The Dovetail Blog

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. 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

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. 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 launch in the gravity bar. Right: The gravity bar as seen from the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Dublin 8.

Heatwave in Southampton!

The Swipe a Surprise promotion we developed for IKEA is proving to be great success in Southampton - it has scored a scorching 372° on  Having witnessed the happy faces in-store I'm not suprised!

IKEA Swipe a Surprise on HotDealsUK

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! - Bird's Eye #20

Firstly, welcome to 2014! I hope you don’t mess up any dates on forms over the next few weeks, as I’m sure I will. Another even year, it feels like ages since the last even year...

IKEA “Swipe A Surprise” pilot is still going well on the IKEA Southampton store Family Kiosks. After some usability testing and watching real customers use the new functionality, we have gone through some iterations of screens and flows as we get feedback from the store and customers. Small changes to the copy, messages and some forms have improved the user experience and helped customers navigate quickly and claim their Prize. Two of the big prizes have already been won. Two customers have won a £500 voucher and £750 voucher respectively. Excitement is building in the hopes that one very lucky IKEA Family member will win the Holiday to Sweden.

Trevor and Tomás also made some improvements for the customer login journey across all Kiosks in the UK and Ireland to help customers who made mistakes when entering their details. They can now edit their details and try again, leaving them less frustrated.

John has moved from doing great work on the HSA project, codename “Redstart”,  to doing some new work for the European SharePoint Conference, which we will be putting live over the coming weeks. Redstart will now go through some UAT testing, and we will get a first round of feedback from the client before making improvements in preparation for go-live.

Work continues for Martin and myself as we come to the final stages of the Calorie calculator project for the FSAI. A go live date is looming on the horizon and we plan to get the final polish of the application done over the next few weeks, with hope of achieving an excellent version 1 of the new app.

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:


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