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Interesting Stuff Club

Our monthly round up of anything we’re doing and learning in our own time.


Kirsten

Kirsten

Director
“I think I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I’ve been reading Eric Brechner’s blog. He’s at Microsoft and works on the Xbox project where they’re working hard to get their teams down to a maximum size of ten, and he’s written a few posts about how wasteful large teams are and how efficient you can be in a small team. There’s a really interesting DevOps post in which he discusses how DevOps can seem like a nightmare when you introduce it, but that you’ll learn to love it. He argues that it helps you become a better developer as you’re taking ownership of what you’re shipping, instead of passing it over to someone else to support. By encouraging developers to take ownership of the problems their code introduces, it motivates them to minimise the problems in the first place, thus making them better developers, producing higher quality software. I’d recommend reading his posts, they’re well written, humorous and engaging.”



Rachael

Rachael

Marketing
Since the last Interesting Stuff Club, my book club has been going strong. We met up at the start of February to discuss the first book, The Miniaturist, which thankfully we all thought was woeful. Our second meeting is next week and I’ve yet to read the book (which was a tactical move as I tend to dive straight in, read too quickly and forget what the book was about). Since I set the group up, we’ve gone from 4 members to 7 and a few people have mentioned joining from afar. Interestingly, I saw a post about using Trello for book clubs, so this might be the next step.



Eddy

Eddy

Developer
“I’ve been back on the frontend of a project for the first time in a while, so I’ve had the frontend itch at home too. Early in the week I watched the videos from the Angular 2 conference ng-conf. Angular 2 is written in Typescript which is a superset of ES6 that compiles down to regular ES5 JavaScript. Typescript allows you to use strict type checking during development and other useful things such as annotations, which I think will really set Angular2 apart from the crowd. I’d be interested to put it in for discussion as a candidate for our next project.

One of the talks at ng-conf was Angular + React = Speed, about embedding react components in Angular directives for improved performance. It was really interesting, especially when they compared react to Angular 2, with very similar results. Embedding react components in angular is something Ryan and I have talked about for a while for the Trading Application, which would really benefit from the virtual-dom diffing that makes react so performant on large data sets.



Alvaro

Alvaro

Digital Designer
A few months ago I decided to buy a tutorial course to learn how to design and build an iOS app just using Xcode. I’ve just started getting into it and it’s cool. You don’t have to actually write code, if you don’t want to; it’s really intuitive, so if you want to show certain data, from an API for example, you can link nodes between things. Swift is also really interesting and opens up a whole world of interactions and animations on iOS. I also read an interesting article. The topic is basically that the role of a UX Designer these days, is what a Project Manager would have done traditionally, around 10 years ago. For example, a PM would have carried out all of the research and also been in charge of user testing. Now the PM role is specific to moving pieces and making sure they work. What’s interesting is that a lot of people in senior UX roles now move in to PM roles.”



VJ

VJ

Junior Developer
“I’m really interested in space, and I stumbled across an article which might explain how our universe came to be. There’s a concept called the membrane theory, which suggests that our universe was created by a black hole, and that we could be living in one. It’s all very Interstellar, but it’s really interesting.



James

James

Frontend Developer
“As per Eddy’s recommendation, I’ve been trying out Heroku with a really basic Angular app I created, and it’s really interesting. I looked at potentially using YouTube’s API to create a ‘trending’ videos app to deploy to Heroku, but only for the purposes of my own learning! Way back in August’s ISC I talked about my plans to make a financial app, which I’ve been looking at again, but it’s really hard to find a well supported financial API. Google Finance is no longer supported, Yahoo! Finance  is a bit better, but neither are great.”



Ryan

Ryan

Senior Frontend Developer
A recommended video that I watched this week was Addy Osmani’s “Devtools state of the union“, where Addy runs through some recently added, and some up and coming new features in the developer tools in Chrome. Some great highlights are: the updated network panel that shows a breakdown of each request to show which parts take the longest, along with the ability to sort and filter the requests much easier. A rather exciting addition is sandboxing of vendor code, which is a nice way to prevent the dev tools going into, say jquery or angular when you’re working your way through breakpoints and stack traces. One for the future was the promises tab which will help identify which promises have been resolved and where they were called from. There’s a ton of other stuff along with a nice case study of the profiler to debug some bottlenecks in Wikipedia’s frontend code, its a bit jQuery specific but it was at the jQuery conference!

Another noteworthy mention that I’ve been playing around with is the ampersand.js framework, which I’m finding quite a nice lightweight modular framework in a different ilk to the Angular’s and embers of the world. Heavily based on Backbone, the framework’s got a nice philosophy of composing your js out of really small modules and you can just choose what you need which makes it especially nice for adding some view layer logic into a webpage without the bloat of a full framework or the unorganisation of spaghetti jQuery scripts.

Similar to what Kirsten talked about, I also found an interesting article The Future of the Web Design Agency which also discusses the success and progression of the Web Design Agency. It’s US focused but there are some good observations in there, especially on what clients are looking for from agencies such as community engagement/blogging etc, which is something we do really well at UVD.


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