A fresh approach to development

Developing a brand new Product from scratch can be [or is] a daunting task. Especially when you have a big vision that you know is going to take significant time to develop but you need to get something to market quickly to ensure your idea has potential.

Nearly every development decision is a catch 22, where you know you can either do things the right way or the quick way but not both. You constantly need to juggle building good foundations while also delivering features that advance the product. No one likes to know they will need to rebuild things in the future but sometimes that is the trade off that needs to be made.

When you try to couple all of these requirements to a development approach there is no single perfect approach and what works for some won’t work for others.

It was therefore refreshing to read Shape Up – Stop Running in Circles and 
Ship Work that Matters by Ryan Singer

Anyone who has followed Basecamp will know that the founders are quite opinionated and always challenging the status quo. For example the following is an excerpt from the forward of the book:

For one, we’re not into waterfall or agile or scrum. For two, we don’t line walls with Post-it notes. For three, we don’t do daily stand ups, design sprints, development sprints, or anything remotely tied to a metaphor that includes being tired and worn out at the end. No backlogs, no Kanban, no velocity tracking, none of that.

Shape Up Forward by Jason Fried

The book makes some bold statements and a lot of their ideas can be challenged but overall it was very thought provoking and has a very constructive approach to product development. Based on the success of Basecamp the approach has certainly worked for them.

The approach won’t suit everyone and we for one have adapted some of their concepts and will continue to do so as we get a feel for how the process works.

One of the big things for me is that it empowers the developers and demoralises a lot of the decisions. At the same time giving them “uninterrupted time” and “longer cycles” means they have time to research, investigate and weigh the benefits of how to implement intended features. If they feel that solid foundations are required that’s up to them, but they are also clear on the deliverable expectations in ‘exchange’ for this freedom.

Time will tell how well it works for us, buts many of the concepts resonated with my personal experience and the start of a new year is a great time to try something new.

Making a start…

Quite often things take longer then expected! But today marks the official start of something new.

Ive been trying to get something off the ground for over 12 months and after a few misguided attempts today marked the incorporation of a new business.

We’ve got a lot ahead of us before we’ll be in a position to talk about it but it is a great feeling to have my own business again.

Today marks the point where various prototypes from the last 6 months get put to the side and we start development of what will hopefully be v1 of our product.

Getting started is always a hump to get over, but while we have lots of challenges ahead of us as we begin to build a new business from the ground up, we now have a single minded goal and focus to aim at.

The first computer bug…

…her crew helped to popularize the terms bug and debugging. The Mark II version of the Harvard computer was in a building without window screens. One night the machine conked out, and the crew began looking for the problem. They found a moth with a wingspan of four inches that had gotten smashed in one of the electromechanical relays. It was retrieved and paster into the log book with Scotch tape. “Panel F (moth) in relay,” the entry noted. “First actual case of bug being found.” From then on, they referred to ferreting out glitches as “debugging the machine”

From: The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

BIM in the Cloud

The cloud is receiving a huge amount of hype and many industries are latching on to the benefits and having huge success (my favorite, for example, being Xero)

Building Information Modelling (BIM) with it’s large file size, high end graphic requirements and team collaboration approach presents a number of hurdles in regard to adopting a cloud solution.

The topic for this post has been on my list for a long time now so I was quietly stoked to see that Viktor the CEO of GRAPHISOFT has saved me the time and written “Debunking the Myths About BIM in the Cloud”

For further reading you may also want to check out:

The Cloud: Hope or Hype

BIM and the Cloud

BIM and the Cloud, Part 2: The Economics of Private Cloud Computing

Jason Fried – Get Real – Inc.com

I have written before about the book Rework and also Getting Real by the same authors.

One of the authors, Jason Fried, also has a column on Inc that is well worth a review.

Articles I really enjoyed include:

Don’t Exaggerate Your Size

Why I Run a Flat Company

Go Ahead, Raise Your Business’s Prices

I find the way Jason writes is very straight forward and to the point – much like the software his company 37Signals creates!

Ikea and Augmented Reality

I’ve talked a little about Augmented Reality over the last couple of years and have seen many use cases, though many have seemed a little too gimmicky to me and not very practical.

Although this news is over a year old not I have only just come across it and I think Ikea have done a great job in showing a really practical use for AR and also have taken a step at revolutionising their product catalog.

Using their application you can actually place Ikea furniture in your house / office / room and see how it will look. The app uses your phones camera to show the room and places the required objects, which then can be photographed even though they don’t exist!

This is especially good for any New Zealander’s who want to take photos of their house with Ikea furniture – which is still not available in NZ!

Here is a video showcasing the IKEA iPhone application:

Barajas Airport

pano3_small_white

Last week I was in Madrid for 4 days.

It isn’t too surprising that the first piece of ‘local’ architecture I experienced was the relatively new Terminal 4 at  Barajas-Madrid Airport.

Actually completed in 2004 the new Terminal along with it’s associated Satelitte terminal were not opened until 2006.

The terminal was designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers, and like a number of recently completed airports has an amazing sense of space.

One thing I found particularly interesting once I started researching the airport is that it was the Worlds 11th Busiest Airport in 2008 – something I found hard to believe as it was a virtual ghost town the day I arrived. Though more surprising was the fact that in the last 24 months I have passed through 10 of the top 13 busiest airports!

A couple of side notes:

  • My camera has a panaramic function but no sticthing software (work that one out!) So I searched the Internet and found AutoStitch – which I used to compile the picture above (make sure you open up the full image) The image is actually constructed of 14 photos with the righthand end having two rows of images. I was amazed to fine AutoStitch managed to compile them all together automatically – I didn’t even need to assemble them in a rough order!
  • The architecture of the airport interested me to the extent I wanted to see how effectively I could model it in ArchiCAD with some of the Tools we develop – check out the results here.

Go Global from Day One

Another of the great speakers at Morgo was Bill Reichert from Garage Ventures who presented his new rules for Entrepneurs.

Andy Lark has covered these very well on his blog.

I especially like rule number 6 “Be global day one.” While this doesn’t mean you need to sell globally and open offices around the world from day one, it does mean you need a global mindset in which to build your business on.
New Zealand is a great place to do business but on the world scale we are an extremely small economy and, if you have a very specific market (eg Architects), it can be extremely limited.

Constantly thinking about how you can build your business globally opens up new markets and large opportunities and also enforces an ‘efficiency mentality’ where you need to consider in a wider context, and in a context where you may never meet your customers face-to-face.

In this day and age the internet has made doing business globally a natural extension to many businesses especially software. Being able to communicate easily and undertake business electronically has broken down all the historic barriers to exporting. This is extremely beneficial to business like ours that are based on the opposite side of the world to our major markets.

In my opinion going global actually enhances a business from a New Zealand point of view – Not only for the founders but more importantly for our local customers. Our New Zealand customers benefit hugely from our international businesses as they get the ongoing benefits of innovation that directly help their work without the cost that would be incurred if we were only selling to New Zealand.

Google making some Interesting Moves

Over the last few weeks Google have been announcing some really cool stuff. All of it designed to move people more towards cloud computing.

The first announcement was Google Wave which Rod from Xero has explained better than I could.

In the last few days they have made a head-on assault on moving people away from Exchange Server to Google Apps and also providing Blackberry Syncronisation.

This does look interesting, it will be interesting to see what move if any Microsoft have in waiting: