Happy Holidays!

Dovetail Holiday Logo

The new year is about to begin and it is time to sum up all the fantastic achievements we have made this year!

Have a look at our latest newsletter below, to see how many great things have happened in 2015.

The Dovetail team wishes you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

undefined Dovetail’s relationship with IKEA has expanded beyond the UK and Ireland - we are delighted to announce we will be working with IKEA Denmark too, rolling out a touchscreen kiosk solution for the IKEA FAMILY customer loyalty programme.

With the passing of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, Ireland is on the road to building a more transparent society. Dovetail was proud to design and develop Ireland’s Lobbying Register, available at www.lobbying.ie. undefined

 undefined The much-hyped Internet of Things gathered pace in 2015. According to PwC “the promise of the IoT is already being realized and its grand vision is just around the corner”. Dovetail is delivering this promise to our clients using cutting edge technologies including Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, InfluxData and Amazon AWS IoT. Expect to hear more of IoT in 2016.

After organising such a spectacular World Cup you might expect World Rugby to take a well-earned break. In fact they just kicked off a custom development project to smooth their dealings with their various partners. Dovetail is delighted to be working with this world class team!  undefined

 undefined Ireland is leading the way in providing calorie and allergen information on menus. Dovetail developed the MenuCal system for the Food Safety Authority last year to help restaurateurs correctly label their dishes. It’s proven so successful that this year the system was adopted by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland.

This year we saw a surge in demand for Cloud-based solutions. Clients are keen to move existing functions and new developments to the cloud to take advantage of lower costs and increased reliability. As a Microsoft Certified Partner and Reseller we’ve done our bit to help Microsoft’s share price surge an amazing 35% in three months!  undefined

 undefined It’s an exciting time to be in technology in Ireland. This year, two Dovetail clients were very successfully sold to large American organisations. These deals illustrate the strength and quality of the tech sector in Ireland.
Congratulations to Colm in Realex Payments and Robin in Acquirer Systems!

Thank you for your support in 2015. We wish you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2016!


Open-sourcing InfluxData.Net library

We've been using the InfluxDb time-series database for almost a year now on one of our projects and it works pretty nicely even though it still didn't hit the v1.0 mark. 

We started our InfluxDb journey with v0.8.7 and thus far even though we wanted to, there wasn't an easy way to migrate to v0.9.x. We however came to a point where we needed to upgrade in order to implement new features required by the project.

The first step to take was to see if there are any .Net libraries that supported InfluxDb v0.9 and the one we've been using from start seemed to be the best one. The problem was it wasn't updated for quite a while and it didn't support the latest InfluxDb versions.

So, I decided to fork it, refactor it and make it work with the latest InfluxDb. The code can be found on GitHub, it's under MIT licence and there is also a NuGet package on nuget.org. The integration tests are all working again and the docs have been updated. Rejoice!

In the future, my plan for the library is to support the rest of the TICK stack layers as well as their API's get more stable.

We're also planning on open-sourcing the migration tool that we developed and used to migrate the data from v0.8 to v0.9 in hope it might help someone else as well. :)

Dovetail and Dublin Bus launch Online Payments for Standard Fares

Dublin Bus this week launched the Online Payments facility for Standard Fares.


The Dovetail-developed system allows passengers to pay a Standard Fare online. It is mobile-friendly and allows customers to pay a Standard Fare on their mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

The system is built using C#, CSS and HTML5 and it is integrated with the Standard Fare Backoffice Management System which Dovetail previously developed for Dublin Bus and which is used by three large Irish Transport Operators: LUAS (Dublin Light Rail), Irish Rail and Dublin Bus. 

Our work with Dublin Bus, LUAS and Irish Rail is all part of Dovetail's continued involvement with the transport sector.

Failing Azure Recovery Service VM restore jobs and how to resurrect your backups

Recently we've had a bit of a crisis situation when one of our Azure VM's decided to lose a bunch of data. Fortunately backup jobs were set up through Azure's Recovery Services and I've already used that a few times to restore or make copies of various VM's without any problems. A few clicks and you're ready to go. This was supposed to be an easy 20 minute task but this time was different.

For whatever reason instead of getting a restored VM, I started getting the following restore job fail message:

Restore failed with an internal error.
Please retry the operation in a few minutes. If the problem persists, contact Microsoft Support.

Not very descriptive, and not really helpful. :/

The data transfer part of the job would succeed each time, but the "Create the Restored VM" kept on failing. I tried using different restore points from a day, week, or even a month back, but it made no difference. It all came to a point where we had to submit a ticket to Microsoft to resolve this issue.

The two possible solutions that were presented to us were:

  • either restore the VM under a new Azure Cloud Service - this worked fine, but wasn't really what we wanted to do (you don't really want to pile up additional Cloud Services just to do a simple restore, it makes no sense and leaves a messy infrastructure behind)
  • restore the VM through Azure Powershell - this was a bit trickier, but it worked great in the end

So after a bit of research I realized that the Azure Web Portal doesn't actually use the exact same back-end infrastructure as Powershell which is a bit weird and should probably be emphasized a bit more throughout Azure documentation.

Microsoft support told us to follow this documentation page to restore the VM using powershell, but the tutorial wasn't without its kinks either.

Perhaps this got resolved by now but for the whole thing to work, I first needed Azure Powershell v1. That ended up being a bit of a pain because it required the regular Powershell v3 where Windows 8.1 comes with Powershell v4 and the downgrade was another mission impossible... In the end I somehow managed to resolve this issue by installing the latest Azure Powershell using Microsoft Web Platform Installer. That gave me the much needed Azure tooling for Powershell. Yay!

Now to code - these few Powershell commands will extract the VHD from the backup:

> Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionName YourSubscription
> $backupvault = Get-AzureRmBackupVault -Name "YourBackupVault"
> $backupitem = Get-AzureRMBackupContainer -Vault $backupvault -Type AzureVM -name "YourVmName" | Get-AzureRMBackupItem
> $rp = Get-AzureRMBackupRecoveryPoint -Item $backupitem
# change the $rp number to select the recovery point you want here
> $restorejob = Restore-AzureRMBackupItem -StorageAccountName "yourStorageAccountName" -RecoveryPoint $rp[6]
> $restorejob = Get-AzureRMBackupJob -Job $restorejob
> $details = Get-AzureRMBackupJobDetails -Job $restorejob

From here I finished the process using the Azure Portal as the rest of the process / powershell commands from the documentation seemed to be out of date and didn't work.

To complete the process, you should go to the Azure Portal, to VM section, and then select the "Disks" tab. From there you'll be able to create an unprovisioned disk which you will then use to create a new VM from. Afterwards click the + icon in the bottom left corner, and choose "create a VM - from gallery", you will see an option to use your newly created disk. Finish the setup and you're good to go. :)

Hope this helps you if you find yourself in a similar situation. Cheers!

Dovetail on the telly... sort of!

Last night's episode of Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ covered two topics close to our hearts.

Claire Byrne Live

The first half of the show covered Standards in Public Office, so of course the Register of Lobbying was covered.

Lobbying.ie logo

Then in the second half, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar discussed the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling on menus - so MenuCal got a mention too.


undefined(In case this is your first time here, Dovetail developed both the above systems!)

Food Safety Authority launches Allergens on Menus tool

Last week saw the launch of a new Dovetail-developed Allergens on Menus tool for the Food Safety Authority for use by the food industry.

Leo Varadkar at the launch of the MenuCal Allergen Tool

Launching the app, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said, "Many people with allergies have to be extra careful when they eat out. Last year, I made it compulsory for food businesses to label allergens on non-prepacked food products.

"This new MenuCal facility is a really useful online tool that reminds businesses about allergens when they're calculating the calorie content of their menus. I'm delighted that other countries are now looking to adopt it. I hope it makes life easier and safer for both customers and food providers."

The system, developed by Dovetail and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), has been licensed by FSAI to the Food Safety Agency Northern Ireland and has also attracted interest from agencies in Scotland, Wales and England.

The MenuCal system was developed by Dovetail and FSAI and a case study can be found here.

Mossy and Martin attended the press conference which received national coverage (see The Irish Times and The Independent).




Previously launched in Northern Ireland:


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.


Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland launches MenuCal food analysis system

Mossy took a trip to Belfast this week to attend the launch of MenuCal by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland.


Julie McKinstry-Harvey, Senior Dietary Health Advisor at the Food Standards Agency, commented on the launch: “We have developed MenuCal to support NI food businesses to be compliant with current legislation on allergens, and also help them influence consumers on making smarter, healthier choices when it comes to eating out or buying food to take away.  

Read more about the launch here.

Mossy has been the lead developer and Greg, Tomás and Martin have all worked on the system which is built on ASP.Net, MVC and SQL Server.

See the case study on MenuCal's launch by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Register of Lobbying and Irish Rail Fixed Penalties

We had a busy start to September with two new systems going live.

The first was the new Register of Lobbying (www.lobbying.ie) which opened for registration on September 1.

This system was built to implement details of the 2015 Regulation of Lobbying Act. It allows people and organisations who engage in lobbying to register and publish details of their lobbying activities.



Mossy, Rafal, Kit and Martin have been involved in this project, working with a great team from the Standards in Public Office Commission. We developed it using using ASP.Net, Angular 1, SQL Server and Lucene.Net.



The second system to go live last week was the new Fixed Penalty Notice System for Irish Rail. This is an internal system which Irish Rail use to manage Fixed Penalty Notices.  John and Martin worked on this system and it will shortly be extended to allow online payments. 

This solution was based upon similar systems which Dovetail developed for LUAS and Dublin Bus. It is written in ASP.Net and uses SQL Server.