Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:59:00 GMT)

Rails Code Audits and Reviews, continued

Posted by Mon, 18 Jun 2007 16:47:00 GMT

In response to my article, Audit Your Rails Development Team, Tim Case writes,

“I think what you are doing has value and I’ve been anticipating that someone in the rails community would step up and do this, hence the question I posed because I’ve thought about that thorny issue too. I have a feeling Planet Argon is making the first step in a direction that has been building, Peer review has the potential to be positive for the entire community, provided that it’s shepherded properly and with care.”

It’s been just over a year since we first made a public announcement of our Rails Code Audit and Review service and we’ve had different types of clients inquire about it. We make sure to call it a code audit and review because we’re not aiming to only point out flaws. We see our service as a way to help stake holders gauge the capabilities of their developers while also providing developers with some more insight to how things could be done differently. There are a lot of developers using Ruby on Rails now and it’s safe to say that there are many that aren’t very good yet. Some may argue that the ease of getting started with Rails makes it easy for inexperienced developers to stay just good enough and never take the next step. We’ve seen some beautiful code and we’ve seen some horrific code. Some of our clients have made the tough decision to fire their existing freelancers after we’ve completed our analysis… but we’ve seen several situations where our clients were happier with their developers after.

For example, we recently completed a code audit and review for a client, which came to us with some concerns about their development team. Things seemed to be going slower than they thought it would and really wanted to have an outside opinion about the quality of their work. Overall, their application was being developed really well and the biggest problems that they had were related to a lack of testing. So, we’re now walking them through the process of integrating RSpec into their development process. Their development team admitted that they suffered from a lack of testing, but were very honest about the fact that they just didn’t know where to begin as it wasn’t something they had time to learn before. We’ve been able to provide them with some direction and now we’re available to answer questions and review their work from time to time. The outcome was good for everyone. The developers are better off because their manager has more confidence in them. The manager has more confidence in the product as a whole and knows exactly where his team should focus their attention on next. We’ve gained a new Rails consulting client and get to help them with their cool project.

While we love working on entire projects from start to finish, we also love working with other developers and development teams. This has been one of our favorite types of client relationships. We’re currently working with a handful of people as they work their way through the project life cycle and we’re always a phone call, Basecamp message, or email away from assisting them. I feel that these types of services are important to the Rails community, because we’ve witnessed situations where clients were unhappy with Rails because they weren’t happy with their developers. We’ve seen people drop Rails in favor of something else because of the poor quality of code that was being written in Rails. When bad perceptions spread, it’s bad for the community as a whole.

What we can do, is become the backup team for the client and/or development team. Should they run into any weird deployment issues at 2am on a Sunday morning or aren’t able to track down the cause of some performance issue, we’re another set of people that can help out. While we don’t know every nook and cranny of our consulting clients’ applications, we do have a good understanding of them. This allows us to dive in and help more quickly than we can for clients that call us for the first time a few hours after they had an emergency.

It’s my opinion that these types of services are very valuable and highly encourage other consultancies in the Rails community to offer them.

If you’re part of a development team and/or a freelance developer and looking for this sort of relationship, please contact us to see how we can assist you.

Rails Business: Weekly Review #2

Posted by Mon, 18 Jun 2007 05:26:00 GMT

First of all, I’d like to welcome the more than fifty people that have joined the Rails Business group since my last post. Over the past week, there were less posts, but we did cover a few important topics, which may be of interest to you.

Subcontracting

Michael Breen asked a few questions about subcontracting for larger firms and how people set their rates when doing this. Several of the responses provided some personal experiences (good and bad) of being a subcontractor on large projects. Where some risks are and how to negotiate your rates, when applicable.

Read the discussion

Change Requests

Nick Coyne started a discussion on how to manage change requests in an Agile development process.

Dealing with large clients

There was also a discussion about how to go about responding to a 150 page RFP for a large client. A few of us offered our experiences of bidding on large projects. Read more

Join the Community

The list is about to pass 400 members and it’s already proving to be a valuable resource for all of you entrepreneurs out there. I encourage you all to introduce yourself.

Hug Your Designer Day, part 2

Posted by Wed, 23 May 2007 21:04:00 GMT

In an effort to increase awareness of the importance of good Interaction and Interface Design in Web Development… I suggested that today be... Hug Your Designer Day.

Designers Versus Developers

Are you seeing a lot of this in your Design and Development teams?


Allison Beckwith, Experience Director and Graeme Nelson, Lead Architect

Happy Designers and Happy Developers

Well, maybe it’s time that your developers gave your designers a hug…


Alain Bloch, Web Developer and Chris Griffin, User Interface Designer

Also… to celebrate Hug Your Designer Day, Amy Hoy was kind enough to post her slides and some audio that I recorded of her talk at RailsConf 07.

Let’s all take a moment to thank the designers who put the experience of the users first. The success of our projects rely on everyone working together. Hug Your Designer! (they might hug back…)

Heading to Portland for RailsConf... by foot

Posted by Wed, 16 May 2007 21:21:00 GMT

Yay! It’s almost conference time… and I’m almost completely thrilled!

Why am I not more thrilled? Well, mainly because RailsConf is being hosted here in Portland, which means that I don’t get to travel by train like we did last year via The Argon Express. (ah… the memories)

One perk of being here already… is that I get to act as a tour guide to visitors. For example, earlier today… Josh Susser (hasmanyjosh) joined Graeme and I for lunch in downtown Portland, OR. It was exciting to hear about how he and his fellow Rubyists at Powerset are using Ruby and Rails for various projects. John also spent a few minutes introducing us to Merb, which some people think will become popular in near future. We’re expecting more visitors to come by the offices over the next few days.

Josh Susser and Graeme Nelson

If you’re in Portland already (Wednesday)... you might head over to the Lucky Lab for a game of Werewolf, which I believe Michael Buffington is organizing the event. I’m going to try to make it… maybe I’ll see you there!

Flickr Group

I created a flickr group named RailsConf 2007, and started to use the tag railsconf2007 for flickr photos. I look forward to seeing all your photos from the event!

IRC Channel

As of this afternoon, there are almost 20 people hanging out in #railsconf on freenode. Stop by and introduce yourself!

Portland Revealed

If you haven’t already subscribed to our feed, you might have missed that the PLANET ARGON team has been posting several articles about things to do, see, and drink in Portland during your visit to RailsConf. Here are a few that we’ve posted so far.

You can also peak around GoSeeOregon (a Rails application!) to find places around town to go see.

RailsConf is coming to Beertown

Posted by Thu, 10 May 2007 17:05:00 GMT

The team at PLANET ARGON is continuing a series of blog posts for all of you who are coming to Portland, Oregon for RailsConf 2007. Allison just posted Portland Revealed: Episode 2: Beertown, which provides a list of places to get good beer in Portland… starting at the PDX Airport to other places around the conference center. We even through in a platial map to make the beer hunt easier for you. :-)

Happy Birthday Allison

Posted by Thu, 29 Mar 2007 00:53:00 GMT

This morning was delightful. I woke up to find that 37signals had referenced our website on Signal vs Noise this morning. In particular, they referenced the Rails hosting order form on the PLANET ARGON site. What’s interesting is that Allison created this design over a year and a half ago.. and we’re actually in the process of a complete site redesign, which Chris and Allison are planning to blog about in depth. :-)

There are some discussions within the comments on the blog post about the design decisions that were made, some of which we’ve already begun to address in our redesign process brainstorming (based on google analytic conversion data).

On top of that, today is our Experience Director, Allison Beckwith’s, birthday.

Thanks for the linkage, 37signals!

...and… Happy Birthday Allison!

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