Chris Roos by Chris Roos

Week 192 - Harmoniatastic

Good afternoon folks. I hope you’ve all had a good week and are looking forward to your weekends.

Tiny, pointless snippets of information, why not

As part of my now-ritualistic avoidance of actually writing the weeknotes, I spent some time this afternoon searching for a full screen writing app. I’ve gone with ByWord and am very much liking it so far. It’s amazing the effect a full screen editor actually has on allowing you (well, me) to focus.

This week (well, the end of last week) saw us send James A over to the U.S of A to keep an eye on bidness in our Texas office1.

(Re) Introducing Harmonia

Harmonia is the tool we’ve been using for over a year to keep the administrative side of our business running smoothly. We’ve spoken to some of our friends about the idea and there’s been a definite sense of interest in us turning it into a service that other people can use. So, that’s what we’re going to do.

We currently use it to decide everything from who waters the plants to who’s responsible for submitting our VAT returns, with things like deciding who pays our wages in between. Tasks are simply a combination of name (Pay our wages), description (transfer the monies, explain the transaction in FreeAgent etc) and a recurrence dictating how often they should be triggered. We hope that this simplicity and flexibility will make Harmonia useful for many different groups of people.

If this sounds like something that you might be able to use in your company, club or even at home then we’d love for you to register your interest at We’ve committed internally to building this product but having some sense of how many people might use it certainly won’t hurt focus our minds. Oh, and feel free to follow @harmonia and @freerange for updates, if that’s your bag.

Deciding to work on Harmonia

As Tom mentioned in week-191 we’ve been struggling to actually make any tangible progress toward our goal of building a product. In an attempt to improve that situation I’ve suggested that we all work on a single project2 while not on client work. It feels to me as though this’ll give us the best chance of building something that we all feel responsible for and, hopefully, proud of; both of which should help give the product a good chance of succeeding (ignoring the fact that there might legitimately be no interest in the project we decide to work on).

Although none of us pushed for Harmonia to be the project, it felt pretty obvious to me that this was a good candidate: It’s something we use ourselves, it should be a fairly simple application to build (in the sense of limited functionality) and James A had already put a lot of work into building out the core functionality (thanks, James!)

It’s worth noting that we don’t all think this is the best approach to building our own applications. Tom has (legitimate based on our experience with Sauron) concerns that there might be too many cooks at this early stage of the project. So, if we fail to deliver Harmonia because we spent too long fighting over tiny details then I’ll happily take the blame.

Progress on Harmonia

I feel like we’ve made some good progress on Harmonia this week. James M and I have been building on the great groundwork that James A has laid, while Tom’s spent some time investigating an alternative email interface to the application.

We did start to get into a bit of a branch fest discussing different approaches to marking up our html forms, at the beginning of the week. While I think the discussion was useful, it did raise the question as to whether we would’ve spent quite so long debating had we been “on the clock” for a client.

Finally; according to James A we’re almost ready to replace our current version of Harmonia with harmonia-next. I think that’ll be a great step as I definitely find it helps when we’re using, and in this case relying on, the products that we’re developing.

Until next time folks.

  1. We don’t really have an office in Texas, but James is working from there for the next three weeks. 

  2. Previously, we’d explicitly agreed that individuals could work on whatever they like as long as it was demonstrably helping us toward the goal. 

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