DIGITAL EDITION ISSUE 02
WINTER IS COMING NORDEVCON KEYNOTES FEATURING VIEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS FROM IN AND AROUND THE NORFOLK AREA, NTJ IS NORFOLK’S PREMIER TECHNICAL JOURNAL FOR TECHIES, BY TECHIES.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
MEET SHELLEY BURROWS & NEONTRIBE
EMAIL INTEGRATION KEPT SIMPLE
WHAT ABOUT THE MOBILE MARKET?
BRIDGING THE GAP
NWES: CROWDFUNDING COMMUNITY | EVENTS | COMPANY SPOTLIGHT | NORDEVCON | TECH ARTICLES
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From the Editor
THE TEAM EDITORS Caroline Hargreaves Geraint Williams Jane Chittenden Indi Debah Mick Schonhut
“Trite as it may sound, I moved to Norfolk for love.”
// Dom Davis
I was working in London to pay for a flat in Colchester which I wanted because it was an easy commute to my job in London. My girlfriend, however, lived in Norfolk and I was travelling to see her every weekend. Clearly, the only logical move was to get a second mortgage, based on my London salary; jack in my job the instant that mortgage cleared and move to Cromer with two mortgages, no income and no job lined up.
but what I do know is that we desperately need an injection of fresh talent into this county; it’s getting harder and harder to find people.
My thinking at the time was that my wife (a zoo keeper) would find it hard to find work if she moved and I (as a senior java developer with years of banking experience, plus the conceit that that brings) would simply walk into a development job. I had overlooked one tiny detail: there are only about 8 Java shops in Norfolk. It was sheer luck more than anything else that landed me my current role. I’m not sure if the dearth of Java jobs in the county is a reflection on Norfolk or on Java
WEB PUBLISHERS Dan Harrison Steve Hunter Akshata Javalirao WEB MASTER Dom Davis
A large part of the problem revolves round the pigeon holing of developers. We shouldn’t be talking about Java Developers and C# Developers, we should just be talking about Developers. A good developer can pick up a new language in minutes and algorithms and best practices are largely language agnostic which can be applied anywhere. Even when idioms don’t translate well between languages a good developer will know this turning to Google which is awash with articles on “Language X for Y developers”. So why shouldn’t a good C# developer be considered for a Java role and vice versa? They are, after all, very similar languages. But it seems you must have X years experience in language Y and, for the ultimate irony, you will be interviewed about design patterns from a book on C++.
PRINT DESIGN AC Digital Studio DESIGNERS Paul Sparkes Geraint Williams Chris J. Bennett Robin Silcock Shelley Burrows INTERVIEWERS Cat Landin Jane Chittenden Indi Debah
Visit us online at: norfolktechjournal.com
This issue: Articles 2 Neontribe 4 Shelley Burrows 6 SyncNorwich 7 About Norfolk Tech Journal 8 Email Integration Kept Simple 10 Bridging the Gap 11 Do you know your target audience? 12 NWES: Crowdfunding 14 Push it real good 15 What about the mobile market? 16 NorDev Review 17 SyncDevelopHER Review 18 NRUG Review 19 Norfolk Network Review 20 Norwich Sound & Vision Review 21 NIGD Review
22 23 24
Nordevcon Keynotes December Events The Soapbox: Test driven development doesn’t mean test first
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ISSUE 2 Visit us online at: norfolktechjournal.com
Interview with Neontribe
Interview with Shelley Burrows
About Norfolk Tech Journal
Norfolk Network Review
Email Integration Kept Simple
Norwich Sound & Vision Review
Bridging the Gap
Do you know your target audience?
Push it real good
What about the mobile market?
An Interview With
Neontribe Neontribe’s Project Director Harry Harrold talks to Jane Chittenden about paper prototyping, the artisan’s approach to digital development and walking at Norwich pace.
Neontribe’s office is in Colegate, in the heart of the city’s historic industrial district, Norwich over-the-water. Today they’re making digital things for the 21st century.
content is not high profile because teens are in school when it is on. We are experimenting with finding content that is engaging and entertaining as well as educational. And it is only by experimenting can we find ways to reach and engage this age group. In all conscience, Channel 4 could not continue to spend £6m on programming that is not engaging people. ”
The Neontribe team builds websites and apps; they specialise in user experience design and paper prototyping for clients including Channel 4, Comic Relief and the Royal College of Art. “We’re web developers, not designers, because we build things,” says Harry. “Our approach is to think: ‘We’ll make a thing that works beautifully, and then we’ll think about how to make it look beautiful.’ ”
Neontribe’s first experiment for them was Phantasmagoria, about young people defining who they were by the badges they chose to show on their social networks. Then they were invited back to do another project, Bookstash, which was about making reading ‘cool’. “The Channel 4 lucky break worked out for us because they were in an experimental frame of mind; and at the time
Harry is a Norwich lad, born and bred. He’s spent time away from the city, first at university and then marketing at a dotcom start-up in London before returning to Norwich. He set up in business with a friend; then in 2007 they joined forces with two more friends, who’d established Neontribe. In six years their company has grown from the original four people to twelve.
Neontribe’s Big Break
they had a responsibility to spend 20% of their budget with companies outside the M25.
Matt Locke, the Head of Innovation at BBC New Media had just moved to Channel 4; Neontribe had worked with him before and went to see him there. At the time, his boss Janey Walker was saying “...14-19 educational
So we were both experimental and conveniently not based in London. That led to more public sector and third sector work; we’re probably proudest of our work in these sectors.”
ARTICLE Jane Chittenden http://www.formatwords.co.uk/
...beacon-augmented Bluetooth might make spatial interaction with digital information more interesting...
What’s the culture of the company?
What’s the Next Big Thing in technology?
“I’d hope that it’s to take great pains to make sure that we produce ‘artisanal’ work. I’d love to think that we’re artisans who have empathy with the people who will use our stuff.”
Harry is keeping track of beacon technology; he thinks that beacon-augmented Bluetooth might make spatial interaction with digital information more interesting. So the Next Big Thing is likely to be using NFC (near field communications) with a different technology and much more detailed location data.
Part of the culture is a shared interest in performance art. “We use role-playing techniques in development, getting empathy with the people who’ll be using our stuff. We construct fictitious characters, called personas, who sit on our shoulders for as long as possible during the project to tell us what we’re doing wrong.”
What’s the advantage of paper prototyping? “If you show someone something they can’t change – even the most beautiful Photoshop scamp – they are not in control. So that makes them less willing to criticise; they see it as something that can’t easily be changed. But everyone’s seen Blue Peter and everyone knows that if you have a piece of cardboard in front of you, that’s all it is, and you can change it with scissors.” The prototype on the table is irresistible: you’re immediately drawn to trying out how it works, as a physical object…
What are the good things and/or challenges about working in Norwich? “The great thing is the relaxed lifestyle. At one time I was commuting to London every day. The train would get back into Norwich and I’d leave Coach G walking at London pace. By the time I’d got to the platform gate I was walking at Norwich pace. I still do that now, but I spend much more of my time up here at Norwich pace. And we’re probably less expensive for national clients, but that’s not as important as the fact that we can have that relaxed lifestyle working here, being really productive and then go to London or further afield to do business. People we meet in London say: ‘Oh, that sounds great.’ And yes, it actually is great.”
Harry says that everyone does this: “The moment you sit down in front of it you want to play with it and touch it, because it’s a tangible thing. Its pop-ups really pop-up. Paper prototyping is really useful. You can strip things off the interface there and then, or move things around to make better sense. It’s so much better to discuss the things work with people in this way when it’s only a few pounds’ worth of cardboard rather than thousands spent on coding time. It sounds nuts, but when you do it this way, it’s just magic.”
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How important is R&D? “I don’t think we consciously say: “I’ll be doing R&D today.” Most of our people see new things because they are on Twitter. One of our team contributes to a working group that’s refining the HTML standard; he follows some fascinating people on Twitter and circulates articles around. So I don’t think of it as a discrete process; it’s part of the flow of information that comes past our front door.”
Email [email protected]
ISSUE 02 November 2013 norfolktechjournal.com
Meet the Community Shelley Burrows smellyrabbit’s Shelley Burrows talks to Cat Landin about design, technology and Nintendo.
Name Shelley Burrows
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve had to do (eg. complex coding; impossible deadline)? Managing clients is the most challenging thing. As a natural geek I used to find the personal side of the business quite difficult but I think one of our strengths is that we can communicate the sometimes complex world of IT simply and easily to people who wouldn’t normally find themselves embroiled in it.
Who do you work for? I work for smellyrabbit which is a design and development company I set up in October 2009. What do you do there? I oversee our projects but I also like to do a lot of the development and design myself.
How do you keep up to date with what’s new? Lots and lots of reading! Reading blog posts on the latest tech trends, following trends on twitter and reddit and engaging with people in the community (my husband is a techy geeky type as well, which really helps). A good way of keeping up to date with current technology is to look at job postings for brand new ‘greenfield’ startups, looking at what technology stack they want to use.
What experience, qualifications etc. were important in getting the job? I have pretty much no qualifications (I’m ashamed to say) but it was important to have been an early geek. I got my first computer when I was 6 (a beautiful Commodore vic 20) and wrote lines of Basic from then. As an adult it was a case of muscling into the IT department at Virgin Direct and proving that I was a good fit which enabled me to build my experience. Having an (un)healthy obsession with all things techy also helps.
If you could go back and do it again, would you still chose the same career path? Definitely. But I would have started earlier.
What do you like most about the job? I love the diversity of my job. I love that one week we’ll be really focused on development but the next that we have loads of design work to do. It satisfies my geeky side and my creative side.
What is your platform of choice? I used to be an avid mac fan but lately I’ve become disenchanted. So the office will go back to Linux / PC soon. And Nintendo.
ARTICLE Catherine Landin
...Its more about providing meaningful, personalised solutions that allow deeper collaboration... in your rail delay repay compensation forms, track the status of the claims and be updated on current delays. It also tweets out delays as they happen and publishes them to the site in real time using websockets. As a commuter it was an issue close to his heart!
What is the best ever platform? That’s a tough question! Platforms are ever improving and barring the odd blip are always better than their previous iteration. I’m looking forward to seeing how Linux is going to work for us again after several years of not using it.
How do you see your part of the industry changing in the next 5 or 10 years? More tools are coming out to make web development more automated and accessible to the ‘untrained’ so I think the future lies a lot more around providing the entire stack of a solution, from the infrastructure architecture to creating responsive sites and developing apps. It’s more about providing meaningful, personalised solutions that allow deeper collaboration. As the barrier to entry will be lower, the quantity of websites we produce will lessen but the complexity of what we produce will increase.
When you’re fixing a production problem, who goes on your iPod? I’m anti iThings but my mp3 player seems to naturally migrate to Belle and Sebastian or Laura Marling. Cat or dog? We have a dog called Betty who spends her time in the office. She likes to try and intimidate new clients into loving her. What gives you a nerdgasm? Anything that’s beautifully made/built that marries form and functionality perfectly.
What is the most surprising thing about you? That I do all of our DIY, love knitting and cooking (although apparently the last two make me quite cool?).
What do your family think of what you do? My husband and child are both geeks so they think it’s normal; they’re really proud of the business and of me. The rest of the family think I’m a free help desk!
Favourite computer game? Vic 20: Hoppit, PC: Theme Hospital, Nintendo: Super Mario Bros and on our phones my daughter and I both nurture a Pou.
How long have you been in technology? Since I was 6 with a gap between 12 and 22 which makes 21 years in total! How did you get into technology? I’m not sure why I was so fascinated with it as a child; being born in 1976 doesn’t lend itself particularly to an early obsession. As an adult, I was a call centre team manager which played on all of my weaknesses and so I became a desperate nag to the IT department and my boss to let me move. Which was a far better fit!
Are you in Norfolk by accident or design? I’m a Suffolk girl but my parents moved to Norfolk. So originally I was here by accident but now it’s by design. What’s good/challenging about operating in Norfolk? Norfolk is a fantastic place to run a business. The community are amazing and because it’s such a close county everybody knows each other. The pace can be a little slow and it’s a shame that there aren’t more IT opportunities so a lot of our talent moves or commutes to London.
Do you have any personal pet projects you’d like to tell us about? My husband and I are working on RepayDelay (www. repaydelay.com) which is a site that allows you to fill
Meet the Community
SyncNorwich is a diverse community of people that are interested meeting up to discuss mobile and web development, Startups, Agile and Lean Startup practices, or just chatting over a beer. We have regular monthly meetups and not-so-regular lunch or dinner meetups. SyncNorwich is about learning and networking. The goal is to develop and grow our own techhub in Norwich. Who knows, we may have the next Twitter or Facebook in our community! Come along, you may learn something new, or meet your next business partner. It’s the biggest and one of the most active tech based communities in the region. Founded in July 2012, it has grown to over 550 members. To date we have had over 28 meetup events, attracting 53 speakers over 1000 attendances and enjoyed 3 BBQ’S & 3 DJ sessions. We regularly attract local or international speakers and attendees from Cambridge, London and even Exeter. Topics that have been discussed are Agile Development, Design and UX, Mobile Development, Marketing, Big Data, Cloud Computing and lots of Startup stories etc. Our biggest meetup was at Carrow Road, in December 2012, at which we had 110 attendees and had the CIO of Aviva speak. The fact that the community has grown so quickly illustrates just how much a thriving tech industry we have in Norfolk. Some of the companies in our community include: FXhome, ServiceTick, NakedWines, Yodelay, Liftshare, Koub, Zealify, get3sixty, Foolproof, 24beers, BGO, SupaPass, Wordwise, Proxama, Foodsafe, Blurtit, purpletuesday, SquareSocial, Virgin Wines, Aviva, Yours2Share, RainBird, Everpress and many more! Last year we held SyncConf, which was a 1 day conference held at the Open venue in Norwich. We had 160 attendees and attracted international grade speakers from the likes of Nokia, Neo4j and The Guardian. The conference raised over £5,000 which we plan to invest in a local Startup at the next SyncConf (during Norwich Sound & Vision festival in October 2014). We have been lucky enough to offer a free beer at all our events, thanks to our three main sponsors Smart421, BGO Entertainment and PANDR. Smart421 have been particularly supportive of us from the beginning and have sponsored a few BBQ’s as well as beers! SyncNorwich was founded by Stephen Pengilley, Paul Grenyer, Seb Butcher, Juliana Meyer & John Fagan. Seb, Juliana and John are still actively involved, along with newcomer Vickie Allen who also organises SyncDevelopHER, which is a community group focused on Women in Technology. So visit SyncNorwich.com, check out the latest events and claim your spot!
Everybody is welcome, whether you are a coding expert or a complete newbie. See you there! Photos by James Neale www.jamesnealephotography.com
Art by Robin Silcock
Norfolk Tech Journal
The mission of the Norfolk Tech Journal is to put Norwich and Norfolk firmly on the technology map where it belongs by producing a monthly tech online journal, backed-up by a website and blog, and a small paper copy distribution. Within its pages you will find reviews of each of the local technology based community groups’ events and details of their upcoming events. You will find news about local tech companies and how they are working together with each other and the local community groups. You can read about the people who make up the technology community in Norfolk in the Meet the Community column. You will also find technical and business based articles and other related news from around the county. And you will find the latest tech jobs from specially selected recruitment agents. Locally it has been well known for over a year now that Norfolk is teeming with technology companies and has a thriving tech community. It has everything from startups to SMEs and even a few large firms. Groups like Hot Source and SyncNorwich have helped promote technology in Norfolk and have done an astoundingly good job of forming the tech community and bringing
it together with the business community. Now it’s time to tell the world about technology in Norfolk and the fabulous companies and community groups that the county boasts.
How can you help? We need to expand our team of reviewers who regularly attend one or more of the local community groups (Hot Source, SyncNorwich, Norfolk Developers, Norfolk Indie Game Developers, Norwich Ruby Users Group, SyncDevelopHer, The Norfolk Network, etc). We need people to engage with local businesses and gather news and stories from them. We need people to write technical articles. Can you lend us just a few hours a month to help put Norfolk on the map as a tech centre? If so, or if you would like to find out more or help in other ways, please drop an email to [email protected]
Email Integration Kept Simple
ARTICLE Steve Whitby Ben Riches
Aviva, as befits its status as a large company built from mergers and acquisitions, had a large number of image storing content management systems. same action to cut out both wasted effort and the print and scan costs. The solution to this was to construct a very simple plugin for Outlook which enabled it to package the email and attachments into a format that would work with pre-existing XML based web services to load the documents.
This was not a good thing, so over the years we amalgamated and decommissioned wherever and whenever possible, leaving us with one major system (IBM’s Content Manager v8) that supported the whole of the UK General Insurance business. This is a shared service which runs across many business lines and this sometimes provides opportunities to share a new development across the company.
An Outlook plugin (or more properly called an Outlook Add-in) is a ‘helper program’ which allows you to add new functionality into Outlook via centralised packaging and deployment. Using the development tools in the Outlook client anyone with the right authorities can build their own ribbons, icons and buttons but that is limited to the machine it is built on. We needed this to be centrally deployed in order to roll it out to the (approximately) one thousand users who were the scope of the initial project. A quick search via Google (an invaluable tool for any developer or designer) showed that technically it was all feasible and a Proof of Concept was quickly pulled together to test the major functionality.
In recent years, email has become a bigger and bigger share of the mail processed within the Company and the problem existed of how best to get email into the content management system where it could be properly indexed and linked to the right workflows and archives. One of the Commercial Underwriting Departments looked at simplifying the process and asked for the ability to drag and drop emails from Outlook straight into the imaging system. We could simply spend money to upgrade to the latest version and then buy a module to handle this for us, or a number of off the shelf solutions existed, but these would have been substantial investments and so we looked for a simpler solution. Already in place we had a system obscurely titled ‘Message Plus Open’ which handles emails and faxes received at central mailboxes and routed the work to indexing teams to populate the metadata and move the work onto handling teams. More and more emails were, however, going direct to handlers rather than the team mailboxes and being printed and then scanned into the system at great cost. We wanted a way to give the handlers the ability to load emails of their choosing and index them with the
Whilst not a true Agile project, the coding was done in .Net on an iterative basis with new functionality being added as the build developed. The initial project was agreeable to adding a couple of weeks to the build time to make everything strategically generic rather than tying it into a single business line. We could therefore offer the functionality to other areas with only minor configuration file changes but were limited to only the base set of functions that this area needed as they were the ones footing the bill. We have all the configuration options in a set of files which are stored locally on each machine and also on a central shared network drive. Whenever
Outlook is run it will load the plugin, check the central file repository and pull down any updated files.
uninstalling the original version and then again after installing the new version. It seems that Outlook can also be very intermittently forgetful and occasionally, for some people, will disable the plugin when it starts up. This is easily fixed by just clicking it on again and it is probably unfair to blame Outlook as it is most likely to do with the user’s profile and the lockdowns added to the machines for security.
The plugin is controlled by a dropdown containing the different business lines. When one is selected the configuration options are picked up for this and the relevant indexing fields displayed on a panel at the top of the email. We have some restrictions on mandatory and optional fields here and on the attachments to the email but there is no business specific validation. We wanted to keep the tool fully generic, so rely on the handlers indexing the documents correctly. After indexing, the users click an upload button which converts the email into a PDF and picks up any attachments that the user has selected to load. These are then wrapped in XML containing the metadata and sent to our web services to load. These services have been in place for some years so we simply had to use the right XML schema and reused the importing function. A response is sent back to Outlook which then pops up a success or failure message.
The build and implementation of this work was completed quickly keeping the cost of the overall project low which enabled a return on investment in under six months as well as very positive feedback from the user group. In addition we negotiated further resource to make the system reusable and therefore capable of being rolled out to many other parts of the business which increased the actual financial benefit on the initial investment significantly.
One big decision was which format to use when loading the emails into the image repository. We had the choice of keeping it in an Outlook format (using .msg or .eml) or turn it into something else. We chose to change them into PDFs using a standard .Net PDF generation library as we have a number of staff using the thin client variant of Outlook which has no way of rendering documents using email formats.
What does the future hold for the humble Outlook plugin? Well, we are currently packaging a new version with additional functionality to allow users to trigger workflows in the image system when they load an email, as well as adding dropdowns to some indexing fields and some field length validation. We are also giving users an optional method to tag emails in Outlook that have been imported so handlers can be sure they haven’t missed something. Longer term when we move to an updated version of the imaging system and roll out a new client it comes with an Outlook plugin of its own, though on taking a preliminary glance our home grown version looks considerably better.
This all sounds great and like all IT projects it rolled out smoothly however Outlook, as it turns out, is really clingy. Uninstalling a plug in does not fully remove it, as it remains cached, allowing Outlook to still load it. We discovered that in order to roll out a new version of the plugin code you have to force a .Net cache clearance using a “rundll32 dfshim CleanOnlineAppCache” command after
ARTICLE SCOTT RANGER
In my previous article, I spoke about how using LinkedIn helped me to get into the tech industry. In this article, I will be going into more detail about how else to bridge the gap into the tech industry. Whether you’re a student like myself, a tech enthusiast or anything in between, without having prior experience in the workplace, making the first steps can be a challenge. In order to overcome this hurdle, there are a number of various options available to you. Probably the most important factor is having a strong portfolio. This can be in the form of a personal website, a GitHub repository of code if you’re a programmer or any examples of previous work. The point to keep in mind is that if you haven’t yet had a role in a technical position, you need to show potential employers that you are capable and deserving of being given the opportunity. Furthermore, any previous work experience technical based or not is always a bonus. Having any form of experience can suggest certain skills to employers, such as time management, organisation, responsibility, being able to work to deadlines and the ability to work as part of a
Getting noticed is another great way of introducing yourself to the industry. Standing out from the crowd greatly increases your chances of being recognised. How you do this is up to you, but some popular options are starting a blog talking about your area of interest, attending related local events or courses and making the most out of social networking, such as using LinkedIn. All of the above start building recognition and a name for yourself, which will aid you greatly in your pursuit of a career in technology. The recurring theme to remember is that you need to showcase not only your ability and experiences, but also your interest and commitment in your chosen area to stand the greatest chance of success.
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team. If you’re currently lacking in work experience, then there are a number of options still available to you. A few possibilities are looking for an internship, doing voluntary work or applying for an evening or weekend job if you’re student. If you do happen to be a student, there are normally various facilities available to help you with looking for work. Most universities, colleges and schools have careers advisers or a careers centre, which you can visit for help with regards to CVs, job applications, interview techniques and much more.
Do you know your target audience? You may be disappointed to learn that your new product doesn’t appeal to everyone. Even that market sector you’re targeting, age range or demographic isn’t wholly interested.
What Do They Look Like
Finally all personas should have a photo. This is the person you will visualise as you develop a new feature, or produce that next piece of marketing material. This free persona template from Hubspot may help you develop your first one:
The mistake many businesses make is trying to target too wide an audience. This often means your product suffers scope creep as you try to please everyone. Or that your marketing budget is spread too thinly when trying to reach across too wide a market sector. Most successful products are built to solve a specific problem, for a specific process. Maybe it was even a problem you were experiencing yourself? Who is your product or service solving a problem for?
If we take Apple, when they produced the first iPhone this wasn’t for the audience that they now reach. This was a product for early adopters, tech savvy individuals who loved innovative design. Apple didn’t try to appeal to young people, as they are now doing so with the coloured iPhones. They didn’t try to reach out to the older and younger extremes of a generation to which the iPad has great appeal. No, they squarely focused on “the few”, and let the magic of their product widen the appeal.
Define that person
Create what is known as a persona. This is specific details about the person you are trying to reach. A good persona may include:
Now You Know Who They Are
Now you have a clear vision of who you are trying to target, it is much easier to market to them. You could list product features that would appeal to this person, maybe demote ones that wouldn’t. Write content that appeals to them, tailored for their specific situation, you’ll gain a lot more empathy. Share updates on social media that they might be looking out for to drive engagement. Or even create studies or white papers your audience could use in their day job.
Bring your ideal customer to life give them a name.
What do they do for a living? If you know this, you know specifically who you’re targeting.
What particular issues does this person have to deal with on a daily basis? Maybe your product or service can offer a few solutions?
Don’t worry about having too narrow an appeal. Done right you should find that your audience starts to extend on its own. At this point you may need to start creating more personas and producing this specifically for them.
What turns them on? What do they enjoy doing, reading, watching?
Is this person married, have kids and a mortgage? Or are they young free and single? These factors can all have an impact their buying decisions.
ARTICLE SEAN CLARK
But always start with one clear vision of who you need to talk to.
CrowdFunding BY ANDREW WILSON
Increasingly we are finding our clients at NWES are asking about crowd funding and how they can use this tool to raise money for their business. Their questions are often associated with how does crowd funding work, is it something for them and what are the risks? For many though crowd funding is something they know little about and as such not something they consider at first but a measure of the growth of this finance mechanism is that over £1.5 billion pounds was raised through crowd funding in the UK in 2011.
return on their investment either by being paid dividends or by selling their shares at a later date. Platforms offering equity investment include: www.crowdcube.com and www.seeders.com. Loan funding is a loan facilitated through a crowd funding site for a set period of time. The loan may or may not be subject to interest. These types of loan are referred to as ‘Peer to Peer” (P2P) loans. Platforms offering P 2 P loans include: www.buzzbnk.org and www.zopa.com.
At a basic level, Crowd funding is a way of raising finance for your business or project from a group of people found on-line. The process is facilitated by online platforms or providers who, in the case of those seeking investment, present your pitch to the community of potential backers who might be willing to invest or support your project. Is crowd funding suitable for all types of businesses? In principal, anyone can use crowd funding. However, you should be mindful that some projects suit crowd funding better than others, so you will need to take a critical look at your pitch and consider whether you are likely to engage a sufficient number of people who will be motivated to invest in your scheme. Will your project capture the imagination?
Reward funding is when a form of incentive is given in return for an investment. This may come in the form of a pre-sale discount, an associated gift or an invitation to an event for example. It is invariably a one off transaction in return for financial investment. Example of platforms offering this type of crowd funding model include: www. kickstarter.com and www.unbound.co.uk Donation Crowd funding is when money is given to a project or cause without any expectation of financial return. These site are used for philanthropic or charitable purposes, examples include: www.justgiving.com and www.briibe.com.
By signing up to a crowd funding site you are able to publish details of your project, how much you are trying to raise, your business proposal, how the potential investor will make a profit. Like all business funding projects you will need to create a clear business plan that your potential investors can understand and see the potential growth with your project. Take care to use a crowd funding site you feel has the expertise and following to promote your goods and services to maximise your chances of a successful campaign. Be mindful however, that most sites work on an all or nothing principal, if you fail to reach your investment target in the time period agreed your pitch will be null and void. There are notable case studies who raised significantly more than their original pitch but many more fail to reach their target. If your product resonates strongly with your audience you are likely to exceed your funding target. Some campaigns have raised over four times their original funding goals.
Investors and fundraisers should be aware that most crowd funding platforms are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, or Financial Services Authority, therefore a crowd funder needs to be aware that he/she is responsible for assessing their individual risk. There are no guarantees, and potentially they may fail to get the rewards or returns indicated, therefore they need to be aware that their money could be at risk if they take part in one of these schemes. This however is set to change with new regularity requirements being put in place by the Financial Conduit Authority in April 2014. There is however a code of practice that the industry works to. The UK Crowd Funding Association www.ukcfa. org.uk is a trade body set up to self-regulate the industry and they launched a code of practice for their members to follow in March 2013. Crowd funding platforms adhering to the code may use the UKFA trade mark on their site so it is worth checking for this so you know you are working with a credible site.
The amount available to raise will be determined by the crowd funding platform you use. Some sites facilitate investments as small as £5.00 for some there is no ceiling, whilst others may cap your investment as a percentage of your net assets. As is often the case in business you need to do proper research into the best platform for you.
The cost of using a crowd funding platform is a common concern for my clients. In most cases there is a fee charged by the platform to the fundraiser, very often a percentage of money raised and an administrative charge. It is recommended you check individual platforms to identify their charges before starting you campaign.
In broad strokes there are four main groups of crowd funding platforms: those who work with projects that offer equity, those who offer rewards or pre-sale offers, some platforms only work with loans whilst others specialise in donations. Each site will outline their specialisation, terms and conditions. Check carefully to establish the provider is able to facilitate your requirement before you begin.
If you would like more detailed advice on any aspect of crowd funding or to look at whether crowd funding is a suitable option for your business please call our office in Norwich 0845 6099991 to arrange an appointment to see me or one of our innovation advisers.
Equity crowd funding sees investors buy a share in a company and become part owners. Investors make a
ARTICLE BOYDLEE POLLENTINE Tipsy & Tumbler www.tipsyandtumbler.co.uk
Push notifications seem pretty simple to most of us now.
on the provider. So Push is a relatively affordable technology, particularly for startups and smaller apps, but what’s the best way to get maximum mileage out of it and build customer loyalty?
Anyone who has used Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or any number of popular mobile apps in the past few years has received Push notifications on a daily basis.
are both timely and relevant. For example, a restaurant application that provided a daily message with some new and relevant content to its users would be welcome, particularly if this was well timed to arrive on a user’s phone around lunch! A bad example might be pushing messages for things users don’t want at inconvenient times - the mobile equivalent of a PPI call at 8pm during the family meal.
1. Always ensure your Push notifications
Amazingly though, for all its simplicity, Push is a technology that is very new and very, very disruptive. It’s estimated that Push-based messaging applications such as WhatsApp have already lost Telecoms companies more than $23bn (£15bn) of SMS revenue in 2012 alone (according to separate estimates by research firm Ovum).
2. Don’t overload your users. It’s important to remember that a user will have many applications installed, all of which could potentially be pushing messages to them constantly throughout the day. Don’t overload your users by pushing messages to them constantly (unless you’re a chat app, in which case it’s relevant).
Before we jump into discussing how Push messaging can benefit your apps, and in turn your clients, it’s important to understand the fundamental difference between Push technology and the more common “Pull” mechanisms.
3. Pick the right provider. Not all Push technology providers are created equal - some of them may cost more but are significantly faster and more reliable than others. When building Loyalzoo at Tipsy & Tumbler we tried a number of providers before settling with Urban Airship who consistently had the best Push speeds out of all the ones we tested. Although more costly, the time-critical nature of the messages we send mean that the user experience would have been significantly poorer using some of the other providers.
Pull technologies are initiated by the client, i.e. your computer or your device, and make a request to the server for data. In order to do this in the context of a mobile application, your app has to be active and running. Additionally, your application has no idea at the time of making a pull request whether there are even new messages or data to be retrieved, meaning you have no idea at the time of the data call whether that request is going to be redundant or not. Compare this to Push technology (often more accurately called a Publish/Subscribe model), in which the data is Pushed to the client (your device) by the server. This has both the added benefit of ensuring your client app never makes redundant calls to the server and neither does your client app need to be active and running at the time of receiving a message - the mobile device operating system handles this for you. This makes Push technology inherently more useful and powerful for receiving messages and notices than Pull technology. So what’s the best way to get maximum mileage out of Push technology then, and what does it cost?
4. Remember - Push notifications are never guaranteed, either by Google or Apple!
Don’t go sending messages that are absolutely, legally critical. Always make sure you have a backup messaging avenue (such as email messaging) for highly critical messaging. Push notifications can be a great way to both drive customer satisfaction and ensure your apps are engaged with beyond the initial install date - a fate suffered by many other products and services in the app market.
By making sure your Push messages are both relevant and add value to the customer experience, your apps can be given a huge boost in usefulness and customer retention.
First, the good news - Push is free - up to a point. Most of the major Push service providers such as Urban Airship, Appcelerator Cloud Services, PushWoosh and others have very generous free limits starting from 1 Million notifications per month, right up to unlimited notifications (but a maximum cap of a million devices) for PushWhoosh. After that costs can vary, but typically range from around $100 - $1,000 per million messages sent, depending
What about the mobile market? I’m not a developer, I show clients how to attract consumers or talent.
The first thing many people reach out for when they awake in the mornings is their mobiles! John Lewis has predicted that mobile traffic will overtake desktop traffic at 5pm on Christmas Day this year. The most expensive item they’ve sold so far via mobile was a £7,000 television, would that customer have tried to buy the TV if their site was only suitable for desktop users?
What I do is to help them put out sticky content, create communities and then drive these people they’ve collected back to their website and that’s when it tends to all fall down.
50% of all searches are done via mobile, access via mobile is overtaking desktop, a flurry of new mobile users on Christmas Day will be accessing websites or maybe they won’t!
Many websites are not created with a marketing mind, they’re created with a designers mind or a developers mind, maybe both, but marketing gets missed.
Many websites just don’t function how they should! Potential customers are being lost every day from websites, your clients are running businesses hoping to make some money, they can’t afford to lose potential customers, why isn’t someone telling them?
Many websites don’t capture information, I take that back, there’s many with “subscribe to our newsletter” (yawn), there’s no sales funnel, and conversion hasn’t been thought of. I had one client moan that she never sold anything from her site, when I looked there wasn’t anywhere for me to part with my cash!
Perhaps the concern is the extra cost that a developer has to charge a client or the extra work that’s involved, I believe you have to tell the client they can’t afford not to. Surely it would be more hassle to have it all done at a later stage, because that’s what will happen.
When putting a site together I believe if a developer hasn’t got marketing skills then they must tell the client to source that extra skill and bring it to the table.
I know there’ll be someone screaming at me saying “What does she know? Doesn’t she understand that in some circumstances the client’s demands are just impossible, it will take so much time and even more money.” To that, I challenge you to be strict with your client and together go lean for mobile, perhaps it’s not practical for responsive but they have to have mobile.
I also believe in today’s world that any customer shouldn’t have to try to zoom in on their mobiles then turn the screen this way and that way to try to view any site. Every business seeking to get a new business website should be advised on responsive and mobile friendly. How can any developer deliver a site to a client that can’t be accessed effortlessly by consumers on the go and not feel slightly ashamed?
I personally would urge all clients to invest in responsive, it looks the same and feels the same on all devices which is brilliant for the brand. I also think that many clients struggle to maintain one site, having to maintain a separate mobile site only adds to their workload, create once and publish everywhere!
If any client says it’s not a priority and they haven’t budgeted for it then surely any web developer has to say “Mr or Ms Client, you can’t afford to not budget for it”.
But hey what do I know? I just mop up their tears when they don’t make any money from their sites.
It’s up to the developer to explain to the client that the future is mobile right at the beginning, before they put the site together, they shouldn’t find out when they come to me. 75% of Facebook users access the site via their mobiles, it’s exactly the same for Twitter, mobile accounts for 65% of all Twitters ad revenues.
ARTICLE JULIE BISHOP
Norfolk Developers October Review The event was hosted once again by Virgin Wines, this time in their large board room, which is a perfect space for the group. It was great to see the event very well attended. The two offerings on the this evening’s bill included a rousing presentation on why defining your own CSS classes is counter to building good, accessible, semantic web applications and a lively panel discussion. Heydon Pickering kicked off his presentation on what wrong with CSS classes with a version of the City Care logo in Comic Sans and by explaining that he’s often accused of being a troll, by the time he’d finished I think he’d brought most of us round to seeing that his view is not in fact trolling! The core principal of his argument is that instead of using classes we should be using more behaviour driven selectors and elements. He worked through an example of creating a button and why, especially when it comes to accessibility, it’s better to use a button element than to add a custom class to a div. We got there via sharks, octopuses and even invented a new framework called BUM. All of this made for an impassioned presentation which left me thinking about the places I’ve used CSS to define the vocabulary of my HTML, rather than working the other way round.
This group comprises developers, DBAs and nondevelopers and made for an excellent mix. The first question asked was: “Comments, good or evil?” As always with this question it invoked quite some debate between the panellists and from the audience. For me the best quote came from an audience member who observed “If you’re having to implement some crazy business rule that makes your code look like a bug you have to comment it - otherwise someone may come along and fix it!” The next question posed was: “Is PHP an enterprise level language?”. Refreshingly the general opinion of PHP was positive, with some discussion on what really makes an enterprise level language anyway? It was pointed out that to a large extent you really need to be asking are your developers enterprise level developers? The often religious topic of “Singletons - good or evil?” was covered next. It was quickly agreed all round that the single pattern is not bad, but it’s often the implementation that’s evil. All agreed that with IoC the singleton pattern is useful. The final question of the evening was “What’s an appropriate punishment for a developer who breaks the build?” Answers ranged from ‘it should be seen as a positive thing and encouraged’, to ‘I’ll break their legs’! The final comment was that breaking the build means you’ve got a build system in the first place so it’s not all bad. As always the event was excellent, leaving plenty to think about. Judging by the comments and discussion afterwards, it was enjoyed by the other attendees too.
After a short break Paul Grenyer introduced a seven person panel to discuss four predetermined questions. On the panel were: Richard Featherstone Annette Newton Rajiv Ranjan Matthew Wells Geraint Williams Chris Yallop Harry Harrold
SyncDevelopHER is proud to be sponsored by Tipsy and Tumbler.
ARTICLE Brian Bush
I was looking forward to this one. The kick-off event for the new Norwich Tech girls’ developer club.
And finally the excellent Sara Greenfield and the path from London lawyer to ‘The Best’ franchise there is. A very well presented tale of power and achievement in her male dominated role and the reasoning behind the relocation. Who wouldn’t fall in love with Norfolk and want to locate here.
I had met Vickie previously and the creation of SyncDevelopHER seemed sensible and inclusion was a given. So off to the excellent Start Up Lounge for number one, with a fine panel of speakers promised.
Sara not content with one very well managed career now dominates two additional businesses and both helping others to succeed, something I know she does effortlessly it seems, and bloody well. With the added bonus of robot wars, which I did not try as I was too busy chatting, and plenty of networking the night was full but not overloaded.
Attendees were evident from the start with a good number of folks filing in for the pre meeting refreshments. Conversation was in full flow and it was good to chat with a variety of people that I knew for a catch up and some that I did not yet know. I was impressed by the strength and range of the people that had come along.
My overview for the night was compounded by a story passed on by social superstar Julie Bishop. When employed previously to sell cars she was asked to cut her hair so she could look more manlike. And there is the problem and the reason we need SyncDevelopHER at all.
Onto the speakers who were all excellent. Great content very well delivered but all with a different approach made for an engaging and thought provoking night. Robin and Jess journeyed us through the education sector with their dreams of gaming and were impressive in both ability and passion to do what they loved. They featured on female role models in the gaming industry and, alongside the list of women provided post event, I would suggest a mirror could be useful. These girls are good.
Too many men think that women belong in a kitchen or a maternity ward producing their offspring and not competing in business. I think that is utterly wrong as it is about ability and not what side of the chromosome fence you sit. So SyncDevelopHERs of Norwich you are great and more power to you. As long as you’re good at whatever it is you do then I for one would be happy with more female representation across the board and on the board too.
Next up was Cat and her journey through education with a lack of awareness to the future all too often evident in education now. It is difficult to get inspiration of a career trajectory as a student from teachers who have always taught and this was very evident in this presentation. Cat took us through her search and discovery of roles and the path that ended in her very self-styled position at Virgin Wines. And the qualifications are stacking up too!
This was a great number 1 event and well done Vickie for the idea to both develop and develop this group. I look forward to the second in the series and would recommend to all that you come along and explore the events and involve yourself in them. A truly engaging night. Great people with great stories to tell that served as an inspiration to all who attended.
Next up was Rachael Lawson who served up a different tale of her journey through to development and was more challenging in relation to the aspirations of the audience - ensuring nobody was asleep. The gathered were required to list what they do in comparison to what they thought they would. A variety of career paths were detailed and discussed. An entertaining and content rich presentation.
Come along soon.
When Pete Roome and Rob Barwell left Norwich for their big break in the big smoke, you could be forgiven for thinking that NRUG might die there and then. This is not the case. The group is now in the very capable hands of Matthew Bennett-Lovesey. There were lots of new faces tonight or at least faces that were new to me at this NRUG event. Ben Hammond works at Further and has moved from Perl to Ruby. Mark Hannant is a senior SEO consultant, also at Further. Kieron Johnson is a freelance ruby developer. Rob Anderson works for Payment Card Solutions, a Rails and Ruby shop, who also sponsored the refreshments this evening.
Foxes & Badgers
The venue for this NRUG was Further, an award-winning online marketing & SEO agency. Their offices are in The Old Church on St. Matthews Road in Norwich. They were very nice indeed.
NRUG October Review
Rapid Development with Ruby, Sinatra, Bootstrap CSS, DataMapper and SQLite Phil Howard (https://twitter.com/Gadgetoid)
Beer Driven Development Matthew Bennett-Lovesey (https://twitter.com/undecisive)
Sinatra is an alternative to Rails. Phil took us through a simple example of how to create a basic web application, complete with security.
Matt explored the differences between TDD (Test Driven Development) and BDD (Behaviour Driven Development), although he replaced Behaviour in BDD with Beer for comic effect.
The process looked very quick and easy and the application itself was aesthetically pleasing, but then Sinatra use Bootstrap, so you would expect it to be.
There appear to be two camps of people when it comes to BDD. Those who see it as a better TDD and those who see it as more than a development practice and as a wider process of requirements capture that involves lots of collaboration between the customer and the development team.
Data Mapper is an ORM (Object Relational Mapper) implementation of Active Record. Unfortunately it is no longer being developed. Phil took us through an example where he use Data Mapper to persist Fox objects and Badger objects, both types of Animal object to a database. In true ORM style, Data Mapper took care of creating the database tables and relationships and generated the code to persist and retrieve them. Phil modified the retrieval code to bring back either animal randomly and then pitched them against each other in a Top Trumps style.
Matt started off by describing to us what TDD is and then went on to describe how it differed from BDD at a practical level. There were lots of examples, including lots of Ruby code. Ruby is often described as being better than Java for one reason or another, but I think Java has the upper hand in unit testing frameworks due to its use of annotations, while Ruby still uses inheritance to create test fixtures.
There was lots of discussion about how ORMs work and how people either did or didn’t like writing SQL. The example Phil demonstrated used single table inheritance and there was some discussion on about the pros and cons versus multiple table inheritance.
There was a lot of discussion on the real benefits of using TDD over not using it. Some people still struggle with the idea that the extra time taken to write the tests can save you exponentially more time later that would otherwise be lost to bug fixing.
One drawback of Data Mapper is that it doesn’t support pagination. Surely every ORM should support that?
These really were two excellent presentations and with all the banter and audience participation it was 10.30pm before people started to leave.
CHRIS J. BENNETT www.acdigitalstudio.co.uk
Talk by Ansar Ali Norfolk Network October Review
the excellent drawing itself, it goes to show just how difficult it can be to run a business, something almost all of us listening could relate to. Ansar has worked almost exclusively in the automotive sector, but his experiences with business, with customers and with the often dreaded supply chain hit home regardless of which sector anyone else works with. One of his greatest successes with Caterham was transitioning the company focus from engineering to marketing, creating a customer experience to recover from falling sales. And it succeeded. “We invested in our community of customers, and held events where they could come and race their cars.”
This month the Norfolk Network held its October speaker’s event at The Curve in the basement of the Forum.
Staying true to the business plan came up again and again in his talk; a simple yet difficult piece of advice to actually follow. We all know how tempting it can be to change plans when events go against what was expected. The real excitement came when Ansar spoke about his new company, Zenos Cars. There were many requests for samples among the audience, myself included. In this new venture, Ansar and his colleagues can bring their extensive experience to the table and craft a driving experience on a par with the absurdly expensive cars we all dream about owning, yet for a fraction of the price.
A delightful and personal little space which set the backdrop to a fascinating talk from Ansar Ali, Co-founder of new sports car company Zenos Cars. Ansar has more than an impressive pedigree, having held the positions of CEO at Caterham Cars and GM at Lotus. It was from his time in these, among other businesses, that he draws a wealth of experience; the ups and downs of which formed the bulk of his thoroughly entertaining talk. Everyone has heard of Lotus, every enthusiast of Caterham, so to hear what went on behind the scenes - the hard work, the difficulties, the triumphs and the tragedies was both a pleasure and a real insight. One of the hardest things to face in business is when things don’t go according to plan, and that is exactly what happened when Ansar and his team took over management at Caterham Cars, a successful family-run business that started in the early 70’s. “We started out with a solid business plan”, says Ansar. And this is when the problems began. Ali explained that shortly after had he taken over the reins of Caterham, Rover went into administration. Normally this would not have been a problem, except that Rover were Ansar’s sole engine suppliers.
Questions about the engineering techniques were asked, most of which flew well above my level of expertise, but which clearly showed the innovations in technology, particularly materials research, which are being invested in at Zenos. Based at the Hethel Engineering Centre, Zenos are able to take full advantage of the site and the industry connections which enable it to be such a great place for startup incubation. Zenos has a bright future no doubt, and we should all be excited to see their first car roll off the production line early next year. The inevitable follow up talk, some months ahead for sure, is guaranteed to be even more fascinating. Hopefully there will be free samples this time around.
“We basically thought we had to throw out the entire business plan, 3 months after writing it”, Ansar explained with a laugh, “but the real key to our success was actually to stick with it. Staying true to our original plan gave us the business structure to continue through the hard times.” Hard times indeed. Ansar went on to show us a wonderful illustration (gifted to him when he left Caterhaam) which detailed all the successes and failures of his time there in the form of a twisting and turning racecourse. Besides
Ansar Ali Co-founder, Zenos Cars
Norwich Sound and Vision Festival:
VICK SMITH Vick Smith is a Social Media Consultant at GYSocialMedia Great Yarmouth. @gysocialmedia www.gysocialmedia.co.uk
Interactive Conference (Thurs 10th Oct)
Matt Stafford from Student UpStarts supports students and graduates starting enterprises. Advice, support and funding were highlighted by the panellists as essential factors in giving young people and budding entrepreneurs the confidence to progress their ideas, concepts and fledgling businesses.
Shaping up, starting up and going medieval at the Arts Centre There was a tangible buzz in Norwich’s St. Benedicts Street, with at least 14 venues hosting the festival. I attended three Interactive Conference sessions, where a steady flow of surprising and game changing insights were delivered by a range of panel guests and speakers.
What are the merits of involving angels and VCs and what percentage would you expect to give to a VC? That would depend on the venture; investors usually need to achieve around ten times their initial investment. Panellist Tom Kristensen said:
Can tech make us healthier? ‘Can tech make us healthier?’ took us through the progress being made in health technology such as phone apps and jogging wristbands. But such mass-market applications of the available technology aren’t the whole story. Our host, Travis Lee Street, led the discussion on other ways to make the most of health tech.
“Giving 10% of your profit to an incubator or VC is not as bad as it sounds.”
Louis-Joseph Auguste of CookieSmart told us about his experiences in trying to obtain emergency blood test results at the scene of an environmental disaster such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake. His venture Open Mobile Telepathology aims to provide doctors in developing countries with access to the expertise of developed nations.
Pitches to the panel followed, from a variety of emerging businesses and initiatives; each was given a time limit to pitch and take Q&A from the experts. Businesses taking part included Zealify, which aims to connect SMEs with graduates and @microcinema, specialising in cultural broadcasts for hotel receptions and other waiting areas.
Dr David Plans from Biobeats, who aims to merge entertainment and healthcare, emphasised the importance of moving from transactional apps to emotionally intelligent apps. He’s keen for products to evolve from focussing on sports applications to helping people to deal with the things like stress and anxiety that make life a struggle.
Digital Medieval My final session was the keynote speech from Jeremy Silver, creator of popular app Shazam and author of the book Digital Medieval. He proposes that the current digital landscape is beginning to form walled cities reminiscent of the medieval age. But rather than physical cities, digital cities are emerging, such as Google and Apple’s communities of passionately loyal users. He likened the recent battles over Intellectual Property Rights between companies like Samsung and Apple to battles from the age of empires ardent factions all waging war for supremacy. Even in the world of politics, representatives of Google have been in talks with global politicians on an equal footing to tackle the new challenges brought about by the merging of digital and more familiar ‘cities’. This could be a vision for the future.
Mike Bartlett, co-founder of Geneix, is working with the NHS on smart data solutions that will allow genetic information and health records to be integrated with prescribing processes. This will ensure any medication proposed for a patient matches both their genetic make-up and their medical history. The technologies already exist to test blood or stress levels and directly control the dispensing of essential drugs into our bloodstreams; all that’s needed is for the tech projects to work together to achieve this. Start ups: Pitching and seeking investment Next, a new panel of investor venture capitalists (VCs), angels, accelerators and entrepreneurs joined the Interactive Conference.
For more about the festival you can find my tweets from the day via the #nsv2013 hashtag and @gysocialmedia. The official feeds can be found here: @nsoundandvision @syncnorwich.
Norfolk Indie Game Developers October Review This month’s social meet up for Norfolk Indie Game Developers (NIGD) saw many more students and educational members in attendance which created an exciting mix for conversations. This was the first event that I had organised, and although I was apprehensive at first about whether people would show up, I was very pleasantly surprised!
ROBIN SILCOCK www.robinsilcock.com
The evening saw discussions of how Games is taught at the different universities in Norwich, and how the relationship between artist and programmer can sometimes be hard, but always rewarding. Members of large companies, hobbyists and independents alike all networked like pros at the event, and I managed to hand out a few business cards myself! NIGD is always looking to foster and facilitate collaborations between their members, and now that my university Norwich University of the Arts - is officially involved with the group, I also expect to see a lot more student collaborations. Details can be found on the meetup.com page:
I would like to welcome any prospective members of the group to our next meeting on the 20th November; this month we are hosting a Game Club (much like a Book Club) where two games are featured and discussed in an evening by the members.
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norfolktechjournal.com Email [email protected]
Winter is Coming
One week from now tickets for the Norfolk Developer’s conference (NorDevCon) go on sale. NorDevCon is a one day Agile and tech conference in the heart of Norfolk, in the heart of winter. Details of the keynote presentations and speakers, as well as some other highlights from NorDevCon can be found below. From 1st November you can buy your ticket here:
Winter is Coming Opening Keynote
JASON GORMAN Jason has worked with teams at the BBC, City Index, Electronic Arts, Higher Education Statistics Agency, BUPA, British Standards Institute, The Post Office, Merrill Lynch HSBC, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Orange, Lloyds TSB, AOL, Reed Business Information and Symbian, and many more.
Software Apprenticeships: This Time It’s Personal There has been much talk about apprenticeships for software developers, but between employers, academia and practitioners we’ve struggled to find a model that works for proper long-term apprenticeships. After nearly a decade of personal research into the problem, I’m embarking on my first apprenticeship with Computer Science undergraduate Will Price, applying an experimental model where experienced practitioners like me coach and mentor young programmers directly. In this presentation, I’ll outline our simple apprenticeship model and the experience we’re having with it, as well as discuss the wider problems of long-term software apprenticeships, and how our model might let us finally have our cake and eat it.
Jason chairs the Software Craftsmanship conference in the UK, and is a contributor to other conferences including QCon, Software Practice Advancement, XPDay, Agile Finland, JAX London and CITCON Europe. His web site, parlezuml.com, has been visited by more than a million software professionals since 2003, and his free tutorials on use cases, UML, OO design and Test-driven Development have had more than 500,000 downloads.
Building on SOLID Foundations Why can’t we just add a feature to our system without tearing the code apart or, worse, patching around it? It ought to take just a few lines. We know the code is supposed to be modular and coherent, but too often it just doesn’t turn out that way. We don’t believe it should be this hard to change objectoriented systems. We’ve seen examples where it really is that easy to add a new feature. The difference seems to be in the intermediate level structure. The design principles that most programmers rely on don’t address the middle ground where the complexity lies. We know about principles and patterns at the small scale, such as SOLID, and the large scale, such as REST. We’re less familiar with the structures in the middle. This talk is about design principles that we’ve learned help us develop mid-scale code structures that are easy to read and easy to change. At the lowest level, this means well-known patterns such as avoiding globals and following SOLID guidelines. At larger scales, this means assembling those SOLID objects to avoid hidden coupling so that the system as a whole is amenable to change. We focus on how objects fit together and communicate, and on being clear about how capabilities and information flow between objects in the running system.
Nat Pryce is a co-author of Growing Object-Oriented Software Guided by Tests. An early adopter of XP, he has written or contributed to several open source libraries and tools that support TDD and was one of the founding organisers of the London XP Day conference. He has worked as a programmer, architect, trainer, and consultant in a variety of industries, including sports reportage, marketing communications, retail, media, telecoms and finance. He has delivered systems ranging from embedded devices to large compute farms supporting global business.
Steve Freeman, author of Growing Object Oriented Software, Guided by Tests (Addison-Wesley), was a pioneer of Agile software development in the UK. He has developed software for a range of institutions, from small vendors to multinational investment banks. Steve trains and consults for software teams around the world. Previously, he has worked in research labs and software houses, earned a PhD (Cambridge), written shrink-wrap applications for IBM, and taught at University College London. Steve is a presenter and organiser at international industry conferences, and was chair of the first London XPDay.
Ticket go on sale on 1st November at 9am There are 50 Super Early Bird tickets at £50 + fees and 450 Early Bird tickets at £75 + fees. We are offering significant discounts for students and the unemployed. Please email [email protected]
for details. There are 80 places for the conference dinner (3 courses, 2 glasses of wine and speakers!) and tickets are £35 + fees. The Virgin Wines reception is free to attend for conference attendees and there are 80 places. You can buy your tickets here:
Winter is Coming
LIZ KEOGH Liz is an experienced Lean and Agile consultant and well-known international speaker. Coming from a strong technical background, her work covers a wide variety of topics, from software development and architecture to psychology and complexity thinking. She is best known for her involvement in the BDD community, and was awarded the Gordon Pask award in 2010 for deepening existing ideas in the space and “coming up with some pretty crazy ones of her own”.
CHRIS O’DELL Chris O’Dell is a Lead Developer at 7digital, one of London’s premier digital download companies, where she heads up the API team. She has nearly ten years experience working on the backends of web based services, primarily in .Net, most recently focussing on Web APIs.
10 years of Doing Behaviour -Driven Development All Wrong 10 years ago, Dan North first came up with the idea of BDD: using examples in conversation to explore the behaviour of systems, then carrying those examples into code. Since then, we’ve learnt a lot about how BDD works, how it works best, and how it can fail horribly! Even the most experienced BDD practitioners have learnt a lot from their failures… but what were they? And how are we failing now? In this talk, Liz takes a look at things we said back then which we shouldn’t have, ways in which we abused BDD more than we used it, and things that we’re still doing all wrong today. Come along to see the mistakes, listen to the stories, and hear the apologies!
Continuous Delivery at 7digital – An Experience Report An introduction to Continuous Delivery, it’s purpose and benefits, and how we achieved it at 7digital. An overview of the technical and people changes we made, and the impact these had – both good and bad, followed by a “A Day in a Life of a Change at 7digital”.
Chris has a keen interest in Test Driven Development, Continuous Delivery and Agile development practices. She lives in London and in her spare time has begun learning to play the Cello.
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Hybrid Mobile Project : Best Practices and an Introduction to using IBM Worklight What Hybrid Mobile Project: Best practices and an introduction to using IBM Worklight
When Wednesday, December 4, 2013 6.30 - 9.30pm
Where Virgin Wines 4th Floor, St James’ Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN
http://www.meetup.com/Norfolk-Developers-NorDev/ events/141440522/ Free to attend
Andrew consults for IBM Software Services, working with IBM customers on mobile technologies, especially Dojo Mobile and IBM Worklight. He has presented extensively on Dojo, Mobile, REST, and Web APIs, contributing Intellectual Capital to the IBM and WebSphere communities, as well as writing two IBM Redbooks, and numerous posts on Dojo Tips ‘n’ Tricks and SOA Tips ‘n’ Tricks, both of which he co-founded. He also regularly speaks at internal and external customer conferences, including IBM IMPACT and the European WebSphere Technical Conference. Previously, he worked with WebSphere ESB and WebSphere Process Server.
Vladimir started his career in IBM MQ Development and recently joined IBM Software Services to get more involved with mobile technologies. Since joining the team he focused on rapid prototype development leading proof of concept projects, participated in customer workshops and provided support to other team members with Android native development. With passion in mobile technologies, Vladimir has experience with mobile application development in Worklight and Android native as well as several Prior Art publications focusing on optimising software processes to reduce battery consumption on mobile devices.
What Sync Norwich Christmas Dinner
SyncNorwich brings together a huge variety of people from tech companies across the county, from large organisations to people working on their own.
12th December 2013 @ 7pm
SyncNorwich have organized a Christmas party at Beluga, in Norwich city centre so that everyone can get together and talk tech. There are forty places and partners are welcome. Three courses are being offered for £22 per head. Payment will be taken at time of booking. Please sign-up on the meetup site and choose from the menu.
Where Beluga Eaterie & Bar 11 Queen St, City Centre, Norwich NR2 4SQ
Sign up [£22 per head] http://www.meetup.com/syncnorwich/ events/143399192/
Test Driven Development Doesn’t Mean Test First // PAUL GRENYER
I’m a fraud and here’s why. I am a huge advocate of Test Driven Development (TDD). I’ve even written an introduction to TDD (http://paulgrenyer.net/An_Introduction_to_Test_ Driven_Development.pdf). In his book Test Driven Development by Example (http://www.amazon.co.uk/ Driven-Development-Addison-Wesley-Signature-Series/ dp/0321146530/) Kent Beck defines TDD as a process where you must write tests for code before writing the code itself. Therefore if you’re doing TDD you have to write the tests first, right? Wrong!
There are many advantages to TDD. The two that stand out for me are loosely coupled code and code that’s easy to test (obviously). Actually by making your code easy to test it becomes loosely coupled and easy to change by default and that’s the point I’m making. If you want to get the green bar and have high code coverage then you need to make your code testable. Writing the tests first forces you to make your code testable, but it’s not the only way. If your tests are automated and measuring code coverage is automated or better still your continuous integration system runs your tests and measures the code coverage you’re forced to make your code testable.
I really feel like unburdening, so here’s another admission. I’m addicted to the green bar and high code coverage percentages. For those that are unfamiliar with the green bar, it’s a feature of the JUnit (and other testing framework) GUI. If all your tests pass you get a green bar. If any of your tests fail, you get a red bar. I’m addicted to the green bar, I can’t sleep without it.
The key, when writing your code, is to think about how you’re going to test it and write the tests soon after. This is a skill that has to be learnt and the best way to learn it is to start test first. Once you have it nailed though, you too will become addicted to the green bar and high code coverage. Of course you still have to write the tests, before you’ve written too much code, and refactor to remove duplicate code. It’s important to keep running the tests and to make sure they pass every time you make a change to the code. Many developers are lazy and don’t bother.
There are tools that allow you to measure how much of your code is exercised by your tests as a percentage. Usually anything over 80% coverage is considered good. I always strive for 100%, but usually achieve high 90s. I can’t sleep without high code coverage either. It’s very important that you bear these two vices in mind as you read on as they give me a discipline that not all software developers have. This isn’t because I’m some super software developer. It’s an affliction, believe me. If you don’t have this discipline, write your tests first.
My affliction means that if I’m lazy, I don’t sleep. It’s a curse.
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