigger specimen.  He evidently buried himself to shed his shell, and the new Pinchy is a far more confident creature.  He's great fun to watch, marauding around the tank, trying to grab at the fish but always missing, clambering around the wood and stone ornaments.  He's a very entertaining addition to the tank, it's like a David Attenborough documentary - thanks Ollie!

Work this week progressed on several projects for several clients.  Tomas and Mossy worked on CIS Ireland - and it's looking very well:

Construction information services new website by Dovetail Technologies

I did some more work on the Luas Leap Card Taxsaver project, enabling monthly Taxsaver tickets.  Annual tickets went live last month, so monthlies are in testing now with the project team.  The project team is a large consortium consisting of a several organisations: Hewlett Packard runs the helpdesk; IBM provides the backend technology; the National Transport Authority co-ordinates the project across all transport operators; the Rail Procurement Agency provides operator-specific management, such as ensuring the validators and payment network works; Transdev (Veolia) provides customer-facing operations for ordering and fulfilling; and Dovetail provides the Taxsaver tickets ordering and management and interfacing with the Irish Integrated Ticketing System.  

Trevor worked on an interesting little piece of development - he added telephone integration to an existing system for one of our oldest customers, Highlife Adventures. This used TAPI to comunicate between the desktop application and Highlife's Alcatel Pimphony phone system. Highlife staff can now dial their customers with a single tap of their touchscreen monitors. An unexpected benefit is that the phone starts to ring immediately. They report that the new system not only saves time, it also reduces the mental load on staff as they no longer have to dial the phone. That may not sound like a big deal for many office workers, but the Highlife team are very busy, make a lot of calls as they provide their renowned customer service.