Hello. We deliver software, hewn from pure thought, using a pickaxe made of inspiration.
Founded in 2009, Go Free Range is a worker co-operative with some of the most experienced application developers in the UK.
We pair our extensive development experience with the complementary non-development skills necessary to give software projects the best chance of success.
As worker-owners we have a vested interest in your project: success for you means success for us.
We work really hard to add value beyond being just units of developer resource. We’re a fully fledged team that work well together, and have done for many years. We think we’re most effective when working closely with the client to shape the direction of the product.
FutureLearn MOOC Platform
FutureLearn, a start-up founded by the Open University, approached us in April 2013 to help build the first UK platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs). We jumped at the chance to get involved in such an exciting project!
We played an important role in the team from the beginning; promoting a strong agile development culture as we helped ensure the platform was ready for the public launch in September 2013, and then again for the uncapped courses in January 2014.
We think it’s a great project, with a great team, and we’re proud to have been involved.
Government Single Domain
We worked with GDS to help deliver the “Single Domain Project” for the UK government. The aim of the project is to deliver a simpler, smaller, nimbler, cheaper and better gov.uk domain for citizens and businesses to interact with the government and its services. This involves consolidating services from the multitude of existing government agency websites into a single, modern and usable system.
Our specific role was to develop a platform to allow the various government departments and agencies to communicate with the public about their policies, publications and goals in a uniform way to increase the clarify, usefulness and reusability of that information.
In 2010 O2 asked us to help them explore new approaches to software development, database technologies and open collaboration with their customers. We built a working prototype / beta replicating one of O2’s existing products which let customers access text messages online. Working iteratively, we designed and built an API to securely expose this data, and #blue, a front-end application which consumed this data.
We then worked with O2 to scale and integrate the service directly into O2’s data network, allowing it to support hundreds of thousands of customers, whilst remaining responsive to the feedback and direction provided by the users of #blue. After getting their development team up to speed, we handed over development of #blue to O2.
Our thoughts, ethos and process.
Using an agile/XP-based process is fundamental to our business. Much like the software it helps us to build, our process is always evolving and changing to meet the requirements and challenges with which we are presented.
We urge you to talk to us about your project. To give you an idea of how we work, our approach is framed by three guiding principles:
Software is alive
We know that software is not a static artefact and so cannot be described by a static spec or plan.
It needs to grow and evolve according to its environment, to best suit the needs of its users.
These needs change over time, even as the software is being built.
By getting early and regular feedback from users in real scenarios, we can identify and fulfill these needs.
By not compromising on quality and by avoiding unnecessary complexity, we can keep the system flexible and adaptable.
Always a product
We deliver working software every week, giving you visibility of tangible progress.
We develop your product incrementally, making the most valuable features available as early as possible.
We work iteratively, refining functionality based on feedback from you and your users.
By keeping your options open, you have complete control over your budget.
We want to work in partnership towards a shared goal.
We will challenge you and expect you to challenge us.
We write software in pairs.
We are selective about the projects we work on, based on the challenge and interestingness of project as well as the nature of the business involved.
A little background on our team
Founded in 2009 on the basis of mutual respect for each others’ work and character, our team is made up of complementary skills and a shared vision of how software should be built. Respected by clients and the online development community, we are experts at building software for the web.
Since spending a couple of years as an electronic engineer on an Antarctic research station, James has spent the last 20+ years developing software at a number of consultancies and startups in the UK and US. After a stint at Thoughtworks working for clients like Dixons, AOL & Fidelity, he was the first employee Ben hired at Reevoo, a London start-up that was an early adopter of Ruby on Rails. Other claims to fame include helping develop the website for Antony Gormley’s One & Other project for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, and being the author of Mocha, a popular open-source Ruby testing framework. James joined GFR in early 2010.
An early career spent using Visual Basic 6 left him searching for something better. He spent a while using .NET before discovering the joy of Ruby and Ruby on Rails in 2005. This early adoption led to a job at Reevoo where he enjoyed working with Ben, James A and James M. After leaving Reevoo, he spent 18 months working on various Rails projects at Headshift before joining GFR in late 2010.
Chris started his career as an acoustical engineer working for the German Aerospace Center and completing a PhD at the University of Southampton. He joined the BBC in 2009 and worked in the Radio and Music and Research and Development departments - building things such as the BBC Introducing website, voice-controlled games for children, automated metadata tools for the the World Service archive and a Web Audio-powered recreation of the Radiophonic Workshop. Chris left the BBC in 2014 and joined FutureLearn - the Open University-funded MOOC platform. There he founded and managed the Data Science team. He joined GFR in 2017.
Ben’s been a builder and maker since the early 2000s. Early in his career he was CTO of ActiveHotels - one of the most successful UK start-ups, now part of Booking.com. He co-founded Reevoo in 2004, running the biggest ruby team in the UK. He’s worked at Thoughtworks and was a member of the team that grew into the Government Digital Service. In between he’s worked at Moo, been CTO of award-winning toy company MakieLab, built iOS apps for innovative healthcare trials and most recently was Head of Technology for agile public-sector agency, dxw. An agilista and rubyist since 2003, he came home to GFR in 2018.
Show and tell
For the last couple of years or so we’ve run a monthly event where people can demonstrate side projects, open-source projects, etc, in an informal setting with the aim of garnering friendly and constructive feedback.
Get in touch
Want to work with us?
Before we get acquainted here is the low-down:
Timing: We are looking for interesting projects to work on from June 2018. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve got an idea you think we can help with.
Organisation: We prefer to work as a whole team (we don’t offer individual contractors), and we require direct communication with the actual project decision makers.
Scope: We aren’t looking for a detailed specification, just provide us with a flavour and some enthusiasm for what you want to do and we can discover the rest together.
Budget: You pay a fixed cost per iteration. Since we deliver working software of value to your business with each iteration, we give you the flexibility to disengage at any point. We’re confident that the quality of our work and the rate at which we deliver it will have you coming back for more.
Go Free Range Limited is a company registered in England under number 06789592, whose registered office is Lytchett House, 13 Freeland Park, Wareham Road, Lytchett Matravers, Poole, Dorset, BH16 6FA. VAT registration number 947510611.