Nailed It! – Ian Ainley – September 2013

This month Ian Ainley nailed it.

Working with someone is a huge commitment.  You spend hundreds of hours collaborating, debating, struggling, and eventually succeeding alongside your peers.  Trust is an inherent part of any relationship, and getting into the virtual trenches with someone requires a great deal of it.  My working relationship with Ian has spanned multiple companies and countless projects.  There is no developer I would rather have at the keys than Ian Ainley.  He is a superb programmer, but more importantly is dependable, and trustworthy.  There is calmness to his swagger that helps to right the boat when things get rough, and I have never seen a task or impasse get the best of him.

Ian’s work is uniformly accurate and timely.  On a project that was particularly complex – Ian built the front end for something called “Blue Wall”.  This ‘wall’ integrated a live twitter stream using web sockets to display tweets on a full screen map.  The user then interacted with the map using motion captured by an X-Box Connect.  Ian hand rolled a custom event dispatch system in CoffeeScript to handle the incoming tweets and motion events into what is truly fun and exciting user experience.

Most recently we have been working on a mobile app using the Sencha Touch framework, and Phonegap(Cordova).  This is an area of JavaScript development that has become an increasingly popular option for clients who wish to have their “app” deployed to multiple platforms’ App Stores but don’t want the overhead of developing and maintaining a codebase for each platform.  There are many benefits to going the way of the HTML5/JS/CSS3 to native deployment.  In this solution there are of course hurdles and roadblocks that developers must face to achieve the same level of immersion and integration that a native app can provide.  In my experience as a Web Developer this has been one of the more challenging problems faced.  Thankfully Bootsoft is lucky enough to have Ian Ainley tackling these issues and managing the find the right balance between art and code.

These are only a couple of the projects Mr Ainley has been working on, and there is no question that he has Nailed It.

Light the Night

As you may know, our COO and Co-founder,  Jay Erickson, was recently diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer. As a result, Jay has been out of the office as he undergoes a 12-week regime of chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

As a show of support, a team of more than 20 Bootsoft employees and friends participated in the Light the Night walk to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on September 25th. Our team raised over $7,500 in a little over a week, which put Bootsoft in the top 5% of fundraisers for the event.  More importantly, the money raised will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma’s mission to find an cure for cancers, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. If you would like to donate to the Bootsoft page, you may do so here: http://pages.lightthenight.org/nyc/Manhattn13/Bootsoft

 

 
As noted in the photo above, Jay is a fighter. Thanks to world-class care and the support of his friends and family, Jay is responding positively to the treatment. If you’d like to learn more about Jay’s journey please visit his blog: http://bustednut.wordpress.com/

Update on Responsive Design and How I’ve Been Using It

The last time I wrote about Responsive Design was about a year and a half ago, and there have been so many updates and advancements. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about how I’ve been using responsive design lately and what I’ve learned by doing so.

In my role as a User Experience Designer at Bootsoft, I get the privilege of seeing new projects move from inception, to design, to development. A big part of designing a site or application, is planning out the architecture. After meeting with the client and hashing out the product’s needs and functions, I do some sketches and conceptual wireframes. Through the wireframes, I am able to annotate and map out on a more general level how things are going to interact. After going through some iterations with the conceptual wire frames, we begin making a clickable prototype. The clickable prototype can be very helpful for showing the client how their product is going to work. Without having to worry about any of the back-end, we are able to show them a prototype that looks, feels and functions like they expect a website or an application to work.

For these prototypes, I have been using the responsive front-end framework, Foundation (http://foundation.zurb.com). I am a big fan of this tool, because it is easy to implement, it has a bunch of great add-ons for prototyping that make mocking up a website quick and easy (like modals, image sliders, etc).  It is also based on a grid, like the majority of responsive frameworks. The grid creates a layout that is controlled by percentages, so when changing the browser size, the content is flexible and logically rearranges itself.

One of the nice things about Foundation is that you can style it as much or as little as you like. Their core look and feel is actually very attractive – especially the buttons, forms and other added components. It’s clean and unobtrusive, which helps the client hone in on the core functionality of the user interface & experience instead of getting hung up on graphic elements.

We have used this framework for quite a few new projects, and so far it has been very successful both from my perspective and the clients. It is very intuitive and definitely makes my life easier when making clickable prototypes. What is nice about it is that when I need to make updates or changes, it’s incredibly easy and flexible to do so. As we move more into the Agile process, it is very important to work with technologies that are fluid and easy to work with, so for the wire framing and prototyping part of our project, Foundation has proved to be one of the best ways to keep with the rapid process.

I am really enjoying this method we’ve adopted for the discovery process, and I’m excited to keep moving forward with new and advancing technologies. It is so important to keep up-to-date with the direction of development and technology, and I am glad we’re are doing so, especially in this early part of a project. If you are trying to figure out a way to express specific functionality to a client, and flat wireframes just aren’t cutting it, I highly suggest using a rapid prototyping tool like Foundation!

Nailed It! – Jill Hennelly – July 2013

Jill is an anchor in the Bootsoft team. She holds the ship steady even in the roughest seas. Her success can be attributed to her no-nonsense-get-it-done attitude and her extraordinary work ethic. Clients trust her, developers look to her for direction and Project Managers want to be like her.

Jill came to Bootsoft originally as a QA Analyst – a role that injected an attention to detail that as a Project Manager allows her to get to the bottom of the issue faster than a 5GHz 8 core processor. She recently transitioned from a Production Support Coordinator role into a Project Management role for new development projects. The transition was smooth and Jill has already managed and launched several successful projects.

But don’t be fooled by Jill’s cool and calm demeanor. When she is not busy triaging tickets and writing functional specification documents, Jill can be found competing in the muddy Warrior Dash, mountain biking in torrential downpour in the Philippines or showing off her sweet jump shot on the b-ball court.

Congratulations Jill, you nailed it!

Nailed It! David Bebawy – August 2013

To many, developers are seen as a commodity that only differs in cost. Projects are often given to the lowest bid. The thinking is, so what if the tech team working on my project is in India, China, or some other remote part of the world? In Bootsoft, we have seen first-hand how this can have dire consequences on projects and which is why all our projects are not only managed by a project manager in-house in New York but also led by a resident technical expert who is not only fluent in technology but is able to understand complex businesses processes and the interdependent relationship between business and technology.

David Bebawy is one of our brightest tech leads for several reasons. David has the technical skills to handle any task thrown at him no matter how complex or daunting it seems. Need a LAMP (Linux, Apache, Mysql, PHP), telephony, or e-mail expert? David is your man. David not only excels technically but has a keen talent for understanding business processes. While some expect a developer to simply complete the task at hand, David goes the extra mile to make sure that the task at hand does not negatively affect the entire project and often proposes better solutions. This is key in high profile and high traffic sites where one small mistake can have a snowball effect and take down an entire site or application. David is able to see the big picture even while focusing on leading the development team in ironing out the details.

For the last three years, David has focused on working on LeadRouter, an enterprise-grade real-estate lead management system used by hundreds of thousands of agents and processing millions of leads each year. David’s mission is to support this large-scale application and ensure both its short term stability, performance and long term success.

Gone are the days where clients can sit in a vacuum, come up with pages and pages of requirements, hand them over to developers, and expect a polished finished product. Developing and maintaining enterprise online applications is quite a complex endeavor that needs to be handled by an all-star technical team led by someone such as David.

Congratulations to David for this well-earned recognition and I am confident that David will continue nailing it in future and projects to come.

Bootsoft Goes Fishing!

On July 25, Bootsoft had their annual fishing trip aboard the Pink Lady! During our

five-hour boat trip from Sheepshead to Jamaica bay, we caught many fish, a few sharks, played games, and got our nails painted (thanks to Kate B.!).

Once we docked back in Sheepshead Bay, we headed to Randazzo’s for a family style supper .

We also picked up some souvenir shirts.

 

Overall, it was a great day! It takes more than some rough waters and an unseasonably chilly weather to dampen the spirits of the Bootsoft team!

Slim + Composer + Eloquent ORM + Twig = Agile Development

When faced with a new project, once the general requirements have been defined, we choose the technologies that we will use. If we take a look into the size of some projects, most aren’t very large. It is very common that they only consist of a RESTful API to communicate with the database and the View using, powerful front-end technology such as Angular.js or Backbone.js.

To cover these projects Josh Lockhart (@codeguy) created Slim Framework. The Slim Framework makes it easy to attach different PHP technologies to your project, create an API to access your database, and create your own agile development environment. An example is listed below. A complete presentation of the material discussed can be found here, along with easy examples of how to use it all together.

Slim Framework + Composer + Eloquent ORM + Twig


Slim Framework

Slim is a PHP micro framework that helps you quickly write simple yet powerful web applications and APIs.
Slim is very light and easy to use.

index.php Hello World Example

$app = new \Slim\Slim();
$app->get('/hello/:name', function ($name) {
    echo "Hello, $name";
});
$app->run();

Composer

Composer is a tool for dependency management in PHP. It allows you to declare the dependent libraries your project needs and it will install them in your project for you.
The main composer repository is Packagist

Eloquent ORM

It is the ORM of Laravel (another PHP Framework) but there are another solutions like Doctrine or Propel

Twig

Twig is a flexible, fast, and secure template engine for PHP. It was created by SensioLabs and used in the PHP Framework Symfony.


It certainly is an interesting time for PHP for its flexibility, the apparition of different frameworks, and the recent version 5.5 that introduces significant new features.

For more info, see:
Full Presentation 
Mixing and Matching PHP Components with Composer
Performance benchmark of popular PHP frameworks
What to expect in PHP 5.5

Bootsoft Gallery Night

Last night, Bootsoft held our innagural Bootsoft Gallery Night. Employees were encouraged to show-off their creative sides, and friends and family were invited to join in the fun! Below are some highlights from the night:

Paper Cut Portraits by Kate Baldwin

Paintings by Kate Diago, Photographs by Kevin Green

No Sew Doll Clothes by Kristina Vogel-An, Art by Seung-Yun Shin

Pinata By Sally Dankas, Card Tricks by Olivier Auber and the Bootsoft Band starting Jay Erickson, Dave Gould and Daniel Engelman

 

Nailed It! – Kate Baldwin – May 2013

Kate Baldwin IS the graphic design arm of Bootsoft. She came directly from University to us and has blazed forth into the professional world leaving a wake of beauty and UX excellence in her wake. Her 3rd Bootiversary just recently passed and she has not lost a drop of the design-force essence that landed her squarely in our midst.

In between juggling umpteen project requests she also manages to push forward our Events and Marketing Committee (EMC) while grooming cats and design interns alike. If that wasn’t enough to quell this constant creative conjuror, a recent volunteer initiative – still to be named – has taken form which aims to provide an out-of-the-box site for a select nonprofit in a weekend session. The first go brought The Autism Program at Boston Medical Center from a back page mention to a full branded site complete with Calendar, Blog, and all the trimmings that go along. For orchestrating the event, curating the “client”, wireframing and designing the site – Kate has been bestowed the coveted “Nailed It” award.

There is no doubt that as the ever constant march of time pushes on Ms. Baldwin will be a central, if not critical piece in the Bootsoft ecosystem. Her presence makes us all better at our job – and that’s just before lunch.

Nailed It! – Kristina Vogel-An – April 2013

Kristina has been with Bootsoft for over a decade (and will be celebrating that anniversary this year with a 1 month sabbatical!). Throughout her time with us, Kristina has proven to be an intelligent, perceptive, flexible, and hard working member of the team who never deflects responsibility and always gives 110%. Kristina has played many roles within the company over the years (many simultaneously) including Database Administrator / Analyst / Architect, Database Team Manager, Quality Assurance Manager, Service Delivery Manager, Operations Manager for Manila, Vice President of Service Delivery and Management Team Member. In those roles, she has shepherded many successful projects including award winning websites, hugely complex data warehouses, and the establishment and ongoing maintenance of an offshore subsidiary in the Phillipines focused on Quality Assurance. But for all of her past successes, Kristina is awarded the coveted “Nailed It” award in April 2013 for her work as the newly appointed Bootsoft Guru of Agile Development.

As a software consulting organization, it is critical that Bootsoft continue to grow and adapt to the changing marketplace with respect to new technologies as well as software development methodologies. While Agile development has been around for a number of years and has been employed at Bootsoft in some form for years, it was not until Kristina took the helm that Bootsoft’s flavor of Agile formally took shape. Under her leadership, the roles, responsibilites, tools and methodologies for our Agile process have been clearly defined and training has been provided to the team at large. The best barometer for her success has been the smooth running of agile development efforts under her guidance.

Congratulations to Kristina for Nailing It! I’m sure if this award had been around since her joining us, she’d be able to frame a house by now with all of the nails :-)