'Custom software' blog posts

Builders' holidays, a visit to IKEA and a Tender completed

The title would suggest we've had a very busy week this week, and you would be right. We've done it, however, with only half the work force.

John & Tomás have gone on holidays (not together ... we think), and Greg has bid farewell to Dovetail for some time off before returning to college. As a result, it's been quiet in the office.

Martin has been burning the midnight oil on a tender for a new line of business application (bespoke software) for a major player in the Utilities sector. It was submitted today, and he can now breathe a sigh of relief after a solid effort of writing (nobody likes writing THAT much).

Crayfish party in DovetailMossy and Trevor partying like it's 1999

Trevor visited IKEA Southampton earlier this week. He was attending a project kick off meeting to build on the success of the Swipe a Surprise pilot. He also brought back some hats and songbooks from an upcoming Crayfish party. Better not show them to Pinchy.

I have been continuing to work with Dawn, Tanya and Julie in GVS on an upcoming version of the Gift Voucher Solutions application.

Dublinked RTPI conference, new office chairs and more IKEA work

Apologies to our regular readers for the absence of a blog post last week. I imagine it left a big hole in your week! The good thing about missing a week is that there's plenty of news this week.

Trevor has been busy as usual. He attended a talk on Horizon 2020. He also attended the Dublinked Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) meetup in The Digital Depot last Thursday. Dovetail has plenty of experience in Real Time Passenger Information, we built the software that converts live tram information from LUAS into the industry-standard SIRI protocol.  Our SIRI server then produces information for the National Transport Authority's RTPI site and for the Transport for Ireland Real Time apps and website. And of course we have developed the live LUAS iPhone and LUAS Android apps.

RTPI Dublin

Work has started on another IKEA project which will be going live very soon. Mossy has been working on a small-ish pilot (a Minimum Viable Product if you will) that will involve a number of IKEA UK stores. All going well, we will extend the prototype over the next few weeks and it will become a valuable part of the IKEA FAMILY ecosystem.

A short iterative process really helps validate ideas with real customer feedback. IKEA have been doing this for a long time, and we have been finding it very useful with some of our other clients too. FSAI and CIS have both benefited from this recently. If you are interested in these techniques, Mossy recommends Lean UX, which he has found excellent to kick-start the thought process.

Tomás has been very busy over the past few weeks building a shiny new system for Acquirer Systems. Once complete this will be an extension of their existing product offering. We're using our latest technologies including ASP.NET MVC 4, LLBLGEN and this project is test driven. Test Driven development is being heavily promoted by Tomás internally and he is ensuring that the rest of the team are up to speed by the end of 2014.

There have also been a couple of changes here in the office since the last post. Martin managed to get rid of a large server and as a result increased the usable floor space in the office by about 100%.

And we got new Herman Miller Aeron office chairs yesterday. I'm sitting on one now and they're very comfortable. I think that initally they resulted in a slight decrease in productivity, with everyone trying to discover what each of the many levers do, but looking around the office now, everyone looks like a poster child for good posture. I think they've ruined normal chairs for me.

Finally, Dovetail are looking to hire another developer. I'll have to tell Martin to update the perks on that page to include the Aeron chairs!

The Bird's Eye View: Issue #21

Hey, I'm Greg. I'm in Dovetail as an intern. I'm required to perform a 6 month work placement as part of my Computer Science degree and Dovetail were nice enough to take me on. I've enjoyed my first few weeks here, everyone has been very patient and helpful as I learn the ropes. Anyhow, that's the awkward introduction over!

Late last year, Dovetail worked on integrating Aramark's EDI interfacing system, called eCPL, with their new Oracle Financials system. Last month, Aramark went live with Oracle Financials, and the eCPL integration was very successful!

This week, Trevor worked on an internal audit for ISO 9001 certification, and is looking forward to the upcoming external audit. Tomás worked on integrated ticketing for Dublin Bus. They hope to be able to release the new cards and renewals in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, Mossy, Martin and John worked on one of the final iterations of the FSAI calorie counter, and are looking forward to it going live.

I worked on an internal project to automate SMS alerts. We're using Clockwork as our SMS provider. A project's success seems to be almost entirely determined by the greatness of its name, and I deliberated on what this project should be called. I chose what I thought to be a good name only to be informed that company policy is that projects be named after birds. I think I'll give it 24 hours before renaming and see if ornithologists discover any new species of bird and name one after my project.

Dovetail are thinking about expanding into the crayfish business. Pinchy of issue 13 and issue 15 fame isn't looking too healthy. So get in touch if you fancy some relatively fresh crayfish. This recipe looks nice.

Finally, and sadly, we're saying goodbye to John this week, as he is finishing in Dovetail and preparing to move to Australia. He will be missed by everyone.

Garrett, John, Ollie and Martin playing Pool in the PalaceLeaving drinks for John. We started in Yamamori noodles for food, and finished in The Palace (as usual) for some "friendly" pool.

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.

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.

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