Here at the FT we have been trialling a new method (at least for us!) of beginning a software development project. Essentially, the entire team (developers, testers, product owners) assemble in a room with the aim of producing a quick and dirty prototype based off a given value statement. We also invite people from other teams who have an interest in what we’re about to do: either they’re going to use the functionality we are developing or they need to provide us with something for it to work. We call this a QuickStart session.
The idea is that we learn about complexity to a good level of detail early on, allowing us to provide reasonable, evidence-based estimates to the business.
“The automation tests are passing at around 80% so I think we’re good to release”
We’ve heard this expression before and it doesn’t bode well. We release code into the production environment and within a few days a new defect is reported.
“How did this get missed?” asks the editor.
We have recently experimented with some dev-first approaches for some distinctly different scenarios
- riffing on a specific theme; generating and exploring lots of ideas quickly
- starting a tech-architecture-heavy project
and were very happy with the outcomes.
tl;dr The essence of both approaches is
- get the core group sitting in the same room for a day (Co-location is great. Who knew?)
- dump all possibly relevant information into the mix at the start
- let the developers have a play
- see what happens
What follows in this post is a more detailed look at the approach we took for …
Riffing on a specific theme; generating and exploring lots of ideas quickly
Take a sprite, a stage and a script, and what have you got? While it might sound like a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, these are actually the building blocks of Code Club, a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. Code Club aims to bring IT professionals together with local schools to help encourage children to learn the basics of programming and have fun at the same time.
Through the support of John O’Donovan, FT Technology became involved with Code Club earlier this year. Michael Mentessi from Code Club came in to give us a crash course in volunteering and using Scratch (a programming language developed by MIT), and in April we started volunteering at two local schools in the London Borough of Southwark. Continue reading “The Code Club Experience”
In 2011 the Financial Times made a strategic decision to use the Force.com platform for a number of key initiatives.
Salesforce was already embedded as a CRM (the ‘Sales Cloud’) for a subset of sales users. However, over an 18 month period the scope of this would be increased substantially; with all 2000+ employees having some level of access to Salesforce.
A suite of applications would be built on the Force.com platform supporting a broad church of business processes; from FT online subscriptions….to employee holiday requests ….from print advertising bookings….to cataloging equipment for journalists (such as flak jackets). Continue reading “Salesforce at the FT – Orgs, Objects, and Runways”
The FT was delighted to host the Women who Code London meetup on Tuesday 22nd July.
Women who Code is a global movement inspiring women to excel in technology careers. They provide an avenue into technology, empower women with skills needed for professional advancement, and provide environments where networking and mentorship are valued.
Not only did we each get a nice warm hoodie for winning the Glasgow #newsHACK #EditorsLab hackathon event in May 2014, the FT team was offered a paid trip to the Global Editors Network #EditorsLab hackathon final in June, in Barcelona, along with the winners of all the other GEN #EditorsLab regional hackathons. So we went, and this is how we did and how we did it.
If the following is tl;dr, you can skip to the hack itself, or the slides of the presentation.
Continue reading “Cut To The Chase – the prototype, trials, taxis, and tapas”
What you are about to read is a story of DevOps monitoring,
and the solution one brave team found.