The Dovetail Blog

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.


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.

The Bird's Eye View: Issue #14

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it *

Well Ollie was our blackberry. He came here for a good few months, to ripen. Only to be picked by another organisation once he was sweet. Okay, that was lame, but the sentiment remains. Ollie joined us in February as an intern. Coming from a sales background and in the construction industry he smartly wanted to expand his skills so he could be a better salesman in the IT industry. He has spent time coding with us, dealing with clients, helping with sales calls and generally being a great addition to the office. The end goal was for a permanent position working in sales in an IT company, and he acheived that in record time. Fair play Ollie, and best of luck in your future ventures.

I started work this week on a new website for MVI Hazel. This is the second site for the Gardiner Group and is built on Umbraco with some integration with an Avenco eCommerce application.

Starting a new project can be accompanied by a lot of unexpected setup steps. The first deployment to a staging/live server always eats into the day, and it's something we will always allow time for in our project plans. We use Final Builder for automated deployment scripting, so once our deployment process is stable, it can be run easily over and over again. A great tool and a must have for all dev houses.

On Thursday, Martin attended the third and final Open Government Partnership Ireland public meeting.  This forum resulted from Martin's work with ActiveCitizen, bringing this international initiative to the Government's attention and lobbying for Ireland to join.  At the meeting, Martin joined the Transparency Working Group, where proposals included the provision of machine readable open data; transparent budgeting;  FOI revision and abolition of fees; the publication of legislative footprints and consolidated legislation; and many other worthwhile policy suggestions.  Other groups worked on Accountability, Citizen Participation and Technology & Innovation and all suggestions can be found on the Working Groups section of the OGP Ireland website.  These proposals will be compiled into a report which will contribute to Ireland's first OGP policy Action Plan next April.

OGP Third Meeting

Ivan Cooper from The Wheel facilitated the Citizen Participation Working Group at the OGP Meeting in Wood Quay

Tomás was working with LABrokers this week. He has been make adjustments to the rule engine used for calculating quotes for end users. We have been working with LABrokers for a long time, and continue to enhance their systems so they can continue to offer a high quality service to their customers.

Ollie spent much of his week implementing SMS voucher purchases for GiftVoucherSolutions, who provide instant gift vouchers for businesses all over the UK, Ireland and even South Africa.  We use generally use eSendex as an SMS provider, integration is quick and easy.

* An extract from 'Blackberry-Picking' by Seamus Heaney. I clearly take much inspiration from Seamus Heaney who famously said, "Write whatever you like!"  Have a good weekend!

The Bird's Eye View: Issue #13

Well, issue number 13 may be unlucky for some, but it happens to be my lucky number. We've had a very busy and enjoyable week in Dovetail. As I'll be leaving the team next Friday, this will be my last posting of the Bird's Eye View. 

As its my second last week, and the guys have been such a great learnng environment for me, I brought in some presents today. In the form of 3 Angelfish and a Freshwater Lobster called "Pinchy" for the office aquarium. All courtesy of Newlands Garden Center. See our newest member of staff below.


Having ten appendages, he may be quicker at coding than Martin. (lol) 

Tomas and Mossy continued work  on CIS. The new improved system will be ready for go live early September after user testing by the CIS team.

They also added functionality to our IcarusCloud product this week. There was a need for progression reporting from some of our existing customers. There is now an ability in the system to record client progression over time, and report on this with an extremely readable radar chart, so the staff can see individual client progress over a number of different topics.


That's all for now, we hope you all have a great weekend. 


The Bird's Eye View: Issue #12

Sitting here with a food coma after a lot of pizza was consumed at lunchtime. We're usually quite a healthy bunch - especially for software developers - but we ordered in pizza today for a treat and it went down very well. 

Although we were afraid to enter the pizza details into "Trembler" (we codename all our projects after birds) - a Calorie calculator for restaurant menus that we're building for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. This project has now moved to its final phase: field testing by food industry professionals co-ordinated by the University of Ulster.

Before kicking off this field test (which starts on Monday), we completed a small piece of development work. We fixed some bugs and added a little functionalty to help users get the most out of the Calorie calculator. Tomas did the core development work and ran some new data loads before moving the system onto the staging servers. One step closer to going live in the next few months.

(And did you know...? "Calorie written with a big c" is a thousand "calories written with a small c".  The capital c indicates that it's a kilocalorie - the type of calorie you see on food labels.)

I have spent most of my time on the iCIS application for CIS this week. The design polish is going very well, and I'm excited to show some screenshots next week before we put a lot of CIS work live in early September.

The first phase of the Taxsaver Leap Card project went live on Wednesday evening and employers can now order Leap Card Annual Taxsaver tickets for Luas and Dublin Bus.  Instead of getting paper tickets, subscribers will now get personalised Leap Cards, which also have a purse that works across Irish Rail, Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus and Luas.  Bus Eireann Taxsavers will launch next month.

Here are a couple of screenshots of the first production Luas test cards created by Martin:

ex-Presidents Leap Cards

Oh and finally, we have a new pet in the office. Not only is our new Roomba a dab hand at vacuuming, but it also has its own ideas on network cabling...

Roomba CCNA

Roomba: Dust-buster and fully qualified Cisco Certified Network Admin

Have a great weekend folks!

The Bird's Eye View: Issue #11

Firstly, apologies for the lack of Bird's Eye blog post last week. It was a hectic week, and we never got the time to compile and write it. I know a large number of you waited anxiously for it :)

The office is quite empty now as most of the staff have left for their weekends, and myself and Martin remain to hold down the fort. Trev has also gone Wales to do some hiking and visit some friends.

I have been full time this week working with CIS on a reskin of the iCIS application. This is the flagship product from CIS and has been in need of a reskin for some time to take advantage of modern browsers and mobile devices. The reskin will improve first impressions of the application and make use of large screen real estate and a responsive design to ensure iCIS truly is a cross platform application.

Last week I was busy with support work for a number of our clients. We will usually take one week a month to gather small support/change requests together and complete them as a bunch. This means larger project timelines are not hindered by continuously switching to small pieces of work for other clients. I also completed some new functionality for European Sharepoint Conferences and EuroSTAR Conferences. We developed a comment moderation screen into Umbraco (Content Management System) for both sites so they can handle comment spam better and have more control over the content published to their communities.

As a small fun project, I spent some time today polishing an internal dashboard we use to keep an eye on projects and our client websites. It's called Hawkeye, and I think its looks pretty good now.

Working on dashboard

Martin and Garrett continued with Leap Card Integrated Ticketing System testing and the Luas and Dublin Bus Taxsaver systems are all working well now, go live will be very very soon...

Back in 2007 we built an EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) interfacing system for Aramark Ireland who serve food in 980 locations across the country.  This system takes electronic invoices from Celtrino across an AS2 connection and provides a front-end system for Aramark employees to match up General Ledger Codes and Suppliers, then interfaces to Aramark's financial system - here's a quick screenshot:

Aramark Screenshot

At the moment, Tomás and Trevor are deeply involved in development work on this system, as Aramark Global is changing its financial systems over to Oracle Financials, requiring a partial rewrite of a substantial part of that system. This rewrite has given Trev and Tomás the opportunity to introduce many more Unit Tests, giving the software excellent resilience for future amendments.

There are a couple of beers in the fridge now, and it's well past beer o'clock so with just myself and Martin here, it would be rude to let them sit there for another week. Have a nice weekend folks!

The Birds Eye View: Issue 10

Trevor is back from his trip to Northern Ireland, and he's brought proof back!

Giants Causeway 1

Since I got back I had the pleasure of rolling my sleeves up and doing some development this week, integrating the Highlife ERP system with their phone system so that staff can dial the phone from the CRM by just tapping the screen. This utilitsed Alcatel Pimphone and TAPI.

I also had a fun meeting with Marco Herbst of We discussed everything from recruitment, pizza, dance halls, machine vision and of course the future of IP cameras on The Cloud. Camba have some very interesting plans, and I'll be watching them closely in the future.

It's been relatively quiet in the office this week: Tomas is on holiday, and Ollie has been off getting root canal surgery - ow!! Get well soon Ollie!

Mossy spent the week working intensively with Highlife, who are about to start their 2013/14 season next week. He made their website response so it works well on phones, and did some UX work on their back office systems and digital communications.

Highlife Responsive Website

Martin was busy working closely with the NTA, RPA, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann took delivery of Dovetail's solution for ordering Leap Cards as part of Dublin's Integrated Ticketing System. So we're now servicing three of the public transport providers which we're very proud of!